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MacBook Pro eSATA vs Firewire 800

Last updated May 18, 2010 - Send Feedback

Firewire 800 provides a crucial performance perspective compared to eSATA, and so it is included here.

Firewire 800 is slow at best

Firewire 800 is slow even when it runs optimally. The problem is, it doesn’t run optimally in a variety of circumstances.

For example, there exists a long-standing bug (for years), in which Firewire 800 performance shows severe impairment with volumes > 1 TB in size, though certain units like the Guardian Maximus evade this bug for unknown reasons.

It is steer manure that Apple has done nothing about it for 3-4 years— it’s misfeasance, especially given that the Mac Pro has five Firewire 800 ports (MacBook Pro has just one). I first reported the problem in 2006, and it also occurs in other circumstances as well, such as connecting more than one device. Bottom line is that verifying performance with DiskTester is your smart move— don’t assume.

Firewire 800 versus eSATA — fast SSD

For the comparison below, the Sonnet Tempo SATA Pro was used.

The Mercury Extreme is capable of ~ 260MB/sec in a Mac Pro, so eSATA via the ExpressCard/34 is a disappointment. Still, it’s far faster than Firewire 800.

eSATA performance on Apple MacBook Pro © 2010 DIGLLOYD
MB/sec, longer is faster

Firewire 800 vs eSATA — OWC QX2 RAID-5

For the comparisons below, the Sonnet Tempo SATA Pro was used, but all eSATA cards are much faster than Firewire 800.

Simply put you will never see more than ~ 85MB/sec with Firewire 800, no matter what the setup. And write speed is often far worse.

The graph below is pretty simple—

To work around the Firewire 800 write speed bug, use partitions no larger than 1TB each.

eSATA performance on Apple MacBook Pro © 2010 DIGLLOYD
MB/sec, longer is faster

 


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