External FW HDD - 800 vs 400?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by inertiat, Oct 2, 2008.

  1. inertiat macrumors member

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    May 9, 2008
    #1
    I'm currently studying media at uni and I'm in need of a an external HDD but I have a few questions. My situation is the uni has Macs and I have a PC - I need a portable HDD from which I will stream all my work - the uni computers don't have enough space to let me move my work onto them and I don't want to ahce to keep moving work to and from my PC and my portable HDD - I want to be able to "stream" all my work from the portable HDD.

    So after doing some research Firewire looks a must, but I can't find any good benchmarks between 400 and 800. Is FW 800 worth the extra money and will it allow me to edit movies on the fly straight from the portable HDD?

    Cheers
     
  2. iShater macrumors 604

    iShater

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    #2
    800 is faster, but 400 should be sufficient. What ports do the Macs and your PC have? do they have FW 800?
     
  3. inertiat thread starter macrumors member

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    May 9, 2008
    #3
    The Macs have FW 800 but my PC only has 400, but I'll be doing most of the editing on the macs because they have Final Cut which I can't get on my PC, so speed is still an issue. I think I might go with a Lacie Rugged with FW 800
     
  4. iShater macrumors 604

    iShater

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    #4
    So you will just read them from the PC to archive them?
     
  5. yippy macrumors 68020

    yippy

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    #5
    I should warn you that you will have some issues with the format of the drive. You have three choices that all have compromises:

    FAT32: Works on both Windows and Mac but has a single file size limit of 4Gb, something that you will most likely exceed if you are editing video.

    NTFS: Full capabilities on Windows but only read capabilities on a Mac.

    HFS +: Full capabilities on Mac. Cannot even be read by Windows.

    Now the good news is there are programs (not free though) that will add HFS support for Windows or NTFS write support on a Mac, but they do cost money.
     
  6. iShater macrumors 604

    iShater

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    #6
    Glad you brought that up, I forgot about the file size limit.


    OP is getting a Mac to replace your PC + BootCamp/VMWare/Parallels at home an option for you? as a future thing of course.

    For now it seems like regardless of whether you go with 400/800 you will either not going to be able to read the drive at home, or you will have to buy software to allow your PC to read it.
     
  7. Aea macrumors 6502a

    Aea

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    #7
    Unless you've got a RAID 0'ed regular HD or a SSD external you won't be able to take advantage of the extra FW800 speed anyway.
     
  8. inertiat thread starter macrumors member

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    #8
    Darn that's a pin. Could I partition the drive to NTFS and the Mac format?
     
  9. itickings macrumors 6502a

    itickings

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    Apr 14, 2007
    #9
    I have to disagree. While FW400 is fast, it is slower than a modern hard drive.

    The throughput from my external, single drive FW800:s exceeds the theoretical speed of FW400. Sure, random access and file sizes will limit the situations where this is the case, but anyways. FW800 is as fast as my internal HD while FW400 is noticeably slower. FW400 is fast enough for my level of video editing so far though.

    If the price difference is small I'd get FW800. If not, FW400 is fine.
     
  10. inertiat thread starter macrumors member

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    May 9, 2008
    #10
    Ok then so I'll go with FW800; the next question is 5,400rpm vs 7,200? Cheers
     
  11. MeValonicAcid macrumors member

    MeValonicAcid

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    #11
    Last week I've bought a MyBook studio edition FW800.
    It's 'ultra fast', has no fans (so no noise) and 7200rpm.
    Configured automatically with time machine and a lot of space is still available for my HD camcorder movies ;)
     
  12. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

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    May 19, 2002
    #12
    There are always the possibilities of using something like MacDrive on the PC, so you can read the HFS+ volume on the PC.

    As far as 5400 vs. 7200 -- might look at cache size (bigger) and warranty (longer) to see if one has an edge.
     
  13. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    #13
    OP: For you, i would go for both a firewire 400/800/USB2.0 combination. this was you can easily access everything on any computer, without worrying about its hardware capabilities.

    what kind of external HD will you be buying?? a desktop HD or a laptop HD? laptop HD's dont require an external power source, where as desktop HD's will require a power source (from the power point).

    i would recommend that you format as macosx HFS+, because a lot of mac programs refuse to save files to FAT32 formatted drives, and there is the mentioned 4gb file size limit.

    from my previous recommendation i would suggest that you aquire (through means you see fit, it costs a bit to buy) MacDrive. this allows any PC to read mac formatted drives without any problems. yes it has to be installed on the PC, but it is a minor hitch and well worth it.

    up to you i guess...
     
  14. inertiat thread starter macrumors member

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    May 9, 2008
    #14
    Hmm ok well I'm only editing video at a max of 1280x1024 so will 5,400RPM do? as I will be streaming off the drive at all times

    I really want something that is self-powered with no need to carry around an AC adapter because that would be a pain. The only portable ones that are 7,200 are very expensive but they are self powered. But if I can get away with a cheaper 5,400 drive then that would be better; if not I'll just buy a desktop 7,3200 drive and have to make do with the AC adapter
     
  15. inertiat thread starter macrumors member

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    May 9, 2008
    #15
    Cheers for the info on MacDrive - really helpful!
    So is 5,400RPM going to be a big deal if I'm only going to be streaming PAL-res content?
     
