Adding a USB3 capability to a Dell PowerEdge Server is easy, but there is a lot of confusion about the subject.
No internal power connectors for a USB 3.0 PCI Card
The problem that most people come up against is that nearly all of the USB 3.0 cards require either a SATA power cable or a 4-pin Molex connector to enough power to drive host powered devices. Many USB 3 PCIe cards require additional internal power to drive devices. Dell Rack mount servers do not have any spare power inside the machine so you cannot easily satisfy the power requirement.
HighPoint RocketU 1344A USB 3 Controller
The key difference with the HighPoint controller is that it is a PCIe x4 card and can supply up to 25W of power as opposed to most add-in cards which are PCIe x1 and provide only 10W of power. It also has 4x Dedicated 10Gb/s USB 3.1 ports so it is great if you are copying out large backups to external drives etc. So there is no requirement for an internal power connector. It is a lot more expensive than the competition but does work incredibly well. It also supports UASP which gives optimal performance if you have a USB 3.0 UASP compliant device attached.
Installing a USB 3.0 Card into a Dell PowerEdge
So, for the sake of clarity I will list the kit that I used that worked well for me:
- High Point RocketU 1344A PCI-Express 3.1 HBA
- StarTech.com 2.5″ External Hard Drive USB 3.1 Enclosure (To house the 2.5″ Intel SSD)
- Intel SSD 545s Series
The reason that I selected this particular Startech kit is that it is UASP compliant which gives USB 3.1 optimal performance. As you can see from the screenshot below, both the drives I connected with these enclosures were detected as UAS compliant:
Performance of USB 3 vs USB 2
I did some really basic testing by copying a Windows Server ISO to a Samsung Portable SSD T5, it took 16 seconds to complete with the USB 3 card:
I copied the same file to the Samsung Portable SSD T5 from the built in USB2 ports and it took 2 minutes and 57 seconds to complete:
This is the portable Samsung Portable SSD T5 drive I used for testing. It is tiny, smaller than a credit card!