The Tale of the Marquis de Inateck (4-Port USB 3.0 card)

Update: The replacement card has also disappeared from the PCI bus, both in Windows and when booted into Linux. So much for Inateck / Fresco Logic. I’m extremely disappointed.

In the spirit Technological Masochism (unintentionally!) I recently decided to improve a few things on my old Windows 7 desktop.

I’ve been having USB 3.0 trouble – my motherboard (an Asus P8Z77-V) uses a combination of Intel and ASMedia devices to provide on-board USB 2.0/3.0 services… between the known flakiness of the ASMedia devices and some questionable USB 3.0 cables (and God knows what else) I’d occasionally plug in an external drive and find it suddenly unrecognized (basically the partition table was gone). This wasn’t an isolated situation and it became clear it was probably the controller and/or cables.

I’d been eyeing the Inateck 4-Port USB 3.0 card (model KTU3FR-4P apparently AKA KT4001) as it’s one of the few recommended for an Oculus setup (which… I don’t actually own yet, but it may come in handy when I eventually do), and really one of the few recommended at all. The Fresco Logic FL1100EX controller is supposedly better than the Renesas one some boards have (and way better than the ASMedia one also out there).

Now, you’ll look around and see that there are similar cards by Inateck and others that have more ports – AVOID them if you plan to use this for Oculus. Yes, they have more ports, but they using cascaded controllers and under-perform. (I found a lot of people complaining about the 5 port and 5+2 port version of this card.)

Anyway, I ordered the card, downloaded the latest driver (3.8.33709.0) from the Fresco Logic website (because the included CD will almost always be out of date). I plugged in the card, made sure it had proper power on the SATA connector (important!), powered it up (greed LED = power good apparently), and booted Windows 7.

The system detected the card and installed the same Fresco Logic 3.8.33709.0 driver automatically. It seemed to work fine, tried it with a few drives, no problems.

But I couldn’t just stop there… no, instead I decided (after a thorough backup) that it was high time to try upgrading to Windows 10 Pro. Worst case, it fails and I revert to the backup.

It took quite a while but the upgrade was remarkably painless. I have to say goodbye to my Xilinx ISE (if you want to develop for the Spartan 6 FPGA they now offer the old ISE in a VM), but I didn’t lose anything of importance to me (a couple of things didn’t cooperate… also, Avira has been a royal pain in general in recent weeks, turning off my Firewall for some reason, so I ditched it for now and may just stick with MS Defender).

In the device manager, I had a couple of devices I needed to re-install, but nothing major – uninstall, let it re-detect, or provide the right driver. HOWEVER, I had one unknown device with an warning symbol by it. I uninstalled that and it never returned. I later realized the Inateck card was nowhere to be found.

I’m not sure that’s related – I suspect it was already “dead” by then – but I tried everything. I tried the installer I had not used before – it couldn’t find any Fresco Logic cards at all. I tried booting to a live Ubuntu 18.04 image – lspci didn’t see the card either. Checked the BIOS (it’s UEFI capable but I’m using BIOS + MBR) – no joy. Moved the card to another slot, changed the power connection, boot with it out and boot again with it in – at each step ensuring a hard power off before monkeying with the card. No. Joy.

In retrospect, once it was clear even Ubuntu Live couldn’t see it, it was already toast. I finally pinged Amazon and they cross-shipped me a new card.

Interestingly, in researching this I also found a review on Amazon complaining about virtually the same issue, as well as a post on Reddit with the same problem. I contacted the Redditor to learn what they ended up doing – apparently it came down to uninstalling the drivers (which at this point I had never successfully installed to begin with) and RMA-ing the card. It worked for them at that point.

Sure enough, when the replacement arrived today I installed it, booted up, and Windows immediately saw it and installed the driver. Interestingly it was NOT the same driver Windows 7 installed (which in turn was the Fresco Logic latest driver. Nope, Windows 10 installed Microsoft driver 10.0.17134.1 for this card, and a nervous click of the “update driver” button confirmed it’s the latest one according to MS.

So far the new card seems to work. I thought about trying the old one again but decided not to – I don’t want whatever is wrong with that one leading to the new one failing. Maybe it’s just faulty, but I strongly suspect it’s a persistent configuration of the chip (or some hella big flaw in the old driver that fried the old controller or something).

And FWIW Linux detects the card just fine now, where it was nowhere to be found before.

So, two takeaways:

  • If you have Windows 10, DO NOT use any driver for a Fresco Logic-based USB card except whatever Microsoft installs.
  • Also, if you are on Windows 7 and are upgrading to Windows 10, it’d be a Really Good Idea to remove the card and uninstall its driver and if possible literally remove the card from the case before doing the upgrade.

I suspect there was some really weird interaction during the upgrade process that led to this… but better safe than sorry.

Thus ends this tale of pain and suffering.

2 Comments


  1. Between two Windows 10 Pro towers in my stable, I have two of the 5+ USB 3.0 port cards (one 7-port and one 5 +20-pin) from Inateck, and both are misbehaving as of about 2018-06-01.

    Additionally, a Syba card sporting 4 USB 3.0 ports + 2 SATA III (internal) ports has also misbehaved as of the same appoximate date. Syba is aware of the problem, but has not published a date if or when the drivers can or will be fixed.

    The only USB 3.0 card that continues to work fully is Rosewill’s 4 USB 3.0 port card.

    As the cards attach to external storage and backup drives, their performance is important. The Syba USB 3.0 ports still exist, but their recognized speed is reduced to USB 2.0.

    The Inatech card ports are more seriously impaired, with the ports essentially non-working. Interestingly, an external drive will show up under Device Manager in the ‘Disk drives’ list, but the Virtual Disk Service hangs and the disk is never shown in the working lineup of disks under Disk Management or Windows Explorer.

    Reply

    1. (The spam filter flagged this so I didn’t see it, not sure why.)

      Thanks for the info! I’ll keep the Rosewill in mind, though I’ve heard they are problematic as well. I’m done with Inateck.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.