G.SKILL FM-25S2S-128GB 2.5" 128GB SATA II Internal Solid state disk (SSD) REVIEW

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by xoggyux, Mar 4, 2009.

  1. xoggyux macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2008
    #1
    Hi,
    I just bought (and installed) the G.SKILL FM-25S2S-128GB 2.5" 128GB SATA II Internal Solid state disk (SSD) from newegg http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231221 for $229 and I thought in making it a review.
    I am going to be quick today since I am on exams and I need to go back to study in a bit, but this weekend probably I will post some photos and benchmarks.

    This is NOT the TITAN drive which is supposed to be better, however this one was considerable cheaper and for my first attempt I'd rather would get a cheap one, also this sets a "lower limit" (e.g. most drives, except for REALLY BAD ones, should be better.)

    I have to say the drive performs really well, (some people claim everything is instant,... NO IT IS NOT INSTANT< NO NO NO) however pretty much every single loading time is cut in half, really word loads in 3seconds rather than 8 with the regular HDD, the system boots in seconds (~4x-5x seconds) rather than ~2mins with HDD, which IT MEANS A LOT (keep in mind that doubling the ram from 2GB -> 4GB can shave usually milliseconds, if you are lucky 1 sec or so, (A bit more for boot time, maybe 5secs).
    Also everything seams a LOT faster due to the fact that its silent (no drama, you click, a delay, it opens, rather than you click, the HDD starts clicking, then a delay, then opens :D)

    I have to say that the installation was not very easy in the sense that the manual I used did not have special instructions at the begining regarding what tools I'd need, so imagine when i got half the laptop open and I found I needed an stupid TORX #6 (10mm) screwdriver.... :confused: at 8pm in the night... and that time either put the computer back or go to homedepot running to get to buy it before it closed.......

    Preliminary benchmarks are showing the drive's speed as about twice as my old hitachi HDD (e.g. if read in old HDD was 40MB/s in this one is about ~90MB/s or so (using xbench) I'll do better benchmakrs when exams over since then ones I did i was installing some programs at the same time so it could have interfered.

    I did not expected any improvement in heat since most of my computer's heat comes from the back side where the CPU, GPU and RAM are located and makes sense since most of the heat is generated by them, so I did not expected any cooling improvement from exchanging the drive, however for my surprize the computer is running cooler (about 2ºC cooler, maybe a 3~4, however this could be due to the fact I actually cleaned it when i opened, so time will say) for now its nice to report that those ~2ºC have had a great effect since it seams it is enough to keep the fans @ 2K rpm which just enough for me to not notice them (I start notice them after 2500~3K rpm.


    As for battery life, I did not expected either any improvement, however yesterday something weird happend, I had the computer unplugged, I saw a full movie (about 1Hour from the internet, so wireless was working also, the movie was HD also (not 1080 but 420p, hulu kind, so about average CPU usage)) and then I had the computer like another 2 hours on to read from web browser, so about 3H of battery life 1 hour of those watching HD (kinda) movie (usually I dont get that much,) also when battery was like at 10% it let me use the computer for 40mins, Im thinking this is due more to the fact I did not calibrate the computer for a while... so in future post I let you guys now.


    Conclusions: Assuming reliability (I'd be happy if it doesnt break in the next 12months, or its performance doesnt drop, etc, e.g. it keeps working just as its been for the next 12months) it is the single best performance upgrade for your money even better than RAM. In fact if you are comfortable opening your computer and you own a MBP this is a must (for MB is arguable since $200 represents ~20% of the laptop itself). Regarding storage capacity this model offers 119GB (after formatted, it is the 128GB model) which for $230 isent particularly bad if you consider the performance boost and the other smaller advantages (such a slightly less heat, NOISE and perhaps better battery performance depending on what particular task).
    Obviously if you want the best of the best you going to have to go for the TITAN or if you want even better then Intel, samsung or toshiba alternatives (~500-800 for similar capacity.)
     
