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Apple Notebooks Apple's notebook computers including MacBook Pro, MacBook, MacBook Air, PowerBook, and iBook.

MacBook Pro - External or Internal HDD


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mapexvenus

 
Member Since: Jun 24, 2007
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I am a hobbyist musician and use my MBP primarily to work with music (create, edit, etc.). The configuration I have is: Macbook Pro: 2.2 Ghz / 4 GB RAM / 120 GB 5400 rpm HDD.

I recently posted on another forum on performance of Garage Band and other music tools on my laptop and was 'advised' that I should get an external HDD (7200 rpm) and attach it to my FireWire 800 port and that this would improve performance (assuming I run my music files off this drive).

Can someone tell me whether the above setup would really improve performance and whether an external drive (7200 rpm on Firewire 800) is better than my internal 5400 rpm drive?

Thanks in advance!

I am an Apple customer, not a fanboy.
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Geeky1

 
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A 7200rpm desktop drive in a firewire 800 enclosure will be a great deal faster than your laptop's 5400rpm drive; you will see a significant speed increase if you choose the right drive. It will also leave you tied to a desk (or needing to carry the fw drive with you wherever you want to work on your projects). Depending on your need for portability, you might consider looking into the cost of having Apple or a 3rd party Apple-approved service provider upgrade the internal drive to 7200rpms. This would be marginally slower than a desktop drive on a fw800 bus (and more expensive, and leave you with less capacity), but still significantly faster than a 5400rpm drive.

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JerrfyLube

 
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I have the 2.4 santa rosa and run a 500GB external through my firewire 400 port and its plenty fast...it transfers video or just about anything else i could want at a very respectable rate. I use the internal for programs, games, etc and the external for all my video, music, pictures, etc. Firewire 800 is very nice, but totally unnecessary unless your working with HD video or other high bandwith media or just want the fastest of the fast.
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mapexvenus

 
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Wow! I guess learned something today. I seriously thought an internal SATA drive running at 5400 rpm was FASTER than an external drive.

The problem with upgrading the internal drive is that (1) There are no SATA drives available above 200 GB (2) I could get an external FireWire for less than the internal 7200 rpm 200 GB, and with more space.

I am an Apple customer, not a fanboy.
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bobtomay

 
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Does anyone have any actual timed tests to show the difference in speed between the two drives and how much difference we're talking about?
Say for instance encoding a file that sits on the external drive instead of the internal...

The only thing I have tried is ripping a DVD - and found basically no difference between the internal 5400 and a FW 800 attached SATA drive. Of course the limiting factor here would be the extremely slow "superdrives" they put in the MBP.

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fleurya

 
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I guess it also depends what you're using it for. I copy DVDs directly to my external drive with MacTheRipper amd watch them on my MBP from my external drive just fine with no latency whatsoever. And my external drives are 5400rpm and USB connected.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mapexvenus View Post
The problem with upgrading the internal drive is that (1) There are no SATA drives available above 200 GB
Actually you can get internal drives with 250GB of space now, but Apple won't install an internal drive for you and if you get it done, it will void your warranty: one of the comparable drawbacks of Macs.

"Give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others"
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nZa

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mapexvenus View Post
Wow! I guess learned something today. I seriously thought an internal SATA drive running at 5400 rpm was FASTER than an external drive.

The problem with upgrading the internal drive is that (1) There are no SATA drives available above 200 GB (2) I could get an external FireWire for less than the internal 7200 rpm 200 GB, and with more space.
Your internal drive is faster than a Firewire 400 drive, and MUCH faster than a USB drive. Don't be fooled, it's just Firewire 800 that's blazing
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Geeky1

 
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You know, the other thing to consider-and the approach I'd take in this situation-would be to get a mac-compatible SATA ExpressCard, and a SATA enclosure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mapexvenus
ow! I guess learned something today. I seriously thought an internal SATA drive running at 5400 rpm was FASTER than an external drive.
Nah... a 5400rpm drive, regardless of interface, is good for little more than a very, very small boat anchor.

(ok, I exaggerate... but they're very slow relative to 7200rpm drives)

Quote:
Originally Posted by nZa
Your internal drive is faster than a Firewire 400 drive, and MUCH faster than a USB drive. Don't be fooled, it's just Firewire 800 that's blazing
You're definitely right as far as USB goes... For whatever reason, my experience with USB2.0 has been that while it's faster on paper than FW400, in the real world, it's not. However, FW400 has a theoretical maximum transfer rate of 50MB/s. Figure a real-world maximum of probably about 45 (based on my experience). I've never, ever seen a 5.4k laptop drive hit a sustained transfer rate much above 35MB/s. A modern 7200rpm desktop drive will easily hit over 50, which would make the FW400 interface a bottleneck, but it'd still be a lot faster than the 5.4k internal drive.

MCCCXXXVII
Notebook RAM Buyer's Guide- How much, what type, what brand, where to buy, etc.
MBP: 17" WUXGA/2.4/4GB/160GB 7.2K
G4: Heavily modified Dual 533 DA
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nZa

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geeky1 View Post
You're definitely right as far as USB goes... For whatever reason, my experience with USB2.0 has been that while it's faster on paper than FW400, in the real world, it's not. However, FW400 has a theoretical maximum transfer rate of 50MB/s. Figure a real-world maximum of probably about 45 (based on my experience). I've never, ever seen a 5.4k laptop drive hit a sustained transfer rate much above 35MB/s. A modern 7200rpm desktop drive will easily hit over 50, which would make the FW400 interface a bottleneck, but it'd still be a lot faster than the 5.4k internal drive.
USB doesn't educate it's users, it's only possible to get a maximum of 66% of it's throughput to a single device. To get the full avertised "450Mb/sec" or whatever they're saying it gets, you have to have 2 devices attached, and you get 450 by having both devices run at 225Mb/sec. So, for a single device, USB will never be faster than FW400, and it will slow your computer down in the process since USB uses processor power, whole Firewire doesn't. Something you don't want to be using while you're just moving files around.
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