Dual Link PCI Card, by ADS Tech
Posted: 15-Jun-2006

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: ADS Tech Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Bill Catambay Class: HARDWARE

Overview
The ADS Dual-Link PCI Card adds three USB 2.0 ports and two Firewire ports to your PCI Mac system. USB and Firewire ports support devices such as hard drives, DVD burners, DV camcorders, video capture devices, memory card readers, and more. The USB 2.0 ports provide transfer speeds up to 480 Mbps, and the Firewire ports provide transfer speeds up to 400 Mbps. The card is plug and play - no software installation required.


This review is for the Dual-Link model DLX180

Target Audience
The Dual-Link PCI card is intended for anyone with a PCI system that has an unused PCI slot available. The ones that will get the most benefit from the card are those that have an older Mac system with USB 1.1 ports, as well as those that have all of their USB and/or Firewire ports in use and are looking for a few extra built-in ports.

Price
The Dual-Link PCI card retails for $49.99, while the street price ranges between $40 and $44 (
Amazon.com offers it for $41.99 and free shipping).

Setup
Installing the Dual-Link PCI card does require opening up your Mac, but it's still remarkably easy. Find an empty PCI slot, install the card, and you instantly have the extra ports. There was no software to install, no special booting or connections to make. I put the card in, connected a device, and it was working! It was that simple.

In Use
I installed the Dual-Link into a G4 Quicksilver tower. The G4 already has two firewire ports and two USB 1.1 ports, which were all in use. In fact, one of the USB ports was in use by a USB hub, in which all of the hub ports were in use. Yeah, you might say I like gadgets. So with the Dual-Link card installed, I had an additional 3 USB ports, and additional 2 Firewire ports. These came in very handy.

In my situation, however, what was more important to me than the additional ports was the capability of having USB 2.0 ports. The difference in speed between USB 1.1 and 2.0 is like night and day. Just as an example, when I tried to sync my iPod mini on the 1.1 ports, iTunes would copy about 20 songs, and then freeze (in fact, the whole system froze). I would continue this process over and over again, and it would always freeze after about 20 or so songs (out of 4000 to copy). I looked on the specs, and it does recommend USB 2.0 for data transfer to the iPod mini. With the Dual-Link card installed, I was able to hook up the iPod to one of the new USB 2.0 ports, and just like magic, all 4000+ songs copied to the iPod without any problem. I hooked up a USB hard drive, and the data transfer was amazingly fast. My CompactFlash card reader worked perfectly as well.

Over several weeks of use, both the USB and firewire ports performed flawlessly. Device connections were stable and reliable, and data transfers were impressive.

NOTE: For those that use Sleep mode on OS X, there are known issues with 3rd party USB2/Firewire cards that cause
problems with deep sleep. It appears that the ADS Dual-Link card is no exception. This was not an issue for me, as I never use sleep mode.

Summary
The ADS Dual-Link PCI card is a nifty add-on card for PCI Macs that gives you three USB 2.0 ports and two Firewire ports. The card installs easily, and no software installation is needed to use the card. You plug it in, and it works. The additional USB and Firewire ports are great, but the biggest advantage is for those with older Macs that only have USB 1.1 ports. The USB 2.0 ports work at blazing speeds, even on the older Macs. For those that already have USB 2.0 ports, this is still a very useful card, but if you are only needing additional USB ports, a USB hub may suit your needs better, especially since the hub ports would be more easily accessible.
If you are looking to increase both USB ports and Firewire ports, or if you have an older PCI Mac with only USB 1.1 ports, the Dual-Link card is an efficient and reliable solution providing stable connectivity and fast data transfer speeds.

Pros

  • Adds 3 USB ports and 2 Firewire ports
  • USB 2.0 (great for USB 1.1 Macs)
  • Easy installation
  • Fast data transfers with reliable operation


Cons

  • Built-in ports are in back, making them less accessible
  • Some users already with USB 2.0 Mac may opt for a hub
  • Wake issues with deep sleep mode


Overall Rating

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice