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Which ExpressCard 34 for fast USB 3 on stock vanilla T420

T400/T410/T420 and T500/T510/T520 Series
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Danathar
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Nov 30, 2021 9:10 am
Location: Stafford, Virginina

Which ExpressCard 34 for fast USB 3 on stock vanilla T420

#1 Post by Danathar » Tue Nov 30, 2021 9:22 am

Hello everyone! I've done some searching but can't seem to find the exact answer I need.

Is there an ExpressCard 34 USB 3.0 card that is available that gives something faster than the USB 2.0 only ports on my stock vanilla T420? I'm using my USB ports to boot Windows 10 off of USB. It's a bit slow on USB 2.0, so I thought I'd look for an ExpressCard 34 USB 3.0 adapter IF it exists.

Is anybody using such a card? What brand? Can you still buy them somewhere?

thanks

dr_st
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Re: Which ExpressCard 34 for fast USB 3 on stock vanilla T420

#2 Post by dr_st » Tue Nov 30, 2021 10:49 am

Welcome to the forum. :)

You can start here:
viewtopic.php?t=127819

I would avoid uPD720202-based cards because they have ASPM issues with Sandy Bridge laptops.

Asmedia ASM1042 seems to be good (Gmyle BC628) but they have gotten ridiculously expensive on eBay...

If you don't mind the card sticking out, then Startech adapters (like ECUSB3S22) based on the older uPD720200 chipset should also be OK.

P.S. Please edit your profile and add your location per the forum rules. Availability of such devices does vary between locales, so you may also get more accurate suggestions this way.
Thinkpad 25 (20K7), T490 (20N3), Yoga 14 (20FY), T430s (IPS FHD + Classic Keyboard), X220 4291-4BG
X61 7673-V2V, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G, X32 (IPS Screen), A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad

Danathar
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Nov 30, 2021 9:10 am
Location: Stafford, Virginina

Re: Which ExpressCard 34 for fast USB 3 on stock vanilla T420

#3 Post by Danathar » Tue Nov 30, 2021 11:40 am

dr_st wrote:
Tue Nov 30, 2021 10:49 am
Welcome to the forum. :)

You can start here:
viewtopic.php?t=127819

I would avoid uPD720202-based cards because they have ASPM issues with Sandy Bridge laptops.

Asmedia ASM1042 seems to be good (Gmyle BC628) but they have gotten ridiculously expensive on eBay...

If you don't mind the card sticking out, then Startech adapters (like ECUSB3S22) based on the older uPD720200 chipset should also be OK.

P.S. Please edit your profile and add your location per the forum rules. Availability of such devices does vary between locales, so you may also get more accurate suggestions this way.
Thank you much. I’ll check those out and fix my profile. Somebody on Reddit had also mentioned that you couldn’t usb boot off of the express card USB adapters but they didn’t go into any details.

I’m hoping somebody has real world experience with something like the star tech adapters. I’ve bought that brand before so I know it’s not a fly by night no name company.

Bionicman
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Location: Sofia, Bulgaria

Re: Which ExpressCard 34 for fast USB 3 on stock vanilla T420

#4 Post by Bionicman » Tue Nov 30, 2021 11:58 am

Hello, I have tried two different expressCard to usb3 adapters.
The Startech ECUSB3S11 slides in and out nicely. I haven't tested speeds carefully.
On a X200s there was 50% speed improvement when copying one big file.
I would avoid the WBTUO USB 3.0 to Adapter Hidden Express Card ExpressCard LT402 Notebook Super Speed 5Gbps 34MM Expand Card.
It is ever so slighly taller than expected and can't enter the slot without force. Which means if you put it inside, it is never going out.
That relates to all Lenovos.
Both adapters come with cd driver, but actually the driver for the Startech one can be found:
it is a Renesas Technology Corp. uPD720202 USB 3.0 Host Controller. I installed a driver for that device from Lenovo for windows server and it worked.

Danathar
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Joined: Tue Nov 30, 2021 9:10 am
Location: Stafford, Virginina

Re: Which ExpressCard 34 for fast USB 3 on stock vanilla T420

#5 Post by Danathar » Tue Nov 30, 2021 12:02 pm

Bionicman wrote:
Tue Nov 30, 2021 11:58 am
Hello, I have tried two different expressCard to usb3 adapters.
The Startech ECUSB3S11 slides in and out nicely. I haven't tested speeds carefully.
On a X200s there was 50% speed improvement when copying one big file.
I would avoid the WBTUO USB 3.0 to Adapter Hidden Express Card ExpressCard LT402 Notebook Super Speed 5Gbps 34MM Expand Card.
It is ever so slighly taller than expected and can't enter the slot without force. Which means if you put it inside, it is never going out.
That relates to all Lenovos.
Both adapters come with cd driver, but actually the driver for the Startech one can be found:
it is a Renesas Technology Corp. uPD720202 USB 3.0 Host Controller. I installed a driver for that device from Lenovo for windows server and it worked.
Thank you for that. Very good information. I'm gathering from the fact that you need drivers that you can't really boot off of USB attached media with the Expresscard adapters? Basically, if you plug in a bootable USB drive into the adapter pre-boot the BIOS does or doesn't see the USB drive?

dr_st
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Re: Which ExpressCard 34 for fast USB 3 on stock vanilla T420

#6 Post by dr_st » Tue Nov 30, 2021 12:20 pm

Danathar wrote:
Tue Nov 30, 2021 11:40 am
Somebody on Reddit had also mentioned that you couldn’t usb boot off of the express card USB adapters but they didn’t go into any details.
That's right; you cannot. Or at least I have never seen one where you could, at least on a stock Thinkpad BIOS. This is because the required boot ROM is not part of the BIOS, nor do the adapters include one. I missed that aspect of your post, sorry. I still have one of the Startech adapters, so I can double check.
Thinkpad 25 (20K7), T490 (20N3), Yoga 14 (20FY), T430s (IPS FHD + Classic Keyboard), X220 4291-4BG
X61 7673-V2V, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G, X32 (IPS Screen), A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad

