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Thread: Firewire. Any point?

  1. #1
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    Default Firewire. Any point?

    Hello.

    I've got an iMac, 3.2Ghz, i3, and a Macbook Pro.

    Looking to generally upgrade some of the kit - hence going up to 10.8 through careful stages - and my external drives are knocking on a bit.

    Is it worth me going for Firewire connected drives, or are the drives themselves restricted to what's inside them? The iMac does of course have a Firewire connector, but would using it give me any noticeable improvement in transfer speed/reliability etc?

    Thanks.

    Allen.

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    Your hard drives will be the slowest link unless you buy a really fast drive.

    FW800 can do about or up to 80/MBs

    USB3 is fast but forget off thee top of my head. Thunderbolt very fast but it can't make your drives read or write data any quicker than they are capable. A good, faster newer drive should get 60 to 100 MBs.

    Look here and at this Apple page. These both have good information and first good comparisons. This should help clarify things a little better. It is confusing...

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    FW800 is the best you will do as that's what your iMac has. How have you connected your external drive(s) to date? Your iMac has USB2 which is slow, compared to the FW800.

    So the long and short of it is, YES!

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    I have used and loved my FW... It's on my current iMac a Thunderbolt to FW via an adapter and off to my Burly. Works great.

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    You will want to leave your boot drive on the internal data drive. That is still your fastest possible storage by quite a bit.
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  6. #6
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    Default yup

    Good point Rick. Switching to FW would be slower than internal drive. If you need faster speeds you could replace the current drive to a faster HD or maybe a SSD if feasible after all the thoughts, drive swap, cost...

  7. #7
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    Yes, confusing is a good word.

    So in general, not much point in buying drives running USB3.0 UNLESS I also buy an adapter to connect my USB2 ports to the drive? Or have I got that one upside down?

    No I shan't be trying to boot off an external, except in the case of clones and testing. Normally I'll stick to my 1tb internal which might be getting on (2010-11), but so far isn't giving any problems.

    Yeungfeng: I have been using any old hard drive up till now, mainly WD or similar - I have bought USB3 drives, but only because they seemed a good buy (a Hitachi 500GB G-Tech G-Drive for example).

    Been getting fed up lately watching the wheels go round - cloning, backing-up, transferring movie data across drives - so I bought a LaCie 1TB USB3.0/Firewire 800, on the basis that it would be quicker.

    It wasn't. Well, if it was, it wasn't much quicker (connected via Firewire cable).

    So that's where I am - I've added these bits to my system over the years very much at random, and this time, if I am going to spend a few hundred quid (or dollars), I thought I'd put more effort into getting it right!

    Allen.

  8. #8
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    The hard drives themselves are much faster than the external buses you have available.

    Firewire is capable of 80 MB/sec
    USB2 is capable of 45 MB/sec
    USB3.0 is usually capable of around 200 MB/sec

    A current model SATA drive is capable of around 180 MB/sec.


    If you connect a USB3 drive to a USB2 bus you slow it to around 45 MB/sec.
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  9. #9
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    Ricks - excuse my ignorance then, but if I connected a SATA drive to my iMac via some sort of adapter, would I get that sort of speed?

    Allen

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    Don't connect using USB2 use FW. I have little experience with USB3 but like FW.

    The speeds Ricks mentioned are possible if your drives are newer and that fast. You'd need to put that SATA drive into an external FW case.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by billybobski View Post
    Ricks - excuse my ignorance then, but if I connected a SATA drive to my iMac via some sort of adapter, would I get that sort of speed?

    Allen
    No, you can only get the maximum throughput of the bus....no matter how fast the drive.

    Back in the day, FW was faster than the HDs, so the HD was the speed limit (the HD was slower than the bus maximum speed, so you would get the HD speed). Now, HDs are faster than many of our older buses.....so the HD will be limited to the max bus speed.

    Their are newer buses that are have very high limits, but if you don't have them, a moot point. The fastest you will get for external is your FW bus, since you have USB 2, and no way to add USB 3 (or thunderbolt).
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

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    Should add the only way to get a second really fast HD or SSD would be to put it on the second internal SATA bus.....where the optical drive is now.

    But that is major surgery to remove the optical drive and install HD or SSD in its place.

    Not a consumer-friendly option, but possible.
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

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    Here's the specs on your iMac.

