Advice on External HDD for MBA

dlim

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jan 15, 2012
108
0
I currently own a 2TB Western Digital Elements that I use to store my media (photos, music, videos/movies), and it's connected via USB 2.0 to my MBA.

I saw a deal on a Seagate GoFlex, and know that they're going to be producing the GoFlex Thunderbolt Adapters, and was wondering if it'd be worth it to pick up one of those drives and sell my WD?

My set up is currently external HDD -> USB hub -> MBA. The thunderbolt port is currently being used by my mini-dp adapter for my external monitor, but I'm planning on getting an ATD.
 

CoolmaxMini

macrumors member
Jan 22, 2012
35
0
I currently own a 2TB Western Digital Elements that I use to store my media (photos, music, videos/movies), and it's connected via USB 2.0 to my MBA.

I saw a deal on a Seagate GoFlex, and know that they're going to be producing the GoFlex Thunderbolt Adapters, and was wondering if it'd be worth it to pick up one of those drives and sell my WD?

My set up is currently external HDD -> USB hub -> MBA. The thunderbolt port is currently being used by my mini-dp adapter for my external monitor, but I'm planning on getting an ATD.
It's not going to be cheap I think. As a storage medium, USB 2.0 drives are still the most cost effective per Gb. Besides, you need to get a Thunderbolt cable and they are not cheap either.
 

dlim

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jan 15, 2012
108
0
"Worth" is a subjective metric, so your question cannot be answered by anyone but yourself.
I guess to better ask my question:

I currently own a 2TB Western Digital Elements that I use to store my media (photos, music, videos/movies), and it's connected via USB 2.0 to my MBA. Will I notice a significant improvement by utilizing an external hard drive connected via thunderbolt? The external drive will only be used as storage, and I watch my videos off of it directly (instead of copying it over to my mac drive).
 

jterp7

macrumors 6502a
Oct 26, 2011
913
38
I guess to better ask my question:

I currently own a 2TB Western Digital Elements that I use to store my media (photos, music, videos/movies), and it's connected via USB 2.0 to my MBA. Will I notice a significant improvement by utilizing an external hard drive connected via thunderbolt? The external drive will only be used as storage, and I watch my videos off of it directly (instead of copying it over to my mac drive).
assuming msrp of tb adapter and cable and best current price of the 1.5tb seagate portable you're looking at $300 (best buy 1.5tb $150 + $99 + $50tbcable)

Its too bad there's not a comparison with fw800, since that's only $20msrp. I do wish there was an extra port to daisy chain, but I'm guessing that's why its under 100.
 

danny_w

macrumors 601
Mar 8, 2005
4,380
158
Austin, TX

jterp7

macrumors 6502a
Oct 26, 2011
913
38
Although TB is considerably faster in that scenario it is nowhere near the 20x that the author kept talking about, but more like 3x. You could achieve this same speedup by using FW800 in this case for much less money. TB doesn't really show much of an advantage until you get into RAID or SSD types of applications.
Though according to a poster on that site with FW800, he put the performance about halfway in between

TB - 86MB/s
FW - 42MB/s
USB - 27MB/s

this is of course for small file transfers like photos. I believe for large files there would be an even larger difference. Just based on improvement per dollar getting the FW is the cheapest option for mac users. If you consider that for another $150 I could get another 1.5TB portable drive its enough to make me stop and consider.

My personal number is under 100 for the adapter and the cable, but I'd probably have to wait a year for that to happen.
 

danny_w

macrumors 601
Mar 8, 2005
4,380
158
Austin, TX
Though according to a poster on that site with FW800, he put the performance about halfway in between

TB - 86MB/s
FW - 42MB/s
USB - 27MB/s

this is of course for small file transfers like photos. I believe for large files there would be an even larger difference. Just based on improvement per dollar getting the FW is the cheapest option for mac users. If you consider that for another $150 I could get another 1.5TB portable drive its enough to make me stop and consider.

My personal number is under 100 for the adapter and the cable, but I'd probably have to wait a year for that to happen.
Thanks, I hadn't read that comment. The reason for the speed difference must be a poor Seagate implementation, since FW800 is capable of close to 100MB/s (real worled perhaps 85MB/s, the same as the TB in the demo).
 

george-brooks

macrumors 6502a
Oct 31, 2011
732
16
Brooklyn, NY
Dont know if someone has already said this but TB drives with rotational storage are pretty much pointless, a way to sell you a more expensive drive that really doesn't do much more. Rotating discs aren't fast enough to give you any benefit from thunderbolt. If you're not using the drive for anything heavy duty (i.e. video editing) then another USB drive should be just fine for you (and much much cheaper)
 

jterp7

macrumors 6502a
Oct 26, 2011
913
38
Thanks, I hadn't read that comment. The reason for the speed difference must be a poor Seagate implementation, since FW800 is capable of close to 100MB/s (real worled perhaps 85MB/s, the same as the TB in the demo).
If you consider that usb 2.0 HDs never hit 60MB/s (most around 30), then the results for FW800 aren't too unreasonable at 40s-50s (theoretical 100MB/s).

Keep in my small file transfers are the "worst case" scenario. If say he was transferring 4-8gb HD video files it would be faster in every case..except for usb2.0 hah.

----------

Dont know if someone has already said this but TB drives with rotational storage are pretty much pointless, a way to sell you a more expensive drive that really doesn't do much more. Rotating discs aren't fast enough to give you any benefit from thunderbolt. If you're not using the drive for anything heavy duty (i.e. video editing) then another USB drive should be just fine for you (and much much cheaper)
I believe the FW800 raid fully saturates the potential of the interface, whereas for TB it will undoubtedly take SSDs to do so.
 

