1 2 Previous Next 24 Replies Latest reply: Dec 6, 2008 9:44 PM by J-e-L-L-o
theRealSergio Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
Am about to buy a MBP for audio/video production. Some questions for the experienced:

1) Which eSATA ExpressCard has the most stable reputation with 10.5 / Leopard?

2) Is it true that the theoretical 3Gbps isn't really achievable through the currently available cards?

3) Am I barking up the wrong tree? Should I be looking at FW800 instead - is it more stable and almost just as fast?

I'm looking for as fast as possible, and "just works" reliability

Thanks in advance

Mac Book Pro 2.5Ghz, Mac OS X (10.5.4)
  • 1. Re: Which eSATA Expresscard (or FW800?)
    Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (226,855 points)
    The problem with using a SATA ExpressCard/34 is not the speed of the bus but the speed of the drives to which it is connected. If you use notebook drives then performance will not be noticeably different than if you used FW800 because the drives are not fast enough to saturate even the FW800 bus.
  • 2. Re: Which eSATA Expresscard (or FW800?)
    Matt Thomson1 Level 1 Level 1 (55 points)
    I've been using a Sonnet Tempo Express 34 for about a year now, hooked up to a Lacie 500 GB Hd. I only get 1.5 mbps, but that's the limit of my system bus. I edit HD video in real-time with this setup, haven't had an issue.

  • 3. Re: Which eSATA Expresscard (or FW800?)
    Kustardking Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Are you sure you're getting a full 1.5Gbps? That's almost 200MB/sec throughput. You can't saturate even an old SATA I (1.5Gb/sec) line with a single drive. And in RAID 0, if only two drives, only Velociraptors or 10K+ SAS drives will achieve that throughput. Is the Lacie 500 really such a beast? Could you post some benchmarks because I'd buy one if so.

  • 4. Re: Which eSATA Expresscard (or FW800?)
    bamsefar Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    What is actually the speed in MB/s for a 7200 drive and 5400?

    If what you say is true I might as well just skip eSATA (and all that research I did;) (Im not sure if it has any relevance but my MBP is the second generation, the one with the Intel 945PM/GM chipset that everybody is moaning about the 3 GB ram limit.

    By the way, if I decide to go with it anyway are there any bottlenecks to be worried about? Ive read about that both the motherboard and the bus controler can be against eSATA, the memory on the Expresscard, and maybe the most important: If I do manage to get a good speed using the expresscard, will that speed be lowered to the slowest of the other attached peripherals?
    Say I manage to max out the eSATA, wouldnt the transfer speed drop as soon as I attach a, say a USB2 cable?

    At least that's my experience from my G4 with an PCMCIA card for 800 port. After having purchased the card the silly customer service told me I could never get 800 speed while using 400 at the same time.

    What I want to do with my set up is to constantly up/download, "stream" movies and music to my tv via the DVI cable, pluss I tend to shuffle around huge amounts of video files every single day.

    (To help me with that - please do let me know if there are any apps out there that will let me sync all my films WITH subtitlefiles, images/posters (like iTunes) it needs to play all kinds of encoded formats directly or at least have a drag and drop function to VLC, being able to show VIDEO_TS and preferably provide a link to the respective IMDB page.
    Having terrabytes of film is no joke when you're trying to find back to that particular good old film...;)
  • 5. Re: Which eSATA Expresscard (or FW800?)
    bamsefar Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    So you hooked it up to a single drive, no raid?

    Sounds fantastic.

    I just discovered a very informative and long, in depth article about eSata, scsi,etc, etc:


    EDIT: could you please give me some more specs on the Lacie Drive? They have numerous 500 Gb. Maybe an article number?
    Thanks in advance.

    Message was edited by: bamsefar
  • 6. Re: Which eSATA Expresscard (or FW800?)
    gladvlad Level 1 Level 1 (55 points)
    OWC posts some benchmark data for their Mercury Elite Pro Drives running on an eSATA card on a MacBook Pro, clearly showing an advantage to eSATA over Firewire 800 for those drives. After considerable checking around, I finally purchased two 1Tb drives and a Seritek eSATA Express Card from them. Pricey, but seemingly worth it. Part of my thinking is that an eSATA setup will probably be the way to go in the future, when I upgrade my system, so why not take the step now? A variety of forums have identified serious problems with certain eSATA cards, and the Seritek looked to be one of the more stable cards, regardless of platform. I don't use RAID, as my sense is that part of the problem with multidrive systems is compatibility with the RAID software itself. The setup has worked great for the six months or so that I have had it. The drives are very quick.
  • 7. Re: Which eSATA Expresscard (or FW800?)
    gladvlad Level 1 Level 1 (55 points)
    Oops. Just started having problems with my set-up. The culprit looks like either the eSATA card or the Express Card slot, as the drives work fine through the Firewire port. I will try reinstalling the card and if that doesn't work, have Apple check out the Express card slot, as it seems to not hold the card very firmly, as others have reported in this forum. Will report back on what I find. Does anyone know of a utility that will let me know whether the eSATA card is performing properly?
  • 8. Re: Which eSATA Expresscard (or FW800?)
    macaddict-1 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I am in the same situation right now.
    I'm looking to get a somewhat portable unit for my post production needs.

