FireWire400 or USB2 ?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by myemaildw, Aug 9, 2008.

  1. myemaildw macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2008
    #1
    I have a question whether self-powered Hard Drives with FireWire400 have speedier data transfer between laptop (iBook G4 in my case) and Hard Drive and vice versa than USB2?
    I'm aware that most Hard Drives that have FireWire also come with USB. I'm just wandering is it worth the trouble of getting FireWire HD.
    Thanks
     
  2. tri3limited macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2008
    Location:
    London
    #2
    Completely ignoring the 50/50 choice... Firewire 800 if you've got the port and it's empty.
     
  3. telecomm macrumors 65816

    telecomm

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2003
    Location:
    Rome
    #3
    Yes, Firewire is faster. Also, you can use a Firewire drive as a boot drive with a PPC Mac (your iBook), while PPC Macs can't book from USB.
     
  4. CWallace macrumors 601

    CWallace

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2007
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #4
    Not sure if you are using 2.5" or 3.5" drives, but FW will put out more power over the wire (1A). I have a few 2.5" HDDs that need more then the .5A a single USB port can output so I need to either plug them in or use a second USB port to power it. No such worries with FW.

    Also, I believe FW uses it's own controller and not the CPU so even if it ends up not being quite as fast in data transfer rates, it won't impact your system's performance as much.

    As such, I prefer FW for all my external HDDs.
     
  5. myemaildw thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2008
    #5
    This one:
    http://store.iomega.com/section?SID...876bcfae2a01145:4760&secid=39516#content_tabs

    Thanks for your post. So is FireWire400 HD is faster than USB2?
     
  6. telecomm macrumors 65816

    telecomm

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2003
    Location:
    Rome
    #6
    FW400 has a (theoretical) top transfer rate of 400 Mbit/s, vs 480 Mbit/s for USB2. So it looks like USB2 is faster.

    The catch is that the top speeds are burst speeds, which complicates things. Firewire 400 is better at streaming data, so in actual practice FW400 is faster when, for example, you need to transfer that 700 MB file to your external drive. Also, USB2 uses your computer's processor to manage the transfer, while FW devices are 'smarter', and have chips built-in to handle the management.

    Also, FW drives can be chained together. (They typically come with two FW ports per drive, so you can connect something else to your drive). I've got 4 drives chained together, which connects through a single FW cable to my MBP.

    All of this is also covered here.
     
  7. kolax macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2007
    #7
    USB2 is faster than FW400 in theory, but in practise USB2 never reaches its full potential speed.

    I have a USB2 hard drive with FW400 and FW800 connections, and FW400 is a lot faster than USB2.

    As a side note, I actually own the 160GB USB model of the Iomega portable hard drive. Very useful. It came with a cable that had 2 USB plugs on it, so you could power it off another computer or source.
     
  8. sabre364 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2008
    #8
    I want to add that if you are using a bunch of external devices (printers, external drive, mouse, etc) at your desk, you can look into a usb hum (or if there is such a thing a firewire hub). Firewire is a lot faster but I've found it very convenient to use a USB hub with my MBP instead of plugging in 4 different things when I sit down at my desk.
     
  9. myemaildw thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2008
    #9
    Thanks for your replies everybody. Now I see that FW HDs are faster. And it doesn't harm to have USB and FW connections in a HD.
    I will be getting USB HD with FW in it.
     

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