DCJ001

macrumors 6502a
Dec 12, 2007
515
247
Although TB is considerably faster in that scenario it is nowhere near the 20x that the author kept talking about, but more like 3x. You could achieve this same speedup by using FW800 in this case for much less money. TB doesn't really show much of an advantage until you get into RAID or SSD types of applications.
The original poster has a MacBook Air, with no FireWire.

He has the option of USB 2.0 or Thunderbolt.

FW800 is about 2.5 to 3x the speed of USB 2.0. Based on what I've seen, Thunderbolt is about 3x the speed of FW800.
 

george-brooks

macrumors 6502a
Oct 31, 2011
732
16
Brooklyn, NY
I believe the FW800 raid fully saturates the potential of the interface, whereas for TB it will undoubtedly take SSDs to do so.
Yup, pretty much, or something even faster than SSDs. I don't know why we're talking so much about FW here though, the OP has a MacBook Air.
 

danny_w

macrumors 601
Mar 8, 2005
4,380
158
Austin, TX
The original poster has a MacBook Air, with no FireWire.

He has the option of USB 2.0 or Thunderbolt.

FW800 is about 2.5 to 3x the speed of USB 2.0. Based on what I've seen, Thunderbolt is about 3x the speed of FW800.
Yes but the OP also noted the possible acquisition of a TB display, which I believe does have a FW800 connector.
 

jterp7

macrumors 6502a
Oct 26, 2011
913
38
Yes but the OP also noted the possible acquisition of a TB display, which I believe does have a FW800 connector.
indeed it does, see sig:cool:

my concern either way is seagate's reliability...mostly horror stories about them cooking in their own enclosures. A lot of these are the 2010 goflex desks but I wonder if the goflex portables fare any better/worse since there's no holes for ventilation like what was done in the 2011 desks.
 

dlim

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jan 15, 2012
108
0
indeed it does, see sig:cool:

my concern either way is seagate's reliability...mostly horror stories about them cooking in their own enclosures. A lot of these are the 2010 goflex desks but I wonder if the goflex portables fare any better/worse since there's no holes for ventilation like what was done in the 2011 desks.
First off, thanks for all the feedback on USB 2.0, FW, and TB everyone!

Second, I agree. I've never had good experiences with seagate. I've actually had awesome experiences with WD, but I know of people with opposite experiences/preferences.

I'm going to skip the goflex drives. My current WD Elements only has a connection for a USB 2.0. Is there any way to change this to firewire? via an adapter or anything
 

jterp7

macrumors 6502a
Oct 26, 2011
913
38
First off, thanks for all the feedback on USB 2.0, FW, and TB everyone!

Second, I agree. I've never had good experiences with seagate. I've actually had awesome experiences with WD, but I know of people with opposite experiences/preferences.

I'm going to skip the goflex drives. My current WD Elements only has a connection for a USB 2.0. Is there any way to change this to firewire? via an adapter or anything
not without removing it from its enclosure. This is one area where seagate has surpassed WD IMO. With WD you must buy one that includes the specific connections you need. So far FW, you'll have to pay the apple tax, so to speak, and buy the "studio" version to get FW800 on the WD drives natively, w/o having to void warranty.
 

tmagman

macrumors 6502
Nov 7, 2010
413
1
Calgary AB
First off, thanks for all the feedback on USB 2.0, FW, and TB everyone!

Second, I agree. I've never had good experiences with seagate. I've actually had awesome experiences with WD, but I know of people with opposite experiences/preferences.

I'm going to skip the goflex drives. My current WD Elements only has a connection for a USB 2.0. Is there any way to change this to firewire? via an adapter or anything
personally I'm a huge fan of the portable goflex. I've never had an issue with any of them and I have 5 or 6 of them (from both the original freeagent go and the goflex interface). I can't speak to the desk models but know friends who use them as religiously as I use the portable ones.
 

jterp7

macrumors 6502a
Oct 26, 2011
913
38
personally I'm a huge fan of the portable goflex. I've never had an issue with any of them and I have 5 or 6 of them (from both the original freeagent go and the goflex interface). I can't speak to the desk models but know friends who use them as religiously as I use the portable ones.
any experience with the 1.5tb portable? I might get one of these with the fw800 adapter to hold me over until TB drives get reasonable
 

jterp7

macrumors 6502a
Oct 26, 2011
913
38
Sorry I should have specified. I know FW800 is firewire 800, but I was wondering if it's a specific adapter for seagate goflex hard drives
yeah its a separate adapter with essentially a sata to fw converter. So technically you can use it on other naked 2.5HDs. So technically you could use it with the WDs, but you'd have to remove them from the shells.
 

jterp7

macrumors 6502a
Oct 26, 2011
913
38
yeah so I ended up getting the seagate 1.5 portable at costco for 139.99 (not the cheapest its been there, but I felt like I wanted local access to my pc media so what the heck). I got the adapter for 20 @ bb, which is cheapest place somehow.

Just googling today I find that bhphoto is already selling the portable thunderbolt adapter for an absurd 130, WITHOUT the TB cable. Assuming you buy on their site, it would cost 175 for the speed upgrade, but no option to daisy chain as with the desktop version. I wonder if that version will go for 250+ considering how the portable version was priced. Now the Lacie actually looks reasonable

edit:
Since yesterday BH felt it necessary to add another 10bucks, it stands at 139.95 now
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/840972-REG/Seagate_STAE121_GoFlex_Thunderbolt_Adapter.html
 
Last edited:

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