Firewire 400 vs 800/ 1tb drive

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by mikeheenan, Oct 20, 2007.

  1. mikeheenan macrumors 6502

    Aug 8, 2007
    I just bought a 1 TB external at Costco, the My Book Home edition for $299 and it's fantastic, nice and compact. However this one only has Firewire 400, esata and USB 2.0. Costco also has a 1 TB premium drive which is about $20 more but also has a Firewire 800 (and is about twice the thickness of the home edition, not too big of a deal though). Now I will be getting a MBP soon once Leopard is out, and I use it for video editing and a home computer (internet email dvds etc). I haven't gotten into HD video just yet but will probably do so in the near future. I want to make sure I'm ok in the future with my purchase, so I guess my question is, is Firewire 800 necessary for HD video editing? Or is the difference between the 2 pretty small?
  2. overanalyzer macrumors 6502a

    Sep 7, 2007
    Boston, MA USA
    Necessary, no. Beneficial, yes. Firewire 800 is twice as fast as Firewire 400. BTW, USB 2.0 is actually slightly faster than Firewire 400 (at 480), but sustained write speeds via USB usually fall off around 33MB/s, so Firewire is often faster in reality.

    Wikipedia has some useful information:

    Can't remember where I saw the fall off for USB 2.0.

    Edit: Well, this doesn't mention the cutoff point I'm recalling, but it does mention this point of Firewire being faster than USB 2.0 in practice:
  3. sushi Moderator emeritus


    Jul 19, 2002
    FWIW in real world transfer rates for large files (greater than 20GBs), using an external HD with both FW400 and USB2.0, I've found FW400 to be a little over 2 times faster than USB2.0.
  4. overanalyzer macrumors 6502a

    Sep 7, 2007
    Boston, MA USA
    Wow, that's really impressive. I thought it was supposed to be something around 1.5 times faster, if my memory of the comparative sustained speeds is right. But USB 2.0 definitely is unable to fully utilize the theoretical data speed, so either way the point is that Firewire is substantially faster in practice, and Firewire 800 is twice the speed of Firewire 400.
  5. iPhil macrumors 68040


    The usb 2.0 "speed" is on paper theory and both FW standards 'speeds' are 'based in real use tests' .. Plus FW can sustain that speed for longer periods of time ..

    Usb 2.0 = great for short bursts of info packets transferred.. HD video needs FW800 or eSATA connection to be ideal way ..
  6. Analog Kid macrumors 601

    Analog Kid

    Mar 4, 2003
    Depends on how the drive is structured. If it's a single drive alone on the bus, you won't see a difference between FW400 and FW800 because it will be limited by the drive speed. If you have multiple devices plugged in, or if the 1TB is actually multiple striped drives, the FW800 will be faster.

    I keep my backup on an external RAID connected through FW800, mainly because as the only thing on that bus nothing interferes with it and it interferes with nothing.

    USB2 is a lousy protocol for mass storage. USB was meant as a peripheral standard and people tried to extend it to do more than it should. It's like comparing ATA and a parallel port (or, for that matter, apples and oranges).
  7. pkoch1 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 3, 2007
    ...the speed goes to 800. Look, right across the board: 800, 800, 800, 800...

    Oh, I see. And most go up to 400?


    Does that mean it's faster? Is that any faster?

    Well, it's 400 faster, innit? It's not 400. You see, most... most drives, you know, will be transferring at 400. You're on 400 here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up... you're on 400 on your drive. Where can you go from there? Where?

    I don't know...

    ...nowhere! Exactly! What we do is if we need that extra... push over the cliff, you know what we do?

    Put it up to 800.

    ...800. Exactly. 400 faster.

    Why don't you just make 400 faster, and make 400 be the top... number, and make that a little faster?

    These go to 800.
  8. Analog Kid macrumors 601

    Analog Kid

    Mar 4, 2003
    Cripe, is this true?! No wonder all those PC folks kept saying USB is faster and Firewire started dying on the vine... What was MS thinking? This has to have been intentional, I can't think of any other reason for it.
  9. KingYaba macrumors 68040


    Aug 7, 2005
    Up the irons
    To the threat starter: Buy the device with the FireWire 800 if your Macintosh has the port. I have been using a Firewire 400 device for the longest time and I recently upgraded and FW800 screams. I also have eSATA capability but I have tapped that, yet.
  10. mikeheenan thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 8, 2007

    What external drive do you use? It'd be nice, but not completely necessary, to have something somewhat slim and portable like the My Book home edition I'm currently using.
  11. Nuc macrumors 6502a


    Jan 20, 2003
    Whatever your smoking I'll have. ????

    Anyways back on topic. I have a FW 800 drive and it works great for video editing. I've never used FW 400 but it may not be that big of a difference? But if it were me I would go with FW 800. You could also get an esata card for the MBP but that is expensive but it's very fast from what I understand.

  12. tpth macrumors member

    Oct 4, 2007
    Hahaha Spinal Tap - greatest comedy ever...

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