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Thread: USB3 or eSATA?

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    USB3 or eSATA?

    I need to buy some connected external storage in the form of a toaster or dual dock for Lightroom, field backups, etc. If you don't roll that way, that's ok, but that is the way I am going for now. This will be connected to a Macbook Pro.

    The question is do I go eSATA or USB3? eSATA is proven and less expensive, but also considerably slower (at least in theory). USB3 is more future proof and should be faster, but USB 1 and 2 never matched their theoretical maximum speeds. On my old MBP, the expresscard is the limiting speed factor, but that would not be the case on a newer machine. I fully expect eSATA to die as USB3 matures. So do I go with what is proven now or try to futureproof a little?

    Thanks all!

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    Re: USB3 or eSATA?

    Since no one else chimed in, I'll answer my own question. After two days of trying everything short of the CalDigit USB3 expresscard, I am declaring that USB3 is not compatible with Macbooks, and probably any current Mac.

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    Re: USB3 or eSATA?

    Bill, I'm not an expert, but I'm pretty sure you can use USB3 on at least a MacBook Pro if it has the card slot. OWC Computing (www.macsales.com) is a good source for hardware and for info about compatibility. I'm thinking of getting a expresscard USB3 card for my MBP, which I think runs about $20. One of the drive manufacturers has a portable drive which uses interchangeable ends/ports, and you can choose USB2 or USB3 or Firewire. If they keep manufacturing the line, perhaps we'll have new ports as technology evolves.

    I think you'll see many more choices with USB3 as far as drives go.

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    Re: USB3 or eSATA?

    If you're using a Mac, why not Firewire 800?

    I have a 4TB external WD HD connected via FW800 and it works great. Native FW800 with all the proper connectors etc.

    Macs are USB2 IIRC. USB3 is downward compatible, i.e. you can connect a USB3 device to a USB2 computer, but it's only USB2 speed.

    - Leigh

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    Re: USB3 or eSATA?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger Rick View Post
    Bill, I'm not an expert, but I'm pretty sure you can use USB3 on at least a MacBook Pro if it has the card slot. OWC Computing (www.macsales.com) is a good source for hardware and for info about compatibility.
    They had no idea. They sell the Voyager S3, but if you look on the site, no expresscards. Perhaps it works with a PCI card.

    Quote Originally Posted by Leigh View Post
    If you're using a Mac, why not Firewire 800?
    Nothing wrong with FW800 and that may be how I will go, but USB3 is 5x faster than FW800 and 10x faster than USB2, at least in theory. I would really like to see some real world data between eSATA and FW800. I know that eSATA is faster, but I don't know how well macs handle it compared with FW800.

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    Re: USB3 or eSATA?

    I would swear I saw that card, but don't see it now- it looks like this (but for USB3):
    OWC ExpressCard/34 eSATA SATA I/II Add-On Card for MacBook Pro with ExpressCard/34 slot
    OWC ExpressCard/34 eSATA SATA I/II ExpressCard/34 Adapter for the Apple MacBook Pro models with ExpressCard/34 slot or any ExpressCard/34 slot equippe ... more Same Day $19.99
    Brand: Other World Computing OWC Item # OWCEXP34SATA2P1

    Here's a link to one at Amazon: http://j.mp/dGloFR

    And here's the link to the drives I mentioned, Seagate GoFlex: http://j.mp/eBEnX9. Concept sounds great...

    And here's a link to tests of the cards and USB3 vs esata (well, as reported).

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    Re: USB3 or eSATA?

    Yeah, I really thought I saw USB3 cards at some point, but the person I talked to had no idea. I think we were both seeing esata cards paired with the S3 because where the S3 is USB3 only, the S2 was USB2 and esata. Right now I'm borrowing my partner's Voyager Q dock and I think it is the way to go right now, though my tech guy is a big fan of the Icy Docks. One of the models walks a nice line between a dock and enclosure. I have a couple trips coming up where a standard toaster dock is a little too exposed for my tastes. If you are hellbent on USB3 on a laptop, maybe try the Caldigit expresscard paired with one of their drives.

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    Exclamation Re: USB3 or eSATA?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill_Green View Post
    ... USB3 is 5x faster than FW800 and 10x faster than USB2, at least in theory.
    USB interfaces only achieve roughly 50% of the theoretical throughput due to extremely high protocol overhead.

    A few years ago I had to design a USB driver for an industrial product. In monitoring the exchanges on USB2 with other similar devices, I found upwards of 1 Million packet exchanges just during product initialization.

    Firewire achieves its high throughput by doing in hardware the tasks that USB relegates to software running on the host CPU. This software overhead not only slows down the USB interface, it robs CPU cycles from other useful work.

    - Leigh

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    Re: USB3 or eSATA?

    E-sata solutions from http://www.sonnettech.com/ work well on macbook pro
    (1st gen intel and model before unibody) and mac pro (current version).

    I use the TEMPO SATA Pro both the express/34 version and the PCIe for over 4 month now. up to mac os x 10.6.5 no problem. they are not cheap but for me worth every cent.

    Nicolas
    Mamiya 645 DF , DM22, Sekor 80mm/2.8D , Sekor 75-150mm/f4.5
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    Nikon D700, D300 , Nikor 24-70mm/2.8, Nikor 70-200/2.8 VR, Nikor 85/1.4

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    Re: USB3 or eSATA?

    If it helps any, there is no OS support (Apple or Windows anyhow) for USB 3.0 - you'll either be running as a USB 2.0 device, or with a 3rd party OS stack on the system that may or may not cause you additional problems. To compound things, using adapters to extend BUS support (e.g. USB 3.0 > ExpressCard > OS) gives you the limitations of the middle BUS. Both eSATA and 1394/Firewire both should work without extra software on the system. The 1394TA should be ramping up their press on S1600 soon, but that hardware will be newer than USB 3.0.

    Leigh's right with the way 1394 devices are made, they are engineered for performance and USB is designed for mass production. This helps explain the price difference between the types of devices. Part of the way USB makes the difference up is by offloading the heavy-lifting to the CPU – you can see this in when you do a large file transfer to a USB device. USB 3.0 does the same thing as USB 2.0 in that regard and you’ll see the impact more on older CPUs than you will on newer ones that are faster and have more cores.
    -- M.

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    Re: USB3 or eSATA?

    The reality is that at least for right now, eSATA is basically as fast as any disk you connect it to --- IOW any bottleneck is the drive speed itself. If connecting via an Express slot, then in many cases the slot connectivity itself may be the bottleneck relative to USB3 or eSATA speeds depending on the card or computer.

    To answer the question, I personally use eSATA on my Mac Pro desktop for speed and FW800 on my MBP for convenience. The convenience of FW800 on my MBP is it also powers a mini external drive, no additional power supplies needed. Granted, USB3 should do that as well, but I'm not sure it can/will through an express card adapter. And of course eSATA does not have power.

    Hope that helps.
    Jack
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    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: USB3 or eSATA?

    Just to augment, not to argue with what Jack mentioned; eSATA has a variant, eSATAp, that is powered - and that beats 1394b @ S800. S1600 - should it or S3200 - ever come out in a set of products (host controllers and devices) then you'll have exceeded the bandwidth of the drive.
    -- M.

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    Re: USB3 or eSATA?

    Thanks guys, this is great info.

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    Re: USB3 or eSATA?

    this link has more info and products on eSATAp

    http://delock.tragant.com.tw/index.php?p=2&iteno=6

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