Please dont copy my stuff.

eSATA, Thunderbolt, USB 3, Firewire, USB 2 – Whats Best

The Computer industry is adopting new interface standards to connect peripheral devices (hard disks, cameras, memory cards, etc.) in order to cope with increased file sizes from such things as new digital imaging technology, video and audio file sizes. USB 2 connections just won’t cut it any longer, they are too slow.  This post discusses the alternatives and applies to both Apple and Windows technology.

For anyone with large files, the connection to Hard Disks and external devices (such as Cameras or Card Readers) are a bottle neck.  For Photographers (with camera raw or image files such as PSD), making the correct choice can be quite important given the time it takes to move these files from one device to the other, or process them.  Making the wrong connectivity choice can result in long processing times causing some users to stick to smaller JPEGs and the subsequent loss of image quality.  (that’s one reason I am writing this post, I’m the guy who has to print the small JPEG image files)

Most external devices today connect to the computer using USB 2 (or for Apple users – Firewire) both of which are too slow for anything beyond JPEGS. Internal hard disks use SATA formats which are much faster.

Here are the current common standards as of 2011 and my findings:

Actual Respons time Mac Mini – Thunderbolt Pegasus R4


Last updated Feb 24, 2013

Interface -> USB 2  USB 3         eSATA (SATA II) eSATA-6 (SATA III) Firewire 800 Thunderbolt

Mac Mini 2011

(Gbps) Theoretical Speed ->Giga bits per second 0.48 gb/s 60MB/s 5 gb/s 625 MB/s 3 gb/s 6 gb/s 0.786  98MB/s 10  1250 MB/s  
 Pegasus R4 MB/s           500 MB/s write /390 Read Raid 5
 Samsung 840 Pro SSD           490 MB/s write /

511 Read

Feb 24/2013
Gtech Raid           222 MB/s w/217 read Raid 0 (2 4 TB Drives)
Lexar Pro USB 3.0 Dual Slot Card Reader


Scandisk 16gb UDMA card

21 MBs Write, 33 Read  34 Write, 60 Read          

USB 3 has been adopted by many Windows PC and Peripheral manufactures.  USB3 devices are low cost and given their speed verses cost, a good value. USB 3 is a reasonable alternative for most users however Apple has adopted Thunderbolt in partnership with Intel. (see Wiki article:** Most existing PCs have not been optimized to handle full USB3 speeds* SATA and eSATA are really the same interface, “e” is for external devices.

Mac Mini 2011 – 16gb storage



While I was at it, I thought I would optimize WIFI speed.  A 54 Mb connection is theoretically capable of 6.6 MB/s.  I am getting about 3.4 MB/s in my office.

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