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Blazing-fast PCIe storage for Mac Pro Tower

NewerTech MAXPower eSATA 6G + USB3 PCIe Card

Last updated 2014-02-22 - Send Feedback
Related: Storage, USB, eSATA, USB3
NewerTech MAXPower
2-port eSATA + 2-port USB 3.0 PCIe card

The MAXPower 6G eSATA card is about $128 at OWC

The NewerTech MAXPower 2-port eSATA 6Gb/s + 2-port USB 3.0 PCIe Host Adapter adds 2 eSATA 6G ports and 2 USB3 ports to any Mac Pro or to any Mac with Thunderbolt using a suitable enclosure like the OWC Helios or OWC Helios 2.

Your author would have really enjoyed this card on the 2010 Mac Pro for fast downloads with USB3 card readers, but the MAXPower card began shipping mid-February, 2014, right around the switch to the 2013 Mac Pro (which has built-in USB3).

Any working photographer looking for fast downloads of digital camera cards in a 2009/2010/2012 Mac Pro should love the speed boost over the built-in USB2 ports. Moreover, the two eSATA 6G ports allow high speed connectivity to eSATA drives. It’s a no-brainer at about $128.

The MAXPower card also works in the OWC Helios or OWC Helios 2 enclosures for any Mac with Thunderbolt. It’s a way to add more eSATA to an iMac or MacMini or MacBook Pro, plus the two USB3 ports.

USB3 cards and system sleep support

There are two card variants, one that requires a driver and disables sleep, and one that does not require a driver, and supports sleep but with a disconect issue (see below), due to an Apple USB3 support bug (extant as of March 2014).

Readers are advised to consult the details on the OWC web site for each card for sleep details.

Driverless card uses xHCI

AHCI - OS integrated SATA and eSATA support (Advanced Host Controller Interface)
xHCI - OS integrated USB support/drivers (Extensible Host Controller Interface)

xHCI allows a USB3 card to operate without the use of a software driver. The AHCI specification is an industry standard. NewerTech has reported an apparent but to Apple that causes an issue with sleep. This bug reportedly affects ALL PCIe USB3 cards that use AHCI.

The MAXPower USB/eSATA 2x2 Host Adaptor MXPCIE2E2U3 uses xHCI, does not use a driver and DOES NOT support system sleep as this was written: devices will disconnect and a reboot is required to restore correction function (-36 I/O error will occur until this is done).

The card has no such issue on Windows (e.g., the issue should not exist if the Mac is booted into Windows or a Windows PC is used, however MPG has not confirmed this first hand).

The MAXPower 2-port eSATA 6Gb/s & 2-port USB 3.0 PCIe Controller Card MXPCIEL2ESU3 requires a driver and disables system sleep. It also supports eSATA port multiplication.

Continues below....

NewerTech MAXPower
2-port eSATA + 2-port USB 3.0 PCIe card

Performance

As tested on 2010 12-core 3.33 GHz Mac Pro against other Macs.

Digital camera card download speed

Lexar Professional
USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader (UDMA 7)

Outstanding digital camera card download performance with the MAXPower card, matching the 2013 Mac Pro and MacBook Pro using the fastest CF and SDXC cards on the market, delivering card download speeds 4X faster than the built-in USB2 ports on the 2010 Mac Pro.

  • Results cross-checked with two USB3 card readers and with OS X Finder copy. These are real world as-timed transfer speeds.
  • Results the same running card reader off TRIPP LITE USB3 hub (actually measured just a hair better).
  • Dual card readers into TRIPP LITE USB3 hub delivered full speed simultaneously from both readers through the hub which was connected to the MAXPOWER card USB3 port, e.g., perfect end-to-end performance on a hub.

In short, the MAXPower card delivers digital camera card download performance that matches the very best available and far exceeds the lousy USB2 speeds MPG has suffered with for years on the 2010 Mac Pro.

Card readers were Hoodman and Lexar Professional USB3.
Compact Flash card = Toshiba Exceria Pro 64GB claimed 160 MB/sec reads.
SDXC card = SanDisk Extreme Pro 64GB claimed 95 MB/sec reads.

Digital camera card download speed with USB3, USB2, 2010 and 2013 Mac Pro

Vendor description

On the USB 3.0 hub area, MPG tested the TRIPP LITE USB 3.0 hub and found that it worked perfectly.

  • MAX Integration — The power of USB 3.0 and 6G SATA high-speed interfaces are brought together on a single PCIe 2.0 card with the MAXPower eSATA/USB3 Host Bus Controller (HBA). This highly integrated I/O card saves valuable PCIe slots while adding the throughput desired for demanding applications such as video editing, audio mixing, and photography
  • MAX Flexibility — The MAXPower eSATA/USB3 HBA provides two eSATA ports that are compatible with the latest 6G technology such as SSDs, as well as supporting legacy SATA devices, SATA hubs, and external optical drives. Simple to integrate and operate, it requires no drivers and supports hot-plugging, eliminating the need to restart the computer when connecting or disconnecting a SATA device.
  • Connect USB 3.0 Hub(s) for additional connectivity.
  • MAX Power — Since each USB and eSATA port commands a dedicated PCIe lane, card-level throughput of up to 2,000 MB/s can be achieved. Each of the two USB 3.0 ports can utilize the UAS protocol to transfer data to and from USB storage devices such as hard drives, solid state drives (SSDs) and thumb/flash drives for faster transfer speeds and lower CPU utilization than can be achieved with standard Bulk Only Transfer (BOT).
  • PCI Express 2.0 x4
  • Two USB 3.0 ports with Type A connectors (female)
  • Two 6Gb/s eSATA Ports
  • 20Gb/s transfer bandwidth
  • Optimized for all USB 3.0 & eSATA storage devices
  • Backwards compatible with USB 2.0 & 1.1, and eSATA 3Gb/s
  • Hot-Swap and Hot-Plug
  • Compliant with xHCI (Extensible Host Controller Interface) Specification
  • v1.00 Thunderbolt™ Aware Enabled
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