BARE FEATS - real world Mac speed tests

How Do The "Old" FireWire Drive Enclosures Compare To The NEW "Oxford 911" Drive Enclosures in the REAL WORLD?

July 13th, 2001
rob ART morgan, Bare Feats Mad Scientist

This page is a continuation of the article comparing the 48G Travelstar 2.5 inch drive to the 40GB IBM 60gxp 3.5 inch drive, both running in new "Oxford 911" FireWire enclosures. However, after running the "real world" tests, I began to wonder if they were really much faster than the "older" generation of FireWire drive enclosures. Just a year ago, the VST drives were "king." I fired them up on a Dual G4/533 Power Mac to see how they all play together.


1. The new 48GB Travelstar 2.5 inch drive in a "911" case is almost as fast as the 46GB Deskstar 75gxp 3.5 inch drive in a VST case.

2. VST's "old" portable drive has a thing or two to teach the new portable FireWire drives about dealing with small documents.

3. The 48GB 5400rpm Travelstar 2.5 inch costing $486 was only slightly faster than the 30GB 4200rpm Travelstar 2.5 inch costing as little as $216.



The new 2.5 inch 48GB 5400 rpm IBM Travelstar is a sweet drive. It brings a new level of performance to portable drives. I was also very struck by how quiet the drive was even when I made it thrash in the "duplicate 1693 small documents" test. This must be due to the fluid dynamic spindle motor bearings. It is a tempting upgrade as the main internal drive on a Titanium PowerBook or iBook 2001.

However, as you can see in the test results, compared to the 3.5 inch drives in Oxford 911 FireWire cases, the 48GB Travelstar in the Oxford 911 FireWire cases falls short. That's partly due to the lower spindle speed (7200rpm vs 5400rpm) and slower average seek time (8.5ms vs 12ms). But yet if you compare it to the VST Full Height FireWire case with the same 7200 rpm 3.5 inch drive, the 48GB Travelstar READS only slightly slower and WRITES much faster. Warning: Not all FireWire enclosures are created equal.

As noted in previous articles, and as you can see in the charts on the FIRST PAGE, the iBook 2001 (and Power Mac G4) squeezes more speed out of the 48GB Travelstar FireWire drive than the G4 Titanium PowerBook.

Speed issues aside, the 48GB Travelstar can take an 150G shock during operation. By comparison, 3.5 inch drives like the IBM 60gxp can only handle a 55G shock during operation. And when the Travelstar is turned off and just bouncing around in your backpack, it can handle 700G shock load. So if you need mucho gigabytes of portable storage it's hard to beat the 48GB Travelstar... literally. And if you want it to be external and run off FireWire bus power, you'll be thrilled with both the FWDepot "911" and Trans International "911" enclosures.


I'm hoping to "log and capture" some digital video clips to the 48GB in the FireWire enclosures to see if we dropped frames (and how many). Ditto with playback. I'll report back here as soon as I have that data.



2.5 inch 48GB 5400 rpm IBM Travelstar courtesy of Trans International

2.5 inch 30GB 4200 rpm IBM Travelstar courtesy of Trans International

3.5 inch 40GB 7200 rpm IBM Deskstar 60GXP purchased from

3.5 inch 46GB 7200 rpm IBM Deskstar 75GXP courtesy of Other World Computing

"Clear 911" Ultra Compact Portable 2.5 inch FireWire enclosure courtesy of Trans International

The SK 2.5 inch FireWire '911' FireWire enclosure courtesy of FWDepot

FireWire 1394 3.5 inch Case Kit courtesy of Granite Digital.

The SmartDisk/VST Full Height (46GB) and Portable Combo (30GB).


On this page, the test mule was a Power Mac Dual G4/533 running Mac OS 9.1 and FireWire 2.8.2. (No third party FireWire drive extensions were used.)

On the previous page, I used three different test mules:
1. iBook 2001
2. Titanium G4/500 PowerBook
3. Power Mac Dual G4/533
(All three were running Mac OS 9.1 and FireWire 2.8.2)



2.5 inch 48GB 5400 rpm IBM Travelstar is selling for $486 at Trans International. That's the best price I've seen anywhere. (They also have the 32, 30, and 20GB Travelstar.)

The SK 2.5 inch FireWire '911' FireWire enclosure is selling for $130 at FWDepot, but I like their new MP2.5 Clearlight eDrive better ($130).

The "Clear 911" Ultra Compact FireWire enclosure sells for $125 at Trans International.

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