  2. xoggyux thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Dec 4, 2008
    #2
    Here is a comparison video between the machine Before and After:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLCR1qoJadY
    The first couple of minutes is a side by side comparison, after it is over then comes a few minutes of the HDD and then when is over a few minutes of SSD so you can see it (a bit) bigger.

    Unfortunately I had exams at the time I received the SSD so I could not do a more accurate test (for instance HDD cloning so both system are EXACLY THE SAME) so there could be a few seconds decrease just because one installation is much newer than the other, however believe me when I say this, when I had the SSD with the cloned system was indeed as fast as the clean system.

    Overall after almost a week of having installed I have had ZERO problems or complaints, I have to report the SSD does decrease the temperature of the system considerably, in the past 4 days the fans have been consistently at 2000rpm (which I believe is the minimun since even when the computer is cold (~20-30ºC due to being sleep in a freezing cold room ~15ºC) they are at that speed) the fans have rarely goes faster (it does max at 6000rpm when coding video and running vmware fusion with windows xp at the same time, but thats to expect, however the temp still tops at 75ºC not at 8xºC like before. Though the battery last a bit longer when the system is working and is compared to a working system with and HDD, if the SSD system is sleep and is compared to an sleeping system using HDD the battery does run out a bit faster (probably because HDD can spin down while SSD have to stay on :confused:) which would probably show you a fake battery health :)confused:)? (e.g. my battery health just before installing the HDD was reporting to be 96% as soon as I installed the SSD its being bouncing between 70% and 85% but again I believe thats a "fake" report and not the "actual" health, anyway I will do a proper calibration next week and let you know, just thought it worth mention it.

    Does it worth the upgrade?
    ABSOLUTELY YES!!!!!! (well assuming will last more than 12months running this fast and doesnt fail, which I honestly think it will, specially since it is supposed to last 30++ years of hard [50GB writings per day] work.

    Basically if you got an MBP that its less than 1year it worth the upgrade (specially if you bought one different that the entry level) since its not that expensive (~$200 ~ 10% of the value of your computer, I Paid more for the taxes of my computer that for the SSD for instance) and the performance is great. If you own a MB or a very old MBP then its up to you....



    What to do with the HDD you take out? make it external obviously, enclosures are cheap so that wont be a problem, if you let me recompend one buy the rocketfish 2.5" HDD enclosure with comes with eSATA, it has an slick design aswell that is similar to the MBP desig (its a bit bigger and heavier than other 2.5" HDDs/enclosures, see picture) is fast as well, its made of aluminum though the top is made of silver plastic for some reason :confused: in the up side is interchangeable (though the alternative is a very ugly black one, however if you own a new unibody with black keys it might good nice next to it, it is also a nice touch if the silver one scratches, etc. Though if you try to buy this HDD on retail (BestBuy) it will cost you a lot of money for what it is (~$30++) if you go to eBay and order a refurbished or "open box" you will get it for ~$15 and its a great enclosure, and with eSATA even better (though I think for eSATA you going to need the AC adaptor which comes included, for USB you dont unless the USB is not powered....)

    Here are some pictures as well as a comparison to a 2.5" external Seagate Freeagent GO
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    Obviously this is the cheapest 128GB SSD you'd find as of today so it is not the best, however it will do just fine while you wait for the "good ones" to come out.

    Here is a xbench comparison between the HDD and SSD, I DID NOT DO ANYTHING SPECIAL TO RUN THE TEST (e.g. quitting programs or such but i was not having any other programs accessing heavily the HDD either, also SSD test were VERY inconsistent varying by 10MB/s to as much as 30MB/s in some cases, I once even got a 300MB/s so i dont know how that can be interpreted.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. S-Man macrumors regular

    S-Man

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2009
    Location:
    Houston
    #3
    Wow, that was a really slow startup on the hdd unit. Why did it take so long? Mine is a new Uni 320 gig 5400 RPM drive, and it does'nt take that long. It's a bit longer than when new/blank, but it doesn't take a whole minute and a half or whatever.
    That SSD is smokin though! Nice video. I'm keeping my eyes on those SSD's when they come down in price.
     
