View Full Version : Firewire vs USB1.1/USB2.0

Resource Consumer
13-08-2004, 08:43:20
Hi guys - some advice if you don't mind.

I am going to install an additional external hard drive. Clearly, I would like it to be as quick as possible. SO, which of these protocols would you use for it to be quick?

I know USB2.0 is quicker than 1.1 but is it THAT much quicker. And how do these relate to firewire. All advice appreciated.

13-08-2004, 11:04:52
:hmm: Dunno the answer but this could be almost as much fun as watching Laz do DIY!

13-08-2004, 11:10:54
Yes, it's that much quicker, don't even consider USB1.0 for a hard drive. As to USB2 vs Firewire....firewire is faster.

Resource Consumer
13-08-2004, 12:53:15
Ta - any idea of relative speeds?

13-08-2004, 17:59:52

Resource Consumer
13-08-2004, 22:24:42
Cheers - thanks very much. That makes it clear to me (I was blissfully ignorant of the architecture thing) and I, doing my own pathetic checking elsewhere, had seen the headline that USB 2 was faster.

Firewire it is.

Thanks again :D

13-08-2004, 22:27:09
USB 2 has the cheapness. IEEE1394 has the features.

14-08-2004, 05:36:35
IEEE1394 has much higher latency.

I wouldn't trust that site zmama linked, they didn't even get the bandwidth figure right -- USB2 is 440, not 480 Mbps.

Anyway, how about an injection of reality.

Harddrive benchmarks (higher is better):

Winbench 99 - Business Disk Performance

Winbench 99 - High-End Disk Performance

Read Speed - Small Sized Files - 2 kB

Read Speed - Medium Sized Files - 16 kB

Read Speed - Large Sized Files - 128 kB

Read Speed - Largest Sized Files - 1,024 kB

Write Speed - Small Sized Files - 2 kB

Write Speed - Medium Sized Files - 16 kB

Write Speed - Large Sized Files - 128 kB

Write Speed - Largest Sized Files - 1,024 kB

Clearly USB 2.0 is a far better choice for external harddrives. Firewire is ass.

Sir Penguin
14-08-2004, 06:00:28
Unless you're dealing with files bigger than 1 MB.


Resource Consumer
14-08-2004, 18:24:19
Thanks all. This drive will be largely used with MP3 (and, sorry, AAC) files. So, the consensus in that case would be USB guys? Not sure that is what Asher's stats suggest. (see below - sorry, I am a bit freaked today, back to old habits)

Resource Consumer
14-08-2004, 18:25:03
I also envisage this on a WORM basis - in the sense that I intend to write only once

Sir Penguin
14-08-2004, 20:35:13
Well, Asher's stats suggest that the performance curve is moving in Firewire's favour for files the size of MP3s.

But really, it doesn't matter in the least if you're just going to be reading data files every so often. I'd get whichever's cheaper.


14-08-2004, 21:06:35
USB2.0 is dirt cheap, too. I bought a controller card at Newegg.com for $7 to put in an older PC. It might be cheap enough that it wouldn't hurt to get both USB2.0 and IEEE1394. :)

14-08-2004, 21:29:51
If all you're doing is storing large files on it, Firewire is slightly faster overall. USB 2.0 is cheaper, has far lower latencies (which is why we can have USB keyboards and not firewire keyboards...), and almost as fast for large files and nearly twice as fast for smaller files (most files are smaller files on PCs).

For 1MB files, 14.3MB/s versus 13.2MB/s is negligable, but the difference for, say, 16KB files: 11.6 versus 8.8 is much bigger.

Resource Consumer
16-08-2004, 23:20:00
Thanks guys. I have a combined firewire/USB card so I can juggle. As always your wisdom is appreciated. Ta. :D

17-08-2004, 09:38:49
Here's the external maxtor drive I bought recently:


I got the 250gb version. (the 300gb one is slower)

Resource Consumer
27-08-2004, 13:57:45
Thanks Nav. I got one of those as well. :D