This is the article version of our recent tour of a cable factory in Dongguan, China. The factory is SanDian, used by Cooler Master (and other companies you know) to manufacture front panel connectors, USB cables, Type-C cables, and more. This script was written for the video that's embedded below, but we have also pulled screenshots to make a written version. Note that references to "on screen" will be referring to the video portion.

USB 3.1 Type-C front panel cables are between 4x and 10x more expensive than USB2.0 front panel cables, which explains why Type-C is still somewhat rare in PC cases. For USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C connectors with fully validated speeds, the cost is about 7x as expensive as the original USB3.0 cables. That cost is all because of how the cables are made: Raw materials have an expense, but there’s also tremendous time expense to manufacture and assemble USB 3.1 Type-C cables. Today’s tour of SanDian, a cable factory that partners with Cooler Master, shows how cables are made. This includes USB 3.1 Type-C, USB 2.0, and front panel connectors. Note that USB 3.1 is being rebranded to USB 3.2 going forward, but it’s the same process.

During our visit to the MSI Suite at this year’s CES, we were pleased to find two things that we’ve been waiting on for a long time: USB 3.1 and the USB 3.1 type-C interface. The latter appeared on a soon-to-be available Z97A Gaming 6 motherboard. The receptacle is small and close in size to a micro USB connector.  Its contacts are inside, mounted on a central piece of molded plastic. The difference between these contacts and those of a micro USB receptacle is that they appear on both sides of the central piece of plastic. This means that when you connect the cable to the receptacle, it works the first time, every time.

It’s CES time again and, after hopping on planes and braving Southern California traffic, we safely arrived in Las Vegas. Our first stop this year was at the MSI suites, where we already wrote about a gaming laptop equipped with a mechanical keyboard. Associate Marketing Manager David Chang started our tour and was even kind enough to showcase the benchmarking of the USB 3.1 interface in one of our upcoming videos.

Marketing speak comes in fad-like waves of bombastic claims that are often not founded in reality (or are yet untested in reality).

When it comes to gold-plated USB cables – something we've griped about in the past – that's exactly what they are: Marketing speak. The advertised advantages are generally stated in the form of “reduced latency” or “improved signal quality” (direct quotes from marketing materials), often citing greater conductivity of gold as the catalyst for these claims.

gold-usb

It looks like Office Space's best company is back in action. Inateck (not quite Initech) recently contacted us to request review of their KT4005 product, a 4xUSB3.0 port PCI-e expansion card that does nothing more than add extra USB3.0 ports to a system. Skeptical of this sort of thing, we decided to take Inateck up on the offer and benchmark performance using multiple devices connected simultaneously, all transferring at maximum bandwidth.

inateck-kt4005-1

In this benchmark and review of Inateck's KT4005 USB3.0 PCI-e card, we look at sequential and random throughput using various USB3.0 devices.

We realized not long ago that we've got -- I believe the technical phrase is -- a lot of cables. Shelves upon shelves. Throughout our years working on editorial content, we've had to learn about all the pros and cons of different interface versioning and cable standards.

 cables-slider

Questions have often come up during our testing, for instance: Is a so-called "SATA 6Gbps cable" actually better than a "SATA 3Gbps cable?" What's the difference between DVI-D, DVI-I, DVI-A, and DVI Dual-Link? In this video and article, we'll talk about all the major cable standards, their differences, and identify some of the up-and-coming standards.

 

Kingston Technologies gave us a quick preview of their prototype DT Micro Duo flash storage device at PepCom 2014 tonight; for the unfamiliar, PepCom is a sort-of press pre-show for CES, often giving us a bit of extra time with vendors before our official meetings later in the week.

dt-micro-usb1

A new USB standard revision promises to introduce orientation-neutral USB connectors, finally eliminating the fumbling when attempting to plug in a USB device. The new USB 3.1 Type-C connectors will be thinner and can be connected to the socket in either direction, which has more implications than just convenience.

The thinner standard, the USB Promoter Group says, will enable still-smaller devices with high throughput potential. The Type-C connector standard will be approximately the size of USB2 micro-b connectors, as used for most camera-to-PC connections.

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