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I-NA215U USB 3.0 enclosure and I-NPC01 USB 3.0 card

I-NA215U USB 3.0 enclosure with maximum transfer rate of 5 Gb/s is an excellent choice for anyone that is looking for a light and stylish casing for their 2.5” format drive.

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Introduction

USB 3.0 has raised the limit for the transfer rate, ensuring that external hard drives are as powerful as internal. Capable of supporting a transfer rate of up to 5 Gbps, USB 3.0 can support the fastest hard drives, including solid state drives (SSDs). In addition to the drastic increase in maximum transfer rate, the addition of the five signaling pins in USB 3.0 allows users to use a hard drive with 900 milliamps of power, instead of the 500 milliamps from the old USB 2.0. This allows for the enclosure, equipped with USB 3.0, to support any drive, especially energy efficient SSDs.

The Ineo I-NA215U USB 3.0 enclosure is priced at $35.99 at NEWEGG.

  

The I-NA215U Plus is an external hard drive enclosure released by Ineo Technology, which represents an optimal combination of compact and efficient. While equipped with the USB 3.0, which is able to support any 2.5” SATA laptop hard drive or solid state drive, it has an extremely compact and light casing made from a combination of polycarbonate and ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene polymer). This material composition provides impact and heat resistance, with a lighter weight than aluminum. The casing has a unique design, including the transparent lid and blue LED light on top. The entire external design is very compact, with dimensions of 138 x 81 x 15 mm. It is, by far, one of the lightest 2.5” SATA enclosures available. On the inside, the casing has three way rubber padding to protect the hard drive and absorb vibrations.

Features

  • The sleek design, portable, conveniently save data anywhere
  • Super light weight, super easy to carry, and superspeed USB 3.0
  • Contemporary design is fashionable with an elegant trend
  • Stylish Vogue Casing design
  • USB 3.0 transfer rate up to 5Gbps. USB 2.0 transfer rate up to 480Mb/s
  • Truly Plug and Play and Hot Swappable
  • Supports: Windows 98SE / 2000 / Mac / Linux for USB 2.0
  • Supports: Windows XP / Vista / 7 for USB 3.0

   

Specifications

Interface: USB 3.0 to 2.5” SATA HDD
Supports: SATA I/II Hard Disk Drive
Data transfer rate: USB 2.0: 480Mbps / USB 3.0: 5Gbps
Maximum Speed: 5 Gb/s
Material: ABS+PC
System Requirements: Windows2000 / XP / Vista / 7, (32/64-bit)
Instruction Light: Blue LED
Dimensions: 138x81x15 (mm)
 

Overview of USB 3.0

USB 3.0 has undergone as set of significant changes to achieve its newly attained efficiency. Aside from the standard four wires, (two used for differential data, one for power and one for ground), USB 3.0 is equipped with 4 more wires to support additional differential data. There is a pair of wires designed specifically for receiving and a pair specifically for transmitting. Another drastic change is the new signaling method. Polling, previously used in USB 2.0, is no longer used. Instead, the signaling is asynchronous. Therefore, USB 3.0 is bi-directional, whereas with USB 2.0, the information could only be transmitted in one direction at a time.

It is important to know that while the USB 3.0 can utilize the maximum transfer rate of up to 5Gbps, current hard drives can barely reach the maximum capacity of 3.0. However, new technology such as RAID or SSDs do exceed the capabilities of USB 2.0, and make USB 3.0 worth acquiring. A lot of new products are appearing on the market, which are able to surpass the transfer limitations of USB 2.0. This increases the potential for USB 3.0 becoming the standard in the future.

USB 3.0 is perfectly compatible with 2.0, which means that even if the ports or the external devices have been modified to USB 3.0, old devices will still work properly. The old devices are simply unable to take the advantage of the newly added 4 wires, but the old signaling pins still remain in the same spots as in 2.0.

Another improvement is that USB 3.0 is able to provide a larger amount of power to the external devices. A more power hungry hard drive will be easily satisfied with the 900 mA, in comparison to USB 2.0′s 500 mA. USB 3.0 is also energy efficient. While it is able to provide up to 900 mA, in idle mode, it only supplies the device with 150 mA, which is not a significant increase from USB 2.0′s 100 mA idle.

