ASUS USB 3.1 Performance Review
Published: 26th March 2015 | Source: ASUS | Price: |
Sometimes things have an array of tiny details that require us poring over with a microscope to enable you to be equipped with the best possible information. Other times, like today, the results are so blindingly obvious that there is little to be said.
The USB 3.1 promises an improvement from the 5gb/s bandwidth of the USB 3.0 protocol up to the magnificent 10Gb/s of USB 3.1. This has a two-fold benefit.
Firstly, the faster the potential of your USB storage solution the better that it will perform on USB 3.1. As we saw in our benchmarks when you're limited by the block size throughput then the extra headroom of USB 3.1 wont bring any benefits, but when things are running flat out in top gear then there are clear speed increases to be found.
Secondly, as part of the upgraded protocol the USB 3.1 ports are now capable of delivering a massive power output. USB 3.0 was limited to 900mA @ 5V. The USB 3.1 supports 5A @ 20V although 3A at 5v is likely to be the ceiling for PC powered devices. You don't need a doctorate in electronics to understand that this could very well spell an end to the USB power bricks which blight our lives and limit the portability of our external storage solutions.
Occasionally in the hardware world there are caveats to the maxim that "more is better". With the USB 3.1, particularly in the ASUS implementation with regular USB ports, there is definitely a benefit to be had from having more, and you definitely want more. The stacked design is something we are all used to seeing so two on the back of the board, hey theres room for 4 in future or maybe with an ethernet above them rather than just the small type C connector and nothing else. You do, as always, need a storage device that can saturate the bandwidth available, so don't expect to plug that USB stick you got free with the daily paper in and see such speeds.
We do have to include a few footnotes. Firstly, thanks to ASUS for supplying both the Z97-A USB 3.1 motherboard and enclosure that enabled us to do today's review. Secondly this technology is, like so many new things, in its infancy. On the X99 chipset USB 3.1 runs even quicker than it does on Z97, we do have the X99 Sabertooth to hand but all of our storage reviews are done on Z97. Add to that the 'proof of concept' drive we were testing with and the results will only improve as time goes by and manufacturers produce drives that can max out the bandwidth on even this capable port. So despite the excellent results we're actually testing in a near worst case scenario. Colour us excited for the future.