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Expandable slot vs. Firewire - need an explanation

Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
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June 28, 2011 2:57:05 PM

I'm having trouble deciding between the Macbook Pro 15" and 17" for video editing and a mobile student computer. People in favor of the 17" argue that the higher resolution, bigger screen, and expandable slot make the increased pricetag and size worth it, whereas others argue for the 15" reasoning that it's cheaper, more convenient, and I can always plug it into an external monitor anyway.

For me, the main issue seems to be the expandable slot. I've been told that it's a necessity for running an external HDD effectively (until Thunderbolt opens some more options). Yet, I was recently told that I could simply connect an external HDD to the 15" through Firewire - because the 15" has a Firewire port.

Could someone explain the difference to me between connecting via Firewire vs. the expandable slot on the 17"? Why is it argued that the expandable slot on the 17" is so important for video editing?

Thanks.
a b D Laptop
June 29, 2011 4:02:01 AM

It would be built in to the computer. It would be more convenient, and it wouldn't a data stress on the cable.
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June 29, 2011 4:44:31 AM

Are we talking about a Hard Drive Expansion Bay? Or an mini PCI-e expansion slot? A Firewire or USB port would work just fine for an external HDD. USB is just as fast as Firewire now (USB 1.0 was not) and USB 3.0 is MUCH faster (needs an USB 3.0 external drive though). But Firewire doesn't do much to help an internal hard drive.

But do you plan on opening your laptop up and adding a second hard drive? If not, the expandable slot might be useless.

I'd never get a Mac by the way. It's too expensive for no performance benefit. It's not better for video work--it was in the 90's though. I can understand how other people you work with in video editing expect a Mac, as sort of a trade preference/status thing...so if you have the cash, a Mac could still make sense.
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June 29, 2011 5:23:58 AM

dalauder said:
Are we talking about a Hard Drive Expansion Bay? Or an mini PCI-e expansion slot? A Firewire or USB port would work just fine for an external HDD. USB is just as fast as Firewire now (USB 1.0 was not) and USB 3.0 is MUCH faster (needs an USB 3.0 external drive though). But Firewire doesn't do much to help an internal hard drive.

I mean the ExpressCard/34 on the 17" Macbook Pro.

Quote:
I'd never get a Mac by the way. It's too expensive for no performance benefit. It's not better for video work--it was in the 90's though. I can understand how other people you work with in video editing expect a Mac, as sort of a trade preference/status thing...so if you have the cash, a Mac could still make sense.
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I'm aiming for Mac because (a) NYU Tisch supports them and (b) it's required for FCP.
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June 29, 2011 5:43:31 AM

As I suspected, you have your reasons to get a Mac.

Btw, did we answer your other questions?
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June 29, 2011 4:18:13 PM

Sort of. To clarify, I was referring to the ExpressCard/34 slot. I was wondering what the advantages to this slot were to justify the purchase of the 17" - particularly in reference to external HDD use - and whether Firewire could get me similar results.
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June 29, 2011 10:50:06 PM

ExpressCards aren't nearly as useful as they used to be. Now that USB 2.0 is everywhere (and especially with USB 3.0), most expansions can be carried out through USB adapters.

It used to matter more when many laptops didn't come with ethernet (1999 and earlier) wireless (2004 and earlier), or webcams (2007 and earlier). Now I can't think of much to put in an expansion slot. Does the laptop you want have USB 3.0? Because that will make a huge difference in external HDD performance if you get an external USB 3.0 HDD.
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June 30, 2011 1:20:27 PM

I see no point. As time passes, you will start to see adapters for thunderbolt that will allow you to connect external devices like USB3 or eSata. Ergo I see no good reason to go with the 17" unless you really want the bigger screen.

And no dalauder, Mac doesn't have USB3. They want to sell their thunderpolt aka. lightpeak. Yes it sucks but oh well. At least in test thunderbolt was substantially faster than eSata. Now thunderbolt just needs some devices and/or adapters to actually be useful.
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June 30, 2011 11:40:21 PM

Hmmm...thanks for the info Supermuncher85. It's weird anyone would go with a standard other than USB 3.0. It's crazy fast and has backwards compatibility.

The only reason to go with something else would be for: 1) Licensing issues. 2) Need more power through the bus. 3) You're still angry that USB 2.0 displaced Firewire.

Anyways, I guess lightpeak and thunderbolt are coming...I'll try to keep up with those.
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July 1, 2011 2:23:48 AM

Don't get me wrong it's fast alright, just missing some hardware. Time will change that though.
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a b D Laptop
July 1, 2011 3:37:42 AM

Yeah, but just think, I'm not paying an extra 500 dollars to get a device that will save me a few seconds, even if its a few minute, or 10 minutes, I'm a big file geek, I'm copying and moving 5 GB all the time... But money piles is more valuable then time piles...
Besides, they're probably already working on Thunderbolt 2.0...

And who knows what kind of issues there will be with it, since Intel has a hand in it, there will probably have a problem similar to the issue that came with SandyBridge on it's release date.
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July 1, 2011 4:23:16 AM

In terms of speed, you won't go faster working with an external hard drive (specific exceptions not worth discussing exist). And since you'll only be using it for backup, the USB 2.0 or Firewire external HDDs will work fine for that. So go with the 15.6" laptop--especially to save $500.

$543 buys a new light gaming laptop (i5-2410M w/ Radeon 6630M). $500 buys a new 50" TV on Black Friday or other great sales. It's worth a lot to save that kind of money.
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