Suggestions for bootable Firewire 800 enclosure

imrazor

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 8, 2010
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Dol Amroth
I have an older Mac that I'd like to speed up a bit. On of the most obvious things I can do is replace the internal 5400 RPM drive with an SSD. I've done it before, but cracking an iMac apart is a painful experience I'd rather not relive. So I hit upon the idea of putting the SSD in a Firewire 800 enclosure and booting from that.

So I got a Firewire 800/USB 2.0 enclosure that was an "Iomega Mac Companion" in a previous life. As it turns out, this turkey only boots from USB, not Firewire, even though the drive is visible and accessible over FW800. Actually, using the drive as boot media over USB is a noticeable improvement over the internal drive. But I'd like to make it as responsive as possible.

So can anyone recommend known bootable Firewire 800 drive enclosures? I'd prefer first hand experience, if possible. I'll probably be buying used, so older product suggestions would be useful.
 
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imrazor

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 8, 2010
198
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Dol Amroth
If "older" isn't before 2011, Thunderbolt is a better option. In case you hadn't considered it.
"Older" is a mid-2007 iMac. The fastest external interface is Firewire 800. There are USB 2.0 ports, but they operate at half the speed of Firewire 800.
 
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grahamperrin

macrumors 601
Jun 8, 2007
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mid-2007 iMac
Side note: from https://bugs.pcbsd.org/issues/14014#note-3 I assume that FireWire can be troublesome with FreeBSD. That's not relevant for as long as your iMac will run a supported version of OS X, but if you think long term (to when that iMac limits you to a version of OS X that will be without security fixes) – and if you will then consider an alternative to OS X – now's the time to question whether FireWire is a good investment.

If you buy a used enclosure then I guess that the cost will be negligible.
 

pastrychef

macrumors 601
Sep 15, 2006
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New York City, NY
I tried a few different Firewire 800 solutions and was never able to get satisfactory results from it. My transfer speeds were always below 50MB/s. In my opinion, using an SSD with a Firewire 800 adaptor will be a total waste of an SSD.

In a 2007 era Mac, even internally, you will only have SATA 2 which tops out at approx 270MB/s while just about every SSD on the market now is capable of doing over 500MB/s.
 

r6mile

macrumors 6502a
Feb 3, 2010
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London, UK
This is not technically an enclosure, but I have a Lacie Rugged Triple 2TB, which does FW800 as well as USB 3.0. I use it to store media, but I also have a bootable El Capitan installer partition, which I've used to re-install OS X on my 2010 iMac.

FW800 will for sure be a bottleneck for an SSD, but it should still be an improvement. Would it not be better to pay someone to install the SSD into the iMac if you're not comfortable doing it again? It might not cost you that much more than the FW800 enclosure, and will certainly be faster.
 

yurc

macrumors 6502
Aug 12, 2016
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inside your DSDT
Well, we live in convenient blazing fast USB 3.1/NVMe/Thunderbolt 3, but not everyone condition equal. I have several restoring task from older iMac (no thunderbolt) in the past. Compared with USB 2, FireWire off course better. Is not too fast, but still more responsive than USB 2.

Maybe this post can help you decide to insert SSD into FireWire enclosure.

By the way, I don't know modern SSD with SATA 6 Gbps interface would perform. Bottleneck may be severe i guess. Link above are very old thread and used old SATA 3 Gbps.
 
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imrazor

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 8, 2010
198
58
Dol Amroth
Well, we live in convenient blazing fast USB 3.1/NVMe/Thunderbolt 3, but not everyone condition equal. I have several restoring task from older iMac (no thunderbolt) in the past. Compared with USB 2, FireWire off course better. Is not too fast, but still more responsive than USB 2.

Maybe this post can help you decide to insert SSD into FireWire enclosure.

By the way, I don't know modern SSD with SATA 6 Gbps interface would perform. Bottleneck may be severe i guess. Link above are very old thread and used old SATA 3 Gbps.
I'm not sure why my post got necroed, but I'll post what worked for me. Well, at least until my ancient mid-2007 iMac cratered.
I found a used G-Tech USB3/FW800 500GB spinner online for ~$45. I then stripped out the mechanical drive and put in a Crucial MX100 256GB SSD. It helped tremendously. Unfortunately, the power supply in the iMac died a few months later.
 
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