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  1. #1


    Member Since
    Mar 09, 2012
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    Late 2013 iMac, 3.5GHz Quad i7, 24GB RAM, GTX 780m, 10.8.5, iPhone6
    Some way of connecting USB 3.0 hard drive to Firewire/thunderbolt?
    i recently purchased a new portable Hard drive that offers usb 3.0 speeds however my iMac (2011) doesnt support this, it connects fine but of course only offers me usb 2.0 speeds. i was wondering if there would e a cable/adapter that i could plug the usb 3.0 cable into and plug in to a firewire/thunderbolt slot to give me faster transfer? Hard drive is a WD 'My Passport'

  2. #2

    cwa107's Avatar
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    Well, there is, but it's cost prohibitive (i.e. you could buy a straight-up Thunderbolt drive for less money). At this point, the only USB 3.0 capable Thunderbolt peripherals are "docking stations" that are really meant for notebook users:

    Thunderbolt Express Dock | Belkin USA Site
    Thunderbolt Docking Station for MacBook Pro and MacBook Air

    Why someone doesn't just make a simple USB 3.0 hub for Thunderbolt yet, I don't quite understand. It should be technically feasible - even trivial, given that PCIe USB 3.0 adapters are a dime a dozen, and all that would be needed is a Thunderbolt interface grafted on and re-engineered to fit into an external case - but so far, no one has built one to my knowledge.
    Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!

    https://youtu.be/KHZ8ek-6ccc

  3. #3


    Member Since
    Mar 09, 2012
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    Late 2013 iMac, 3.5GHz Quad i7, 24GB RAM, GTX 780m, 10.8.5, iPhone6
    thank you for your fast reply! it does seem strange that people haven't made such items. ive been looking for a Firewire Hard drive as thunderbolt drive (ones that deliver full speed) are expensive, i asked in a PC store about Firewire Hard drives and the guy pretty much laughed at me lol.

  4. #4

    cwa107's Avatar
    Member Since
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    15" MBP, Core i7/2GHz, 8GB RAM, 480GB Crucial M500 SSD
    Firewire drives are fairly inexpensive and most HDDs aren't fast enough to saturate the bus. You could pop the drive mech out of your WD case and mount it in a FW800 case relatively inexpensively:

    FireWire Enclosure Kits
    Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!

    https://youtu.be/KHZ8ek-6ccc

  5. #5

    Lightcraftsman's Avatar
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    May 23, 2012
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    15-inch 2014 Retina MacBook Pro, 2012 Mac Mini, 160GB iPod Classic, iPhone 5
    I originally posted Black Magic speed test results from a 3.5-inch 7200 RPM drive connected via FW 800 and eSATA through a LaCie Thunderbolt hub.

    I should have had some coffee and done a bit of research on the OP's drive before posting. I used to have a WD Passport drive, and it was a 3.5-inch mechanism. The new My Passport drives are 2.5-inch. cwa107 is right, most of these will not saturate a FW 800 bus, especially the 5400 RPM drives. I have a 320GB 7200 RPM 2.5-inch drive sitting around somewhere. I'll need to dig it out and run some tests to see how fast it will communicate over eSATA.

    Edit: The 2.5-inch 320GB drive tested at 86.1 MB/s write and 88 MB/s read over the eSATA connection through the LaCie Thunderbolt hub. This is only marginally faster than FW 800 speeds and certainly not worth a $200 premium over cwa107's suggestion.
    "It's got to come from the heart, if you want it to work."
    Guy Clark

    Light Craftsman website

  6. #6

    IvanLasston's Avatar
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    I've been looking for the same thing. I was hoping hat the Thunderbolt Display would finally get the USB 3.0 upgrade once the new iMacs came out. Still no upgrade.

    I think part of he problem is thunderbolt is still early - and even if the hub was cheap you are still looking at a $50 cable.

    $400 for a tb hub seems steep to me just to get USB 3.0.

    Unfortunately the new MBA doesn't have a FW interface.

    Now also - I did some benchmarks on usb 3.0 drives - and some of them do no better than USB 2.0.

  7. #7

    chscag's Avatar
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    Late 2013 27" iMac, iPad 3, iPhone 6s+, iPhone 6+, 3 iPods, Sierra
    Now also - I did some benchmarks on usb 3.0 drives - and some of them do no better than USB 2.0.
    That surprises me Ivan. Assuming you were connecting to a USB 3.0 port or hub, the 3.0 drives should easily outperform the 2.0 drives. Did your tests vary by drive manufacturer, or did that apply to all the drives you tested?

  8. #8

    harryb2448's Avatar
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    pibolar have a look at a FW800 external drive such as OWC's Mercury Elite Pro mini if you are using for operating system backup. SuperDuper updates in less that four minutes on a weekly update.
    Hang on to those original install discs like grim death! Using OS X.7 or later make a bootable USB thumb drive before running Installer!

  9. #9

    IvanLasston's Avatar
    Member Since
    Feb 26, 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by chscag View Post
    That surprises me Ivan. Assuming you were connecting to a USB 3.0 port or hub, the 3.0 drives should easily outperform the 2.0 drives. Did your tests vary by drive manufacturer, or did that apply to all the drives you tested?
    I was visiting a Co-worker's house. He had a Mac Pro. He bought a USB 3.0 pcie card from OWC and was having trouble with one of his drives. I was trying to debug that issue - not really trying to do benchmarks.

    I wish I had written down numbers but I really didn't. Everything below should be MB/s. The most dissapointing drive was a Lexar 64GB flash drive that I bought from Amazon.
    Amazon.com: Lexar JumpDrive S73 64GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive LJDS73-64GASBNA (Green): Computers & Accessories
    It claimed 45MB read 20 Write. Well I got 20/20 - which is the same as I got on USB 2.0 - except I paid more for the drive. (I have the 20/20 number because I just tried blackmagic with the drive on USB 2.0 - and I remember trying it on both 3.0 and 2.0 while there) Maybe it is a bum drive?

    I just tried my freeagent go on usb 2.0 - and got 20/20 as well. Just tried it with Thunderbolt and got 50/50. I don't remember what the USB 3.0 got me but it wasn't triple digits. I think it matched thunderbolt numbers from what I remember of the test - which was disappointing for me because of the drive performance. That is - I could have skipped on buying a thunderbolt adapter ($99) and a thunderbolt cable ($60) if I had USB 3.0 on my MBA. So I was disappointed with Thunderbolt in this case not USB 3.0

    The Seagate Freeagent go desktop on the other hand hits 100/100 on thunderbolt - didn't have that one with me to test on USB 3.0.

    So I guess my story is depending on drive (not just manufacturer) - you will see different performance - but most disappointing was a flash drive which I paid extra for and got no better than USB 2.0.

    Here is the drive test I was using
    https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/blac...25264550?mt=12

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