Can I boot a G4 tower from eSata?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by uniqueusername4, Aug 2, 2009.

  1. uniqueusername4 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2009
    #1
    If i buy an eSata card and external eSata Raid 0 drives? I know its a pretty dumb idea but those are the best ones. And if i ever upgrade to another Mac, i would still want to use the external eSata drive as a boot drive as it will still be faster than the internal processor no matter which model, yes? At least it will be faster than my current dual 1.25ghz circa 2003.

    Has anyone actually done this?
     
  2. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #2
    I believe that in its current form, external eSATA drives are UNBOOTABLE on the Mac.

    This could change in the future, but that's the way it is today.

    If you want RAID, and you want bootability, your best best would be firewire 800.

    - John
     
  3. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2001
    Location:
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    #3
    I think Fishrrman is wrong; there are at least couple of bootable SATA PCI cards that will work in an old G4 tower. Though they don't provide eSATA, it's easy enough to come up with an internal SATA to eSATA adapter plate for around $10, which would give you a bootable eSATA port.

    I'd check out the FirmTek SeriTek/1S2. It requires no drivers and should be bootable, and all you should need is an internal to eSATA adapter plate. It may not be hot-pluggable, though. Sonnet also either makes or brands a similar card.

    An alternative is the FirmTek SeriTek/1SE2, which is nearly identical except the connectors are external. Note that these are NOT eSATA connectors, though; they are externally-mounted regular (I think) SATA connectors. Firmtek does sell an enclosure that has matching ports and shielded cables, but I believe you could also use an adapter (not positive, though). This setup IS hot swappable, though, and also bootable.

    I actually had an 1SE2 plus the accompanying 2-bay FirmTek case, which I used in both a G5 tower and a G4 tower. It worked perfectly for as long as I had it. Were I in the same situation as you, I'd probably go with one of the internal cards and an internal-to-external plate instead, though, since that should let you use any eSATA case rather than only FirmTek's.
     
  4. uniqueusername4 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2009
    #4
    thanks, i just really want to speed up this computer as much as i can as inexpensively as possible. So i should first probably see what the hard drive data transfer rates are and then compare them to what they could be with an external sata/esata drive.
     
  5. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2001
    Location:
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    #5
    I probably should have added that while a SATA boot drive will almost certainly speed up your computer versus the current internal one (given the limitations of older PATA drives like what I assume you're booting off now) that does NOT mean that using the same eSATA drive to boot a future upgraded Mac would be faster than whatever it ships with.

    In fact, assuming you're upgrading to a Mac Pro (as anything other desktops don't even currently have the potential of an eSATA port), it's quite possible that whatever internal drive it ships with will be faster than whatever you'd buy now.

    More importantly, there's no particular advantage I can see to you of buying an eSATA drive versus just a normal internal SATA one; using an internal SATA card like the one I mentioned above will boot your Mac, provide the same speed boost, and can easily use the internal power connectors, plus won't require an external case and attendant extra cables. If you upgrade to a new Mac in the future it would be easy enough to get use out of the drive by sticking it in a case or, in the case of a Pro, installing it in one of the internal sleds.

    Further, RAID0 probably isn't going to provide much real-world benefit on a boot drive; RAID0 is great for single-stream, high throughput operations (capturing high-resolution video), but the speed advantage decreases significantly with more complex operations, and your chance of data loss from a drive failure increases substantially.
     
  6. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #6
    RE:
    "I think Fishrrman is wrong; there are at least couple of bootable SATA PCI cards that will work in an old G4 tower. Though they don't provide eSATA, it's easy enough to come up with an internal SATA to eSATA adapter plate for around $10"

    I wasn't wrong.

    The original poster was asking specifically about EXTERNAL eSATA drives.

    They are currently UNbootable on the Macintosh.

    - John
     
  7. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2001
    Location:
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    #7
    To add an additional note, I was a little confused about FirmTek's current lineup; turns out the older 1SE2 has the non-standard external ports and claims full bootability, which I've tested myself. The newer 1eSE2 DOES have standard eSATA ports and, being an old-school PCI card IS compatible with a G4 tower (without drivers necessary), but based on what Fishrrman is saying I guess it isn't bootable. Presumably that's also true with the pass-through option from a bootable internal card.

    As a side note FirmTek claims the 2SE4 is bootable from eSATA ports, and XLR8YourMac readers confirm (I'm running one in our server at work, though I never tried booting from it), but that's a PCI-X card, so it doesn't do you any good. HighPoint also claims the new RocketRAID eSATA is bootable, but again that's a PCIe card that isn't of any use to a G4 owner.

    This is an area of interest to me, but not one I've dug deeply into before, so if you don't mind, Fishrrman, do you happen to know why eSATA booting is an issue? Is it because the controller doesn't like the USB2/eSATA combo interfaces controller? I noticed that Sonnet mentions their eSATA cards don't like cases with an Oxford controller but don't mind those from other manufacturers.
     

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