hard drive--USB vs FireWire?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by dellavoce, Feb 7, 2010.

  1. dellavoce macrumors regular

    Oct 14, 2007
    So I keep my media files on an external hard drive (I have over 200gigs of stuff and my mac mini only has a 160GB hard drive). Currently, I have a 750GB WD MyPassport that I have connect by USB. At my onetoone session yesterday, the genius that I worked with suggested that I use a usb hard drive as my time machine backup and get a FireWire hard drive for regular daily use. He thought I would get a better speed for watching video straight from the hard drive with FireWire. Thoughts? Is it really necessary? I kind of like the idea to free up a USB plug, but I wonder how necessary it is.
  2. flopticalcube macrumors G4


    Sep 7, 2006
    In the velcro closure of America's Hat
    If your mini has a FW800 port than it will be considerably faster. The FW400 less so. The big difference is FW is not CPU intensive for large transfers whereas USB is so if you are watching an AVI video that already is CPU intensive, adding to the burden with USB makes things worse.
  3. MisterMe macrumors G4


    Jul 17, 2002
    You have been offered a false choice. You can connect multiple drive or other devices via FireWire. They can be daisy-chained. To expound upon flopicalcube's post, each FireWire device is a bus master. This means that each FireWire drive handles its own read/writes without CPU intervention. USB uses the CPU as the bus master. Every bit read or written by a USB device must pass through the CPU.

    The takeaway message is to use FireWire for both drives. Suffice it to say, doing so will keep two USB ports free.
  4. pastrychef macrumors 601


    Sep 15, 2006
    New York City, NY
    Firewire 400 or 800 performs much, much better than USB. Use Firewire whenever possible over USB.
  5. pprior macrumors 65816

    Aug 1, 2007
    Agree with above. On spec sheets firewire 400 vs. usb 2 is not a huge difference, but in real life FW400 performs MUCH better. FW800 just makes that difference even bigger.

    I -never- use USB drives unless it's an emergency.

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