Inateck HBU3VL3-4 Ethernet Converter Review

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by SaSaSushi, May 5, 2014.

  1. SaSaSushi, May 5, 2014
    Last edited: May 12, 2014

    SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Location:
    Takamatsu, Japan
    #1
    I just received the HBU3VL3-4 Ethernet Adapter/USB3 Hub from Inateck and wanted to post my review for others who might find it useful.

    [​IMG]

    This is a clever little device that is a very compelling alternative to Apple's Thunderbolt to Ethernet adapter. Basically, it is a USB to Gigabit Ethernet adapter (VIA VL812 + AX88179 chipset) combined with a 3-port USB 3 hub.

    I am primarily using at as a USB 3 hub on my iMac but this device is really geared towards those using computers like the MacBook Air with its lack of an Ethernet and limited USB ports. With this device, MBA users could just keep their Ethernet and USB devices plugged in to it and simply attach/detach the single USB cable.

    I saw that some users in a separate thread about this device were apparently experiencing crashes when the adapter was disconnected from their Mac, but I haven't been able to duplicate this. Maybe the drivers have been updated.

    As a hub it is bus powered so you wouldn't want to attach more than one power-consuming device like a HDD. As mentioned on Inateck's website, it can handle a combined current of up to 5V 900mAh.

    Performance-wise, I actually got better speed test results using the Inateck's Ethernet port than the port on my iMac.

    Inateck HBU3VL-4 Ethernet Port Speedtest.Net

    [​IMG]

    iMac's Ethernet Port Speedtest.Net

    [​IMG]

    I think the point is that you can expect similar, if not equal performance from the Inateck compared to a native port.

    There are drivers for the Ethernet port which are on the included CD.

    It is well-constructed and has a very sturdy cable. It will easily fit in a pocket and is very light.

    Finally, and I think best of all, like other Inateck products it is very competitively priced. Here in Japan, it is actually lower-priced than the Apple to Ethernet adapter. The Inateck is currently ¥3854 ($38) and the Apple Thunderbolt to Ethernet Adapter is ¥3980 ($40).

    For a lower price, you get a bonus USB 3.0 hub. Not bad. :)

    Inateck HBU3VL3-4 Ethernet Converter 3 Port USB 3.0 Hub

    Actually, I just found out that at Amazon.com, it is currently available for just $29.99.
     
  2. Marty62 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2010
    Location:
    Berlin formerly London
    #2
    Useful little device, I find the Inateck brand so far really good.
    I have the kt4004 / 5 port USB3.0 Hub and the UASP - SSD case.

    Thanks for the review,

    Marty.
     
  3. SaSaSushi thread starter macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

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    #3
    Thanks, Marty. I have to agree that I've also been really pleased with Inateck. There is usually a tradeoff of performance/quality for lower price but they seem to manage to pull off all three objectives, at least on the devices I've used so far. :)
     
  4. phositadc macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    #4
    Inateck HBU3VL3-4 Ethernet Converter Review


    Been thinking about getting one of these. Thanks for the review. Is there any noticeable CPU usage while using the Ethernet port? That's the one potential downside compared to thunderbolt Ethernet that I can think of ...
     
  5. Marty62 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2010
    Location:
    Berlin formerly London
    #5

    Time will tell, if they hold up or not !!
    I'm only a month or two in with these devices but for the price, I am really
    impressed with the overall build quality and performance.

    One caveat - getting my EVO SSD in the UASP 2.5in case was quite fiddly, it
    only just fitted - front to back in the case and needed an awkward angle to get
    the SATA plug connected.

    Marty.
     
  6. SaSaSushi, May 6, 2014
    Last edited: May 6, 2014

    SaSaSushi thread starter macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

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    #6
    As mentioned, the Inateck uses the ASIX AX88179 chipset and that handles the majority of the processing. Just to confirm this, I tested both options and noticed no difference whatsoever in either idle or speed testing CPU usage.

    I didn't notice this when I installed my own EVO. Did you already have the included rubber shim attached? I found that without it it seemed to fit pretty well
     
  7. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #7
    Sounds good, I have not looked into USB to ethernet adapters before, but I recently got a Time Capsule and am using it to serve my MacBook Air iTunes library over AC wifi, which works great. I get about 30MB/s on wifi, but would like a faster way to backup the internal drive in the Time Capsule. Have thought about the Apple Thunderbolt adaptor (which is only $29 here in the US - http://store.apple.com/us/product/MD463ZM/A/thunderbolt-to-gigabit-ethernet-adapter), but it's a bit of a hassle since I already use Thunderbolt for an external disk with a DVI monitor connected to the pass-through port.

    Does anyone know how the transfer rates compare with the Apple Thunderbolt adapter?
     
  8. SaSaSushi thread starter macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

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    Takamatsu, Japan
    #8
    I don't have an Apple adapter so I can't say with certainty but I think it probably compares favorably based on my testing.

