Dec 21 2009 - Today's desktop computers provide a wide range of peripheral ports for use with external devices. Older computers and some lower priced computers may lack certain interface ports. If you happen to have a device but not the right type of peripheral connector on your desktop PC, check out this list of some of the best I/O add-on cards for desktop PCs with either the PCI-Express or PCI expansion slots.
If you are going to be adding FireWire and USB ports to a desktop system, why not add both? This PCI-Express x1 card from ByteCC is very affordable and provides three USB 2.0 ports and two FireWire 400 ports to a desktop PC. Also included with the card is a FireWire 400 6-pin to FireWire 400 4-pin adapter in case your device or cable uses the 4-pin instead of 6-pin connectors. Prices are very reasonable around $40.
If you have to add USB ports to a desktop computer system, why not add in an adapter card with the latest and greater USB format, SuperSpeed or USB 3.0. It provides up to 10x the speed of USB 2.0 with compatible SuperSpeed USB devices. Of course, the ports are fully backward compatible if you have existing USB 2.0 and 1.0 devices. Priced around $50.
FireWire is not as relevant as it used to be as more and more digital camcorders move to flash memory and away from tape. If you need FireWire, you are probably using it for large scale video work. In this case, the StarTech 3 Port 1394 card is extremely useful. It actually features two FireWire 800 and One FireWire 400 giving it support for all the current FireWire interface types. Priced around $60 to $70.
Every desktop on the market now uses Serial ATA for the internal drive interfaces. While eSATA ports are more common now, many still do not include this high speed external drive interface. This is a must have if you want the absolute fastest external storage that is comparable to an internal drive. The SIIG eSATA II i/e card provides full support for one eSATA device as well as an internal SATA port if you happen to need another for an internal drive. Priced around $60.
If you happen to have an older PC that does not have any PCI-Express slots, PCI cards are your only route for adding peripheral ports. The best card for those that need both FireWire and USB 2.0 ports is the SIIG FireWire 800+ Hi-Speed USB Combo. The card supports a total of two FireWire 800 connectors, one older FireWire 400 port plus five USB 2.0 (two external, three internal) ports. That's more than enough ports for many desktop systems for external peripherals.
Older computers that rely on the IDE or ATA drive interface are extremely limited for storage upgrades these days. All of the hard drive development has moved to SATA and finding high capacity IDE drives is extremely difficult. Due to the constraints of the PCI bus, only the original SATA 1.0 spec with its 150GB/s speed are support. If you need to add SATA to an older PC, the StarTech 1 port eSATA + 1 port SATA is a great card. It provides the ability to use both an internal SATA drive and use newer eSATA external drives. Priced around $30.