Pictures & Impression

Click Image For a Larger One

The I-NA215U Plus has a rather unique packaging that stands out. The front of the box reveals the actual product, which allows the customer to a see a glimpse of what they are getting. The INEO emblem appears throughout the package, clearly showing that the company takes great pride in its product. The back of the box provides a clear explanation of all the features and specifications of this product, including USB 3.0, which demonstrates a significant improvement over USB 2.0 in the provided chart. The I-NA215U Plus shows a great spectrum of compatibility with both Mac and PC, and is supported by a variety of operating systems, including the now ancient Windows 2000. Compatibility and the easy plug and play feature, which does not require a driver installation, make the I-NA215U Plus universal and suitable for any customer. 

Click Image For a Larger One

The product is nicely sealed and protected within the package. The enclosure itself is placed on the box with the auxiliary items (refer to the item list below) and is covered by the translucent plastic cover. Such packaging allows easy access to the product.

Click Image For a Larger One

 

Contents of the box include the following:

  • I-NA215U Plus External Hardrive Enclosure
  • USB 3.0 Cable
  • User Manual
  • Screwdriver

The instruction manual serves as a clear guide on how to get the device working within minutes for both Windows and Mac OSX.  The screwdriver provided with the case is convenient and allows for quickly assembly of the functional enclosure. The USB 3.0 cable does appear to be thicker than that of USB 2.0, due to the additional wires added on the inside to increase the transfer rate. 

 

 

The enclosure is extremely light, due to its polycarbon alloy composition. It has dimensions of 138 x 81 x 15 mm, which is slightly larger than the iPhone, but still small enough to fit into a pocket. The top has a white color covered with a nice translucent plastic, which gives the silver Ineo logo a somewhat of a three dimensional effect. The bottom is metallic gray, and has four screws that allow easy access inside.

 

Inside the enclosure there is a spare screw. Three rubber pads are placed there for drive protection and absorption of vibration caused by the spinning platters. Despite the presence of these pads, however, the actual protection provided and vibration absorbed are disappointingly minimal. The top contains a USB 3.0 port and the controller. The controller chip is an ASM 1051, created by AS media, has been proven on multiple occasions to perform up to 10 times more efficient than any USB 2.0 chip. Hard drives can be mounted into the enclosure easily, without requirement of any additional screws.

 

As mentioned earlier, this enclosure has a wide spectrum of compatibility. It supports any 2.5” SATA I or SATA II drive. This also extends to solid state drives, which easily exceed the maximum transfer rate of USB 2.0. In this review we are using top of the line 128 GB N-series solid state drive produced by Zalman to test the performance of USB 3.0 enclosure as well as an average 2.5” 7200 RPM hard drive produced by Seagate.

 

Introduction

The Ineo Technology I-NPC01 PCIe USB 3.0 card is an easy solution for those who are not able to keep up with modern technology and constantly update  their computer systems. While USB 3.0 demonstrates a great improvement over USB 2.0, only the latest motherboards are equipped with USB 3.0 ports. At the same time, considering that newer motherboard are primarily geared towards features rather than performance increases, replacing an old motherboard for the sake of getting USB 3.0 port is highly impractical. The I-NPC01 PCI-E adapter demonstrates the same performance as USB 3.0 ports on the newer motherboards, and is a practical and cost-efficient solution for those who want the performance of USB 3.0 without breaking the bank for a new motherboard.

The Ineo Technology I-NCP01 PCI-E USB 3.0 card is priced at $45.00

The I-NPC01 PCI-E USB 3.0 card, equipped with the NEC Superspeed USB 3.0 controller, is capable of supporting a transfer rate of up to 5 Gbps, and providing two fully functional USB 3.0 ports. These chips are almost universal for all USB 3.0 systems, and demonstrate excellent performance. The card requires a PCI-E x1 slot, but can be placed into any PCI-E slot for convenience. The driver provided with the card has a wide spectum of compatibility with almost any operating system, including Windows 2000.

