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"Wee Wiebetech" Portable FireWire/USB2 Drive Challenges The Fastest Competitors.

 By Rob-ART Morgan

Wiebetech has an exciting new anodized aluminum 2.5 inch portable drive with two FireWire ports and one USB 2.0 port. It's called the MicroGB. In early testing, it exhibited impressive performance so I decided to pit it against the fastest portable drives tested this year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FASTEST PORTABLE FIREWIRE DRIVE?

The MicroGB (FireWire mode) was fastest in 3 out of 6 tests (and second fastest in 2 others) so Wiebetech wins bragging rights. Its anodized aluminum case is both attractive and rugged.

It appears to contain the same drive as the SmartDisk FireLite, which was fastest in 2 tests and second fastest in all the others.

What's most amazing is that both the MicroGB and FireLite had 4200rpm drives, yet ran faster than the "Clear 911" with the 5400rpm Travelstar 48GB (48GH) and 60GB IBM Travelstar 60GH. Makes you wonder what the 5400 drives would do in the MicroGB. As a matter of fact, Wiebetech makes a version of the MicroGB that uses the 48GH so stay tuned for an update of this page with those results.

I didn't include the FWDepot.com "Cutie" in the graphs even though it can handle the same Toshiba 40GB MK4018GAP drive that was in the MicroGB and FireLite... I just didn't have one to stick in it. (And the 48GH and 60GH won't fit.) If I get my hands on a Toshiba or the 40GB IBM Travelstar 40GN, I'll try it in the "Cutie."

 

USB 2.0 VERSUS FIREWIRE

As I noted in the test of the Wiebetech Desktop GB (3.5 inch drive), FireWire is much faster than USB 2.0. With these smaller 2.5 inch portables, the gap between FireWire and USB 2.0 speed is much smaller.

(Note: USB 2.0 requires OSX and a USB 2.0 PCI or PCMCIA card with USB 2.0 drivers.)

Even if USB 2.0 ran at the same speed as FireWire, it has three strikes against it:
1. You can't boot from USB 2.0 drives
2. You have to run it with an A/C adapter as there isn't enough bus power to run even portable versions.
3. USB devices have to share the bandwidth and slower devices pull down the speed of faster ones.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

Wiebetech
MicroGB
SmartDisk
FireLite
FWDepot
Cutie
TransIntl
Clear 911

Weight with test drive

9.25 oz
(262 grams)
6.75 oz
(192 grams)
6.75 oz
(189 grams)
9.25 oz
(312 grams)

Thickness

.86 inch
(22 mm)
.71 inch
(18 mm)
.63 inch*
(16 mm)
1.1 inch
(27 mm)

Length

5.6 inches
(143 mm)
5.1 inches
(130 mm)
5.0 inches
(127 mm)
5.5 inches
(140 mm)

Width

3.0 inches
(75 mm)
3.2 inches
(80 mm)
3.0 inches
(75 mm)
3.5 inches
(89 mm)

Storage Capacity as tested

40 GB
40 GB
(40 GB version not tested)
48 GB
and
60 GB

Maximum Capacity Drive that fits

40GB IBM Travelstar 40GN
or
Toshiba 40GB MK4018GAP
Toshiba 40GB MK4018GAP
40GB IBM Travelstar 40GN
or
Toshiba 40GB MK4018GAP
60GB IBM Travelstar 60GH

Price as tested

$399
(A/C adapter not included)
$399
$290*
$393**

*The $290 price includes the $115 case from FWDepot.com and the $175 40GB Toshiba MK4018GAP at Googlegear. Or save a few more bucks by ordering the 40GB IBM Travelstar for $157 at GoogleGear.

** The $393 price includes the $115 "Clear 911" case from TransIntl.com and the $278 IBM Travelstar 48GH drive from GoogleGear.com.

 

TEST NOTES

The test "mule" was an Apple Titanium G4 PowerBook (667MHz) with disk cache set to 512K (to diminish effect of system caching), AppleTalk OFF, Virtual Memory OFF, and Extensions set to minimal (BASE).

(The MicroGB's USB 2.0 tests were run on a Dual G4/800, since that interface requires OS X and the Orange Micro USB 2.0 PCI card.)

TEST DRIVES:

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© 1995-2007 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
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