Not All USB 3.0 Implementations Are Created Equal

Western Digital MyBook 3.0 Kit With Controller (NEC PD720200)

The MyBook 3.0 bundles a USB 3.0-based external 1 TB external hard drive with a PCI Express-based NEC controller. This combination delivers similar performance to the Gigabyte USB 3.0 controller kit, albeit with slightly longer access times.

Unfortunately, this controller did not deliver the best throughput results on either of the tested Gigabyte motherboards. Depending on the setup, we measured between 128 and 145 MB/s, and this difference can't be blamed on differences between PCI Express 1.1 and 2.0 slots. We reached the fastest results on the P55A-UD7 and PCI Express 1.1. One exception is this motherboard’s integrated NEC USB 3.0 controller, which is faster than WD's plug-in option.

Despite these shortcomings, though, having a fast USB 3.0 hard drive bundled with a USB 3.0 controller so you can get internal drive performance levels is still a great alternative to tolerating USB 2.0 speeds.