Firewire 800 or eSATA?

wallaby

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 5, 2007
397
6
Iowa
I really need to order an external hard drive for my MBP. I'm buying my own 500GB internal Samsung drive, now I'm just trying to decide which enclosure solution to go with. What are the benefits of having a firewire 800 enclosure over a eSATA enclosure + eSATA expresscard? I know eSATA is faster but I've heard tell of issues getting it to work on Apple machines. I want to backup data and perhaps run programs off this drive, as well as use it for video editing. I'm concerned fw800 won't be fast enough.

Thoughts?
 

wallaby

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 5, 2007
397
6
Iowa
Not fast enough for what? FW800 is lightning fast, for nearly anything. Video editing, running apps, you name it.
800Mbps isn't quite 3Gbps. Though I don't know how fast eSATA actually is on the MBP, since it depends on the bus speed of the expresscard slot. I'm thinking of running games off a NTSC partition while I'm booted into Windows, and I'm not aware of any tests done on fw800 for running games.
 

Sun Baked

macrumors G5
May 19, 2002
14,874
57
While eSATA is faster than FW800, both are faster than the mechanical speed of the drive.

If all you ever do is move data in and out of the drive cache eSATA would be better.

If you actually plan on using the drive to read and write to the media, both are likely good enough. Though eSATA would have the edge for the time it takes to drain/fill the cache.

Balance that with the hassle of getting eSATA on the machine, and it may not be worth it when FW800 is just plug and play.
 

keirnna

macrumors regular
Sep 20, 2006
192
0
Japan
The express card's bandwidth is 1.5 Gbps while the FW800 is 800 Gbps. I don't have experience with eSATA cards on the MBP, but FW800 support is great on Macs.
 

JKitterman

macrumors member
Oct 10, 2006
60
0
With a single drive, can you even come anywhere close to transfering data that fast? I can see it may be an issue with a RAID setup.
 

-Alan-

macrumors member
Mar 10, 2007
91
0
I have the Icy Dock enclosure you linked. I love it. It's only about a step behind the speed of SATA. I know this because I would backup using SuperDuper to an internal drive on my MacPro (SATA) and do the same backup again to the external. The external would take about one or two minutes longer. I'd get the FW800 and forgo purchasing an express card. IMHO

Edit: When I say the FW800 takes a minute or two longer, I'm referring to about 19 or 20 minutes to the external as opposed to an 18 or 19 minute backup to the internal. HTH.
 

keirnna

macrumors regular
Sep 20, 2006
192
0
Japan
In general, even the best drives still only sustain 60-80MB/s. So FW800 or E-Sata aren't that different on that issue.

BUT, if you throw a stripe set across two drives, you can fill that pipe quickly.
Correct me if I am wrong, but there are 8 bits in a Byte so 80MBps is about 640Mbps. All I know is USB2 is god awful slow on my 2 TB drive.
 

dollystereo

macrumors 6502a
Oct 6, 2004
900
109
France
If you are getting a single 500 GB drive or even a 2 disc raid, FW800 is more than enough. Besides, FW800 is hot swapable, so you can have your computer turned on and plug the drive, while with eSata you cant (it must be turned off).
Get FW800 is fast, simple and great (thats why your MBP has the port).
eSata is great for Macpros and external drive raids. (for the mac pro there is a 29$ card that gets you 2 eSata ports out of the motherboard).
Good luck.

PD: Get a Seagate drive, is far better than samsung, and maybe a Newegg or OWC case, they are great.
 

Cliff3

macrumors 68000
Nov 2, 2007
1,520
97
SF Bay Area
If you are getting a single 500 GB drive or even a 2 disc raid, FW800 is more than enough. Besides, FW800 is hot swapable, so you can have your computer turned on and plug the drive, while with eSata you cant (it must be turned off).
That is inaccurate. I do power down the drives after unmounting them, but my MBP is unaffected other than a need to power off the card prior to removing it.
 

wallaby

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 5, 2007
397
6
Iowa
Hmm. I just thought of something. I wonder how long it will be until Rosewill writes expresscard drivers for Leopard? I don't plan on upgrading for at least another month or so, but that could be an issue; I don't know how well Leopard plays with eSATA.

dollystereo said:
Get FW800 is fast, simple and great (thats why your MBP has the port).
eSata is great for Macpros and external drive raids. (for the mac pro there is a 29$ card that gets you 2 eSata ports out of the motherboard).
Good luck.

PD: Get a Seagate drive, is far better than samsung, and maybe a Newegg or OWC case, they are great.
I don't think having a fw800 port on a MBP automatically makes it great; I kinda wish Apple would give up on the dying standard and just include an eSATA port instead, while keeping the fw400 port.

I don't really see a problem with the Samsung drive, as it seems to be one of the better received drives on NewEgg… all I know is to stay away from Western Digitals and Maxtors (which owns Seagate now or something).

Ugh. I like the idea of a lightning-fast external drive on eSATA (using this new enclosure I found), but fw800 just seems to be so much better supported in OS X.

cliff3 said:
I do power down the drives after unmounting them, but my MBP is unaffected other than a need to power off the card prior to removing it.
I lug around my laptop with me quite a bit, plugging it into external stuff when I get home (which would soon include this external). Is it a pain to have to mount and unmount the drive/expresscard? Do you have to mount both? Does the Macbook need to be off before inserting an expresscard? I'm really not well versed in laptop stuff, sorry. :confused:
 

Cliff3

macrumors 68000
Nov 2, 2007
1,520
97
SF Bay Area
I lug around my laptop with me quite a bit, plugging it into external stuff when I get home (which would soon include this external). Is it a pain to have to mount and unmount the drive/expresscard? Do you have to mount both? Does the Macbook need to be off before inserting an expresscard? I'm really not well versed in laptop stuff, sorry. :confused:
You just insert the expresscard, connect up the drive, and power up the drive. OS X mounts any new drive it finds attached to the computer whether the connection medium is firewire, eSATA, or USB. The computer remains turned on during the whole process and drives are readily swappable. Once you're done with it, just unmount the drive from finder, power down the drive, and disconnect it. If you're done with the expresscard, then power it down from the menubar icon and eject it. The Sonnet card worked fine with Leopard in the brief time I had Leopard installed before I reverted my laptop to Tiger (unworkable problems with Leopard and Adobe Lightroom and Airport disks - I'll wait for the bug fixes...).

My external drives have both eSATA and USB 2.0 interfaces (Vantec cases with Maxtor SATA drives scavenged from my retired Windows desktop - Seagate bought Maxtor and Seagate and Maxtor drives are just fine in my experience). I normally leave the drives connected to my AEBS as Airport disks. If I'm not doing anything heavy duty, then the convenience of accessing them this way is perfect. If it's I/O time, say moving many GB of photos off my laptop to one of the external drives, then I'll connect one or both drives directly to my laptop via eSATA. Leopard has a lot of issues with Airport drives though and while moving these drives from Airport to eSATA (or directly connected via USB - the problem seems to be between Leopard and Airport disks and reacquiring security credentials) and back is painless under Tiger, it's a massive PITA with Leopard - seemingly due to security related problems in Leopard. Presumably a fix is in the works.
 

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