Firewire Card

Firewire was first introduced by Apple Computers in 1995. Unfortunately it took a fair few years for this ingenious system of technology to catch on however once it did many tech savvy people recognized the benefits. A Firewire peripheral or device can be connected to a computer with the addition of an add-in card or Firewire Card. The reason for using Firewire is because it offers a far faster method of data transfer than is possible using a USB, a wireless network or Ethernet. You will find that many computers, especially Macintosh’s, already have a built in Firewire capacity. However for those computers that don’t, a card will have so many benefits.

There are 3 main types of Firewire Card:

  • Firewire 400 Card – Data is delivered over cables that are up to 5 meters long. This was the original Firewire Card and therefore it does have certain limitations. They cannot cater for peer to peer sharing, and are typically unavailable when your computer is in self power mode. Unfortunately with this type of card you will find that the data transfer can be awfully slow and there is indeed a limit of the amount of actual data that can be transferred.
  • Firewire 800 3-Port PCI Card – This card can be considered the upgraded version of Firewire 400. You should enjoy at least double the transfer speed and also a seamless integration of CD-ROM and DVD. This is possible because all external drive connections are made using high quality, professional grade glass fibre optics. This type of card is not limited to any length and will actually allow you to simultaneously connect your computer to another computer or device. However this application is especially favoured in video data applications and audio streaming. These cards are extremely popular inclusions for people when using a home theatre or digital camera.
  • Firewire and USB 2.0 Combo PCI Card – This card is able to connect peripherals faster because it uses a combination of USB and Firewire. You can actually link to thousands of USB devices at the same time and indeed also tens of other Firewire devices. This type of card is most commonly found in digital camcorders, printers and scanners.

Possibly the biggest advantage of using Firewire is the ability to daisy-chained ad infinitum devices. It goes without saying that the much faster data transfer rate is also a huge advantage. Apple’s previous protocol in this area suffered some severe limitations. Another fantastic feature that is specific to a Firewire Card is the ability to boot a Mac into what is known as Firewire Target Mode. You simply need to hold down the “T” key while booting and the computer will actually function on its own as a hard drive. Should you have large amounts of data that you wish to copy, this is possibly the most convenient and fastest way to achieve this.

You should typically add a Firewire card to a computer that doesn’t have one already built in or you can merely use it as an extra connection for your computer. These cards usually come with specific software so the drivers can be installed however there are variations that can be used as plug and play. In all honesty, no matter what a manufacturer tells you, a computer with a built in Firewire feature will always be quicker than one using a card.

In order to install a Firewire Card you must first unplug your computer prior to opening it. Once it is off, simply remove the side cover. You will then need to locate the PCI slot so that the card can be inserted. You must make sure that the card is firmly inserted into the PCI slot or nothing will happen. The card must be secured by using the screws that came with it during your purchase. Then replace the side cover and plug the power cord back in before turning on the computer to complete the installation. Once the new device has been picked up by the computer, the screen will show a new hardware wizard with instructions that need to be followed. You will eventually come to the “finish” button within the hardware wizard and are then required to restart your computer. You can then check if the Firewire Card has installed properly by clicking on “My Computer” and then “Properties”. If all is in working order you should find an OHCI Compliant IEEE 1394 displayed.

This Firewire Card Review is Written/Updated on Dec 10th, 2010 and filed under Computer Hardware. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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