Super FireWire DriveDocks
for Super Drives.

By rob_ART morgan, mad scientist
Posted 7/26/02

Wiebetech has startled the FireWire world with their FireWire DriveDock for 3.5 inch Ultra ATA drives. Now there's one for the 2.5 inch drives called the Notebook DriveDock. (And the 3.5 inch model has been upgraded to "Super" status.) They are perfect for the new "super" Ultra ATA drives like the IBM Deskstar 120GXP and Travelstar 40GNX.



This photo shows the Wiebetech Notebook DriveDock in use. Note that it's thinner than the FWDepot Cutie but longer. There's an included thin aluminum plate that you can bolt to the bottom of the drive to protect the exposed components. The short FireWire cable is not included. It was provided courtesy of



The biggest news is the fact that, for the first time, you can run an external 3.5 inch FireWire drive unit on bus power! That's what the Super DriveDock is all about. Until now, only small 2.5 inch drives could run that way. Wiebetech has achieved this feat using what they call a PowerBridge, which is circuitry for converting FireWire bus power to IDE power. Kewl.


Another page has Bare Feats test results on the Wiebetech 3.5 inch DriveDock. The NoteBook DriveDock posted the same speeds as the fastest portable FireWire case kits.

NOTE: I just finished brief testing of the Toshiba "GAX" 2.5 inch drive (5400rpm, 16MB buffer) but it's slower overall than the IBM GNX (5400rpm, 8MB buffer) which tells me IBM is using their cache more effectively.



1. It is a cool running, smaller, thinner, "naked" alternative to noisy case kits with fans (or drive melting case kits without fans).

2. The Super DriveDock is the only external 3.5 inch FireWire drive solution that runs off of bus power. Of course, the Notebook DriveDock runs off of bus power, too. There are some Macs (like the iMac G4 and those PowerBooks with Cardbus FireWire) that don't provide enough bus power. In that case, there is a small external power supply available.

3. The DriveDock provides an ideal solution for playing the "shell" game when you want to switch drives around and don't have enough Ultra ATA ports. Let's say your main internal main boot drive is full and you just bought a bigger, faster replacement. You want to put the new drive in the place of the old drive (set to Master) but how do you get everything off the old drive? Easy. Remove the old Master and plug it into the Wiebetech FireWire DriveDock. You can even boot from it. Copy everything to the new drive. Then remove the old drive... or leave it connected to the DriveDock... or reconnect it when you need to boot from your newly designated "backup" drive.

4. Video DV Jockies, Musicians, Database Masters, and IT types can use the DriveDocks (and a cabinet with lots of drawers) to build a library of naked drives.

5. Its a great lab tool for testing various drives with minimal installation hassle. (My favorite.) When I received the Toshiba "GAX" drive, I removed it from the shipping box, plugged it into the DriveDock, plugged in the FW cable from the Mac, and rock'n'roll.



Wiebetech's FireWire DriveDocks are a viable alternative to FireWire case kits. They use the Oxford 911 chip set and they are every bit as fast as the fastest FireWire case kits.

For best speeds, use the IBM GXP or GNX drives with the DriveDocks.



I'm not crazy about the blue color. I would have preferred natural aluminum silver, but it's a minor niggle. Also it would be nice if they came with two FireWire ports for daisy chaining with other DriveDocks, although insufficient bus power may be an issue with that scenario.



You can order direct from Wiebetech.



6/29/02 Update -- The new IBM Travelstar 40GNX rocks! I tried it in FOUR different portable FireWire case kits. And compared it to FIVE other popular 2.5 inch drives.

5/10/02 -- The Wiebetech FireWire DriveDock: The Missing Piece In Your FireWire Arsenal?

4/30/02 -- Do FireWire Drives Run Faster or Slower on OS X? Do Third Party FireWire Drivers Help?

3/25/02 -- The Wiebetech Micro GB FireWire/USB2 2.5 inch drive takes on the three fastest portable FireWire drives.

3/15/02 -- Which is the faster interface for an external drive, USB 2.0 or FireWire?

02/15/02 Updated -- How Much Speed Does A Drive Lose When It Gets Full or Near The "End"? (ATA-133 added to ATA-100, ATA-66, FireWire.)

02/12/02 Updated -- Of The New, Tiny, Featherweight FireWire Drives, which is The Smallest? Fastest? Best Value? --- "FireFly"? "Cutie"? "Clear 911"? (Add results for the new, surprisingly fast "FireLite.")

02/01/02 Updated -- Western Digital Smokes The Competition With Their Special Edition WD1200JB ("Jumbo Buffer") ATA-100 Drive. (Includes WD1200BB w/ 2MB buffer)

01/25/02 -- Which Of The Fastest ATA-100 Drives Works Best In A FireWire Case?

11/9/01 -- What's the hot Ultra ATA setup: Sonnet Tempo ATA100 or Acard 6280M ATA-133? And how do both compare to the Acard 6880M True Hardware RAID?




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