Features
 

 

           

 

  • Support PCI Express Base Specification Revision 2.0
  • Single-Lan (x1) PCI Express throughput rates up to 5Gb/s
  • Compliant with Universal Serial Bus 3.0 specification revision 1.0
  • Supports USB data transfer rate of 1.5/12/480/5000Mbps
  • Expands two external USB3.0 Super-Speed ports on the system
  • Hot-Swapping feature allows you to connect/disconnect devices without powering down the system

Specifications

  • Interface: Single-Lane (x1) PCI Express Gen2
  • Supports: SATA I/II Hard Disk Drive
  • External USB 3.0 Ports: 2
  • Maximum Speed: 5 Gb/s
  • PCB Dimension: 80 (W) x 68.5(L)mm
  • System Requirements: Windows2000/XP/2003/Vista/7, (32/64-bit)

 PICTURES AND IMPRESSIONs

Click Image For a Larger One

A USB 3.0 2 port adapter I-NPC01 is nicely packaged in a plastic enclosure with a cardboard back. A translucent front provides a general view of what the product looks like. General information, including features and specifications, is provided on the back of the packaging.

Click Image For a Larger One

 

The package includes the I-NPC01 USB 3.0 adapter, intruction manual, and a small hard drive CD. The instruction manual provides clear guidelines on how to set up this card, as well as additional information about features and specifications. I-NPC01 requires a single PCI-E x1 slot and allows for a full use of two USB 3.0 ports. Installation is very simple and shouldn’t pose any problems even for those unfamiliar with computer hardware.

Click Image For a Larger One

The top of the adapter card contains the NEC controller chip, with the ability to support the transfer rate of up to 5 Gbps. This type of controller is used in many of the newer motherboards with the capacity to support USB 3.0, and delivers excellent performance. The side panel contains two blue USB 3.0 ports (blue ports are indicative of USB 3.0 support). Each of the ports contains 8 threads in order to support a singificantly faster transfer rate in comparison to USB 2.0.

Testing and Methodology

In order to provide conclusive and objective results, four well-known and proven benchmarks as well as real life testing were used on three different external enclosure set ups. External enclosure set ups were designed to show a difference between USB 2.0 enclosure vs USB 3.0 enclosure as well the universal compatibility of reviewed I-NA215U USB 3.0 to both basic laptop 2.5” hard drives and top of the line solid state drives.

PC Configuration
Case
In-Win Dragon Rider
CPU
Intel Core i7 930 @ 3.8GHz
Motherboard
ASUS P6T Motherboard – LGA1366
Ram
Corsair 1333Mhz 6GB (3x 2GB) Kit
CPU Cooler
Thermalright True Black 120 with 2x Noctua NF-P12 Fans
Hard Drives
1x Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200.12 Hard Drive
External Hard Drives / SSDs
Zalman N Series 128GB SSD
1x Seagate 7200.4 500GB Hard Drive
External Enclosures
In-Win AMMO USB 2.0 Enclosure
Ineo I-NA215U USB 3.0 Enclosure
Optical
ASUS DVD-Burner
GPU
Palit GTX460 Sonic Platinum 1GB GDDR5 Video Cards
Case Fans
3x Noctua NF-P12 120mm Fans - Side
1x In-Win 120mm Fans – Front, Back and Top   
Additional Cards
Ineo I-NPC01 2 Ports PCI Express Adapter for USB 3.0
PSU
SeaSonic X750 Gold 750W
Mouse
Logitech G5
Keyboard
Logitech G15

 

Benchmarks
Crystal Disk Mark
HD Tach
ATTO
HD Tune Pro
Real Life Backup Test

 

Crystal Disk Mark

 

                           USB 2.0 7200 rpm                                                          USB 3.0 7200 rpm                  
 
                                                                              USB 3.0 SSD
The figure on the upper left demonstrates a standard laptop Seagate 2.5” HDD 7200 RPM. Largest speed observed is that for a sequenced file which closely approaches to 40 Mbps. This is an average limit for USB 2.0, which means that even a simple 7200 RPM drive can reach the maximum transfer rate of USB 2.0. In the I-NA215U USB 3.0 enclosure (upper right) see the true limit of a hard drive, which is an average 88.5 MB/s. This means that the HDD is almost twice the speed of what USB 2.0 can handle. The bottom figure is the I-NA215U enclosure equipped with an SSD, which demonstrates a significant increase in the transfer rate in comparison to both an average USB 2.0 enclosure and a hard drive.

