External Harddrives: Need for speed?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by Whigga Spitta, Sep 6, 2004.

  1. Whigga Spitta macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2004
    Location:
    Can you say Chi-City??
    #1
    I have only 1.25 gigs left on my internal 80 GB/ 5400 RPM harddrive. I have been shopping around for externals and have noticed a lot of USB 2.0 LaCie's on sale. Using this harddrive mainly for backup, as well as multimedia storage, how fast do i need the connection to be. Or to put it another way, will a 7200 RPM HD running over USB 2 be slower than my internal?

    I'm asking because I can get a 250 GB USB 2 drive for as much as a 160 Firewire drive.

    Recs would be greatly appreciated....
     
  2. crazzyeddie macrumors 68030

    crazzyeddie

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2002
    Location:
    Florida, USA
    #2
    USB 2.0 will be slower than Firewire period. I highly recommend buying a Firewire drive because Apple made Firewire, thus Apple has the best drivers and speed available for Firewire. If Lacie is too expensive for you, try OWC. They have prices that equal to the sale prices of most other companies and they have lots of connection, size and buffer options. I have an OWC drive and I love it. 36MB/sec sustained read/write :D
     
  3. BakedBeans macrumors 68040

    BakedBeans

    Joined:
    May 6, 2004
    Location:
    What's Your Favorite Posish
    #3
    usb 2 is faster than firewire 400 but only in theory on Mac

    You'd think that USB 2.0, at 480 Mbps, is faster than Firewire 400, at 400 Mbps, wouldn't you? Because 480 is bigger than 400?

    But it's just not. 480 theoretical Mbps may be faster than 400 theoretical Mbps, but in the real world, firewire 400 is faster than USB 2.0. And when you compare firewire 800 to USB 2.0, there's just no contest. Look at this link, for just one example: Bare Feats (http://www.barefeats.com/usb2.html)

    It says, in part:
    Apple states that the USB 2.0 ports on their Macs support transfer rates up to 480 megaBITS per second (Mbps), which translates to 60 megaBYTES per second (MB/s). The most we saw was 144 megaBITS per second or 18 megaBYTES per second.


    Think about it. FireWire 400 is rated at 400 megaBITS per second (50 megaBYTES per second) -- 80 megaBITS slower rating than USB 2.0 -- yet when exact same drive/enclosure is plugged into the FireWire 400 port, it goes almost twice as fast!


    You can't blame it on the drive, because, as you can see from the FireWire 800 tests, the drive is capable of transfer rates much higher. Some blame it on Apple's USB 2.0 drivers or the USB 2.0 bridge chips. I can't comment on that.


    (thanks to the guy that i copied this off)


    anyway the bottom line is... fork out for the best if you need it (like you did for your mac) or if you can handle a little bit slower then get the usb... i wou personal get a fw800 with a small hd than a usb 2 with a larger...
     
  4. Whigga Spitta thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2004
    Location:
    Can you say Chi-City??
    #4
    thank you for a quick reply. although that's not what i particularly wanted to hear, I can see where you are coming from 100%. I noticed that the max. sustained transfer rate was higher on FireWire anyway, so I figured that was the way to go.

    BTW, now that I know all the performance statistics of the external drives, can anyone tell me the average seek time/sustained transfer rate of the internal drive I have? That would probably influence my decision more than anything.
     
  5. JLS macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2004
    Location:
    Kent, England
    #5
    I have found in practise that firewire drives are much faster on mac than usb2 is on mac or pc.

    Yup.

    Lacie FW.. excellent drives.
     
  6. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2002
    Location:
    LaLaLand, CA
    #6
    Just buy the drive and case separately from someplace like Newegg.com. They had some cheap drives on sale and you can get a good FW case for about $50. Just read the reviews. You will probably not be happy with USB 2 speeds. There's a reason why the USB ones are so much cheaper.
     
  7. jalagl macrumors 6502a

    jalagl

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2003
    Location:
    Costa Rica
    #7
    I second solvs on the recomendation for the NewEgg enclosure, you can find it here: http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProductDesc.asp?description=17-145-745&depa=1

    I would recomend that you get one that has both Firewire and USB 2 if you're going to share it with a PC. I have found it pretty handy for moving large files between work and home - my work PC has USB 2.0 ports, but no Firewire. Had to make a FAT32 partition, though.
     
  8. Whigga Spitta thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2004
    Location:
    Can you say Chi-City??
    #8
    I just installed this $180 250GB LaCie HD (USB 2.0) and so far, its speeds seem faster than my internal harddrive, which is all i need. I'm no professional or anything, actually im just a lazy college student. i'm happy so far, maybe i will get unhappy though...at least there's a reciept.
     
  9. crazzyeddie macrumors 68030

    crazzyeddie

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2002
    Location:
    Florida, USA
    #9
    Don't buy a separate case. I have both pre-built and self-built firewire drives. Without a doubt, the pre-built is much faster. Why? Oxford 911 bridge. The cases you find online don't use it, making the transfer speed between the Firewire and ATA slower than the drive can go. Its worth the extra $20 or even $30 to get a pre-built Firewire drive if you are at all serious about speed.
     
  10. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2002
    Location:
    LaLaLand, CA
    #10
    Um... no. Actually most of the Newegg ones clearly say Oxford 911. I believe most, if not all, of the OWC cases are as well. A lot of the pre-built ones use the same cases, Lacie is just not one of them.

    Does Lacie even use the Oxford chipset, they didn't mention it on their site?
     

Share This Page