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Akasa DuoDock S & USB 3.0 PCIe Card Review

Processor: AMD Phenom X4 955
Motherboard: Gigabyte 770TA-UD3
Hard Drive: Seagate ST3500630AS
Graphics Card: Sapphire AMD HD4850 512MB
Power Supply: NorthQ Black Magic Flex 650W
Test HDD 1 : Seagate ST31500341AS
Test HDD 2 : OCZ Vertex 2 64GB SSD

Atto Disk Benchmark is a simple but popular synthetic benchmark for testing the maximum theoretical speed of storage devices. By installing one of the fastest SSD drives, the OCZ Vertex, on the DuoDock S we were able to evaluate the maximum possible data speed our current USB 3.0 configuration can offer, which appears to be around 186MB/s.

When running the same exact test with the DuoDock S connected on one of the motherboard’s native USB 3.0 ports, the maximum speed is reduced down to 162MB/s; we found that to be a bit strange because the motherboard is using the same exact USB 3.0 controller chip as the Akasa PCIe card, but the fact is that the card does perform a little better.

Connecting the DuoDock S to an USB 2.0 port causes no issues but the performance is limited at 30MB/s, the maximum speed the USB 2.0 interface can handle.

The USB 3.0 performance of our slower mechanical drive is right on par with its maximum possible data transfer speed. The Seagate 7200.11 is not fast enough to have its performance bottlenecked by the USB 3.0 interface. This time connecting the DuoDock S either to the Akasa USB 3.0 controller card or directly to the motherboard’s USB 3.0 ports has no impact on its performance. Connecting the DuoDock S to an USB 2.0 port however limits the maximum speed of the drive down to about 30MB/s.

HD Tune is a benchmark able to show the sequential read speed across the entire capacity range. Mechanical drives get slower as the data is being moved towards the edge of the platters, in this test they start with their maximum sequential read speed and end with the minimum. This is not the case for SSD drives however as they have no rotating platters or other moving parts therefore they can sustain maximum speed across the entire data range.

The results of HD Tune Pro are closer to real world performance, so we expected the maximum speed of the drives to decrease a little. Our Vertex drive achieves an average transfer rate of 176.3MB/s with the DuoDock S connected to the Akasa controller card and is slightly slower at 159.7MB/s when connected to a native USB 3.0 port directly.

We do know that the OCZ Vertex drive is faster than that, therefore we can tell it is experiencing a bandwidth bottleneck by the limits of the USB 3.0 controllers. This is not true with our slower mechanical Seagate drive which performs at its peak possible performance when connected to either of the USB 3.0 ports. Connecting the DuoDock S to an USB 2.0 port destroys the performance of both drives and limits it down to 30MB/s maximum.

FC test is a real-world benchmark originally developed by Serguey Gromov. It is a very simple application, using patterns to emulate and time the creation (write), reading, copying and deleting of a number of files. Even though we used the 5 patterns the application comes with you can use it to generate any kind of pattern, with any number of files of any size.

Installation Pattern

414 files, 575MB

ISO Pattern

3 files, 1600MB

MP3 Pattern

270 files, 990MB

Programs Pattern

8504 files, 1380MB

Windows Pattern

9006 files, 1080MB

Create (MB/s) Read (MB/s) Delete (secs) Create (MB/s) Read (MB/s) Delete (secs) Create (MB/s) Read (MB/s) Delete (secs) Create (MB/s) Read (MB/s) Delete (secs) Create (MB/s) Read (MB/s) Delete (secs)
OCZ Vertex Series 120GB

Akasa USB 3.0 PCIe card

162.11 163.09 0.12 157.62 161.77 0.029 141.27 144.02 0.136 92.51 98.91 2.672 108.50 110.61 2.697
OCZ Vertex Series 120GB

Motherboard native USB 3.0 port

150.57 151.01 0.12 148.10 152.21 0.031 121.46 130.12 0.191 87.11 91.71 2.771 99.97 107.02 2.798
Seagate 7200.11 1.5TB

Akasa USB 3.0 PCIe card

55.61 92.17 0.191 58.11 87.04 0.032 51.08 64.47 0.167 37.05 49.87 4.810 40.17 44.00 3.897
Seagate 7200.11 1.5TB

Motherboard native USB 3.0 port

55.50 91.99 0.192 58.14 86.79 0.033 51.71 64.59 0.181 37.57 48.61 4.871 40.22 43.87 3.975

Once more we experienced a performance cap at about 165MB/s during our testing with the OCZ Vertex drive. Much like in the synthetic benchmarks, the performance cap goes down to about 150MB/s with the DuoDock S connected to one of the motherboard’s native USB 3.0 ports. This time however the performance hit takes place during all of our tests with the Vertex drive, even though some of the tests are not reaching the maximum USB 3.0 bandwidth cap. This is not true for our mechanical drive, which gave us the exact same performance regardless to which USB 3.0 port we connected our DuoDock S.

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