Questions & Answers

Are there particularly good (or bad) PCI USB 2.0 add-on cards for use with AudioBox 1818vsl? (NOT 3.0)

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asked Jul 23, 2016 in AudioBox USB by darakorrati (170 points)
edited Jul 23, 2016 by darakorrati
I have an 1818vsl, which I am connecting to a PC-architecture quad-core tower system that I've built myself. The USB 2.0 devices on the motherboard are not true root devices, they are hubbed off a motherboard root device, and I want to expose a true root device USB 2.0 port for use with my 1818vsl. There are several cards available to do exactly this, but are there ones either particularly good or particularly bad to use for best behaviour, particularly regarding latency?


(note: I am NOT looking at (and do not want) a USB 3.0 device. I'm looking specifically at cards that expose USB 2.0 root devices, of which several are available.)

1 Answer

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answered Aug 22, 2016 by AlexTinsley (910,040 points)

You're going to have a slight issue finding what you're looking for because it is a multi-sided issue, and while you don't want a USB 3.0 option card, that may be your only choice. 

We would normally would recommend a PCI-e USB 2.0 card instead of a PCI card because PCI bus is also hubbed off of a bridge chip on PCI-e based motherboards. However finding a PCIe USB 2.0 card is not possible because nobody makes them anymore. All the PCI-e option cards are USB 3.0 nowadays. 

So you're basically stuck buying a USB 3.0 card instead. But there are more problems with this if you're on Windows 7. Windows 7 does not have a native USB 3.0 device driver and you are stuck using the driver that came with the USB 3.0 card. We've seen where performance will vary from Windows 7 to Windows 8.1 / 10 with these USB 3.0 chipset drivers. 

I wrote an article about this a couple of years ago, you can find it in our knowledge base here

Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 have class USB 3.0 device drivers, then just like 1394, it's down to the chipset as your original question infers. 

There is a glimmer of hope, we found one USB 3 chipset to work pretty well with Windows 7. 

If you decide to buy a USB 3.0 PCI-e card to use with the 1818VSL running on USB 2.0 mode, we recommend the ASMedia 1042A chip. This chip can be found on many add-on Cards. It works on Windows 7, 8.1 and 10, with the VSL series and for others reading this article, it works well with our other USB Audio products as well. 

Be careful as ASMedia also makes an 1142A (USB 3.1) chip, we found that in some instances of Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 with the class driver from Microsoft, that chip did not perform as well as the 1042A chip with just USB 3.0 on it in the same system on the same OS, int the same PCI-e slot.

For those interested reading this article, we are working on a more detailed report of USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 chipsets for all of our products and how well they work / don't work.