MacInTouch – Comments about FireWire/USB Enclosures

Yesterday there was a post on Macintouch asking for experiences with Oxford and Prolific chipsets in Firewire/USB enclosures;

[Ed Fortmiller] I need to purchase a drive enclosure that supports both FireWire (1394) and USB 2.0. For FireWire, some enclosures use the Oxford 911 chip whereas others use the Prolific PL-3507 chip.
  Is one chip preferable over the other? Are there known problems with either of these chips? Suggestions for a good reliable (dual FW/USB) drive enclosure?

Here is my response, as well as several other’s comments;

A number of people responded to yesterday’s query about FireWire/USB drive enclosures:
[James Ehrler] I purchased a Plumax enclosure from Dealsonic about 4 months ago that had an Oxford chip and Firewire/USB. Works great.
  Needed another so I purchased the same case (same part number and also from Dealsonic) but it had the Prolific chip. Didn’t work for beans.
  I had to get an RMA and swap it for an Oxford-based case (FireWire only) from Dealsonic.

[Jason Froikin] Any time you need a hard drive enclosure that supports both FireWire and USB, the best source I know of is Firewire Depot. Most of their enclosures use Oxford chipsets. I’m not sure if it’s superior, but it does have native Mac OS X support dating back to the public beta.

[David Rostenne] I do Mac consulting, and several of my clients have recently needed Firewire/USB enclosures. We originally got some with Prolific PL-3507 chipsets and had a lot of problems with them. When we switched the same drives over to enclosures with Oxford chipsets the problems went away. Make sure to upgrade the firmware of the Oxford chipsets before using the enclosures, as there are several bug fixes..
  Also make sure to read the specs carefully as we also have run across enclosures that have only a single firewire port, and not enough airflow to keep the drives cool. For 2.5 inch enclosures make sure that both sets of ports can be bus-powered, and use normal sized connectors, instead of the mini-plugs.. less cables to carry around!
  Currently we are recommending the Macally enclosures, for 3.5 and 2.5 inch drives. We have also had no problems with the Maxtor Onetouch series, they come with drives and are firewire/USB and also come with a copy of Retrospect.

[Paul Kneipp] Regarding Ed Fortmiller’s request for USB/1394 enclosures: I can highly recommend anything made by MacPower. I have owned a lot of these type of devices, but I am completely in love with my Clearlight 2.5″ model. Elegant, simple design and very strong. MacPower have won a heap of awards for their products. Better to pay a little more for a good housing – it’s worth it, especially on the day it accidentally slides out of your briefcase as you open the car door . . .

[Richard Barrett] I just bought a couple of drive cases and here is my view: Drive cases are pretty much the equal. They use different chips and most work well.
Just about anything with the Oxford 911 works great at Firewire 400. Usually no USB.
The Oxford chip 922 gives you USB 2.0 also.
The Prolific chips work well. But, frequently have a single input so you can’t daisy-chain drives.
Make sure you check for large drive support or the case won’t work with drives bigger than 120 GB
A case with a quiet fan can extend your drive life.
Case stories (with my Dual G5):

Generic Firewire 400 two ports Oxford 911 chip, no USB ($40). Works great. No problems. [Plumax PM-350F2-POS]
SanMax Firewire 400 / USB 2.0 single port prolific Chip set ($70). One little problem with two drives with the prolific chipset on two firewire ports … only one drive appears. One Oxford and one Prolific work fine, too. One on Firewire and one on USB 2.0 works fine. Nice Mobile Disk small case with external power supply and fan.
ADS Firewire 800 / USB 2.0 ($109). Chipset reports as “ADS Tech.” When I installed a new 250 GB Maxtor drive in the case, I couldn’t initialize the drive for the Mac with Apple’s disk utility or the software provided by ADS. I put the drive in a SanMax case, initialized it, put it back in the ADS case and it has worked flawlessly since then. FW800 is very fast. Measured throughput is about twice the FW400 for about $30 or $40 more. Internal power supply.
ADS Firewire 400, no USB Oxford 911 chipset ($70). I installed a CD recorder and used PatchBurn. Works great.
If you have a computer that can use it, get Firewire 800.

Macintouch does not use permanent links, so this url was only valid for that day… MacInTouch Homepage 10.20.2004