Any good reason to get a 2.5" external with Firewire?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Mr.Bullitt, Nov 24, 2009.

  1. Mr.Bullitt macrumors regular

    May 15, 2009
    Hi guys!

    I am looking to buy a 500GB external bus-powered drive.

    As far as I know, most of these drives are based on 5400rpm drives.

    All of them have USB 2.0 - and if you look hard and pay xtra, you can get one with Firewire 400/800.

    My big questions is - is it worth paying xtra for this firewire version? How are typical transfer rates of these 5400rpm drives - enough to warrant and make a notable difference in speed with the firewire interface?

    I am currently looking at these models:

    iOmega Prestige 500 GB - USB 2.0 only
    iOmega Ego Helium 500 GB - USB 2.0 only, but beautiful MBP look-a-like design

    Lacie Little Disk 500 GB - USB/Fw400 and FW800

    WD Passport Studio 500 GB - USB/FW400/Fw800

    Does anyone know if the WD are aluminium or just alu colour?

  2. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604


    Dec 29, 2006
    dallas, texas
    A large percentage of the drives that feature Firewire 800/400 are in fact 5400 RPM drives.

    Here is some discussion.
  3. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    Yes I find it always warrants the choice; not only do you have faster sustained speeds, the Firewire bus is not host depend and due to the superior spec, bus can support more power; I can often daisy 3-4 2.5" Firewire drives without running any external power; with USB, you cannot do such a thing without a powered hub. In fact you probably can't even connect one 2.5" drive unless the port is high power (or you have an external power source).

    Mind you, this does mean Firewire draws more power and uses more juice, especially important when you are using a notebook computer while running on battery.
  4. mscriv macrumors 601


    Aug 14, 2008
    Dallas, Texas
    The FW vs. USB2 debate with external drives almost always comes down to speed. I prefer FW because it is faster for my uses which usually involve the transfer of large files or large amounts of files. I don't like sitting around and waiting if I don't have to. There are a variety of external enclosures you can buy for portable drives that come with multiple connections. So you can go the traditional route and buy an all in one external or go with a separate enclosure and bare drive of your choice. If you do go with the bare drive option then you can buy a drive faster than 5400rpm.
  5. yoak macrumors 65816


    Oct 4, 2004
    Oslo, Norway
    I have quite a few bus powered HD, and my favourite is the WD MyPassport 500 Studio.
    It´s way faster than my USB drives, and I can even use it as a scratch disk for HD editing on location. Highly recommended.
    I don´t have it next to me so I can´t say if it´s real aluminum.

    It certainly feels a lot more solid than the MyPassport Essential (USB WD).

    Seagate makes a very flat hard disk, called the Go and has a very solid feel and matches the MBP´s in look, but I can only find the USB ones here in Norway.

    Get the MyPassport Studio
  6. chiefroastbeef macrumors 6502a

    May 26, 2008
    Dallas, Texas/ Hong Kong
    I have the WD passport studio, it is just aluminum colored made with plastic. I've taken it apart (creaky plastic) and the disk currently in there is the third disk to be in the enclosure, the enclosure is quite cheap (consider I bought a full alum. usb enclosure at Fry's for $10USD), but seems to hold up well to dismantling. I love firewire 800, much faster than usb. I also use it as a scratch disk for Final Cut when I have to edit on my mbp.

    If you want to get mr. fancy pants and would like the prettiest looking fw800 drive, get the G Drive mini:
  7. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604


    Dec 29, 2006
    dallas, texas
    I must state this, never recommend a drive you don't own - end of story. Firewire provides much stability over USB, as mscriv pointed out it is faster, but in the end I prefer the consistent transfers.
  8. chiefroastbeef macrumors 6502a

    May 26, 2008
    Dallas, Texas/ Hong Kong
    Are you talking to me kiddo? End of story? Seriously?
  9. dba7dba macrumors 6502

    Oct 16, 2008
    Near Apple
    I recommend firewire connection.
    You get constant tranfer speed. File copy via firewire uses less cpu compared to USB.

    And you free up a usb port for other use (keyboard/camera) when you get a firewire external HD.

    Check this out. You can just get the case or one with built in HD.

    7200rpm and firewire.
  10. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
  11. winninganthem macrumors 6502a


    Jun 10, 2008
    Not sure how the prices are at the moment, but I like my Lacie 500GB Rugged Drive. FW800/FW400/USB2/USB1. It's pretty nice.
  12. knewsom macrumors 6502a

    Jun 9, 2005
    I'm not sure why you WOULDN'T want FW800... If you're concerned about the drive's speed not being able to keep up with the interface's bandwidth potential, it sounds to me like you need to google the specs of the drive you wish to use.

    IMHO, the best solution is to make your own - find a well-reviewed and warrantied case, same with the drive, with specs you want, assemble, and voila.
  13. dernhelm macrumors 68000


    May 20, 2002
    middle earth
    I have a WD MyBook Studio (2x1TB mirrored). FW800 is definitely the way to go for my iMac, but when I hook it up to my older PB, it is nice that it scales back to FW400.

    Both of these stomp USB2 speeds into the ground.

    If you have a Mac, you definitely want FW800 hookups. It's nearly twice as fast.
  14. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    My suggestions:

    Don't buy any "pre-assembled" drive. Instead, search for the best aluminum external case with Firewire 800 (assuming you have a Firewire 800 port on your Mac. If you don't, get Firewire 400.)

    Then, pick up a "bare" drive from a good supplier like

    Then, assemble the drive yourself. Usually, you just
    1. plug the drive into the controller board
    2. secure it with a few screws (usually, 4)
    3. place it into the enclosure and secure with screws
    4. plug in, initialize, and go.

    This way, if the drive ever shows signs of failure (eventually, the ALL will), you'll know just what to do, how to take it apart, because you're the one who put it together.

    For drives, I'd suggest something from Seagate. I've also had good luck with a Fuji drive that I tote back and forth to a work location for my "offsite" backup.

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