  16. iShater macrumors 604

    iShater

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    #16
    Since we recommend 7200RPM with a large cache for home video editors, I would think you want to get that too since you will be doing more of it. :)
     
  17. inertiat thread starter macrumors member

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    May 9, 2008
    #17
    Ok thanks. Would I be able to buy a separate USB power cable? (USB end going into the computer, then the power end going into the HDD)

    Would that provide enough power? I just want to ditch the AC adapter so much!
     
  18. Wotan31 macrumors 6502

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    Jun 5, 2008
    #18
    FW800 is twice the speed of FW400 in real world benchmarks.

    I see ~38 MB/s when I use the FW400 port on my laptop
    I see ~74 MB/s when I use the FW800 port on my laptop

    Those numbers are with the exact same external hard disk, just attached to the different speed ports.

    FW800 is well worth the extra couple bucks. :cool:

    If you're editing video, you shouldn't even be asking this question - you want the meanest fastest disk I/O you can get your hands on. Maybe even FW800 is not enough and you should look at eSATA instead?
     
  19. itickings macrumors 6502a

    itickings

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    #19
    No, USB supplies nowhere near enough to power a desktop drive.

    There may be some external enclosures for desktop drives where the AC adapter is integrated into the enclosure, ie regular power cable into the device instead of a clumsy AC adapter. Haven't seen one in a while though...
     
  20. UltraNEO* macrumors 601

    UltraNEO*

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    #20
    A FW800 connection would allow you to move data faster as it'll handle 786.432 Mbit/s full-duplex hence the "800" plus it's fully backwards compatible with it's slow FW400 which can handle up to 393.216 Mbit/s. Having said this, there is a FW1200 though it'll be based on the current FW800 connector, it's specifications are supposedly able to handle based on the 1.6 Gbit/s and 3.2 Gbit/s devices S1600 and S3200 respectively.

    To give you an idea...

    The typical FW400 drive is just a little slower then the USB2 (480 Mbit/s or 60 MB/s) standard we all know.
    The FW400/800 has less trouble when it comes to additional devices and power supply too!!


    My suggestion would be to invest in the FW800 drive has the option of a tripple (USB/FW400/FW800) or quad interface (USB/FW400/FW800/e-SATA) . Lacie and G-Technology makes many such boxes. IF you take the USB route you'll need to find an additional power source cause USB buses don't offer enough current to power the HD's. Though something like this could solve the USB power issue, assuming you have 2 USB ports available. A Single USB port is able to supply about 450-500mA, using two would in theory double it.

    [​IMG]



    And at home... There's 2 Options..

    1. Perhaps have a 2nd user Mac (to stay in budget) with a good network connector. You can always invest in a system later once you're sure about the future. In either case, you can stream the data of the PC with the minimal of fuss, just use the Ethernet port and network the two systems.

    2. Alternatively... Buy a external hard drive housing with a triple (USB/FW400/FW800) or quadruples interface (USB/FW400/FW800/e-SATA), place your PC hard drive inside. It's a worthy mention that Mac OSX can READ from a NTFS formatted drives but CAN NOT WRITE.
     
  21. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    Singapore
    #21
    wow thats a whole lotta knowledge you got there.

    i find that the USB2.0 standard is NEVER faster than fw400, basically because its crap haha. from my experience USB2.0 on a number of drives will only get 30mbps(ish), while fw400 easily gets 40mbps.

    i base these benchmarks solely on stock HD's, none of the faster RPM drives such as raptors and the like. maybe the results are different when there are more powerful CPU's and better HD's (i base my tests on a new iMac).

    when you mentioned FW1200 you made it sound as if it could be utilised at full speeds on an older fw800 interface?? i was under the impression that it would be "clocked back" because of power requirements, etcetc? whats the truth behind this?

    id recommend the tripple interface, USB2.0/FW400/FW800, seems like the best bet for the OP because of the troubles with PC/MAC interaction.
     
  22. itickings macrumors 6502a

    itickings

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    #22
    As DoFoT9 wrote, 480 Mbit/s USB2 won't sustain data transfer faster than 400 Mbit/s FW. USB is a very different technology, which aside from not sustaining as fast transfers will steal more CPU while transferring.

    One single USB powered connector will power most laptop/2.5" drives. Two will power virtually any drive/enclosure combo of that class. It won't be any good for desktop/3.5" drives however.

    Even though FW supplies more power than USB, bus-powered external drives not based on laptop disks are very rare.
     
  23. Wotan31 macrumors 6502

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    Jun 5, 2008
    #23
    Hahaha you're funny. FW400 will smoke USB2 in real world throughput. Yes, the bitrate of USB2 is faster, but the USB2 protocol has such high overhead, the real world numbers are far different.

    You'll see 37 MB/s on FW400 in real-world file transfers. With USB2, you're lucky if you break 30 MB/s.

    USB is a terrible protocol for bulk data transfer, that's why it sucks so badly at it, achieving barely 50% of it's theoretical maximum. Firewire on the other hand was designed *specifically* for bulk data transfer and it shows. :cool:

    Additionally, Firewire uses DMA transfers which improves performance further. USB has to go through your computer's CPU which slows things down.

    Lastly, Firewire supports Isochronous transfers. USB doesn't. This is critical when doing real-time audio/video work. Isochronous transfers guarantees a specific data rate. You don't get that with USB. That's why every single piece of pro grade audio / video hardware is Firewire-only.

    Plus the fact that Firewire provides roughly 3x the bus power of USB for running external disks and other devices - essential for doing work on the go.
     

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