Need expert opinion: Is a firewire 800 external drive really faster than a 400?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by hewcardpacklet, Apr 1, 2008.

  1. hewcardpacklet macrumors member

    Mar 19, 2008
    Montreal Canada
    My iMac has a firewire 800 port in the back, and I really want to take advantage of it. I would like to plug in an external drive and get the fastest speed as possible, as if the drive was local. The FW400 drive that I already have (maxtor onetouch II 300GB) is not as fast as I would like it to be.

    I would buy right now a G-Tech Q and plug it in the FW800 port if I was absolutely sure that the speed gain is significative. Is it? How much 'snappier' is it for accessing data and transferring files? Do I have to buy a 'scary raid' unit (2 drives configd as RAID 0) for the FW800 option to be worth it? Or is the internal speed of one drive enough to make FW800 better than FW400?

    I hope my question is understood (english is not my primary language) and that someone really competent and having tried it could answer me...

    I have tried googling this, and the opinions on the web are conflicting.
  2. ghettochris macrumors 6502a

    Feb 19, 2008
    when transfering many gigs between 2 external drives, 800 is much faster, basically you get 80 MB/s of actual bus speed to play with, so 40 read, 40 write. with firewire 400 it is halved, so 20 MB/s read and write, which is pretty weak.
  3. hewcardpacklet thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 19, 2008
    Montreal Canada
    Thanks for the quick reply... at 4 am, i did not expect anyone to answer. I am very impressed with the graphs showing that, yes, it is truly faster to go the 800 route.

    Now... another (couple(related)) question(s): Would any FW800 ext drive perform the same? I heard only good about the g-drives, but would getting any FW800 enclosure that supports sata-II with sata-II 32MB drives give me good results? Is the sata-II part important here, or is sata enough? Or is there something in the g-drive circuitry that vanilla enclosures lack?

    I know, lots of questions...
  4. Morod macrumors 68000


    Jan 1, 2008
    On The Nickel, over there....
    Unfortunately, I cannot answer any of your questions. I can give you my observations.
    I have the G-Tech FW800/400 HDD I use for my Time Machine backups. I use the 800 connection.
    It is very quick, very quiet and very dependable. And they look pretty damn cool.
    I would've liked to have gotten the G-Tech Quad drive to future proof myself, but none were available at my time of purchase (they're popular little guys!).
    Hope this helps,

    ON EDIT: I would buy another one in a minute and would have no trouble recommending one to a friend.
  5. pastrychef macrumors 601


    Sep 15, 2006
    New York City, NY
    My pleasure. I keep odd hours... :)

    1. Don't know if all FW800 drives are created equal, but my guess would be no. Just like how FW400 that used Oxford 911 chipsets were generally better performing than ones that used Initio chipsets.
    2. Just to be safe, I would stick with SATA 3.0GB (SATA II is not the correct term).
  6. bobbleheadbob macrumors 6502a


    Feb 6, 2007

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