  4. Kennedy macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2009
    #4
    How big a difference would it make over the 7200rpm HDD? I'd get more storage for $50 more, but will 7200rpm be anywhere near the speed of an SSD, or at least better than the 5400rpm? And, I'd have programs like CS4 and Vectorworks (big programs) to install, they'd be taking up a significant portion of the memory. I guess I could get an external to keep all my files on?

    There's a very small change that I'm competent enough to switch out the HDD for a SSD once I buy it, I'm just not that tech savvy (although, I have no idea how to do it, maybe it's fairly simple?).
     
  5. bossxii macrumors 68000

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    Nov 9, 2008
    Location:
    Kansas City
    #5
    SSD's biggest advantage is boot up, starting applications and while it does read/write faster then a traditional HDD there is a fine line of rating how fast SSD is over say a 7200 rpm drive while actually using a program.

    My experience was with the Macbook Air 128 gig SSD for about 45 days vs now my 17 MBP running a 320gig 5400 rpm drive. The obvious difference is opening say imovie on the MBA was probably 3 +/- sec give or take vs 11 sec on this machine. To actual run and process video not as dramatic a difference.

    Another thing to consider is reading that as your SSD become full, say a 128 gig at 120 gigs (8gig free space) they slow down in performance. I've not see proof but in theory this seems to be expected. One option I've been thinking about is putting a 128 gig drive in the primary bay of my MBP and a 500gig/5400rpm in the superdrive slot to hold the bulk media. Programs would start fast, the computer boot very fast, normal things such as email, web, etc.. would benefit from the SSD while there would be a trade off of speed for the having larger files on the 500 gig drive. I'm not sure how this would perform but until I see 512gig + drives I'm holding off making the switch entirely.

    To the point of "could you do it", I would say yes, anyone that can watch a video should be able to swap out a HDD. There are some very detailed "how to's" for the older MBP's as well as the unibody ones. Not to mention alot of people here with plenty of experience doing it. Some good information and great details of how they did it and how it works. I think you would find plenty of information to help you along and plenty of good people here that would be willing to assist if you were having issues.

    Good Luck with your decision!
     
  6. James Cole macrumors 6502

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    Jul 15, 2007
    Location:
    San Antonio, Texas
    #6
    Interesting... so for example If I have a 7200 rpm drive do you guys think there will not be a huge diff compared to the SSD?

    Maybe the difference is much more noticeable when starting the drive up... but thats about it.
     
  7. xoggyux thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2008
    #7
    Yeah the HDD one was particularly slow because that particular MAC OS X installation was like 2 months old, the SSD installation was new so some of the performance could be attributed to that, however before I did that installation I cloned the drive and tested it, and it was ALMOST as fast as the clean installation (I did not take videos of that since I was on exams and was kind of busy, anyway it was very close)
     
  8. bossxii macrumors 68000

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    #8
    Overall your system will feel faster.. the biggest speed you will feel is boot up and starting programs. While say surfing the web, emial, spreadsheets etc.. your won't notice the speed as much/if at all. Loading is huge for SSD's as their READ speed is several times that of a regular HDD. Seek times on a 7200 rpm drive maybe 5 or 6 ms and the seek on SSD's are something like .0003 ms... many many times faster seeking and reading data, write times however are a bit slower due to how the SSD's work.

    My problem is I am comparing my experience from a MBA at 1.8ghz/2gig ram and a 128 SSD vs the new 17" Uni MBP with a 5400 rpm drive. So after I see the slower load times of programs I don't feel the effects of the program running because i have more power running it.

    Others can probably give you a better guideline as to the difference they feel.
     
  9. James Cole macrumors 6502

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    Jul 15, 2007
    Location:
    San Antonio, Texas
    #9
    Thanks for the detailed response...

    And yes I agree... It would be nice to know the difference comparing a two identical unis with the only difference the hard drives...

