USB 2.0 vs. Firewire 800 speeds

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by miamirulz29, Dec 26, 2012.

  1. miamirulz29 macrumors member

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    Jun 4, 2009
    #1
    In my macbook pro, I have a 128GB SSD. My music and photos are too large to fit on the SSD. I currently have an external hard drive that is almost always connected to my mac that holds my music, pictures, and movies folder (I set up symbolic links). This hard drive is connected via Firewire 800. I am looking to get a more portable hard drive. The hard drives I am looking at are connected via USB 3.0/2.0. My mac doesn't have USB 3.0, so it would use USB 2.0. Would I notice a difference in speed when accessing the data from my hard drive using the USB 2.0 hard drive instead of a firewire 800 hard drive? Also, I think that more portable hard drive is 5400 RPM, whereas my firewire hard drive is 7200 RPM. Would this also affect speeds when accessing data? I am not too worried about backing up or transferring data because I usually transfer small files, i'm just worried about the speeds when accessing data.
     
  2. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #2
    FireWire 800 will transfer files a little over twice as fast as USB 2. It'll also have a lower latency and it uses less computational resources.
     
  3. miamirulz29 thread starter macrumors member

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    #3
    I'm not worried about transfer speeds. If my music and photos are on the hard drive, would iTunes or iPhoto run slower because it has to access the data from the hard drive?
     
  4. justperry macrumors 604

    justperry

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    #4
    Does your MBP have firewire, if so there are 2,5" Firewire drives or external cases on the market.
    If you only use iTunes with it it won't get slower, even movies can be played back with stuttering, USB 2 should do the job, but again there are FW 2,5 drives.
     
  5. miamirulz29 thread starter macrumors member

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    #5
    I know there are firewire drives, but as I said in the OP, I am looking for a more portable drive. Those drives don't have FW, only USB. But if you say it shouldn't be any slower, then I may buy the drive. I just wanted to know if others had experience with this.
     
  6. yusukeaoki macrumors 68030

    yusukeaoki

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    #6
    FW are known to be less CPU consumption since they have their own "CPU".
    On the other hand, USB has to share its thinking with the main CPU so
    it will cause your computer to be more loaded.
     
  7. pbmagnet4 macrumors regular

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    Jan 25, 2009
    #7
  8. justperry macrumors 604

    justperry

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    #8
    Yes there are portable FW drives as I claimed in my original post.
    See Screenshot, a 2.5" drive.
    This is a fairly old external casing, it is still PATA but there are also SATA enclosures with FW and USB.

    Startech.com 2.5 inch USB FireWire SATA External Hard Drive Enclosure

    [​IMG]
     

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  9. robvas macrumors 68020

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    Mar 29, 2009
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    USA
    #9
    WD MyPassport Studio has FW and USB. It's also a 2.5" drive

    [​IMG]
     
  10. el-John-o macrumors 65816

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    Nov 29, 2010
    Location:
    Missouri
    #10
    To answer your question OP, yes, using USB 2.0 over FW800 will be slower. The applications will run at the same speed, but it will take them longer to sort through files and manipulate them (iPhoto especially). If your choices are USB 2.0 or FW800, use FW800.

    USB 3.0 is faster than FW800, but since that's not an option, FW800 is likely the fastest option you have on your machine.

    A third and even faster option for you, would be an Optibay. This replaces your optical drive with another hard drive. You can use any 2.5" Hard Drive, like a 500GB HDD. It will be faster than anything external, and be always available. It will reduce your battery life some, but not a lot, perhaps not even noticeably. If you still use your optical drive, you can buy an external superdrive enclosure which will allow you to mount your superdrive into a USB 2.0 enclosure.
     
  11. miamirulz29 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 4, 2009
    #11
    Thanks for all your help guys. I think I'm just going to stay with my current hard drive. It's portable enough and has FW 800.
     

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