I’ve said before I love the Maple Canyon NUC. It’s been my recording NUC since I got it. It’s an awesome, tough little system. Recently I reviewed Intel’s successor to the Maple Canyon, code-named Dawson Canyon, and was thoroughly impressed at how it improved on all the things that made Maple Canyon a hit in my book. One of the improvements was the much larger blank on the back, designed to hold an add-on bracket to add extra ports. The opening offered plenty of room to add multiple ports.
As much as I love the Maple Canyon, my new Dawson Canyon is an i5 (my Maple is an i3), has faster graphics, full-sized HDMI ports, AND that sexy matte black lid (the Maple’s lid is getting beat up). So I decided to take advantage of the extra power and features and go for the upgrade.
One of the things I’ve struggled with is the lack of rear USB ports on the Maple Canyon. Two ports just isn’t enough when you’re dealing with a keyboard & mouse dongle, multiple USB cameras, and flash drives. Well, GoRite has just come out with one of their first attempts at filling that opening, and as it turns out, it’s exactly what I needed.
Their new bracket adds one USB 3.0 port and two USB 2.0 ports. That would give me a total of FIVE rear-facing ports, which really should be more than enough. I checked the Dawson Canyon and Coming Soon pages on their website, but it’s not listed yet, so I don’t have pricing information. The only real down side to using the bracket is that its cables will connect to all of the internal USB headers, so there isn’t going to be an option for me to add a lid with even more features. But I haven’t needed a lid on it for recording, so I’m fine without one.
Let’s start with installation:
As you can see, installation is pretty darned simple. The only tricky part is maneuvering all those cables around so they don’t get in the way of the screws. The cables are pretty beefy. I spoke to GoRite and they’re looking into some thinner cables, which would be easier to manage, but these ones actually weren’t too bad.
About the NUC itself, the mainboard is no longer held in place when the back panel is off. that means it’s easy to accidentally plop the whole board out onto your workbench if you’re not careful…something I’ve done more than once. I’m told this is something that will be corrected soon, but my first-run Dawson Canyon kind of falls apart the moment those screws are out. So be careful your first time taking the back panel off.
Funny enough, the bracket can be installed with the ports facing either up or down. I accidentally installed it upside-down the first time. My need for symmetry got the best of me, though, so I flipped it over. Once installed, it looks like my NUC just came with extra ports. GoRite keeps getting better and better at matching the color and texture of the NUCs, and this bracket is no exception.
It doesn’t look like an add-on at all. The average person would pick up this NUC and just think it came with five USB ports on the back. Full marks for aesthetics on this one.
Performance-wise, the bracket does what it says. The USB 3.0 port takes advantage of the faster header and gives fast transfer rates. The slower USB 2.0 ports give me a place to plug in things like my keyboard & mouse and USB 2.0 DVD drive without wasting my high-speed ports. With all these ports on the back of the NUC, I can finally get rid of this:
It works, but it’s clunky and kind of ugly too. Not to mention the power LED on the hub stays on even when the NUC is asleep, and lights up my workbench like a beacon.
See what I mean? Not sure what the manufacturer was thinking putting that beacon on a USB hub.
It looks like I’ll be all set for USB ports on my new recording system. My only hesitation is that I know more of these brackets will becoming from GoRite, and since I only have the one Dawson Canyon, I’ll have to tear it apart and use my old Maple Canyon to record video of it. Oh well, it’s a nice problem to have. Now I can plug in two dongles, both USB cameras, and a flash drive to boot.
If I really wanted to go crazy, I could leave the USB hub where it is and plug it into one of the ports, giving me a grand total of EIGHT available ports (6 X 3.0 and 2 X 2.0).
So there it is. GoRite brought their “A” game again. This bracket is easy to install, looks like it’s supposed to be there, and works great. Can’t ask for more. I’m sure we’ll see brackets with gigabit ethernet, extra video, and other neat stuff coming down the line. But this simple USB bracket happens to be exactly what I needed.