    But in everyday use... the computer just feels snappier then? In your opinion is it worth the trade off (250 bucks + less than half storage space) That difference better be spectacular for that trade off to be worth it... lol
     
  10. bossxii macrumors 68000

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    Nov 9, 2008
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    Kansas City
    #10
    Yes it will feel "snappier" for sure.

    Is it worth the trade off... for me not right now. I'm going to wait until this summer June/July and watch prices. I have the 320 gig 5400 and for my needs the faster "snappier" feel is not worth it right now. I do plan on upgrading to SSD's but I'm hoping to get a 512gig SSD sometime later in the year, even If I spend 800 or 1000 on a 512 that will be the last SSD size wise I need in a laptop. I know if I buy a 128 it will be to small (already found that out with the MBA) and a 256 could work.. but I know from what I have on my old desktop that 500 gigs works great for what I do.

    Just my 2 cents :)
     
  11. xoggyux thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #11
    OK, i have never seen a 7200rpm laptop HDD perform, so when you read my response take that in mind.
    I will make an small FAIR assumption which is that none 7200rpm 2.5" HDD is as fast as a 7200rpm 3.5" (desktop size) HDD (for many reasons, including cache [32mb for desktop is twice as much as laptop's], seek time and higher density of most desktop size HDD such as 1TB and 1.5TB HDDS) yet when benchmarks compares SSDs with HDDs they almost always (in fact i have not yet seen a comparison vs a seagate momentus which i'd like to see since that was going to be my alternative) compare them to DESKTOP HDDS (and the comparisons I have seen includes WD raptor, Seagate 1.5TB HDD etc) and in most test the SSD beats the HDD with a [relatively] wide margin (in some test the HDD is a BIT faster, such as small writings) some test even compare them to RAID 0 configurations. I am going to sum up this easily in a way can be understood easily, I own a desktop computer (PC) which has a Western Digital Raptor (at @10,000 rpm) which is the fastest (consumer oriented) HDD out there, now, I can boot a virtual machine running windows vista and boot it faster than what my full size desktop can boot (the virtual machine wit 1 emulated processor, 2GB virtual ram, vs the desktop with dual core, 3 GB of physical DDR2 ram and the WD raptor) oh.. I forgot with also handbrake running in background encoding a movie.. So draw your own conclusions.

    It is hard to justify SSD I get it, I was in that stage 2 weeks ago, it cost like $2 per gig when in a HDD you get as many as 5GB per $1 (thats 10 time cheaper.) But do not think of the SSD as a storage upgrade (otherwise you will find it hard to justify) think about it as a PERFORMANCE upgrade (with the added advantage of 128GB extra [when you convert your internal HDD into external,] less noise and less heat. Most of mac users do not find hard to justify trowing $50 to upgrade from 2GB standard to 4GB (if they did not pay ~$200 to begin with) now SSD will cost 4 times more, but it will be MUCH faster (in fact I have trouble determining whether my mac is faster or not with 2GB or 4GB.)

    Switching the drive is stupidly easy (I had my problems because I am dumb and did not had the proper screwdriver also my guide did not expecified it until half way in the instruction and by that time I had the computer already open in the operation table :cool:)
    All you need is: #00 phillips screwdriver and #6 torx screwdriver (10mm, I was missing this one, had to go to home depot at 8pm to get one) tough if you have the unibody it (could) be different, if so, just take a sec to find out, or just buy a set with all of the small ones (#1~#10 for instance and same with phillips.)
    In the old (2008) MPB this is the scheme to get the drive out: take out battery, unscrew 2 screws in the battery compartment and the 3 screws for the memory cap, unscreww 4 screws of the bottom case, unscrew 10 screws around the body (4 in each side and 2 in the back), lift the keyboard (this is a bit scary but if you do it careful its not big deal, be careful with the keyboard conector [e.g. do it slowly :D] unscrew 2 screws that are holding a "latch" to the right side of the HDD, take out the HDD, unscrew the four screws that around the HDD, put those screws on the SSD, and go backwards to assemble. ifix it has a guide with picts, is really easy, just make sure you get the tools and that you keep track of all screws (really this is important, label them or something, if you put one in some place it doesnt belong to, you might not be able to retrieve it)


