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How Do I Choose the Best Computer with FireWire®?

R. Dhillon
R. Dhillon

Choosing a computer with FireWire® is a difficult task. Some computers provide FireWire® 400 ports, and others provide FireWire® 800 ports, and the types of ports on each computer vary. To choose the right computer with FireWire®, figure out which type of FireWire® is best for you, and think about how you will be using the computer. This information will help you choose the right processor, a suitable amount of random access memory (RAM) and how much storage you need.

FireWire® 400 and 800 transmit data at different speeds. A computer with FireWire® 400 transmits data at rates of up to 400 megabits per second (Mbps), and a computer with FireWire® 800 transmits data at up to 800 Mbps. Higher data transfer rates are suitable for computer users who use devices that transfer large amounts of data continuously, such as multichannel audio and video interfaces. If you are connecting an external hard drive via FireWire®, either rate is suitable, but the higher rate might save you time if you consistently transfer large amounts of data between your computer and the hard drive.

A USB cable to the left of two Firewire® cables.
A USB cable to the left of two Firewire® cables.

Before selecting a computer with FireWire®, look at the type of FireWire® port it provides. It might use a six-pin or four-pin connector, which are used with FireWire® 400, or a nine-pin connector, which is used with FireWire® 800. Look at your FireWire® devices and purchase a computer that contains a connector that is compatible with your devices. If you plan on purchasing new FireWire® devices, you might be better off purchasing a computer that has the latest type of FireWire®.

A FireWire® port.
A FireWire® port.

If your devices use a variety of FireWire® connectors, purchasing a computer that has the latest type of FireWire® port ensures that your computer will be able to support the fastest data transfer speeds. Additionally, FireWire® technology is backward compatible, which means that the newer technology still permits the use of the previous technology. You can connect devices using older FireWire® standards, such as FireWire® 400, to a computer that has a FireWire® 800 port using an adapter and achieve data transfer speeds as high as 800 Mbps.

In addition to selecting the right type of FireWire® port, you should purchase a computer that fulfills your computing needs. Light users typically require less-powerful computers than heavy users. A light user is someone who uses his or her computer for things such as going online, watching videos, using word processing programs and listening to music. A heavy user might use graphic design, music production or gaming applications. Generally, light users can purchase cheaper computers without experiencing any slowdown in the system, but heavy users typically need to spend more because they require faster, more powerful systems.

For heavy users, a computer that has a fast processor and a large amount of RAM is necessary. The processor determines how fast the computer performs calculations, and the RAM stores data that the computer is actively using or modifying. To choose the right processor and amount of RAM, look at the minimum recommendations listed on your software and hardware. Choose a computer that exceeds these requirements. If you are a light user, any new computer should meet your needs.

When it comes to choosing a hard drive, it usually is better to choose a hard drive that has more storage space. It is easy to fill a hard drive with video, audio and document files, especially when you do not routinely delete files that you no longer need. You also should pay attention to the speed of the hard drive, which is listed in rotations per minute (RPM). If you store a lot of data on your computer and are a heavy user, a fast hard drive might decrease the amount of time it takes for your computer to read and write files.

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    • A USB cable to the left of two Firewire® cables.
      By: 100pk
      A USB cable to the left of two Firewire® cables.
    • A FireWire® port.
      By: Timur Anikin
      A FireWire® port.