NZXT IU01 Internal USB Expansion Review
Reviewed by: Indybird
Reviewed on: February 16, 2010
NZXT established themselves in the computer case market with high quality, enthusiast-focused products. They have since not only expanded their product line, but introduced innovative products to better satisfy enthusiasts' and gamers' needs. Their latest product, the NZXT IU01 USB Expansion, addresses the lack of internal, external and/or powered USB ports in today's computers. The IU01 acts as an internal USB hub powered directly by the PSU. It allows you to connect more internal USB 2.0 devices than your motherboard would typically be capable of. In addition, it supplies two external USB 2.0 ports so that you can move the more passive USB devices such as wireless or Bluetooth adapters to the inside of the computer, freeing up more external ports. Could this be just the accessory USB fanatics have been waiting for? Let's find out...
The NZXT IU01 comes packaged in a small, plain cardboard box. Being a smaller and cheaper accessory, NZXT opted for a very simple package. The front has the NZXT Logo, a clear plastic window to see the product itself, and the name, model and brief description in five languages. Moving over to the back you'll find everything that was on the front, along with a short paragraph describing the purpose of this product and its features. The inside is partitioned into two sections; one with the USB expansion and one with the USB cable, power cable and instructions. I was surprised to see that both of the cables supplied were sleeved with heat-shrink on both ends, giving them a very clean and professional appearance. It should also be noted that the Molex plug on the power cable allows power to pass through to other Molex connections (probably due to this device's typically low power consumption).
After removing the device, you see just how small and simple it is. The entire thing is 1" wide, 3.5" long, about 0.75" tall and contains just a few components. To better fit in with most case color schemes, NZXT chose a black PCB. On the bottom of the board you'll find the means of mounting this device in your case; Velcro. The bottom piece is adhesive backed so it can be stuck to the inside of your case. I rather like this solution to mounting, because it allows you to remove the device from wherever its mounted to make connecting USB cables easier.
Taking a closer look you'll find the two-pin power connector, upstream internal USB header, three downstream internal USB headers labeled "USB1, 2 & 3" and two downstream external USB ports labeled "USB4 & 5". On the right side is the text "USB-HUB Rev2.0", meaning this is the second overall design for this product. I suppose even the smallest and simplest products need to be refined.
Now that we've familiarized ourselves with the IU01, let's see how it installs and performs.
The NZXT IU01 Installation is as easy as it gets. The instruction booklet is very clear, but most users will find that they won't need it. All you have to do is open up your case, stick the Velcro on, locate your motherboard's internal USB ports, connect the upstream internal USB cable to the motherboard, connect the power to a spare Molex connection and then finally connect all of your USB devices. Once you've done all of that, you're all ready to turn your computer on. Once windows starts up it will immediately recognize the hub and all of the attached devices.
I chose to install it in the bottom the case as far from the motherboard as possible, to avoid any height conflicts with future expansion cards.
- 6 Internal USB expansion
- 2 External USB expansion
- Dedicated power from power supply
- Plug and use, no drivers needed
When it comes to any USB hub, there are only a few performance concerns. The most common one will be transfer rates on external storage connected via USB. To test the hub's performance, I will be observing the read and write speeds of a generic 8GB flash drive in HDTune on the NZXT IU01 and the motherboard I/O. I will have other standard USB devices hooked up to the IU01 such as a keyboard, mouse, and several other devices to simulate a standard working environment. Let's see just how it performs.
- Processor: AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE
- Motherboard: ASUS M3A78-T
- Memory: Mushkin EM2-6400 5-4-5-12
- Video Card: Palit Geforce GTX 260
- Power Supply: OCZ 700W Modular Power Supply
- Hard Drive: 1 x Seagate 1TB SATA
- Optical Drive: Lite-on DVD-RW SATA
- Case: NZXT Lexa
- OS: Windows Vista Ultimate 64-Bit
- Generic 8GB Flash Drive (Motherboard I/O)
- Generic 8GB Flash Drive (NZXT IU01)
- Average Transfer Rate (HD Tune)
- Random Access Time (HD Tune)
Heres the results of the tests:
As you can see the IU01 essentially has no effect on your flash read and write rates or random access time. A positive in this instance, showing it does not hinder performance.
If you are looking to expand your powered USB capabilities and perhaps move some external devices to the inside of the case, then look no further than the NZXT IU01 USB Expansion. You have three internal USB headers (allowing for up to six USB devices) and 2 external ports for standard USB devices. I found the two external ports to be the most useful, as you can move Bluetooth and wireless receivers to the inside of your case, freeing up precious ports on the outside, not to mention running all the gaming peripherals such as a wheel, pedals, joystick and more.
After using the IU01, it is clear no compromises were made when NZXT designed it. The black PCB and sleeved wiring guarantee a sleek and clean appearance in your case. The Molex power guarantees you will have enough power for any USB device that you plug in. The IU01 accomplishes all this, while maintaining the same USB performance as you would observe with on-board USB ports. After seeing all of the features and possible uses, the $20 price tag is just right. The NZXT IU01 USB Expansion will be a welcome addition to my personal setup.
- Easy to install
- Expands internal USB connections
- Adds external USB to the inside of the case
- All ports are powered by the computer's PSU
- No noticeable loss of performance
- Sleeved wiring