    Did you see my video? this is the exact same laptop (before and after the SSD upgrade, these ARE NOT different systems)

    Again see it as a performance upgrade not as an storage upgrade.. (also keep in mind that you make your internal HDD external, so you end up with a total of 328GB total (yeah you would get 700GB if you do the same with an HDD but thats not the point..) also the SILENCE, I know apples computers are much silent by default than their conterpart (unless some kind of panicking fans like :D) but they are still very (and I mean VERY) noisy, and you wont realize about this until you try the peace of an SSD drive, all with the added benefit of less heat. I use to use my laptop sometimes outdoors (usually I wear shorts and I use my laptop on my bare lap and legs) which HDD it would get really hot to the extent that I could have it in my lap for 20 mins or so max, with the SSD it just feels a bit warm, I could have it on me as long as the battery last.
     
  12. James Cole macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2007
    Location:
    San Antonio, Texas
    #12
    Yep terribly sorry got a bit confused...


    It is a huge difference.... do you think its worth it in the unibody to buy the 256gb one? for the 128 you can just buy it for what it costs in the apple store and keep the one that came with the computer...

    What I basically need to know is the performance between what I can get after market or the apple OEM one...

    Thanks for your help
     
  13. xoggyux thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2008
    #13
    Justify paying it to apple: Not if you can tie your shoes. Really making the switch yourself is really easy, if you are afraid then go ahead and pay it to apple but there is nothing to be afraid of... really.

    If you can live with 128GB internal (actually 80GB since 10GB will be taken by the system and another 10GB for programs and like 20GB would be recommended to leave free for system swap files) and use any additional external drive to everything else, then YES 128GB IS ENOUGH, if you dont move your laptop frequently 128GB YES IS ENOUGH, if you don't mind carrying an extra portable (about the size of a wallet) HDD whenever you have to move your laptop and you need all your files to travel with you 128GB is enough. if you use your laptop for what 99.99% of the people uses them (e.g. internet browsing, word processing, image storage, playing an occasional MP3, video streaming for the internet, presentations, emailing) then yes is enough. It will not be enough if you MUST take your HD movies collection with you all the time, etc)

    Actually I could have survived with the 64GB one only for system + applications since I keep my documents, videos, pictures etc in an external HDD so I can share them with all my computers easily. However after installing all my programs I realized I had like 100GB free so i threw in my MP3 collection (since iTunes kinds of freaks out when MP3s are in external HDD) which is about 60GB, I have like 10GB in some random documents and software I downloaded, and thats about it, I have like 30GB free, oh I almost forgot I got a virtual machine to do a test for windows ~10GB or so i guess, but as soon as I do my test it will go to trash xD.
     
  14. xoggyux thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Dec 4, 2008
    #14
    Hi,
    I just received the expresscard eSATA adaptor which I ordered on march 03, 2009 (today is march 16 so you have an idea how much it takes to arrive to the US in case you are in US.)
    I dont have any pictures of it at the moment since the I dont have my SD card reader installed since the expresscard slot is being used for the eSATA adaptor but as soon as I do, I'll post the pictures but I thought in posting some "benchmarks about the performance of the drive compared to USB.
    Here are the results:

    Running off USB:
    Time: 1:06:20.7 (~3980 seconds)
    Size: 99,781,988,001 bytes (~95,159.5192 megabytes) in 25,741 items
    Average speed: ~23.91 MB/s
    Running off eSATA
    Time: 0:39:34.0 (~2374)
    Size: 100,828,999,561 bytes (~96,158.0272 megabytes) in 25,845 items
    Average speed: ~40.50 MB/s

    Some things to note:
    The sizes to be copied are not the same because I wanted my test to be accurate so I did not want any other drive but the drive to be tested the limiting factor (e.g. i wanted the drive that was to be read to be much faster than the drive in which the data would be copied into) so I had to use my SSD system drive, which it's size changed (a bit) due probably to some temporary file or indexing or something else, however notice the difference is less than 2 MB (all the files should be the same, 60 of those GBs are my MP3 collection so files between 3 and 10MBs, about 10GB are movies and other files larger than 500MB and up to 5GB each and the rest system files and text documents which variable range.)

