USB or FireWire?

Installing a Plextor 740UF. Is one connection better than the other?

Check out this thread…Link

while the theoretical transfer speed may be higher with firewire, you probably won’t see any real-life advantages as far as speed goes with a dvd burner (burners can only burn so fast anyway regardless of how fast they receive the information)

i was always led to believe that firewire is more reliable in general, but that’s a personal opinion I guess as I don’t have any links or sources to back that up at the moment.

i’d say if you can afford it, go firewire. if not, USB will still fulfill your needs.

(seems you’ve already made the purchase. all things being equal, I’d choose firewire as the connection of choice)

In this particular case, RNR, you’re right to say there’s may be very little difference between USB and FireWire, and also with the final recommendation.

However in a broader context, USB is pretty intensive on the CPU, whereas FireWire won’t make anything like the same demands on the processor. Also, what is often forgotten about Firewire is that you can daisy-chain devices without significant data speed loss, unlike USB where the speed gets roughly halved with each successive peripheral added.


I’d definitely go for FireWire over USB, where I had the choice.

That depends on the burner and whether it runs UDMA Mode 2 or Mode 4.

A DVD burner that runs UDMA Mode 4 should be able to both read and burn at 16x in an external enclosure over both USB and FireWire, but USB will use more CPU power.

A DVD burner that runs UDMA Mode 2 may be able to read at 16x over FireWire but not over USB and you will not be able to write at 16x over either interface.

This is from personal experience as well as reading other people’s results.

If both the USB and FireWire interfaces are implemented well, the FireWire interface will never be slower than the USB but might be faster and it will use less CPU power.

I don’t think I have seen anyone reporting that they are able to flash firmware to an external drive over a FireWire connection however, but doing it over USB is commonplace.

So there’s no definitive answer.

Me too (I forgot to add that :rolleyes: !). Also just to say that in order to daisy-chain peripherals, each one needs to have 2 FireWire ports. It sounds obvious, but many times I see them having just one, and in which case you’re stuck with it as a chain-terminator.

Excellent point, DrageMester :iagree:.

*Not strictly true.
Hi :slight_smile:
Depends on what you mean by loss. The quote here is pretty much a standard statement from the likes of Seagate/Western Digital etc. When referring to their external ready made hard drive units.


Our current 1394 hard drives are 1394a device so even if you are using a 1394b host adapter our device has a maximum throughput of 400Mbits/sec.

For best performance on 1394 don’t daisy chain devices. If you daisy chain devices you are sharing the bandwidth available on that port."

I know even DVDRW 's don’t attain that sort of transfer rate. So to qualify your statement " in reference to this case, daisy chaining is unlikely to have a serious downside."
Firewire is still better, not only because of less demand on system resources. But the way in which transfer of data is obtained makes it more reliable/stable for the larger capacity that comes with DVD. Thar’s not to say that USB won’t. It just takes more matching between drive, caddy & pc.

"If both the USB and FireWire interfaces are implemented well, [U]the FireWire interface will never be slower than the USB [/U] but might be faster and it will use less CPU power."
Again not strictly true.
Transfer rates.
USB 1.1 12 Mbits/sec
USB 2.0 480 Mbits/sec
1394a 400 Mbits/sec
1394b 800 Mbits/sec
UltraATA 100 100 Mbytes/sec
SATA 1.5 Gbits/sec

Note that USB 2.0 is quicker than 1394a. Surely this then means firewire can be slower.

Great post, Drage - and as Imkidd mentions, good point about the flashing, that’s something I forgot to consider. :wink:

You have taken my quote out of its context.

I was not referring to the theoretical burst rates that you’re listing, and quite frankly I don’t think those numbers are particularly interesting - I was referring to the actual performance you would get on a DVD burner connected by USB or FireWire.

You can talk about Firewire/USB adavantages/disadvantages in many dif ways, not just speed.
These are dif techs.
If you take speed and to be fair you can’t keep comparing 1394a(firewire 400) to USB2, becuase you also have 1394b (firewire 800) and this is not yet the firewire possible limits.
But even 1394a/USB 2 can show differents results depending on file type and or size, no matter the first is 400 and the second 480.
By experience, and with an external HDD with both connections firewire can be faster for some tasks.

But due to the way they work, firewire establishes a continuos stream of data connection and USB 2.0 not (using CPU and depending on I/O instructions) - this can make firewire faster and more reliable for applications/files that require it (as avi digital video) and is the reason why miniDV cameras transfer files to PC via firewire/iLink.

You have other difs, like to make a firewire network, longer cables - but it would be going too techy. Bur one important thing is that USB shares the controller and the 480 will be divided by all “users” and if you have a version 1.1 type device connected it will slow down all the others, not matter being version 2.0 type.

So, its up to you to decide. Myself, I use firewire for HDDs and external burners, but for these ones I don’t mind to use USB 2.0, unless if I need to burn video.

Bah, I’ll just use my SCSI card…:bigsmile:

Just messing around, ignore me…

Hi :slight_smile:
It’s been my experience that it is possible to get a transfer rate of 23Mbs via USB 2.0. Yet only 19Mbs (same DVDRW-f/w-caddy-pc-data) from firewire.
Despite this firewire has been the more consistant/reliable when backing up DVD movies for example.

I don’t believe I took your post out of context. Although I appreciate the theoritcal & the practical are worlds apart. The statement that firewire will never be slower is not strictly true. The “chart” was an attempt to keep it simple for those who do not want elaborate thesis on the subject.(With hindsight not the best way).
See agomes post (#11)
This is not an attempt to wind you up. But to clarify so as the uninformed will not be mislead.
Your posts have & will continue to be amongst the most informative & balanced inputs on this forum.

I’ve done two. An old Sony and a newer Liteon.
Went as smoothly as doing an internal drive.

Thanks for the feedback. I’ve been using USB but think I’ll switch to FireWireand see what happens. Would I be right in assuming that I could switch back to USB for puposes of flashing and then go back to FireWire?

Again, thanks for all the input. I don’t know a whole lot, but what I know, I’ve learned here.

Hi :slight_smile:
Yes you can switch to & fro. As much & often as you like, for whatever reason. Just bare in mind the connections will wear (under typical use this is minimal & of little consequence).

Besides this doesn’t apply to the initial post as the Plextor UF is already an external drive, If you go to firewire and to buy an enclosure to put a drive in take care about the chipset that comes with it, as chipsets can make all the difference.
It can be the reaason why zebadee couldn’t get higher transfer rates.
Even same chipset can have flavours with dif results - take one well known as Oxford 911, if you take the first version you will not get the most as if you get the last one (don’t know exactly how it is called if it is 991a or the letter is another one- as 911c).
But there are others, and you can get a dif brand.
I recall a discussion about this topic some time ago - I think it was in LG or NEC hardware forums, I think it was LG.
If interested search there pls.

By the way, it is possible to update the firmware via firewire connection.