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How to Get it on Your PC or Laptop

Obviously the easiest way to get USB 3.0 on your PC or laptop is to buy a machine that has it integrated in the first place, but what if you already have a computer you're perfectly happy with? StarTech has kindly provided us with some solutions that cover the most common ways of upgrading.
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With a PC you could upgrade your motherboard (most new boards support SuperSpeed USB), but frankly that's very expensive and a lot of work - it's kind of like hiring a tank to swat a fly. The cheapest and easiest solution is to buy a PCI Express USB 3.0 adapter card. This is a simple job: just open up your case and plug the card into a free PCIe x1 slot, install the driver and Bob's your uncle.
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StarTech's "2 Port PCI Express SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Controller Adapter Card" (now say that five times fast) offers two of the signature blue USB 3.0 ports on a compact, low-profile card measuring 5.5 by 8cm. A half-height bracket adapter is included for when you're fitting the card into a small chassis. Available at around £23, its cost is in line with similar products from the competition, and it's a small price to pay for getting SuperSpeed USB on your computer.

For your laptop, meanwhile, the StarTech "2 Port ExpressCard SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Card Adapter" (or a similar device) should be just the ticket. This simply plugs into a 34mm or 54mm ExpressCard slot to easily provide two SuperSpeed USB ports. The only problem is that many laptops – especially budget models – don't have an ExpressCard slot, leaving you high and dry. In this case there is no alternative: USB 3.0 is simply not available to you.
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For those lucky enough to own a machine that does offer the ExpressCard slot, Startech's adapter is a solid little device finished in matt black plastic. The USB 3.0 ports are slightly too close together - not an issue with cables, but 'fat' memory sticks (which will doubtless become available with USB 3.0 in the near future) might present a problem. It's a minor annoyance some rivals manage to avoid, but then at around £28 the StarTech is cheaper than most, so it remains an attractive option.

StarTech also provides a USB 3.0 hard drive dock going by the model name SATDOCKU3SP, which it bundles with the above ExpressCard adapter for around £55. This dock feels fairly solid, but its looks are nothing to boast about. Around the sides it sports a dull black finish, while the glossy finish on top looks cheap, picks up more fingerprints than a CSI team and scratches easily. The only attractive bit is a small blue-backlit power button that's rather on the stiff side.
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The dock will fit both 3.5 and 2.5in SATA drives, and has a hinged, spring-supported flap that will keep the dust out when using the smaller format. There's a handy push-button on the side for 'ejecting' disks. Connectivity to outside devices is limited to 'just' USB 3.0, as the SATDOCKU3SP's punch-out for eSATA is left blank.
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Basically, the long and short of this device is that it will let you connect any SSD or hard-drive to any machine with either USB 2.0 or 3.0, giving you a more flexible alternative to caddies. However, we would only recommend it as part of the bundle; on its own its £35 price is not really competitive with USB 3.0 docks from other brands (which can be found for as little as £24), and it's also worth considering even cheaper docks that connect through the equally speedy eSATA standard, which we'll compare with USB 3.0 on the next page.

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