HighPoint RocketU 1144A review: HighPoint RocketU 1144A

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Typical Price: $149.00

HighPoint RocketU 1144A

(Part #: CNETHighPoint RocketU 1144A)
4.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Helps USB 3.0 to reach its maximum potential. Avoids potential bus saturation issues.

The Bad Will never reach advertised speeds.

The Bottom Line If you don't want to wait for Intel to catch up, HighPoint's RocketU 1144A is an excellent way to get into USB 3.0 now.

9.0 Overall
CNET Editors' Choice Dec '11

USB 3.0 is starting to pick up traction, but motherboards are still using third-party chips to add the fast blue port to systems. Intel officially won't be in the game until its Ivy Bridge processors are released next year, along with the associated chipsets that come with them.

Expansion cards also exist for older systems that offer two USB 3.0 ports, but these tend to be PCI-E x1 2.0 cards. As such, they'll only offer a theoretical maximum of 4Gbps, 1Gbps less than the maximum speed of a single USB 3.0 port. In theory, with both ports operating full tilt this could mean the bus gets saturated before reaching maximum potential.

In practice this is barely an issue. Our testing has showed that USB 3.0, like USB 2.0 before it, isn't actually capable of the speeds it touts. Divide 5Gbps by eight and you get 625MBps — a pipe dream compared to our highest speed to date of 254MBps over a single port.

Still, HighPoint is here to make sure that no matter the situation, its expansion card won't be starved for bandwidth. The RocketU 1144A is a four-port USB 3.0 controller, designed for a PCI-E x4 2.0 slot. That gives it a potential 16Gbps, or 2GBps to work with — something promised right on the box. If it ever delivers it'll be a miracle on par with immaculate conception, but the four ASMedia ASM1042 controllers, one assigned per port and all feeding into a PLX PEX 8609, will ensure that things operate to the best possible speed.

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