USB 3.0 OR FireWire 800 External Drive?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Cyndane, Mar 28, 2013.

  1. Cyndane macrumors newbie

    Mar 27, 2013
    I have a December 2012 i5 Mac Mini with 4GB ram and 500Gb internal HDD, which i use as my entertainment centre, connected to my 46 inch HDTV by HDMI.

    I have a large iTunes TV show collection spanning 2 1TB WD Fire Wire 800 linked external drives.

    These drives are almost full and i am considering a 4TB external drive for my iTunes library.

    Should i purchase a USB3.0 or a Fire Wire 800 compatible drive?
  2. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    USB 3 is far more universal now than FW 800. USB 3 is also faster than FW 800. Given these two pieces of info, you can hopefully make a good choice.
  3. justperry macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2007
    In the core of a black hole.
    If you can open the enclosures it might be a good idea to just exchange the drives only.
    FW is plenty fast enough for the way you use them.
  4. Cyndane thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 27, 2013
    I don't think they are, they are not advertised as user serviceable....

    I've been looking at a 4TB Western Digital USB3.0 drive, but it only has 1 usb connector, and i don't think you can loop drives like you can the fire wire 800, when the drive has two ports.
  5. justperry macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2007
    In the core of a black hole.
    Yup, you can chain FW, not USB.
  6. eric/ Guest


    Sep 19, 2011
    Ohio, United States
  7. Nightarchaon macrumors 65816


    Sep 1, 2010
    As im using a Drobo for my iTunes library, at around 6TB and growing, i can say it doesn't matter, the Drobo is shared of the back of a Time Capsule using USB2 and its ample fast enough to stream 2 HD streams (one to an Apple TV and one to another device in the house) as well as being used to store my Steam Library for my PC (can play and stream with no problems)

    Unless your going to be streaming multiple super highdef (4k +) or uncompressed 25gb bluerays with a stupidly high bit rate either will do, but USB is more "universal"


    You can chain USB using these things called USB hubs :D
  8. Cyndane thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 27, 2013
    OK thanks....

    Any suggestions as to larger brand External drives?
  9. LaunchpadBS macrumors 6502a

    Nov 11, 2008
  10. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Feb 20, 2009
    USB3 can be far FAR faster.

    You need a USB3 enclosure that has either an
    ASMedia 1051e Controller chip
    or an
    ASMedia 1053 Controller chip

    Either of these will support UASP (USB Attached SCSI Protocol) for faster performance on UASP capable systems (that includes Macs with USB3).
  11. HungryWolf macrumors newbie

    Apr 15, 2011
  12. Macsonic macrumors 65816


    Sep 6, 2009
    You can try getting an external HD that has both FW800 and USB 3.0 like the OWC Mercury Pro or the G Drive.
  13. blanka, Mar 28, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2013

    blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    They always are. Never found one that was not tweakable. You might damage the box, but the controller is what it is all about.
    Can be, but USB 3 is irrelevant for the TS need for storage:
    - The reading speed is no issue: playing movies only needs 20-50 mbit. Music playing fits on USB1!
    - The writing speed of any +2 Gb drive is low (the fast ones are the smaller ones up to 1-1.5 Tb), about the same as FW800 bus rate, and FW is easier on the processor so works better in the background. Filling the drive is the biggest problem, and USB3 won't outperform FW800 in this case.
    And the writing is probably a one-time event: the initial filling of the drive. The adding of new titles is not a big issue.

    So: try to open the case and replace the HD's. You can pick the exact ones you like, and the price is lower. Although: cheap USB3 all-in-ones might be comparable in price to loose drives, but then you don't know what is inside.
  14. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Feb 20, 2009
    "So this external case would be a good option?"

    I DO NOT thinnk that case would be a good option for you.

    I don't think you should consider RAID. When it works, it's fine, but if something goes wrong with any of the drives in the setup, you could have BIG trouble if you don't also maintain a backup of your RAID array.

    You could probably just open the external enclosures you have now, pull the drives out, and use them with USB3/SATA "docking stations".

    There are "dual docks" that can support two drives (non-RAID'ed), such as the Thermaltake "Blac-x Duet".

    Actually, you might do better just picking up 2 good-quality USB3/SATA "single" docks, perhaps something like this:

    Cheap, easy-to-setup-and-use, and having the second dock makes it EASY to transfer material quickly from one drive to another.

    Compared to what you posted above, did I say, "cheap"?
  15. Idgit macrumors 6502


    Mar 14, 2004
    A word of warning about the 2012 Mac Mini and USB 3 devices. You may need to buy a shielding kit from OWC because the 2012 Mac Mini appears to be overtly sensitive to bluetooth interference caused by USB 3 devices.

    Check out this OWC blogpost before buying an external enclosure and be sure to read the heated comments in that thread, as well. They provide some clarification of the scope of the problem.
  16. melchior macrumors 65816


    Nov 17, 2002
  17. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Feb 20, 2009
    "according to the amazon page of the above dock. "*NOTE* 2012 Mac Mini and 2012 MacBook Pro with Retina Display are currently not recommended for use with this product""

    The earlier version of the USB3 docks used a Lucent controller chip that had problems with sleep and disconnection.

    The new versions use an ASMedia chip (either 1051e or 1053), and no longer have such problems.

    I think their page needs to be updated.

    I've been using a USB3/SATA dock for a couple of months now, doing duty as my "external booter" with an Intel SSD, and have had ZERO problems with it. Great piece of equipment.
  18. Serban Suspended

    Jan 8, 2013
  19. SpinalTap macrumors regular


    Sep 25, 2003
    Bournville, UK

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