    I am going to get a 17" MBP and beef it up. Anyone have any experience with Final Cut Studio 2 on a MBP. I am still debating what drive to order. Barefeats has a few interesting benchmarks regarding notebook drives. http://www.barefeats.com/mbcd7.html

    I have done some research into esata cards and enclosures. Again,... barefeats.
    So if you get the proper enclosure ( a RAID, without extra wires connecting the drives, a port multiplier I think it's called ) you can reach some decent speeds. Faster than usb, FW400, and internal drives, no FW800 tests though. I think the SeriTek enclosure is pretty good.

    Its hard to know what is truth and what is personal opinion when it comes to this stuff.

    Hope this helps.
  • 9. Re: Which eSATA Expresscard (or FW800?)
    gladvlad Level 1 Level 1 (55 points)
    In the end, the problem turns out to be with the OWC drive, not with the Seritek card. OWC has agreed to replace the drive. Support at both Seritek and OWC have been very responsive and helpful.
  • 10. Re: Which eSATA Expresscard (or FW800?)
    gladvlad Level 1 Level 1 (55 points)
    P.S. Firmtek only offers support for Seritek Express cards if they are connected to one of their enclosures, which means you will have to find a supplier that uses their enclosures or build your own external drive if you want support.
  • 11. Re: Which eSATA Expresscard (or FW800?)
    notflashbulb Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Bumping this thread back to life.

    I'd like to buy an eSATA ExpressCard and have seen the various posts regarding issues associated with the Silicon Image chips and current 10.5.5 OS. A few posts report success with cards using the JMicron chipset; my problem is trying to source such cards from Canada as the shipping for one US supplier far exceeds the cost of the card.

    Wondering if there are any other suggestions or updates to this hurdle? Is Firmtek confirmed to be OK? as this would be available to me.
  • 12. Re: Which eSATA Expresscard (or FW800?)
    velum Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Hi notflashbulb!

    I have been researching the subject quite a bit too recently, and I had the same problem as you are having since I am in Canada too. I finally got my eSata ExpressCard from Newegg Canada (http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16839228002). the PPA Int'l eSata ExpressCard uses the JMicron chipset and is recognized automatically by the Macbook Pro. However, I am having a problem with my setup. My external drive is not recognized (read mounted) automatically. The only way I got it mounting is buy plugging it through the USB port, umounting it and plugging it through the eSata port straightaway. My drive (a Seagate 1TB drive in a Vantec NexStar 3 enclosure) goes to sleep automatically when it is not in use. Plugging the drive through the eSata port does not activate it, but plugging it through the USB port does. It is as if I needed to wake up the drive before connecting it in order for it to be recognized by the eSata ExpressCard. I'm not sure if it is a Seagate feature or a Vantec feature that puts the drive to sleep when it is not in use. Anyhow, in my case, it is not a feature but a problem.

    Also, my Macboo Pro froze once with the external drive mounted. I'll have to see if this happens again. Other people reported having no problem with the PPA Int'l eSata ExpressCard (Part 1172).

    You can find a list of eSata ExpressCards and their chipsets here:




    P.S. Actually, my drive did mount automatically once, but it never happened again, and I don't know why.

    Message was edited by: velum
  • 13. Re: Which eSATA Expresscard (or FW800?)
    notflashbulb Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Velum, thanks for your very helpful response and links. I had checked the newegg.com site where that card was showing n/a, perhaps they received a new shipment. It is rather curious about the inconsistent behavior of your drive. As the card from Newegg is relatively inexpensive, I'll probably order one and keep my fingers crossed and mate it with a multi interface enclosure.

    I stopped in at an Apple store yesterday and spoke with a Genius about eSata and the MacBook Pro but he wasn't particularly knowledgeable about the matter. He suggested very few people went the eSata route, firewire being the interface of choice; hence the Apple store's minimal to non-existent eSata products.

    I'm still curious about the Firmtek card, as to what chipset it uses.
  • 14. Re: Which eSATA Expresscard (or FW800?)
    velum Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I downloaded the drivers for the Firmtek Seritek 2SM2E ExpressCard and the package contains references to the Sil3132 chipset. The card may work very well on a Macbook Pro, however it won't be plug-and-play and you won't be able to boot from an external drive with it.

    Note that the Newegg link I posted is for their Canadian site.


1 2 Previous Next