recommend USB 3 PCI card for Mac Pro (it's not built in in this model)

Started Jan 29, 2013 | Discussions
chasg Veteran Member • Posts: 3,425
recommend USB 3 PCI card for Mac Pro (it's not built in in this model)
williamio Contributing Member • Posts: 517
Re: recommend USB 3 PCI card for Mac Pro (it's not built in in this model)

I have been trying at least 3 major brand USB3 cards, here is my input

1. Lacie USB3 card - it can only support their own Lacie device, cannot recognize any non-Lacie devices. There is a way to hack it but not worthy to give it a try because their USB3 driver is not very well made to support other different U3 devices.

2. Sonnet USB3 card. The same driver from Lacie (or same group of people developed for both companies). Thus, whatever problem Lacie's driver has, sonnet' driver has too, plus their USB3 cannot support more than 2TB unit from my test and their software response time is very slot, for example, took them 4 months to support Mt. Lion and still buggy. Doesn't work with Lexar card reader well.

3. Caldigit USB3 card. The best card out of 3. Software driver is very stable and Lexar highly recommend their card. The card I am using is their FASTA-6GU3 card which has USB3 and eSATA 6G combine in one card so you can save one pcie slot (what a slot saver ).  This combo card is a little bit more expansive than Lacie and sonnet card but again it's a combination of SATA 6G and USB3.  you can obtain this card directly from cal digit online websitehttp://www.caldigit.com/store.asp#Accessories

overall, i only suggest cal digit's card because of the stability.

OP chasg Veteran Member • Posts: 3,425
for williamio

Fantastic, just the info I was looking for, many thanks!

I'd heard that the LaCie card was limited to LaCie products (way to drive away customers, LaCie!) but I hadn't heard that the Sonnet card wasn't supporting the Lexar readers well (I've mostly only had Amazon reviews to go on, and a few old discussions on a few Apple-specific fora). Caldigit it is then

Thanks again!

Chas

williamio wrote:

I have been trying at least 3 major brand USB3 cards, here is my input

1. Lacie USB3 card - it can only support their own Lacie device, cannot recognize any non-Lacie devices. There is a way to hack it but not worthy to give it a try because their USB3 driver is not very well made to support other different U3 devices.

2. Sonnet USB3 card. The same driver from Lacie (or same group of people developed for both companies). Thus, whatever problem Lacie's driver has, sonnet' driver has too, plus their USB3 cannot support more than 2TB unit from my test and their software response time is very slot, for example, took them 4 months to support Mt. Lion and still buggy. Doesn't work with Lexar card reader well.

3. Caldigit USB3 card. The best card out of 3. Software driver is very stable and Lexar highly recommend their card. The card I am using is their FASTA-6GU3 card which has USB3 and eSATA 6G combine in one card so you can save one pcie slot (what a slot saver ). This combo card is a little bit more expansive than Lacie and sonnet card but again it's a combination of SATA 6G and USB3. you can obtain this card directly from cal digit online websitehttp://www.caldigit.com/store.asp#Accessories

overall, i only suggest cal digit's card because of the stability.

williamio Contributing Member • Posts: 517
Re: for williamio

Glad my long journey does help believe if you find cal digit's card is not stable, then you have no there better choice. they are the only one providing a most trouble free usb3 card for the mac community!

chasg wrote:

Fantastic, just the info I was looking for, many thanks!

I'd heard that the LaCie card was limited to LaCie products (way to drive away customers, LaCie!) but I hadn't heard that the Sonnet card wasn't supporting the Lexar readers well (I've mostly only had Amazon reviews to go on, and a few old discussions on a few Apple-specific fora). Caldigit it is then

Thanks again!

Chas

williamio wrote:

I have been trying at least 3 major brand USB3 cards, here is my input

1. Lacie USB3 card - it can only support their own Lacie device, cannot recognize any non-Lacie devices. There is a way to hack it but not worthy to give it a try because their USB3 driver is not very well made to support other different U3 devices.

2. Sonnet USB3 card. The same driver from Lacie (or same group of people developed for both companies). Thus, whatever problem Lacie's driver has, sonnet' driver has too, plus their USB3 cannot support more than 2TB unit from my test and their software response time is very slot, for example, took them 4 months to support Mt. Lion and still buggy. Doesn't work with Lexar card reader well.

3. Caldigit USB3 card. The best card out of 3. Software driver is very stable and Lexar highly recommend their card. The card I am using is their FASTA-6GU3 card which has USB3 and eSATA 6G combine in one card so you can save one pcie slot (what a slot saver ). This combo card is a little bit more expansive than Lacie and sonnet card but again it's a combination of SATA 6G and USB3. you can obtain this card directly from cal digit online websitehttp://www.caldigit.com/store.asp#Accessories

overall, i only suggest cal digit's card because of the stability.

Karl Gohl Contributing Member • Posts: 718
Re: recommend USB 3 PCI card for Mac Pro (it's not built in in this model)

Thanks for the info, Williamio!  What has been your experience in using the Caldigit card with memory card readers?  I currently have a Hoodman Raw Steel USB3.0 reader to read my SD and CF cards.  Do you happen to know if it works?  Actually, would you please list any/all readers that you know work -- I'd be willing to buy a new reader if necessary.

