Why is Firewire superior to USB 2.0????

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Planner Dude, Jun 9, 2006.

  1. Planner Dude macrumors 6502

    May 31, 2006
    People on this site say that firewire is better than usb 2.0. Everywhere else I've heard that usb2.0 is faster than firewire. What's the difference between the two (besides one being created by mac & the other pc).:confused:
  2. yellowmunky macrumors member

    Jun 5, 2006
    firewire maintains a constant speed when transferring data. more suited for when a lot of data is transferred for a long period of time. usb is good in short bursts.

    plenty of debates across the web. just 'google' it
  3. DeSnousa macrumors 68000


    Jan 20, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    Well firewires advantage is that it can sustain it's speed, while USB will not handle this as well. As such firewire is better.

    Here is an example from a Lacie drive (notice the bold):

    If you want more info on this search the forums this has been covered plenty of times. :)
  4. yellow Moderator emeritus


    Oct 21, 2003
    Portland, OR
    (Google-Fu FTW!)

    Hear that? It's the sound of a dead horse being smacked!

    Everywhere else is wrong. Dead wrong. Send them here for edumacation.

  5. gekko513 macrumors 603


    Oct 16, 2003
    The theoretical speed of USB2.0 is higher than Firewire, but that theoretical speed includes the overhead of the protocol.

    The explanation I've heard for why Firewire performs better in tests is that the USB protocol was created with slow transfer rates and small files (USB1.1) in mind and that makes it less efficient when transfering large files at a high transfer rate (USB2.0). Firewire was created for high transfer rates from the very beginning so the overhead of the protocol doesn't bog down the real transfer speed as much. I can't really vouch for the accuracy of that explanation, though.
  6. Planner Dude thread starter macrumors 6502

    May 31, 2006

    it seems that for using a computer as a dvr....firewire would be a mich better option then!:)
  7. blackcrayon macrumors 65816

    Mar 10, 2003
    What you've probably heard is that the theoretical maximum throughput is faster for USB 2.0 (480 megabit/s) vs Firewire 400 (400 megabit/s).

    In addition to probably inherent technical advantages firewire has, it seems to perform much faster on Macs than USB 2.0 does. I've done tests with both my Dual 2.0 G5 and my Core Duo imac (just in case intel made a difference), and in both cases, identical file copy tests with identical drives yields approximately double the speed with firewire. This could also be due to a poor USB implementation by apple, (or maybe an exceptional firewire one), or the USB bridge in the drives i tested being less capable than the firewire ones.. But the end result is that firewire is a much better choice for storage on Macs than USB 2.0.
  8. adk macrumors 68000


    Nov 11, 2005
    Stuck in the middle with you
    I have an external HDD that can use either firewire or USB2. I decided to test to see which one was faster. I transfered a ~5GB file over firewire, and then over USB2. The only difference was the connection. The result: USB took a little over twice as long as firewire to transfer the file. The moral of the story: Don't cheap out on your connections, Firewire is worth it.
  9. mmmcheese macrumors 6502a


    Feb 17, 2006
    Firewire also has lower CPU usage, since it requires hardware controllers on both ends (device and computer, or device and device). Not that this really matters these days, since processors are getting so fast.
  10. w8ing4intelmacs macrumors 6502a

    Feb 22, 2006
    East Coast, US
    On your computer, almost everything uses (and thus shares) the USB bus (keyboard, mouse, built-in iSight, etc ...) while an external peripheral connected by FW would have almost exclusive use of the FW bus.

    Also, Macs can be booted using an external FW drive. Only the recent Intel Macs are able to boot using an external USB drive.
  11. BornAgainMac macrumors 603


    Feb 4, 2004
    Florida Resident
    It takes me 3 hours to transfer files with USB 2.0 but the same drive only takes 1 hour with Firewire. USB should stand for "Ultimately Slow Bottleneck".
  12. jdechko macrumors 68040

    Jul 1, 2004
    Haha. Yeah, what everyone else said about theoretical vs applied and the thing with USB requiring (more ?) CPU time than firewire.
  13. Some_Big_Spoon macrumors 6502a


    Jun 17, 2003
    New York, NY
    It's (consistently) faster, and has higher bandwidth.

    An example is: I can stream H264 vid over Airport from FW HD's connected to my iMac to my Macbook/powerbooks with no lag or interruption.

    Trying the same thing on my USB2 drive gives me hiccups and usually lag bad enough to crash even VLC.
  14. Laser47 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 8, 2004
    Firewire also provides more power to the bus than USB. Allowing for things such as 3.5" self powered drives. USB=2.5 Watts, Firewire 6-15 Watts

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