    Notice that the usb speed is merely above 20MB/s (which surprized me since the USB theoretical speed is 60MB/s and I knew beforehand my drive would top at 40MB/s due to test performed on xbench) compared to 40MB/s on eSATA.

    Note also that the speed test are only write speeds since I felt too lazy to do read speed as well but if someone would like read speeds as well say so and I'd spend another 2 hours testing :rolleyes:.


    This is not a win for eSATA sadly and here is why:
    the eSATA cable is too long, bulky and not very flexible (I was looking at the need and the smaller I could find was 3FT though maybe you could find a shorter one I doubt you can actually find a more flexible one.)
    when HDD (even 2.5") are connected through eSATA they need to be supplied with AC from the wall outlet which means another cable around.
    eSATA is not an standard as USB is therefore for now at least you'd need an adaptor for each computer you own (if it is one is not big deal, but if you own more than one computer and you use your HDD to move data from computer to computer it might be a disadvantage, however not so far because external HDD that have eSATA also have USB so in case you cannot connect it because your other computer does not have eSATA you can still do it through traditionally USB.


    Some of the plus that eSATA have:
    well we already saw it is faster than USB
    it will also save you one of the scarce USB ports
    its actually the best choice for an external 3.5" drive since then the difference in speed can be even bigger (I predict nearly 60MB/s) and you'd need to conect 3.5" drives to the wall anyway.


    In my next post I'd be posting the pictures of the card itself as well as the result of the next test I will be doing (testing if eSATA is bootable with this card)

    Anyway leave comments.
     
  15. xoggyux thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Dec 4, 2008
    #15
    Here are the photos of the expresscard eSATA adaptor, notice it does not stick out of the body of the MBP (this was the reason I chose this particular model) and also notice the black wallet (this is the wallet with the external HDD inside, i forgot to mention it but it came also included with the rocketfish enclosure, I think is a nice touch and protects the drive aswell, also I've been using the drive with the wallet put on and it does not overheat so i rather use it like that so is ready to go all the time.)
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Lastly:

    The drive is bootable trhough eSATA and this card, I found people asking this question because it seams not all eSATA cards can be booted :)confused:), well I did the test with this one, I cloned my system drive and pressed the option key when booting up, a menu showed, I selected the external drive an voila, it booted (also its worth mention that i had forgotten how ***** SLOW is an HDD, and once again reassured me that this SSD was the best thing I have ever bought for my computer.)
     
  16. ViciousShadow21 macrumors 68020

    ViciousShadow21

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    #16
    thanks for posting this. any idea how the speed of the eSATA would compare to a firewire 800 external hd.
     
  17. xoggyux thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Dec 4, 2008
    #17
    No idea, however it should be close to the eSATA's for a 5400rpm HDD and and right in the middle for a 3.5" HDD but i cannot say for sure.
     
  18. ViciousShadow21 macrumors 68020

    ViciousShadow21

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    #18
    hmm i will do some experimenting with the Western Digital drive that has eSata and firewire 800 (got to get it first tho haha). i will let you guys know the results.
     
  19. xoggyux thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #19
    Is it 3.5" or 2.5" ? what model? does it also have USB?
     
  20. ViciousShadow21 macrumors 68020

    ViciousShadow21

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    #20
    its the western digital My book edition II. it has eSATA firewire 800 & 400 also Usb 2.0

    im going to use it for storing protools files primarily. also as a back up for my music.
     
  21. m85476585 macrumors 65816

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    Feb 26, 2008
    #21
    Where did you get that eSATA expresscard that doesn't stick out?
     
  22. xoggyux thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #22

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