Should i go with a Firewire or USB HD Enclosure?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by AlmightyG5, Nov 19, 2005.

  1. AlmightyG5 macrumors 6502

    Jul 7, 2005
    I am planning on getting a 250GB HD, and want to know if i should spend more money on a firewire enclosure versus a USB enclosure. I am planning on storing many iMovie files, (many very big-10+GB) on the HD. Is the firewire transfer speed really a lot more than USB? Is it worth it to buy a more expensive enclosure to get the firewire?

  2. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Apr 3, 2004
    Adelaide, Australia
    I'd go Firewire because you can boot from it and it'll be slightly faster although not by heaps. :)
  3. Lacero macrumors 604


    Jan 20, 2005
    You'd want Firewire since it has much much better sustained transfer rates, essential for video production work.
  4. adk macrumors 68000


    Nov 11, 2005
    Stuck in the middle with you
    If you're transferring 10GB imovie files you will definitely want firewire 800, otherwise you'll be waiting forever.
  5. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Apr 3, 2004
    Adelaide, Australia

    Is the difference really that huge between Firewire 400 and USB 2.0? I've never tested them side-by-side. Does it relate to the way they transfer power?
  6. AlmightyG5 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 7, 2005
    can anyone recommend a firewire enclosure that is in the $40 range?
  7. Lacero macrumors 604


    Jan 20, 2005
    You may want to try "curbside reclamation" since most fw enclosures with an Oxford bridge chipset sells for around $80-$120 dollars. Try used, or my favorite... dumpster diving!!!

  8. James Philp macrumors 65816

    James Philp

    Mar 5, 2005
    I'm not sure - but from experience I think FW is quite a bit faster.

    Check this out though:

    'Nuff said! - Of note though is the significant increase in speed when transferring the larger files.
  9. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Apr 3, 2004
    Adelaide, Australia
    Thanks James Philp, I never realised the difference was that big. :)
  10. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    I benchmarked a drive in a MacAlly FW400/USB2 case on a Mini. The Firewire was almost exactly 2 x faster than USB2.0 on a Finder Duplicate of the GarageBand Library folder (1.3 Gb)
  11. fklehman macrumors regular


    Sep 19, 2005
    Newark, DE
    Firewire is ridiculously faster than USB 2.0, and it's a higher-powered bus to boot. I have two 80GB Mercury 2.5" Firewire drives from OWC that I love because you can run them right off the Firewire bus without an AC adapter--great for people on the go, since that's one less plug to haul around.

    All the same, you might want to find an enclosure that has both Firewire and USB 2.0 to be safe. I've had this sneaking suspicion for awhile now that Apple plans to kill off Firewire 400 as part of its platform convergence. Witness the elimination of Firewire support for all iPods, even though it's clearly the better standard. I think that as Apple moves to Intel, "good enough" will triumph over superior: we'll get USB 2.0 for consumers and Firewire 800 for pro users.
  12. neocell macrumors 65816


    May 23, 2005
    Great White North
    Get a dual enclosure (FW and USB2.0). That way if you change your computer or you need to transfer to a computer without FW you'll be covered. They're about the same price as just a FW and I would imagine by reading this thread you've decided to at least go with the FW (even though nothings been mentioned about the benefit of booting with an FW external drive).

    Could be a crap site but here's a link:
  13. FireArse macrumors 6502a

    Oct 29, 2004
    I hope this isn't gonna happen....

    I have a macally USB 2.0 & FW400 case. works brilliantly! FW is so much quicker - I bought it with support for both so I can boot and transfer at HUGE speeds! :)

    I do think that the FW drop for the iPod was fair enough - IF the issue of size really made that much difference. I dont mind - my 40GB 'Photo is fantastic :)

  14. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Get a FW and USB 2 enclosure to make it easier to plug your HD into another computer. USB 2 is more of a standard, after all. However, I do own a FW enclosure for my HD.
  15. johnnyjibbs macrumors 68030


    Sep 18, 2003
    London, UK
    I have a Firewire hard drive and recommend Firewire. However, I'm starting to get concerned about the future of Firewire, considering most new consumer DV cameras appear to have USB 2.0 connections??! And with Apple moving the iPod to strictly USB 2.0 only I'm starting to get concerned that even the maker is abandoning it! Also, you'd expect at least the 12" PB to start shipping with FW800 by now.