TIA

-- hide signature --

Karl

williamio Contributing Member • Posts: 517
Re: recommend USB 3 PCI card for Mac Pro (it's not built in in this model)

Karl Gohl wrote:

Thanks for the info, Williamio! What has been your experience in using the Caldigit card with memory card readers? I currently have a Hoodman Raw Steel USB3.0 reader to read my SD and CF cards. Do you happen to know if it works? Actually, would you please list any/all readers that you know work -- I'd be willing to buy a new reader if necessary.

TIA

Karl,

you are killing me but I am more than willing to share my finds, give me a little bit time, I believe I can come up a list that I have been testing and using. To be honest with you, some USB3 devices are just "junk" in my opinion when it comes to support Mac OSX. I think it's because those early U3 devices are not following the spec, either XHCI 0.96, 0.97 or now 1.0.

Give me a little bit time, I will work on a list. I promise.

The USB3 card readers that I have been using are

1. Lexar USB3 dual-slot reader. Model: LRW3000U. Rev: A. I use this one most of time.

2. SohoUSB USB3 card reader. I got 2 of them. cheap but work. It has multiple slots including CF, xD, microSD...etc.

3. Delkin USB3 reader.

The memory card I have is from Lexar prof. 600X UDMA CF.

I can confirm that both delkin and lexar have the smilier USB3 chipset, which is Genesys Logic I believe since they both have similar firmware version which is 5.4X. You can read the firmware information from system preference.

SohoUSB card reader has the U3 chip from Realtek, firmware is 1.2.

That being said, if you have the card readers that have U3 controller chips from these two chipset companies, they may work just fine if you upgrade the firmware to the latest revision.

As far as the hoodman card reader, I do not know anything about this reader, HOWEVER. I just browsed their site, my best guess would be the similar chipset company that Lexar is using.

http://www.hoodmanusa.com/prodinfo.asp?number=RAWUSB3

If you click on the firmware upgrade, you will see firmware 0563, which I assume it's 5.63. If that's the case, it should be from Genesys logic too. I did not run the firmware updater, so you may want to try it yourself and report back here

So here are the tricks to make your USB3 devices work better under Mac OSX.

1. Always contact manufacturer to update the firmware to the latest version. (Kudos to Lexar and Hoodman, they both have Mac and PC firmware updater on their support site.)

2. Always use the quality USB3 cable. I found some really bad quality of USB3 cable is bundled with the USB3 product. For example, I happened to have a cheap USB3 toshiba drive from walmart , it did not work properly at all, I blamed to cal digit's card but once they suggested me to use their quality cable, all the problem was gone! Rule number 1, don't buy or use cheap USB3 cables. They are not created equally.

3. Use usb3 and eSATA combo card from caldigit.com . they do have USB3 card too, but with few bucks more, you can have both eSATA and U3 ports on the card. I really like the combo card where I can plug in my SATA drives to the card too. Love this slot saver

Lastly, I promise when I have time, I will make a long list including my equipment and experience. Geeze, I just realized I spent too much money on all the new U3 toys

Karl Gohl Contributing Member • Posts: 718
Re: recommend USB 3 PCI card for Mac Pro (it's not built in in this model)

Williamio: you've already gone far beyond the call of duty with the info you've provided.  From reading the amazon reviews of the USB3 cards, I was under the impression that they were unlikely to support CF/SD card readers.  Knowing what combination of card and reader has worked for you makes it much less of a crap shoot if I decide to pursue faster image ingestion.

-- hide signature --

Karl

williamio Contributing Member • Posts: 517
Re: recommend USB 3 PCI card for Mac Pro (it's not built in in this model)

Karl Gohl wrote:

Williamio: you've already gone far beyond the call of duty with the info you've provided. From reading the amazon reviews of the USB3 cards, I was under the impression that they were unlikely to support CF/SD card readers. Knowing what combination of card and reader has worked for you makes it much less of a crap shoot if I decide to pursue faster image ingestion.

Karl, thanks. I would not say cal digit's card is no problem at all however it works most of time and doesn't encounter the problem that lacie and sonnet have. stay tuned

probert500 Senior Member • Posts: 1,370
Re: recommend USB 3 PCI card for Mac Pro (it's not built in in this model)

Thanks for this info - I have also had issues with the sonnet card and am looking to return it.  It only sporadically mounts drives and I've had sleep issues resulting in hard restarts.  Not good.

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williamio Contributing Member • Posts: 517
Re: recommend USB 3 PCI card for Mac Pro (it's not built in in this model)

probert500 wrote:

Thanks for this info - I have also had issues with the sonnet card and am looking to return it. It only sporadically mounts drives and I've had sleep issues resulting in hard restarts. Not good.

no problem. that's why I believe Karl is right. we all need a list or matrix to show what works with what and under what environment. Sonnet's card might work with some other units or some certain usb3 storage, but they do not cover as broad as cal digit's card can cover. I will come up with a list someday and hopefully everyone can report back here too. good luck!

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