are firewire 800 HDs worth the cost?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by kwajo.com, Jan 7, 2004.

  1. kwajo.com macrumors 6502a

    kwajo.com

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    Bay of Fundy
    #1
    lately i've been getting into more and more video editing, and have heard alot about the use of a scratch disk for editing. I have a 17" powerbook and the internal drive is way too small and slow for me and i need help with external firewire drives.

    I really want to use the firewire 800 port on my system but i'm beginning to wonder whether it is worth it or not. so i'm asking all you video experts out there whether it is worth the extra money to get a firewire 800 drive (keep in mind i am a student, low cost is a must, i'm buying a drive instead of one of my textbooks ;) ) will I notice much real world speed difference when using the drive as a scratch disk?

    also, is it cheaper to buy an enclosure or a drive with a hd already inside? and is ebay even worth my time to look through on this one (i'm in canada btw when you are thinking of stores)? i'm looking for at least 120 GB i think, 80 just seems too small

    anyway, anything and everything will help me out, and i look forward to some good replies as I know i can get them here :cool:



    p.s. final cut on a 17" laptop is oh so very sweeeeeet! :D
     
  2. CalfCanuck macrumors 6502a

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    #2
    I'd say yes

    Since the FW 800 drives are only about $60 more for a prebuilt unit, I'd say go for it. After all, why not move to the next generation? (Just like you should ALWAYS buy USB 2.0 unless it's a lot more cash).

    I picked one up a FW 800 for a new 15" PB that never came (had to head off for an extended roadtrip while they sorted out the screen fiasco) when my last 120 GB died, and have been pretty happy with it on a temp G4 iBook.

    Prices:
    LaCie FW 800 250 gb: $349
    Low price FW 400 250 gb: $190

    LaCie FW 800 160 gb: $249
    Low price FW 400 160 gb: $190

    As for buying an enclosure and building it yourself, you might save a bit ($50?), but there's not much margin in these units. Just make sure you set the jumpers right.
     
  3. cr2sh macrumors 68030

    cr2sh

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    #3
    Considering 1394B peak transfers at 100MB/s, and understanding the variability of harddrive transfer rates... Firewire 800 really is overkill.

    An ATA 100 or 133 drive will burst with data rates of ~100MB/s but that'll fall abruptly.. sustained transfer rates of 15 to 40MB/s can be expected so there's no great advantage to having the 800 enclosure.

    1394a will do the job just fine... but 1394b will provide a slight edge on your ATA100/133 drives, but again.. that edge is only there for that initial data burst from the harddrive.

    I own a 1394B external enclsoure (using it with my WD 250GB / 8MB) but only because my firewire 400 port is required for my MOTU devices. What we need is an external enclsoure that includes RAID support.. t

    http://www.cooldrives.com/dubayusb20an1.html

     
  4. cr2sh macrumors 68030

    cr2sh

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    #4
    Regarding buying seperate and together... yes, you'll save a bunch buy buying them seperately.

    http://www.techbargains.com

    I watch this site and was able to pick up my 250GB/8mb WesternDigital harddrive for $83 (from Circuit City!)... I coupled that with a 1394b enclosure for ~$100.. compared to the prices CalfCanuck is quoting... shop around. It'll be worth puttingit together yourself.
     
  5. kwajo.com thread starter macrumors 6502a

    kwajo.com

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    #5
    thanks cr2sh i will check that site out. I did have port usage as a reason for looking at firewire 800 because my iPod takes up my firewire constantly and I don't want to have to buy that silly 9-pin to 6-pin adapter to plug a device into the 1394b port, that thing is way overpriced last i checked.

    so for dv work the 1394a is just fine? i know people have been using them for that for years, but I'm a performance freak, at least until price pulls me back down to earth
     
  6. cr2sh macrumors 68030

    cr2sh

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    #6
    1394a maximum transfer rate is 50MB/s... a harddrive will average transfer rates somewhere below 40MB/s... until the price comes down.. stick with firewire 400. :)
     
  7. kwajo.com thread starter macrumors 6502a

    kwajo.com

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  8. CalfCanuck macrumors 6502a

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    #8
    FW 800 Macworld review

    Here's a review of some 250 GB drives from Macworld.

    http://www.macworld.com/2003/09/reviews/250gbfirewire800drives/

    While you can more than get by with a FW400, you DO have a $3000 computer. So if performance is a big issue, the additional cost of FW 800 is not that much

    While FW 800 drives are more expensive, the MW article notes much of this is due to the higher priced cables (my LaCie drive came with 3 different cables). Also FW 800 supports extended cable lengths - this might not be an issue, but it's part of the new protocol. And Apple is stilll learning to use the FW 800 on their new G5s, so your next computer (G6??) might make even better use of FW 800

    Also, a note with the prices I quoted earlier. They were day to day retail prices, while cr2sh was using discount prices. If you watch various "deal" boards, you'll see comparable discounts on prebuilt units as well. Here's a link to storage in general.

    http://dealmac.com/sections/storage.html

    That said, if cash is a problem buy a FW 400 now and upgrade in a couple of years if it becomes more of an issue later.
     
  9. cr2sh macrumors 68030

    cr2sh

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    #9
    Obviously our opinions on that matter differ. Its all good advice.
    Hope I've been of some help. Good luck.
     