    Ricks list makes it clear that your fastest connection on your iMac is the FW800. So as far as external drives Bob's your Uncle.

    Sometimes asking the right question makes a big difference in the out come, so . . . What is it that you are doing that makes your iMac slowdown???

    It could be that you actually need more RAM. How much RAM does your iMac have?

  14. #14
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    Yeungfeng.

    I have a couple of WD 500 externals, one of which is okay, the other has started to throw up problems like bad sectors etc., which neither Disk Utility nor Disk Warrior could cure, and needed a total rewipe.

    Both drives are about 4 years old, so it's probably time to buy new drives.

    And while I'm spending 2-300 pounds or dollars, I just thought I'd spend my money more wisely than usual. (usual=seeing what Amazon has got and buying it).

    No major problems with the iMac. Just that lately, major data transfers (like making full clones, or SuperDuper backups), seem to take a long time. Maybe I'm just getting older and less patient.

    The iMac is just as it came out of the box, i.e. 4Gb 1333Mhz memory, same 1TB internal it came with.

    I bought the LaCie 1TB Firewire 800/USB3 and didn't notice much difference in data transfer speeds, although I didn't time it. It seems from the discussion above that it certainly isn't worth buying USB3 (as I don't have it on the iMac!), and as I only have one FW connection, it isn't worth buying a SECOND FW drive (unless the LaCie is particularly awful).

    I might talk to a Mac engineer here in London about what Unclemac said, i.e. switching the internal optical for a 2nd SATA drive (not that I understand precisely what he's talking about, but I'm getting the gist).

    (I have money, but lack knowledge. Do I wish it was the other way round? Interesting question...)

    Allen.

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    4 GB of RAM might be a factor in your issues with speed. Your iMac has RAM slots that you can get to, so you could do it yourself. It's easy to do. Up grading the RAM to 8GB or even 16GB would pickup the speed IMHO.

    I'm not sure if it's worth the money, but you could replace your internal HD with an SSD, that would really pick up the speed. But that's pretty pricey and your iMac is 5 yrs old, but if you keep it for some time, it could be a nice option.

    One other question, would be how full is your hard drive? If it's 90% full that could be another reason for a slow down.

  16. #16
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    Yeungfeng:

    Your interest and help are much appreciated.

    I've asked my 'usual' London Mac workshop, and they're saying they prefer the Samsung EVO 840 1TB as a replacement for the iMac HD. Any opinion on this?

    While they're at it, they can of course up the RAM, and they're going to come back about the possibility of upgrading the USB.

    They're nice people, so I'm sure they'll help me and not take advantage of my ignorance in these matters!

    What SHOULD I be asking for, when it comes to the USB upgrade?

    Thanks.

    Allen.

  17. #17
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    I thought adding USB 3 was either a PCIe card, Express34 card or a different motherboard.

    Rick
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  18. #18
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    Arrow What Rick said...

    I did not know that was possible on an iMac.

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    Once again Ricks is spot on, he usually is with his computer knowledge. I've never heard of someone upgrading the USB on an iMac. I would guess the process would be very involved and expensive. I doubt it's a option.

    At this point if you are looking at replacing the HD with SSD and upgrading the RAM via a shop . . . . you might want to check the cost and then compare that to the price of a new iMac that has the greater amount of RAM and a SSD. The price of SSDs seems to have gone down in the last year or so and the cost may no longer be the issue it once was. But then I'm on one side of the pond and you the other so there's no way for me to know.

    I'm not so up to date on SSDs that I know the difference in brands. Those items are still in the growing stage, and changing rapidly. But if they recommend them, and Samsung isn't a fly by night business, give it a go.

    It's real easy to upgrade the RAM in your iMac. It would be the easiest and cheapest place to start, and it might give you the speed bump you're looking for.

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    Quote Originally Posted by billybobski View Post
    Yeungfeng:
    What SHOULD I be asking for, when it comes to the USB upgrade?

    A new(er) iMac.

    If it were me, I would sell and buy newer. Everything is better: CPU, GPU, HD, USB, Thunderbolt, etc. An iMac is mostly an upright laptop, not much to upgrade, and not very cost effective.

    RAM and HD mostly....and even that is not the case with the latest 21.5 models: RAM is not upgradable.

    In the states, it would make more $ sense to sell the old girl, and buy newer than pay a shop to upgrade much beyond RAM....which you can do yourself.
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

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