 

HD Tach 3.0.4.0

USB 2.0 8MB zones

 

 

USB 2.0 32MB zones

 

 

USB 3.0 8MB zones 

 

 

USB 3.0 32MB zones

 

 

USB 3.0 SSD 8MB zones

 

USB 3.0 SSD 32MB zones

HD Tach confirms the results first observed in Crystal Disk Mark. In HD TACH results with the use of USB 2.0 enclosure, the transfer rate remains at a constant value of 40 Mb/s per second, and signifies that USB 2.0 limit is reach. USB 3.0 demonstrates a normal graph for a standard hard drive, where the transfer rate slows down over time, but the average transfer rate is in the 90-97 Mb/s, depending on the size of the files. Finally, SSD demonstrates a phenomenal average transfer rate of 196 Mb/s which is definitely a significant increase for a single bay drive.

ATTO disk benchmark

 

USB 2.0 7200 rpm hard drive

USB 3.0 7200 rpm hard drive

  USB 3.0 Zalman N-series SSD

 

The ATTO benchmark demonstrates a difference of transfer rates of both read and write, dependent upon varying file sizes ranging from 0.5 KB to 8192 KB, with the total size of all files being 256 MB. In both USB 2.0 and 3.0 enclosures that had an HDD at 7200 RPM, a transfer rate is observed until the file sizes reach 16 KB each. Then USB 3.0 is able to reach an average transfer rate of 87 MB/s, while USB 2.0 remains at 40 MB/s, with both read and write rates being almost the same. In SSD testing, there is a clear difference between read and write as the size of individual files increases. While the average write rate is about 186 MB/s, average read rate is 196 MB/s.

HD Tune Pro

 USB 2.0 7200 rpm hard drive

 

 

 USB 3.0 7200 rpm hard drive

 

 

 USB 3.0 Zalman N-series SSD

HD tune pro confirms results observed in other benchmarks. However, unlike other benchmarks, HD Tune Pro shows the access time as well as the burst rate. There is a difference between the burst rate of the USB 2.0 enclosure and the USB 3.0 enclosure, which was not observed in other benchmarks. Access time observed is significantly faster for the SSD (0.1 ms) in comparison to standard hard drive (16.5 and 16.6 ms), which is normal, since solid state drives are designed to provide exceptionally fast access.

Real Life Testing

Copying 267 files of varying formats (22.5 GB)
USB 2.0 enclosure with Seagate 7200 rpm 10 min 10 sec

36 MB/s

I-NA215U USB 3.0 enclosure with N-series Zalman SSD

5min 20sec

68.66 MB/s
I-NA215U USB 3.0 enclosure with N-series Zalman SSD 1 min 57 sec 192.1 MB/s

While benchmarks are able to provide precise results, real life testing is still essential since file formats and sizes are extremely varied during an average transfer. As a result of real life testing, the USB 2.0 enclosure provided an average transfer rate of 36 MB/s, which is significantly lower than the I-NA215U’s 68.6 MB/s. With the use of an SSD, the Ineo I-NA215U was able to provide an average rate of 192 MB/s, which is impressive.

Conclusion

The Ineo I-NA215U USB 3.0 enclosure is an optimal single bay enclosure suitable for any user. With a large range of compatibility, and the ability to support both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0, as well as the ability to accommodate both older 2.5” SATA I/II hard drives and newer solid state drives, it is an enclosure that will stay relevant for a while. Stylish design and light polycarbonate alloy composition make this enclosure a compact and durable companion that can be carried anywhere. Material heat resistance is truly impressive, and while the enclosure is thin, no signs of heat were noted on the surface. This enclosure demonstrates an excellent performance and is able to allow access to any external hard drive at practically the same rate of an internal drive. Though a single bay enclosure, it is also capable of supporting hard drives that are just being released, and therefore, has versatility for the future.

While the enclosure has a myriad of positive characteristics, there is some room for improvement. Although enclosure is light and stylish, the inner matrix does not seem to provide significant protection to the hard drive. It would be nice if enclosure was able to provide more features, instead of going for raw style and simplicity.

OUR VERDICT: Ineo I-NA215U USB 3.0 enclosure
Performance 9
Value 8.5
Quality 7.5
Features 7
Innovation  8
 Please note that the final score is not an aggregate average of the rating system.
Total 7.5
Pros Cons

Great performance and compatibility

Easy Plug and Play

USB 3.0 support

Stylish design and light composure

Lacking protection to the hard drive

No designed area for heat release

Lack of special features

 

Summary: While Ineo I-NA215U USB 3.0 enclosure is an excellent product with great performance more features would certainly be welcomed. For it’s unique style and excellent performance, the Ineo I-NA215U enclosure earns the Bjorn3D Bronze Bear Award.

 

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