    The Apple Thunderbolt to Ethernet adapter uses the Broadcom BCM57762 chipset while my iMac has the Broadcom BCM57765. I would expect they are not very far off performance-wise.
     
  9. drsox macrumors 65816

    drsox

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    #9
    These are MegaBit per second results. Can you do some local LAN testing to see what MegaByte per second results you find ?
     
  10. SaSaSushi thread starter macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

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    #10
    Sure thing. I will post them tomorrow. :)
     
  11. SaSaSushi, May 7, 2014
    Last edited: May 10, 2014

    SaSaSushi thread starter macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

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    #11
    OK, so using the Helios Lantest from my Mac to a Windows machine I got the following results:

    Inateck Ethernet Converter
    Write 300 MB to File: Average 15.4 MB/s
    Read 300 MB from File: Average 13.2 MB/s

    iMac Ethernet Port
    Write 300 MB to File: Average 15.1 MB/s
    Read 300 MB from File: Average 12.8 MB/s

    My suspicions that the Inateck was outperforming the native Ethernet adapter on my iMac have been borne out. :eek:

    The Windows machine is connected via WiFi, not Ethernet. I will do a test to another Ethernet-connected machine tomorrow and post those results.
     
  12. Boyd01, May 10, 2014
    Last edited: May 10, 2014

    Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #12
    Maybe I'm confused (wouldn't be the first time). :) But are we talking about gigabit ethernet here? Your numbers seem slow. I just downloaded Helios Lantest and ran it on my 2013 MacBook Air over an 802.11ac wifi connection to my Airport Time Capsule internal drive. I got 22.7 MB/s read and 19.2 MB/s write on the 300MB test. I would say those numbers are actually a bit low, because I backed up 350gb of data from the Time Capsule internal drive over wifi and clocked it at 28MB/s read.

    I would have expected better numbers with wired ethernet, had been thinking this adapter would be a faster way to backup that disk but if your numbers are correct then it's actually slower than wifi. :confused:

    This review of the Apple Thunderbolt adapter shows transfers of 60MB/s, although that may have been limited by the speed of the disk drive that was used. In another test he got around 100MB/s: http://arstechnica.com/apple/2012/06/hands-on-apples-thunderbolt-gigabit-ethernet-adapter/
     
  13. SaSaSushi, May 10, 2014
    Last edited: May 10, 2014

    SaSaSushi thread starter macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

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    #13
    My numbers are extremely slow, but as I said the machine I was testing with was an older Windows notebook PC using WiFi. I'm sorry, but I was so busy the past few days I didn't have time to post results from a wired machine yet.

    I will do so today and post those results. :)
     
  14. SaSaSushi thread starter macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

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    Takamatsu, Japan
    #14
    My apologies for the delay. Here are my results over wired Ethernet:

    [​IMG]

    I know for a fact that these results are limited by the drive speed of the 5400rpm HDD in my old Windows notebook. I will do some tests with an SSD-based machine I'm waiting on delivery of and post those as well.
     
  15. Boyd01, May 11, 2014
    Last edited: May 11, 2014

    Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #15
  16. SaSaSushi thread starter macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

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    Takamatsu, Japan
    #16
    I've heard of HooToo but Unitek is a new one for me.

    Inateck is based in Leipzig, Germany and HooToo appears to be in San Jose, California.

    Strangely, on Amazon Japan both the Inateck and HooToo are for sale, but the HooToo is priced about $7 higher.

    They sure look the same and appear to use the same drivers, which is a good indicator of the same chipset. Sorry, I can't say for sure though, only having had experience with the Inateck.
     
  17. drsox macrumors 65816

    drsox

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    Xhystos
    #17
    Not bad. Will be better with an SSD to connect to but still respectable. Thanks. I'll look at getting one.

    ----------

    I think Inateck and Unitech are the same outfit.
     
  18. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #18
    I just ordered one today (the Inateck version from Amazon) and will report back after I've had chance to give it a try. If it works as expected, this will be a nice solution for my MacBook Air.

    I currently have a powered USB hub driving several peripherals on one port and a passive hub on the other port for a keyboard and mouse. I will replace the passive hub with the Inateck and will then have ethernet added to the mix with no additional wires to plug in. And I won't need to unplug my external monitor to use a thunderbolt ethernet adapter.
     
  19. SaSaSushi thread starter macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

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    #19
    Good to hear. :) I'm looking forward to reading your results.
     
  20. Boyd01, May 15, 2014
    Last edited: May 15, 2014

    Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #20
    Got the interface today and it looks well made. Only nitpick is the USB cable, which is rather thick and stiff, but that's not big deal.

    Have only been playing with it briefly but it seems to work well however it took way too much trouble to get there. Since I don't have a DVD drive on my MacBook Air, I downloaded the driver from the Inateck website which says it's for MacOSX 10.9 (Mavericks). There is only one Mac driver available there and absolutely no documentation. After a lot of screwing around, the bottom line is that the interface was not recognized at all by my Mac. There is no help to be found on Inateck's site.

