Firewire 400 vs 800 for video editing? Significant difference?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by DaSal, Nov 11, 2009.

  1. DaSal macrumors regular

    Mar 19, 2008
    The Netherlands
    So I'm needing to expand my storage capabilities and would like to start editing footage from an external hard-drive. Now I know USB is out but I was wondering wether I should go for FW400 or FW800? I know FW800 is significantly faster than FW400, but is the difference really noticeable in actual editing or only in say, file copies? I'll be editing mainly HDV footage (1080p).

    The reason I ask is because 1TB FW400 drives seem to be somewhat cheaper than the FW800 drives. Also I know it's sort of a stupid reason, but it seems all the FW800 drives are really, really ugly. And there's some nice looking FW400 ones out there. I know that shouldn't matter, but as it's going to be sitting on my desk next to my Mac I would prefer it to look decent ;)
  2. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    Yes, it does make a difference, FW400 operates under the speed of the drives, while FW800 is the better match for today's drives.

    Just make sure you get a FW800/USB2 combo drive.

    And if you are seriously considering buying drives based on looks over performance ... well :rolleyes:

    Basically, if you are considering FW400, you might as well save the money and buy USB2 instead. Since you already lost 50% in performance, you might as well shave some more performance and dollars and go USB2.
  3. irmongoose macrumors 68030


    Dec 3, 2001
    Sometimes Tokyo, sometimes California
    Video editing is one of the very few situations where having fast read/write capabilities makes a significant difference.
    If you have a machine that supports FW800, it doesn't make any sense not to make use of it.

    Here are some nice looking Quad-interface drives from OWC.

  4. the vj macrumors 6502a

    Nov 23, 2006
    Do your projects with your internal drive and at the end transfer them to the external drive for storage.

    Using external drives no matter if is Firewire 3000 is slow. External drives use to go to sleep by themselves.

    I have my Mac pro with a 600GB extra internal drive and sometimes I have to wait a bit. I have a 2T Lacie wich look just fine to me and has FW 400 but I use it when I need a file from an older project.

    If you want actual speed you will need a mac pro and a real raid PCI card with some drives.

    Dude... no one who is gonna be serious in HD editing will think in the cosmetics aspects as you do.
  5. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
    All of that is bad, misinformed advice. (Sorry, no other way to say it.)

    FW400 should be okay for basic HDV editing, but if it was me I'd still get an 800-capable. If you're using Final Cut Pro and decide you'd prefer to work in ProRes or various other formats you'll be pleased you did.
  6. anthemus macrumors regular


    Apr 25, 2009
    Personally some time back I did a speed test between the drives. FW400 is roughly 27 MB/sec and FW800 was 39MB/sec. There is a difference. USB 2.0 was 17MB/sec.

    So if your editing HD with graphics FW800 will give you the speed. FW400 can probable do it as well but the rendering an access will be a little slower.
  7. Flynnstone macrumors 65816


    Feb 25, 2003
    Cold beer land
    I bought a 1 T 4 Quad interface external HD, Buffalo I think.
    Fast I have seen about 80MB/s transfer rate using FW800. Transfering video.
    I vote for , if you have FW800 ... use it.
  8. DaSal thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 19, 2008
    The Netherlands
    Well, I wasn't sure if I would see a big benefit for video editing with FW800, which is why I made the thread. For all I knew FW400 would be sufficient, and then yes, looks count. I mean, how can you be in graphic design/video editing/the arts and not care about esthetics?

    Anyway, I suppose I will go for a FW800 drive, if it really makes a big performance difference, probably a buffalo. Maybe the Lacie Quadro 1TB, but I heard bad things about Lacie?

    Why? What's wrong with wanting to do serious editing and still maintaining an attractive workspace? Being pleased with my surroundings helps me be more creative and organized. It's the same reason why I always keep my workspace neat and clean. What's wrong with that? Really, not everyone needs to have the same opinions and ideas about things as you to be "serious about editing":rolleyes:
  9. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    Best thing would be to buy a high quality external case with a decent FW800 chipset, and buy your own quality drive with a decent warranty.

    At least this way you have a separate warranty for the drive and the case.

    Plus you aren't going to be stuck with a problematic FW800 chipset (and there are some) ...

    I can't plug my FW drive in using FW anymore since the chipset needs a firmware upgrade to prevent Mac OS connection errors when not being used, and the board maker isn't going to upgrade it, so it is now a USB2 case.

    Some people have had trouble when the PSU or board on the case failed, and they were told that if they save the data by removing the drive the warranty was void.
  10. drlunanerd macrumors 68000


    Feb 14, 2004
    Can you tell me the case manufacturer and chipset please? I ask as I've been having similar sounding problems with some OWC cases using Oxford chipsets.
  11. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    Not an Oxford, or a 2nd tier chipset, some 3rd tier company I'd never heard of ... looked it up and they had an ad about how their chip/board never requires a firmware upgrade to work with OS X.

    Didn't respond correctly to the HW polling Apple was doing after a Leopard OS update when the drive slept, so it would shut down, restart, and retry the Apple controller ... filling up the error log.

    Got tired of it, since another drive is using the last available USB port so I tossed the drive in storage.
  12. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    I hate to simply say "RTFM". But if you do look in the FCP user manual there is a table that lists disk drive speed and space requirements for various video formats. Take Apple's recommendations as the minimum you need.

    You really do want the media files on the external scratch disk. Keep the EDL's and projects on the internal drive those are small. Best to spread the I/O around over several drives. Even a slow external drive helps because then the media reads and the normal Mac OS X stuff each have their own disk and can run in parallel. A lot less disk seeking that way.

    A lot depends on how many video and audio tracks you have. Four 1080i tracks is a lot of data to read. You may find that you want a FW800 based RAID0
  13. MrSEC macrumors regular

    Apr 17, 2008
    There is nothing wrong with being neat,and having nice looking stuff.What I think he meant was don't give up a boat load of performance,for a drive that looks a little less attractive. Seriously,the FW800 is a huge improvement.I have a really nice looking lacie drive that I use as my time machine drive now because it was just too slow for video editing. Have you looked at the G tech drives? The looks of the G tech is kinda based off the Mac Pro look.I really like mine,and to me they look nice.
  14. puckhead193 macrumors G3


    May 25, 2004
    I work with AVCHD/pro res using FW 400. I currently use G tech's G RAID 2 tb quad interface drive, don't tell me you think that's ugly its a mini mac pro!
    Only negative is my office is my bedroom and the LED light is very bright I have to put something in front of it when I'm exporting over night, its like a strobe light... que the disco music!

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