MBP and eSATA possible?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by bep207, Oct 1, 2006.

  1. bep207 macrumors 6502

    Jul 20, 2006
    Quick Question:

    If i purchase an ExpressCard/34 eSATA card, a Raptor 10,000RPM drive, and an enclosure with an eSATA output, will the performance be great?

    I am looking at using these as scratch disks for Final Cut

    Is this the fastest way? Or is a Firewire 800 plus Expresscard/34 card nearly as fast?

    What would you recommend?

  2. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    eSATA via a decent card (like, say, this one or others) will provide better throughput than FW800 (which, BTW, is pretty fast and not too bad if you decide to stick with that). I'm not certain if the additional money spent on the 10K RPM Raptor will be obvious or not when compared to a 7200 RPM drive, though, via the external link, although I suspect it will show some improvement.
  3. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    I'm not a FCP guru, but I'd think for a scratch disk you'd do a lot better with a large 7200RPM drive than a Raptor; the Raptor's advantage is more access time than throughput, so I'd think you'd get more benefit from the extra available space on a bigger drive and the fact that you'd be operating with less of it full than with a Raptor.

    Either way, FW800 maxes out at a theoretical 100MB/s, while eSATA is going to get you 150MB/s. Since no single drive is going to hit rates like that doing anything but transferring to/from its buffer, there is in theory no advantage of one over the other.

    Each has advantages and disadvantages;

    FW800 is a little more "smoothly hot swappable" than eSATA;
    FW800 is easier to get an external RAID array for--lots of options;
    FW800 allows you to use ATA drives in a case;

    eSATA doesn't require a bridge board for the drive (maybe cheaper);
    eSATA uses SATA drives, which are replacing ATA at the high end, so it's more future-proof.
    eSATA is identical in terms of system overhead to an internal SATA disk, while FW800 goes through a seperate bus;
    eSATA has no significant risk of frying a port with a bad cable, since it doesn't carry power.

    Personally, I prefer eSATA since with a case like those available from Firmtek you can just drop drives into a $20 tray and you're ready to go, plus I can easily use the same case with both my desktop (which has a hot-swap eSATA card) and my laptop. But really, they'll both do the job, so it just depends on which has the features you're looking for right now.
  4. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    Just to expose my ignorance here, but wouldn't the wider path of eSATA allow for more throughput with multiple drives? Granted, one drive wouldn't use the full bandwidth, but if more than one were attached to the card, wouldn't more combined throughput occur than with FW800?
  5. Anonymous Freak macrumors 603

    Anonymous Freak

    Dec 12, 2002
    The major difference is that SATA (even eSATA) was designed to be a hard drive bus. It runs at 150 or 300 MB/s, and many SATA ExpressCards have two ports (each on its own 150 or 300 MB/s bus.) FireWire (even 800) was designed to be a general-purpose external bus (including hard drives,) but tops out at 100 MB/s. Yes, even a Raptor can't reach 100 MB/s, but if you do put more than one drive on the bus, eSATA will be faster.

    As for the debate on access time vs. throughput for a Photoshop scratch disk? Well, Photoshop doesn't just write continuously or read continuously to the scratch disk, so access time is important, too. I'd say the best measure on how a drive would do in Photoshop would be StorageReview's 'High End Drivemark', which has the Raptor absolutely killing every other drive, including 15,000 RPM SCSI drives.

    So go for it. If you're doing lots of Photoshop work, get an eSATA controller, and plug in a Raptor. If you REALLY want maximum performance, use a second Raptor as your boot drive, with a 'stripped down' OS, that way it will use that drive for the OS swap space, but keep your data file on the internal drive. Basically, you want every 'class' of drive read to come from a different drive.

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