Firewire Hard Drive Buffer Sizes?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by JamesDPS, Mar 6, 2004.

  1. JamesDPS macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2004
    Location:
    Irvine, CA
    #1
    Hey all,

    I'm looking to buy some external storage which I will probably use for audio sample libraries, so I want it to be pretty speedy. How much of a difference will buffer size (2mb vs. 8mb) make for accessing audio files in complex directories?

    The drives I'm looking at are a Western Digital 250GB 8MB cache for around $250, and the LaCie FW800 Big Disk 320GB 2MB cache for around $350. Will having FW800 more than make up for a smaller cache? What are people's experiences with different cache sizes? (Interestingly, all the LaCie drives only seem to have 2mb caches except the 500GB big disk, and I've always pretty much understood them to be very desireable drives).

    Thanks!
     
  2. JamesDPS thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2004
    Location:
    Irvine, CA
    #2
    Hmm just found a LaCie 250GB drive with 8mb buffer AND FW800 for about $270.... so I guess some of the above post is irrelevant, but I still want to hear people's thoughts on buffer size as it affects speed for various hard drive operations.
     
  3. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #3

    The 8MB cache will do you more good than the FW800. There is very little, if any, difference between FW800 and FW400 in terms of performance because the HDD, not the FW, is the bottle neck.

    I would also check outGranite Digital. They don't have the best site, but they've been been doing FW for a while now and have built up a very good rep in video editing circles.


    Lethal
     
  4. nargot macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2004
    Location:
    Australia
    #4
    I have a two WD drives 120gb with 8mb cache and a 160gb with 2mb cache, i honestly can't tell the difference. I have layers of directories and have no seek time probs and at the moment am using an old mac... i'll see if its faster tomorrow when i get a new one. Firewire 400 is fast enough anyway, so i agree that a bigger cache is far more important than fw800.
     
  5. absurdio macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2003
    Location:
    RI, Chi, and/or NY.
    #5
    I have the last of the TiBook generation, meaning G4, 1GB mem, and fw400. I'm looking to get an external hd for the things I don't need/use all the time but which consume a lot of space: some songs, video clips, etc.
    That said, I don't need anything too huge, but I'm looking at 80 or 120 GB hds. At that (relatively) small a size, will the 2mb vs 8mb cache issue make less of a difference than it would at the 320GB level? Keep in mind that I only have fw400 on my computer. It doesn't seem like many harddrives exist that small with an 8mb cache. Is that true? Thanks for the help, guys.

    [edit: how common is it to be able to daisychain through a firewire harddrive? I have an ipod with the firewire dock connector...and it'd be nice if it could still be connected even with an external hd hooked up (i have only one firewire plug). Can anyone reccomend a drive that'd let me do that? Thanks again.]
     
  6. crazzyeddie macrumors 68030

    crazzyeddie

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2002
    Location:
    Florida, USA
    #6
    2mb vs 8mb of cache makes NO difference on Firewire 400. I'm not sure about Firewire 800, but it may make a difference, however that doesnt apply to you =)

    It is common to daisychain firewire. I recommend OWC for all hard drives. They are a great company and have FANLESS enclosures so that your hard drive is nice and quiet. I have one of their drives and its very fast over Firewire 400 with my Powerbook. I also daisy chain with a cd-rw and my iPod. In the OWC Firewire Section you can buy drives with just Firewire 400 (Neptune) or Firewire 400 + USB 2.0. If youre only going to using the drive on your powerbook, i would recommend the Neptune, as its a very good price for an external drive, and has the second Firewire port for daisy chaining. (OWC Neptune)
     
  7. blackfox macrumors 65816

    blackfox

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2003
    Location:
    PDX
    #7
    Oh, how times have changed...I remember when my 75G Fantom FW drive cost $600.00...what a difference 5 years make...that said, I have to recommend Fantom, as I have used the drive consistently for that time w/ nary a problem...which is always a good thing...OWC is also a company whose products I respect @ their price...
     
  8. absurdio macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2003
    Location:
    RI, Chi, and/or NY.
    #8
    I've heard lots of good things about LaCie, though they tend to be a tad pricier than their competitors. The OWC Neptune is looking very possible (thanks), and cdw has a 120 GB Fantom drive that also isn't out of the question (also thanks). I notice both of those mention that they're fanless, while the LaCie ones appear to make no such claim. Does that mean the LaCie ones DO have fans? How loud would that make them? While I'm at it, does the absence of a fan increase the risk of overheating at all? Thanks.
     
  9. nargot macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2004
    Location:
    Australia
    #9
    Agreed 2mb and 8mb cache make no difference. As for daisy chaining... i have had some issues. I have 4 powered drives and an ipod. If i have more than 2 powered drives hooked up to my imac, i can't charge my ipod and have other mouting issues. Apparently this is an issue with some firewire, as the imac is 4 years old it could just be an old problem that is fixed now. I'll test out my ibooks firewire port for power problems later (i run firewire on the imac, airport to access the drives). 1 have one old FW drive with a fan and its NOISY, and rarely is plugged in. My lacie cd-rw is fanless and the two icecubes are fanless and whisper quiet. My only gripe about fanless drives are they get extremely hot, very quickly so i'm trying different methods to dissipatet the heat better (they are stacked on top of each other at the moment). I dunno if the lacie HDD's have a fan or not, but there FW connectors are claimed to be brittle by some people.
     
  10. crazzyeddie macrumors 68030

    crazzyeddie

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2002
    Location:
    Florida, USA
    #10
    You shouldn't daisy chain a bunch of devices and then stick a bus-powered device on the end, even if those other devices are self-powered. Some devices will provide power to their second firewire port, but very few, and the computer power doesnt make it that far.
     
  11. nargot macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2004
    Location:
    Australia
    #11
    yep i learnt that the hard way. However my FW ports on my IMac do the same thing, if i dasy chain 3+ drives on one port, i can't use my ipod or a bus powered HD on the other. I was told that some FW specs are just above the recommendations and don't power devices properly, so i power my ipod by AC only now. I've just bought a FW/USB2 hub, hopefully this will alleviate my problems.
     
  12. baby duck monge macrumors 68000

    baby duck monge

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2003
    Location:
    Memphis, TN
    #12
    i actually just got myself a 120gig d2 yesterday, so i guess i will answer this. i don't know if the drive has a fan, but i do know that it is pretty quiet. it does seem to constantly make a kind of whiny noise, but it is not something that i really notice (it's not very loud). i can say that the drive got no louder than normal at anytime during my marathon 95gig firewire data transfer, nor did the case become anything more than ever-so-slightly warm.

    i would definitely recomend any of the d2 drives to you.
     

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