Firewire 800 vs USB 3.0 – Which is Faster?

Now that both the MacBook Pro Retina Display and MacBook Air ship with USB 3 I was curious to find out which was actually faster? Going with my existing Firewire 800 drives and the Thunderbolt to Firewire adapter or USB 3 drives. I did searches online and really didn’t come up with much in the way of current data or test. Most of what I found was comparisons to USB 2 or tests done before Macs had USB 3 built-in. Since I couldn’t find the data I wanted, I decided to do my own tests.

Making it fair

I wanted this to be as fair as possible. That meant that I didn’t want to use two different drives. Ideally I would want to test the same drive that has both Firewire 800 and USB 3 built-in. That configuration isn’t as easy to find as you would think on a portable drive. I found two: LaCie’s Rugged 1TB (which I’ve used in the past with no issues) and the Oyen Digital Mini Pro. Since I was looking to have a smaller enclosure, I decided to give the Oyen Digital a shot. It was also a few bucks cheaper.

For the benchmarks I went with the Free App – BlackMagic Disk Speed Test.

Get it here .

I recorded my results in the video above.

How Much Faster is an SSD Drive?


SSD (Solid State Drives) are expensive! So the question that people usually have is “how much faster are they and will I see a difference?” In a nutshell the answer I have is FAST and YES! See my speed test above.


The SSD configuration is Apple’s CTO (configure to order) 512GB Drive. It’s in a 2011 MacBook Pro with 8GB of RAM and the 2.3GHz Quad Core i7 processor.

The 2010 MacBook that it’s being compared to has a 500GB 7200 RPM SATA drive. It also has 8GB of RAM and a 2.66GHz Dual Core i7 processor.

You don’t have to buy a new computer to get an SSD speed boost. OWC has several options for your existing computer.