Danathar
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Nov 30, 2021 9:10 am
Location: Stafford, Virginina

Re: Which ExpressCard 34 for fast USB 3 on stock vanilla T420

#7 Post by Danathar » Tue Nov 30, 2021 12:25 pm

dr_st wrote:
Tue Nov 30, 2021 12:20 pm
Danathar wrote:
Tue Nov 30, 2021 11:40 am
Somebody on Reddit had also mentioned that you couldn’t usb boot off of the express card USB adapters but they didn’t go into any details.
That's right; you cannot. Or at least I have never seen one where you could, at least on a stock Thinkpad BIOS. This is because the required boot ROM is not part of the BIOS, nor do the adapters include one. I missed that aspect of your post, sorry. I still have one of the Startech adapters, so I can double check.
In the end, I may be trying to make something work that is more effort than is needed. I DO have an esata port on that system. Maybe an NVme M.2 external eSATA enclosure that is powered by one of the USB ports would be a better fit and give me better performance than the T3 Samsung SSD via USB 2.0. eSATA is going to be far quicker. There is just the power problem.

dr_st
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Re: Which ExpressCard 34 for fast USB 3 on stock vanilla T420

#8 Post by dr_st » Tue Nov 30, 2021 1:52 pm

The T420 has an eSATA/USB combo port, so it is powered. You just need a correct cable that can draw power from the USB pins. It should be enough for any 2.5" SSD that can normally be powered off a single USB port.
Thinkpad 25 (20K7), T490 (20N3), Yoga 14 (20FY), T430s (IPS FHD + Classic Keyboard), X220 4291-4BG
X61 7673-V2V, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G, X32 (IPS Screen), A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad

Bionicman
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Location: Sofia, Bulgaria

Re: Which ExpressCard 34 for fast USB 3 on stock vanilla T420

#9 Post by Bionicman » Tue Nov 30, 2021 5:27 pm

Danathar wrote:
Tue Nov 30, 2021 12:02 pm
Bionicman wrote:
Tue Nov 30, 2021 11:58 am
Hello, I have tried two different expressCard to usb3 adapters.
The Startech ECUSB3S11 slides in and out nicely. I haven't tested speeds carefully.
On a X200s there was 50% speed improvement when copying one big file.
I would avoid the WBTUO USB 3.0 to Adapter Hidden Express Card ExpressCard LT402 Notebook Super Speed 5Gbps 34MM Expand Card.
It is ever so slighly taller than expected and can't enter the slot without force. Which means if you put it inside, it is never going out.
That relates to all Lenovos.
Both adapters come with cd driver, but actually the driver for the Startech one can be found:
it is a Renesas Technology Corp. uPD720202 USB 3.0 Host Controller. I installed a driver for that device from Lenovo for windows server and it worked.
Thank you for that. Very good information. I'm gathering from the fact that you need drivers that you can't really boot off of USB attached media with the Expresscard adapters? Basically, if you plug in a bootable USB drive into the adapter pre-boot the BIOS does or doesn't see the USB drive?
I could try booting some distro from an usb attached to the expressCard adapter ? I have no idea what will happen. Actually I saw there was a mention for a linux driver for that device, but haven't tested it.
By the way there is that: https://thinkmods.store/
I will soon receive one and I'm curios how it works. Basically I need to retain modularity between machines by swapping a single drive across them. Some of which do not have a second drive to begin with.

Danathar
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Nov 30, 2021 9:10 am
Location: Stafford, Virginina

Re: Which ExpressCard 34 for fast USB 3 on stock vanilla T420

#10 Post by Danathar » Tue Nov 30, 2021 6:08 pm

Bionicman wrote:
Tue Nov 30, 2021 5:27 pm
Danathar wrote:
Tue Nov 30, 2021 12:02 pm


Thank you for that. Very good information. I'm gathering from the fact that you need drivers that you can't really boot off of USB attached media with the Expresscard adapters? Basically, if you plug in a bootable USB drive into the adapter pre-boot the BIOS does or doesn't see the USB drive?
I could try booting some distro from an usb attached to the expressCard adapter ? I have no idea what will happen. Actually I saw there was a mention for a linux driver for that device, but haven't tested it.
By the way there is that: https://thinkmods.store/
I will soon receive one and I'm curios how it works. Basically I need to retain modularity between machines by swapping a single drive across them. Some of which do not have a second drive to begin with.
Well! I took a look at that site and low and behold you CAN boot with this https://thinkmods.store/collections/all ... me-adapter

Definitely leaning in that direction now

dr_st
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Re: Which ExpressCard 34 for fast USB 3 on stock vanilla T420

#11 Post by dr_st » Wed Dec 01, 2021 2:09 am

Danathar wrote:
Tue Nov 30, 2021 6:08 pm
Well! I took a look at that site and low and behold you CAN boot with this https://thinkmods.store/collections/all ... me-adapter
Nice! Clever solution:
The adapter comes with a USB flash chip embedded inside, which can be booted from any stock BIOS. It contains the Clover bootloader, which has special NVMe drivers that can then boot your SSD. If you use Coreboot, you can boot directly to the SSD without touching Clover.
So, it's basically a USB and a PCIe ExpressCard device in a single neat package, where one boots the other. :)
Thinkpad 25 (20K7), T490 (20N3), Yoga 14 (20FY), T430s (IPS FHD + Classic Keyboard), X220 4291-4BG
X61 7673-V2V, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G, X32 (IPS Screen), A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad

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