    FW400 is slightly slower than USB 2.0 in theoretical max transfer speed but makes up for it through a faster sustained average transfer speed and I don't think this degrades with distance of cable, unlike USB 2.0. That said, I feel that the proliferation of USB 2.0, the acceptance of it as a standard by Apple, and by the refusal of PC manufacturers to feature Firewire as standard on all computers makes its future still a little sketchy.

    But I would still go with Firewire.
  16. drbrog macrumors member

    Apr 29, 2005
    Check out They make great enclosures. I would get an enclosure with both FW/USB connections.
  17. Laser47 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 8, 2004
    Yea, i would go with firewire also. You should ckeck out NewEgg they have tons of firewire enclosures and cheap prices.
  18. djbahdow01 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 19, 2004
    Northeast, CT
    Check out as well they seem to have some decent prices. Also i believe has enclosures as well, I get all my dvdrs and cdrs from them. Very respectable.
  19. bigandy macrumors G3


    Apr 30, 2004
    if you're thinking of anything to do with anything, use firewire. especially as you mention video stuff.

    USB2 just can't cut it. really. i've seen it try and FAIL MISERABLY.
  20. Ti_Poussin macrumors regular


    May 6, 2005
    Go for a firewire enclosure with an oxford 911 chipset, avoid the Bytecc enclosure and the L3507 chipset, they don't work well at all with Tiger (I have one, I'm planning to sell it and rebuy one with oxford chipset).

    A good idea is getting a dual port (USB2 & Firewire) make a partition in HFS+ journaled (not case sensitive, some old software don't like it, like Poser 6) and a small 1st partition in Fat32 when you want to transfer files on a windows box.
  21. crazydreaming macrumors 6502a


    Apr 17, 2005
    Salt Lake City, UT -Westminster College
    How much faster is FW 800 compared to 400. And what are the advantages of booting from a FW 800 drive on the Powerbook in my sig? Thanks
  22. debroglie macrumors 6502a


    Aug 19, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA
    I have an combo firewire/usb2.0 external case that has the oxford chipset that works great. It is by Bytecc and it costed about $35. I think it is the 740 series, or something like that. No fan, but it stays very cool and is quite.

    I ONLY ever use firewire with my mac because in the "real world" I find that it is much faster than USB2.0, but it is nice to have the USB as an option. I have 20GB of my drive partitioned as FAT32 and I can save files on that partition and use them with the windows computers at school that only have USB. Go for a combo; it'll be worth it.

    Once again, I recommend Bytecc for quality cases that aren't too expensive.
  23. zen.state macrumors 68020


    Mar 13, 2005
    I have a FW HD on my mac mini and it makes a huge difference in performance.

    when it comes to storage always go with FW over USB.
  24. radiantm3 macrumors 65816


    Oct 16, 2005
    San Jose, CA
    I don't think apple will kill off FW. What happens to the iSight,DV cameras, and external HDs? The only reason they killed it off in the iPod was to make the iPod smaller, and cut costs. I believe the iPod had to have both a usb and FW controller[?] in the ipod (feel free to correct me if I am wrong) and to make a better iPod they had to drop one of them. So it's obvious that FW would have to go since all macs have USB and not many PCs have FW.
  25. Flyinace2000 macrumors 6502a


    Sep 28, 2004
    I bought an enclosuer that has USB 2.0 and FW400. I transfered the same 1.16gb file to it from my mac and PC. The USB took about 68 seconds, FW400 took about 30. BIG DIFFERENCE. LONG LIVE FW

Share This Page