  10. grrr223 macrumors regular

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    #10
    This might just make your decision harder, but...

    This is the cheapest I've seen large capacity external FW drives.

    What do you think of these drives?

    They're only FW400, but they also only cost about $1/gb and are 7,200 RPM. What do you guy's think?

    I think I might get one.

    Oh yeah, which case would you guy's go with? I think I want the one that is NOT labeled "Metal".
     
  11. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #11
    If you are editing DV (which I assume you are since you are using a laptop) FW400 is more, more than enough. Heck, you can push uncompressed video over FW400 but the ATA HDD sitting inside the enclosure will choke on it.


    Lethal
     
  12. kwajo.com thread starter macrumors 6502a

    kwajo.com

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    #12
    so what we've got is that firewire 400 is just fine for use as a scratch disk in final cut? if so then in what way are firewire 800 devices useful, i mean in what sort of device does it become essential?

    judging from responses i'm thinking a 1394a enclosure and then finding a good deal on a HD somewhere
     
  13. CalfCanuck macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    Take your time and watch for a deal

    If you want to build it yourself, just keep an eye on various boards that watch for these deals. I don't disagree with cr2sh as much as it appears - I've built drives out myself as well.

    I think the bigger advantage of building it yourself is that you can include a better case for the HD, rather than saving a lot of cash. Not all cases are equal, either in their transfer rates, their power supplies, or in how well they cool your hard drive.

    If you're patient you can get a deal on a HD (these are usually some sort of mis-pricing on the web combined with another "$50 off on our website" coupon). Since companies stock thousands of items, a couple slip through the cracks and can be quite good, like cr2sh's $83 HD. But you might have to wait.

    As for empty enclosures, the price differences for decent ones isn't so great between FW-800 and FW-400. At Granite Digital it's only $140 vs $100.

    http://www.granitedigital.com/catalog/pg23_firewireidecasekits.htm

    My original point, however, is that the LaCie is a nice unit, and comes complete (with 3 FW-800 cables). So by the time you take cr2sh $83 drive, a $100 FW800 enclosure, 3 CABLES (not cheap), and all the various shipping charges, you're pushing $300. Hence my $50 savings ...
     
  14. grrr223 macrumors regular

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    #14
    Well, if I had replied to this post a week ago, I'd say go with the Lacie 250 GB d2 Triple Interface (USB 2.0, FW 400, FW 800) drive, it is fast, looks nice, built like a tank. As someone put it, we have $3,000 computers, i'll spend $40 to make it not look like a spare part from a junkyard.

    However...the @#$@# thing died on me. Does anyone have any suggestions. When I plug it in, it whirs up as it normallly does, but then it slows down and whirs up again about 10 times as if it's going through it's startup procedure repeatedly, but can't find what it's looking for. After about 10-12 whirrs it stops and it appears as a hardware device attached on the firewire bus, but the disks don't appear. So I don't know what to do, i can't even run disk doctor or anything on it because it doesn't appear as an actual hard drive.

    I think I'm giong to cry if I can't get that data back. It's about 12,000 mp3s, all beautifully tagged (most even legal :)), but it's most of my college years there, do any of those "data recovery" places actually work?"

    Anyway, I think I'm looking to buy a Lacie ethernet drive. It's pretty cool because I can keep it by my desk, use my laptop in the family room, and get an airport express to listen to my music in the family room. Pretty sweet. Or, I can leave the laptop on my desk, and use my bluetooth phone to control iTunes. It's a great solution. IF I had my @#$@# music back. :(

    Umm...to answer your question, I'd go for the FW 800, it doesn't cost much more, and it's the most "future-proof" It can also be nice that you can have longer cables. Since all my music was on the external drive, and i had wireless everything else, I ended up just buying a 5M cable, so I could sit on my couch and still listen to music.
     
  15. krimson macrumors 65816

    krimson

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    #15
    i just got another ext enclosure (fw400), all 4 of mine look different, but i got them for cheap because i build them myself, and they've been rock solid *knock on wood*. They're hidden away under my desk, so it doesn't "ruin the look", but it's not a beauty contest, i go with what works and is the best value for my $$$.

    now... FW8 vs FW4, we use FW8's at my moonlighting job editing... videos... i screwed up a file that I had brought home on a FW8, so i brought one of my FW4's to work, and made myself a copy. It took almost the same amount of time using my FW4 as it did using the FW8 i brought back from work the first time.
     
  16. kwajo.com thread starter macrumors 6502a

    kwajo.com

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    #16
    lol i was checkingthe main page and apparently my old thread from january has been resurected :D anyway maybe i should update, i bought an orange micro FW800 enclosure and a WD caviar 7200rpm 160GB HD. great combo. works just as i had hoped. the drive is very very fast and put the internal drive in my rev.A 17" pbook to shame. i now have a new 15" with internal 5400rpm upgrade and it's still much faster to load large files off of the external. for example if i'm at home, i'll run virtual PC off my external, and it's brilliant. i recommend it highly.

    anyway, since we're talking about it, you could still save your HD by opening it up and trying to mount it inside either another case or a powermac and see if that does anything - unless you're worried about your lacie warranty that is. data recovery places work great, but the cost is astronomical, well unless the stuff on your drive is more valuable obviously :p myself i'd never pay it, but it's up to you if you think it's the only route to go. good luck!
     

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