The first thing to say is wow, that’s a low price for a 2 port USB 3.0 ExpressCard 34. The obvious question next is can we realistically expect this card to deliver?
Firstly, what you get in the box is sparse; the 34mm expansion card, the driver CD and no instructions. If you visit the manufacturers website you’ll find no support, no drivers and no real information.
This may panic some but others may be willing to roll up their sleeves to get the card to work. Officially only Windows Vista and Windows 7 are supported.
Operating System Support
With a bit of tinkering, we found that the card works in the following systems:
- Windows Vista and Windows 7 (Driver is in the ASM1042 folder on the included CD)
- Windows 8 – no drivers needed, plug in and start using
- Mac OS Yosemite – see below
- Linux – works with almost all distros with latest kernel out of the box
Even works with a MacBook Pro
There are other 34mm cards that fit in any Macbook Pro with an expresscard slot but sadly the software needed to make them work is not available.
What makes this card a winner for Apple fans is not only does it sit flush in MacBooks but works with the right drivers installed. For such a low price this really is a worthy addition to your Mac.
You can expect speeds of about 70MB/s to 115 MB/s, which is a huge improvement over the existing USB 2.0 ports included on a MacBook. Time machine backups for example are so much quicker, 2GB’s transferred in 20 seconds.
So you’re probably wondering how to get it working? Luckily there is a driver from Caldigit (another electronics manufacturer) that works in Mac OS Yosemite. Follow these simple steps and you will have 2 working USB 3.0 ports on your beloved Macbook Pro:
- Download and install the CalDigit USB3 Driver
- Completely shut down your Macbook
- Insert the Gmyle expansion card in the Expresscard slot
- Start up your Macbook
Be careful to avoid the card ejecting unexpectedly
Expresscard slots in general suffer from a slight design fault. The eject mechanism causes the inserted card to come out when plugging and unplugging. Unfortunately this cannot be changed short of taping the card in place!
When manufacturers make these cards they are limited to the design of the slot. So the problem with the card coming out when removing the USB cables or devices is not an issue with the card it’s actually a problem with the expansion slot itself.
Once you are aware of this issue it is easy to avoid by being more careful when removing devices and using your finger to stop the card from coming out.
For non Mac users using a laptop that has a 54mm expansion slot, this card is still suitable. Sadly, a stabilizer adapter is not included and needs to be purchased separately.
The stabilizer adapter is made of plastic and attaches to the 34mm card to easily slot into the 54mm slot. You could also consider getting the Startech 54mm expresscard 54 version.
What about performance?
Different laptops get different speeds because of the laptop’s expresscard version. Bear in mind expresscard 1.0 is slower and is not able to achieve the full speed USB 3.0. Speeds achieved also depend on the spec of your USB device.
In a express card version 1.0 slot, speeds are about 3-4 times faster than USB 2.0. In a version 2.0 slot speeds are about 6-7 times faster than the laptops native USB 2.0 ports. This is great for copying large amounts of data like photos and videos.
The product itself is of a good build quality with the card still working happily after many months of use. It also runs cool and uses minimal power helping preserve the laptop’s battery life.
What’s missing on this card is the ability to boost power for USB 3.0 devices that need more power. Plugging in 2 devices in both ports at the same time can be a problem. This is normally when the drive requires more power then the system bus can provide.
In this case only one device gets enough power. Less power needy thumb drives are fine and will work at the same time.
If you do need more power for your USB devices consider this Expresscard 34 USB 3.0 adapter.
Is this card right for you?
Even with it’s flush compact design, it manages to provide 2 USB ports, great for adding extra USB ports or for upgrading to USB 3.0, especially in a MacBook.
Your laptop remains compact as this expresscard USB 3.0 removes the need for USB hubs or other bulky USB 3.0 adapters. On Windows laptops, you can simply pop in the card and start using your devices without even needing to restart.
At such a low price this card is a no brainer. At the very least you get 2 extra USB ports on your laptop. The real benefit however is that these ports are Superspeed USB 3.0 ports. Great for older laptops with an ExpressCard slot.