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BARE FEATS LAB - real world Mac speed tests

MAXPower USB/eSATA 2x2
Easy, Affordable Upgrade
for Mac Pro towers

Originally posted Friday, March 14th, 2014 by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist
Updated Wednesday, March 19th, with different HDD results

Many Mac Pro towers are cranking along faithfully. I personally am frustrated by the slowness of the built-in USB 2.0 and FireWire 800 ports. OWC is now shipping a new combination PCIe host adapter with USB 3.0 and 6Gbps eSATA ports. It's called the MAXPower USB/eSATA 2x2.

eSATA = tests run off the MaxPower's 6Gbps eSATA ports
USB3 = tests run off the MaxPower's USB 3.0 ports
dual 6G SSD = dual OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6Gbps SSDs in RAID 0 stripe
single 6G SSD = single OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6Gbps SSD
dual HDD = Seagate Desktop SSHD model ST2000DX001
single HDD = Seagate Desktop SSHD model ST2000DX001

We used AJA System Test to test file level sequential transfer speed of a 16GB test document. It also simulates capture and playback of a 4096x2160 10-bit RGB video. (HIGHEST number means FASTEST.)

We used the Standard Test in QuickBench to measure the average random transfer rate for small 4K to 1024K data chunks. (HIGHEST number means FASTEST.)

For those who wish to extend the life of their Mac Pro tower, there is hope. Addons like the
MAXPower USB/eSATA 2x2 are an inexpensive and easy way to update its capabilities.

The USB 3.0 ports on the MAXPower USB/eSATA 2x2 match up with the speed of the 2013 Mac Pro's USB 3.0 ports.

The eSATA ports are not as fast as the Thunderbolt ports on the 2013 Mac Pro or more expensive eSATA/SAS host adapters on the 2010 Mac Pro tower. But you can take comfort in the knowledge that they offer faster READ speeds than the internal SATA ports. The WRITE speeds were slower than the 2010 Mac Pro's internal SATA ports. But if you plan to use HDDs instead of SSDs, you won't notice the difference.

We verified that if both eSATA ports and both USB 3.0 ports of the MAXPower USB/eSATA 2x2 are simultaneously transferring data, there is no loss of speed. As usual, we used 6Gbps SSDs to gauge the maximum real world throughput. However we included results for one and two HDDs for that perspective.

Drives connected to the
MAXPower USB/eSATA 2x2 USB 3.0 ports would 'improperly dismount' during sleep but then reappear in spite of the error. And if your Mac goes to sleep during a drive i/o function, it's possible to experience data loss. However, we currently are testing two other brands of PCIe boards with driverless USB 3.0 support. Both of those boards have the same USB 3.0 sleep issue. It's an Apple xHCI bug with USB, according to my sources.

Hopefully, Apple and/or the chip makers will come up with a solution soon. For now, you can either
a) set your Mac to NEVER sleep, or
b) use the version of the MAXPower 2x2 that requires a driver.*

(* OWC offers two versions of the card. The first one is driverless ((MXPCIE2E2U3 - which we tested) and works with OS X 10.8.3 and later. The other version (MXPCIEL2ESU3) is for Mac Pro 2006-2012 running OS X 10.5.6 or later. Because it uses a driver, there are no sleep issues.)

The MAXPower USB/eSATA 2x2 is stable with all the popular USB 3.0 Media Readers and gives performance right in line with native ports on the latest Macs.

Supports USB 3.0 Hubs.

The 10.8.3 driverless version fully Thunderbolt compatible. Works with Thunderbolt-to-PCIe expansion boxes where adding eSATA and USB 3.0 is desired.

The driverless version (MXPCIE2E2U3) works with Windows 7 and later, but is not officially supported due to issues Windows has with AHCI and Oxford chipset eSATA devices. The version using a driver (MXPCIEL2ESU3) works with PCs running Windows 8 and Mac Pros running Windows 8 in a Boot Camp partition.

Feedback or comments? Contact me , mad scientist.
Also, you
can follow me on
Twitter @barefeats

Order the driverless version (MXPCIE2E2U3) direct from Other World Computing. Also contact them for the version using a driver (MXPCIEL2ESU3) which full supports sleep.


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copyright 2014 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"