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  1. #1

    shahvikram123's Avatar
    Member Since
    Nov 16, 2006
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    UK, London
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    Specs:
    13 inch Macbook Pro Retina, 2.7ghz, 128gb SSD
    USB 2 vs Firewire 400
    I heard that firewire is faster than USB 2, but when i saw the speeds, it was 400 MBPS for firewire vs 480 MBPS for USB 2

    so is firewire faster than USB 2 or not?

    What is better for transferring work and media (music, videos, photos) on an external HD?

  2. #2

    Stretch's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jan 13, 2007
    Location
    Central New York
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    4,773
    Specs:
    15in i7 MacBook Pro, 8GB RAM, 120GB SSD, 500GB HD
    Firewire is faster. Burst speeds, USB 2 is faster, but normal sustainable speeds, firewireis much faster.
    Blog and Photo Gallery: http://philolin.me/

    Currently running OS X 10.10

  3. #3


    Member Since
    Jul 22, 2003
    Location
    Hamilton College
    Posts
    6,999
    Specs:
    20" iMac C2D 2.16ghz, 13" MacBook 2.0ghz, 60gb iPod vid, 1gb nano
    Firewire is better for just about all normal uses.

    USB 2.0 works fine on iPods when syncing because it is usually just a few songs adding here and there.
    Don't forget to use the new User Reputation System

  4. #4

    wytwolf's Avatar
    Member Since
    Oct 09, 2006
    Location
    Newfoundland, Canada
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    358
    Specs:
    2.2Ghz i7 Late 2011 MBP: 16GB Ram 500GB Seagate XT HD
    Those 480Mbps and 400Mbps (not MB, MB is mega bytes and Mb is mega bits) are theoretical top speeds. In reality USB2 only reaches those speeds in bursts like stretchR has said. Firewire reaches it's peak and can hold it for a sustained period of time.

    Think of it as a porsche driving in a 30mph zone and pontiac sunfire driving in a 50mph zone. Which is the faster car?

  5. #5

    shahvikram123's Avatar
    Member Since
    Nov 16, 2006
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    638
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    13 inch Macbook Pro Retina, 2.7ghz, 128gb SSD
    Quote Originally Posted by wytwolf View Post
    Those 480Mbps and 400Mbps (not MB, MB is mega bytes and Mb is mega bits) are theoretical top speeds. In reality USB2 only reaches those speeds in bursts like stretchR has said. Firewire reaches it's peak and can hold it for a sustained period of time.

    Think of it as a porsche driving in a 30mph zone and pontiac sunfire driving in a 50mph zone. Which is the faster car?
    ohh ok thanks, know i understand...

  6. #6

    RiDE's Avatar
    Member Since
    Sep 13, 2006
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    Colorado
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    3,570
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    Mac's
    I just synced just over 50 GB of music to a new (NO firewire sync!!!!) 80 GB ipod, and had to use USB 2.0... it was TERRIBLE!!!! It took over 4 hours.

  7. #7

    shahvikram123's Avatar
    Member Since
    Nov 16, 2006
    Location
    UK, London
    Posts
    638
    Specs:
    13 inch Macbook Pro Retina, 2.7ghz, 128gb SSD
    Quote Originally Posted by RIDE View Post
    I just synced just over 50 GB of music to a new (NO firewire sync!!!!) 80 GB ipod, and had to use USB 2.0... it was TERRIBLE!!!! It took over 4 hours.
    Wow, that is a long time, I don't think I'm going to be transferring that much data at once anyway...I need to transfer about 12gb - 16gb of data

  8. #8

    bobtomay's Avatar
    Member Since
    Dec 22, 2006
    Location
    Texas, where else?
    Posts
    26,481
    Specs:
    15" MBP '06 2.33 C2D 4GB 10.7; 13" MBA '14 1.8 i7 8GB 10.11; 21" iMac '13 2.9 i5 8GB 10.11; 6S
    With computers, you almost never want to look at the ratings of devices. Most all of them are theoretical. Always need to look at testing, to see if they can actually perform at their rated speeds or not. And it is always best to look at multiple tests.

    Just got a quad interface enclosure and the Seagate 750GB SATA drive. Have only begun some testing - hope to have more up by the end of this next weekend.

    Here are some preliminary #s. Am not tracking transfer rates, but, what we all care about - how long is it going to take. Both of these are for transferring from the standard MBP 5400 RPM 120GB drive.

    1) Keep all software downloads in a folder called downloads. Currently, have 98 files, mostly .dmg's, totaling 1.32GB
    USB - 1 Min 26 sec
    FW400 - 59 sec
    FW800 - 50 sec

    2) A 7.57 GB movie folder
    USB - 8 min 9 sec
    FW400 - 4 min 39 sec

    Anyone care to see something specific, let me know, and will try. Have not purchased an eSATA card, so I will not be able to test that at this time.
    I cannot be held responsible for the things that come out of my mouth.
    In the Windows world, most everything folks don't understand is called a virus.

  9. #9

    kgeier82's Avatar
    Member Since
    Dec 01, 2006
    Posts
    1,495
    Specs:
    MBP 2.4/2GB/200HD/256 8600gt
    Quote Originally Posted by RIDE View Post
    I just synced just over 50 GB of music to a new (NO firewire sync!!!!) 80 GB ipod, and had to use USB 2.0... it was TERRIBLE!!!! It took over 4 hours.

    something ive found... if itunes isnt selected (highlighted or active), meaning this is the program that you are currently selected on, it will go about 1 song every 3 seconds.

    if i have itunes active/selective, it goes about 3 songs a second.

    try it. its odd
    2.4ghz Unibody | Hitachi 320GB 7200 | 256MB 9600gt

  10. #10

    wytwolf's Avatar
    Member Since
    Oct 09, 2006
    Location
    Newfoundland, Canada
    Posts
    358
    Specs:
    2.2Ghz i7 Late 2011 MBP: 16GB Ram 500GB Seagate XT HD
    Same thing happens with windows. The "highlighted" program is given priority with cpu cycles, ram,....etc...

  11. #11


    Member Since
    May 10, 2007
    Posts
    502
    Specs:
    Mac pro quad 2.66 / G5 1.8
    Quote Originally Posted by wytwolf View Post
    Those 480Mbps and 400Mbps (not MB, MB is mega bytes and Mb is mega bits) are theoretical top speeds. In reality USB2 only reaches those speeds in bursts like stretchR has said. Firewire reaches it's peak and can hold it for a sustained period of time.

    Think of it as a porsche driving in a 30mph zone and pontiac sunfire driving in a 50mph zone. Which is the faster car?
    Depends how fast they're going

  12. #12

    papercut's Avatar
    Member Since
    Dec 01, 2006
    Posts
    109
    Hmmm.... how about this for a comparison:

    Think of a Porsche driving 45 mph and a bicyclist riding 50 mph. Which one will cover 500 miles more quickly? The Porsche (firewire) maintains a consistent speed for the entire transfer rather than measuring the speed of a short burst.

    --
    papercut
    --

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