    So I took the installation CD and popped it into my 2008 MacBook Pro, copied the Mac drivers to a flash drive and popped it into my MacBook Air. There are two versions of the driver on the CD - both have different version numbers from the one on Inateck's site.

    Now I'm still running MacOSX 10.8 on my computer, so I thought that might be the issue, and one of the drivers on the CD is labelled as being for MacOSX 10.6 - 10.8. The folder also contains a PDF with installation and troubleshooting information - something that is not available on Inateck's site either (or I couldn't find it). Cutting to the chase, this driver worked properly. But it's really inexcusable for Inateck not to offer these on their website IMO.

    Here are the results of the Helios LanTest between the SSD in my MacBook Air and a new Apple Time Capsule internal drive using gigabit ethernet. I think the bottleneck here is a relatively slow Time Capsule 2TB disk.

    [​IMG]



    And here is the same test using the MBA 802.11ac wifi

    [​IMG]



    Interesting to see that the write performance is only about 40% better on ethernet but read performance is more than twice as fast. Maybe an oddity of the time capsule or the LanTest?

    FWIW, for Finder copies of large files to the Time Capsule disk, I get about 43 MB/s write and 53 MB/s read with ethernet. With wifi I get about 28MB/s write and 30MB/s read copying large files.

    So at the end of the day, it looks like this is going to be a nice product for me. My main interest was backing up the Time Capsule internal drive (that I use for my iTunes library) to a Thunderbolt drive on my Mac, and it should be about twice as fast for that as wifi.

    I also just got an Apple TV and it's connected via gigabit ethernet. So plugging my MacBook Air into ethernet should speed up home sharing a bit since the bottleneck was the 30MB/s wifi connection before.
     
  21. Boyd01, May 16, 2014
    Last edited: May 16, 2014

    Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #21
    Here's another update, FWIW. I had been running MacOSX 10.8.4 on my MBA since I subscribe to "if it ain't broke don't fix it" ;) but one of the improvements to 10.8.5 was supposed to be 802.11ac wifi so I just updated. I am seeing around 10% better wifi disk access times in the Helios test over wifi now. The update did not change ethernet speed.

    For fun, I tried running the Blackmagic disk test using Ethernet and wifi. The results are rather different from the Helios test. Once again, I'm sure the ethernet results are due to the slow disk in the Airport Time Capsule.


    Inateck USB 3 Ethernet Adapter

    [​IMG]


    MacBook Air 802.11ac Wifi

    [​IMG]



    Finally, I should mention that I have seen two fatal crashes (where you get the white screen that says the computer has crashed) that appeared to be related to unplugging the adaptor. Most of the time this seems to be OK, but every now and then....
     
  22. SaSaSushi thread starter macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Location:
    Takamatsu, Japan
    #22
    Thanks for the update and the benchmarks. It looks good. I like the stiff USB cable because it's quite sturdy and it's also easy to mold into positions you prefer.

    I'm thinking this may be something specific to the MBA since I have yet to be able to reproduce it on the iMac. As I mentioned in my initial post, I had read about this behavior occurring for some users.
     
  23. phositadc macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    #23
    I bought one of these and it doesn't work well with a wireless mouse and keyboard. Very jittery and unusable. Anybody else?
     
  24. AluminumMonster macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2011
    #24
    I just bought one after viewing this thread for my Mid 2013 Macbook Air, running 10.9.3. I installed the drivers from the included CD, and have had no problems with any interference with my Apple bluetooth keyboard or Magic Mouse. The model number on the box I received was HB4005 but the chipset is the same AX88179 that's discussed earlier in the thread.

    I have a few Mac file servers at work so I could do some local LAN testing. Here is what I found:

    Thunderbolt ethernet adapter - 60% to 75% CPU utilization (kernel_task thread) in Activity Monitor when copying down a 6GB DMG file. Speeds would vary between 70 and 120MB/s for throughput speed (also measured in Activity Monitor).

    Inateck HB4005 (AX88179) USB3 adapter - 95% CPU utilization (kernel_task thread) when copying down the same 6GB DMG file. Speeds were consistently in the 110 to 120MB/s range in Activity Monitor.

    So it appears the CPU utilization is somewhat higher, but the speeds are more consistent. Overall, I'm extremely happy with the adapter. I haven't tested USB speeds yet but as I mainly wanted a USB3 to Ethernet adapter, and this Inateck adapter has exceeded my expectations. Nice product!
     
  25. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #25
    FWIW, I have not experienced any more crashes while unplugging the adapter. I'm thinking the earlier crashes might be related to unplugging an external monitor from the Thunderbolt port at the same time. The plugs are right next to each other and I sometimes pulled them together.

    Now I make it a point to unplug the monitor first, then the adapter.
     

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