Addonics Adapter USB 3.0 to eSATA review

Many computers lack an eSATA interface. Apple never adds eSATA to any of its models and a PCI-Express card can be quite expensive. Enter the Addonics Adapter USB 3.0 to eSATA. This is a small USB 3.0 device that will accept eSATA device connections and translate the eSATA data stream to USB 3.0, USB 2 or even USB 1.

While SATA interfaces (internal; usually handling your hard drive(s) and Blu-Ray burner) are ubiquitous these days, eSATA is not. On Mac Pros you will have a hard time finding them, and even PC manufacturers seem to often find these interfaces too expensive to add as a standard interface option. So, what do you do if you have an eSATA-only device that you used to connect to a Mac or PC for which you purchased an expensive add-in card, without buying a new card for your new computer?

If your PC comes with USB 3.0, you’re in luck as the Addonics USB 3.0 to eSATA adapter will allow you to enjoy roughly the full speed of the eSATA interface via this new USB version. If your PC doesn’t come with a USB 3.0 port installed, there are USB 3.0 add-in cards for as little as 20.00 Euros — a lot less expensive than eSATA cards.

If you’re the proud owner of a Mac Pro, you’re less lucky. USB 3.0 is currently a far-away dream for Mac users, and most of the PCIe cards that work with PCs have firmware that will prevent them to work properly inside a Mac. Nevertheless, if you don’t want to shell out a couple of hundred Euros on a good-quality eSATA card, the Addonics Adapter USB 3.0 to eSATA will at least enable you to have full use of your eSATA only devices. They’ll run at USB 2 speed, of course, but won’t be collecting dust until Apple in its infinite wisdom decides to install USB 3.0 ports on their Macs. And at approx. 28.00 Euros, the Addonics USB 3.0 to eSATA adapter will certainly not break the bank.

addonics adapter

The Addonics USB 3.0 to eSATA adapter next to Apple's Magic Mouse

I had the pleasure of testing the Addonics USB 3.0 to eSATA adapter. I first tried the Addonics with an Australian e-Films hard disk that connects via eSATA or USB 2, and which can be powered through a USB power plug. Alas, the e-Films HDR didn’t work with the combination of the USB power plug and the eSATA cable. My guess is that the power needs for making the eSATA bridge work are much higher than those to make the USB system work — either that, or the USB subsystem takes power from both USB connections.

I then tested the Addonics USB 3.0 to eSATA adapter with a first-generation LaCie 2Big. This hard disk device is powered the usual way and only has an eSATA interface. The Addonics performed great. On my Macs, the speed was limited to USB 2, of course, but at least I could use the 2Big like before –only slower.

A nice touch is that the Addonics adapter has two LEDs. The first one is a power LED — the Addonics can power low-power consumption drives using a special Addonics cable — while the second one is a drive activity LED. The 2Big has two tiny LEDs that you can hardly see working. Well, the Addonics’ LEDs are big and very clearly visible!

To make this review worthwhile, I took the LaCie 2Big with me to my local computer store. As I normally buy Macs, I had to convince a sales chap that I didn’t know before (Mac and PC sales people are not mixed in this store for obvious reasons) to let me hook up the 2Big to one of his new USB 3.0 capable PCs. After applying some gentle pressure, he caved and let me hook up the device.

Unfortunately, the fear of losing his job over this caught up with him before I got the chance to transfer enough files to get a good feel for the speed of USB 3.0, but the Addonics worked flawlessly, its power LED glowing green and its activity LED frantically blinking. The test ran for no more than two minutes, but I can now proudly say I am one of the few Mac users who actually saw USB 3.0 in action — all thanks to the Addonics USB 3.0 to eSATA adapter.

Unless eSATA cards suddenly become mainstream and dirt-cheap I think the Addonics USB 3.0 to eSATA adapter is one of the best investments you can make this year.

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