Firewire drive speed for editing? 5400 vs 7200?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by buzzjunkie, Jan 9, 2009.

  1. buzzjunkie macrumors newbie

    Jan 9, 2009
    Hi all, im just about to pick up a lacie rugged small hard portable, to add to my increasing collection of externals!

    I typically use an external 1Tb, 7200, firewire 800 lacie, with my macbook pro for video editing. However I am travelling and need to buy another one. I figured I could use one of the smaller portable rugged models in my collection, however Im just wondering if I really should pay the extra to get the 7200rpm version or not? The 320GB version costs a little MORE than a 500GB, 5400rpm model.

    I havent really had any testing experience between the two speeds and am wondering if I am really going to notice the difference or not, if I am using it as the primary scratch disk for Final Cut Pro projects connected with firewire 800??

    any experience or advice would be brilliant. Thanks all!
  2. bmcgonag macrumors 65816


    Mar 20, 2007
    Odd that this should come up, but on the Tekzilla podcast they actually covered rpm vs. size vs. cost the other day.

    Basically the larger the drive, the tighter the data storage areas is "packed" into the space, thus making data transfer to and from it faster. This makes up the difference in many cases for the speed in rpm.

    They showed some benchmarks that demonstratte a smaller size drive with higher rpm, will actually run slower or only as fast as a larger drive at lower rpm.

    On a cost basis, it sounds like the 500 GB 5400 rpm drive will probably give you more bang for your buck.


  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    RPM is right up there with "megapixel" and "GHz" as a useless measurement. Yes it is easy to understand but who cares how fast the platters spin? What you care about is how many bits fly under the read/write heads per second.

    That is the product of the aerial bit density times the tangental velocity of the track holding your data. (OK tangental velocity is proportional to RPM but RPM is only 1/3rd of the story)
  4. ChemiosMurphy macrumors 6502

    Sep 25, 2007
    Warminster, PA
    go for the 7200 RPM drive. You're going to need the speed and the 5400 drive will provide jerky results
  5. tri3limited macrumors 6502

    Jun 5, 2008
    I love how you completely blanked the comment previous to you! My advice is to ignore RPM as it's not the be all and end all. As mentioned read/write speeds are more important, as is the connection. No point in having a lighting fast harddrive if USB2 is going to throttle it to 480Mbps (mega bits per second) if you're lucky! Firewire 800 is a little quicker at 786.432Mbps.

    As far as jerky results go, that depends on the size of the data. Uncompressed capture is fairly uncommon as a portable edit format, most people would atleast downres it until final export if that were the case.
  6. buzzjunkie thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 9, 2009
    Thanks for all the replies. I guess I understand that the rpm speed certainly isnt the be all and end all, and there are of course a bunch of other factors that determine read/write speed etc. Im just not sure if I would notice the difference that much specifically going through a firewire 800 connection or not. It sounds like the difference wouldnt be that noticeable?
  7. bigbossbmb macrumors 68000


    Jul 1, 2004
    FW 800 has more bandwidth than the 2.5" hard drives need. It won't be your bottleneck. 2.5" hard drives are not really recommended for video editing, but they have gotten quicker in recent years.

    What format of video are you typically editing?
  8. buzzjunkie thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 9, 2009
    Im typically editing SD, PAL footage in Final Cut Pro. So are you suggesting a 2.5 inch 7200 drive, would function slower than a 3.5 inch one?

    Im not thinking of using it as my primary working drive, I already have larger lacies for that. Im just wondering if its going to do the job fine as a portable backup on the road and just not sure if the 5400 is going to be fine or not.

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