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Express 34 / 54 for USB 3.0 capability

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cadillacmike68
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Express 34 / 54 for USB 3.0 capability

#1 Post by cadillacmike68 » Thu May 21, 2020 10:35 pm

I've done some reading on this for my T500s/ T61s and soon to have T4x series to get some sort of USB 3.0 capability on these older systems. Intended use is to run USB 3.0 flash drives And external USB HDDs for backups. I don't plan to work from them because all my ThinkPads have 2nd HDDs either installed or available to replace the optical drive.

The problems I see are:
1. no power at least not enough to run an external USB HDD
2. ports too close to fit today's flash drives
3. general unreliability

Are there any good ones out there? The only one that I saw that had any decent sort of reviews was a 54mm wide one, and I think all my ThinkPads can only take the 34mm wide ones.

I haven't paid much attention to the card slots. I take it that expresscard 34 / 54 has taken over from cardbus, which itself took over from PCMCIA / PCcard??

What else is there to attach via. Some of these have IEEE1394 / FireWire, but that is even more ancient.
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T21 2647; T22 2647 4@ 900MHz, 1@ 1GHz SXGA+; T23 2647 2@ 1.13GHz, 1@ 1.2GHz SXGA+, WiFi
T30 2366-88U 2GHz; 2366-83U 1.8G; 5@ 2366-LU0/66U; 2367-KU6 FUBARd
T61 8897, 2.4GHz SXGA+; 8898, 2.4GHz; 6463, 2@ WSXGA+; 7658, 2.5GHz; T61p, 6 more T61s
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Re: Express 34 / 54 for USB 3.0 capability

#2 Post by RealBlackStuff » Fri May 22, 2020 12:38 am

You really should look at dr_st's reviews: viewtopic.php?f=18&t=127819
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Re: Express 34 / 54 for USB 3.0 capability

#3 Post by dr_st » Fri May 22, 2020 2:26 am

As RBS already pointed you to my reviews, I don't need to do it myself. :) But, yes, you can find a lot of info there.

I would just address briefly the specific concerns you've raised:

Power is not an issue with flash drives or, obviously, large (3.5") external drives that have their own power supply. It may be an issue with portable 2.5" drives that only take power from USB, especially older ones, since newer ones are more power-efficient. There are solutions to that - like USB Y-split cables that have an additional plug for delivering power (can take power off any USB 2.0 port on the laptop). Alternatively, some of the USB 3.0 ExpressCard adapters even have their own DC-in socket and come with a DC-in to USB cable that can pull power from an existing port.

Case in point: I just tried with my external WD Elements USB 3.0 Hard Drive connected via an ExpressCard adapter to an X220, and experienced no issues whatsoever copying files to and from the drive, without connecting any additional power, and even when the laptop is on battery. Not saying it will work with all hard drives and all laptops, but the above workarounds still apply.

Some of the ExpressCard adapters have ports that are too close for multiple drives, but some have enough spacing (usually those that have a DC-in connector, for example).

Some of them are not very reliable in specific systems (you can read more in my reviews), but it's not like you have a choice - there is no other way to get USB 3.0 into a laptop that has not USB 3.0 controller onboard.

BTW, I don't know which Thinkpads you plan to use them on, but all 4x/5x, 6x and *00 systems have ExpressCard/54 slots that can take both 34mm and 54mm adapters. Note that ExpressCard is available starting on T43/R52 only. T42/R51 and older only have CardBus/PCMCIA.
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X61 7673-V2V, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G, X32 (IPS Screen), A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad, A21m 2628-GXU

cadillacmike68
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Re: Express 34 / 54 for USB 3.0 capability

#4 Post by cadillacmike68 » Fri May 22, 2020 1:41 pm

I read dt_st's review before. My major concern from reading that was power. I have flash / thumb drives, but the main backup / transfer devices I use are 2.5" USB HDDs. I'll review it again.

I was also mistaken in thinking that I had only 34mm slots in the T61s and T500s. From your reply, I can see that I was mistaken and when I got a good look, it does look like these are 54mm slots, so I could get the wider cards. I can't believe that I didn't realize that the slots were over 2" wide from just looking at them. duh!

For the real older systems with 1.1 ports, I have an IBM cardbus card that provides two USB 2.0 ports and that's all I need for those, since it has a higher powered port. any transfers would be infrequent and of a smaller magnitude.

I'll look it over again, and will try to settle on one.
760LD 9547 FUBARd
T21 2647; T22 2647 4@ 900MHz, 1@ 1GHz SXGA+; T23 2647 2@ 1.13GHz, 1@ 1.2GHz SXGA+, WiFi
T30 2366-88U 2GHz; 2366-83U 1.8G; 5@ 2366-LU0/66U; 2367-KU6 FUBARd
T61 8897, 2.4GHz SXGA+; 8898, 2.4GHz; 6463, 2@ WSXGA+; 7658, 2.5GHz; T61p, 6 more T61s
T500 2
T530 2392-49U

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