eSATA, SATA/ATA for Optical drives, etc, High end display recommendation

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by TheStrudel, Jan 20, 2008.

  1. TheStrudel macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2008
    I've ordered a Mac Pro (Standard config + Nvidia 8800 GT), and while I wait for it to ship, I've been planning how I'll eventually equip it with peripherals and the like. Which leads me to a few questions.

    First, I was thinking of getting that eSATA extender cable, to have access to eSATA ports, but then I realized I might want to reserve those SATA ports for optical drives - so my first question is, I'd get better performance on a standard high speed DVD burner using SATA than PATA, right (even if the boost is minimal)? And I'll eventually want to put a Blu-Ray burner in there, so the SATA extender cable is out; I'll probably buy one of those eSATA/FW800 combo PCIe cards.

    So my second question is related to eSATA - I know that speeds vary among external HDDs; even if they use the same bus, cheaper ones tend to have worse speeds. What real performance gains would be had by using eSATA over FW800? I've seen Macworld benchmarks, but they tested a limited sampling of drives (obviously), so I don't know how helpful their data was (which indicated, by the way, that FW 400 comes the closest of all the buses to actually hitting its theoretical capability, FW 800's gains were a bit modest, and eSATA's speed gain over FW800 was even more modest).

    Thirdly: I've heard that Firewire is actually capable of doing better than it does, and that Apple's implementation of it is not the best and it could be improved. Being how they're the leading Firewire vendor for computers (motherboards, anyway), is it possible that I'd get better FW transfer speeds from a PCIe card? I don't know how valid that claim was, so this is kind of a shot in the dark.

    And as a final question, I do photography and video editing (HD and SD), and I've been wondering about the best solution for a monitor. Price is an issue, but I'm looking at the NEC 2490WUXi and the ACD 23", in addition to HP, Dell, and Samsung 30" offerings. (Also thinking about an Eizo, but they don't seem to be using IPS panels, and more expensive to boot). Also thinking about getting a Matrox MXO eventually to go with a second monitor for really accurate video monitoring, if I decide that a wide gamut monitor isn't flexible enough to suit my needs. Any opinions about the monitors?
  2. newtech macrumors 6502

    Jun 2, 2007
    The only problem with firewire as implemented on Mac's is that all built in ports share a single bus. Ideally each port would get its own bus. This can be worked around by adding a FW PCI-e card.
  3. TheStrudel thread starter macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2008
    But will that result in a substantial performance hit, or an ignorable one? Keeping in mind that I might have an external HDD, Video capture deck, and possibly a mixer/audio interface all connected via FW at once, possibly all wanting a substantial piece of the pie - especially if I was importing video and transcoding it at the same time. While I'm on that subject, actually, does anything have anything to say about video capture cards? I've got no experience with them.
  4. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    Forget about the differences on the optical drive.
    As mentioned, the main advantage of using eSATA is that it takes the load off of the Firewire bus that is being used for video and audio.
    Any time you can separate tasks by putting them on different drives and different busses, you gain.
  5. Blogger macrumors 6502

    Jul 18, 2002
    If you are using multiple drives, I'd go with an extra PCIe card for either eSATA or Firewire (or two cards for both). I had problems with multiple devices connected to the built in ports. I now have my external drives connected to a Firmtek Seritek eSATA card, and my audio interface connected to a PCIe Firewire card. The built in ports are reserved for Target Disk Mode with the laptop.
    Everything works fine this way and sleep works OK too, which has been known to be a problem with some PCIe cards.

    One more thing. I highly recommend getting multiple connection type external hard drive cases. There are a few around, OWC sells them for instance. They have eSATA, Firewire 400, 800 and USB2 ports. I Use the eSATA connection for backups, but it's not bootable, so the Firewire ports can come in handy. And don't forget to use the GUID Partition Table when formatting.
  6. CalfCanuck macrumors 6502a

    Nov 17, 2003
    Another nice thing about the new MP's, according to Barefeats, is that the FW 800 ports have been speeded up...

    "January 17th, 2008 -- FireWire 800 on the new "2008" Harpertown Mac Pro is faster than on the 2006/2007 Mac Pro. We did a quick test with the LaCie Little Big Disk (dual 7K notebook drive RAID 0).
    On the 2006 Mac Pro, we get 55MB/s READ/WRITE. (100MB blocks, QuickBench)
    With the 2008 Mac Pro we get 75MB/s READ WRITE!

    We understand this gain is due to the fact that the FireWire interface is now on the PCI Express bus."

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