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Adding firewire to my computer

Discussion in 'Converters / Interfaces' started by pfactionbrett, Feb 19, 2008.

  1. Well to make this quick, I need to get an external harddrive for recording, and protools doesn't support USB 2.0 drives so i'm stuck getting a firewire drive BUT, I don't have firewire on my computer, just an empty slot.

    What are my options for installing a firewire device on my computer? I know very little about firewire. Is this a job I could do myself by installing the PCI card and hooking it into the motherboard easily or not?

    What other types are there other than a PCI card firewire and what are the differences. Trying to check all my options, and cheaper is better too in my situation unless cheaper is just crap... any help appreciated thanks.
  2. mwacoustic

    mwacoustic Guest

    You can get a firewire PCI card pretty cheaply ($20?) and installation should be a snap (literally). Check newegg.com, tigerdirect.com or places like that. I don't think you need anything "special" because this is for your DAW. Just something reliable and well-reviewed in general. (And of course compatible with your system, and you have a free slot...)
  3. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Yeah, the hardest part for this kind of thing is opening the box itself, or perhaps just the cost of the card. Neither one is a big deal.

    Thankfully, there are generic drivers in both Mac and PC-land that should work fine for the card. Chances are, either system will recognize it upon bootup, and you're off to the races. If not, the manufacturer will certainly have drivers on their website for you to DL and install.

    As long as there are no conflicts on your system, it should be one of the easiest things you'll ever do, in terms of computer mods.
  4. Thanks guys. On another thought since you mentioned reliabilty and all.... What if I were to want this to be able to use in the future with a firewire recording system rather than my USB one. Would I still go with the PCI route or is there something better or more permanent I should think about when going with a system like that?
  5. also what's the difference between 1394a and 1394b type firewire's?
  6. mwacoustic

    mwacoustic Guest

    Don't know off hand the difference between 1394a and 1394b, but for your first question - PCI is as permanent as you would need it to be. And the card I have has 2 FW ports, plus maybe 3 USB ports all in one (though I am currently only using one FW). Theoretically you could run your FW hard drive and your USB recording interface (or a future FW interface) all through the same PCI card.

    I think newer motherboards might come with FW built in (rather than PCI) like you probably already have USB built in. But by no means do you need to upgrade/replace your motherboard just to get FW.
  7. Is it as simple as sliding the PCI card in the PCI slot on the back of my computer? thanks for all the info btw guys.
  8. mwacoustic

    mwacoustic Guest

    Almost - you do have to open the case of the computer and plug the PCI card into the motherboard. The card should come with installation instructions with pictures and all. Usually just a couple steps. You could also probably google "PCI Installation" or something ahead of time to get a feel for it. Pretty much any PCI card installs the same way.
  9. Well I figured I had to open it up. I know where the PCI slots are located on the motherboard so i'll be fine, I just like to make sure. thanks
  10. Space

    Space Well-Known Member


    Before a card install, power the computer down.

    Unplug it.

    Do install.

    Plug back in.

    Ever had a computer wake up on ya when your working on it?

    Unplug it and you eliminate most risk associated with a hot machine.
  11. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Risks being power supplies blowing up, things catching fire, data loss...
    A bit of mine did catch fire once. Dropped a screw onto the mobo, comp was on, a component went up in flames and since then the CPU temp sensor has never worked.
    Ive had some PCI cards fall out while the comp was on (I dont screw things in properly) but that was fine. Just annoying having to turn it off to be on the safe side putting it back in.
  12. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    dude, that's like trying to change a fan-belt with the engine running...sort of :)
  13. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    At least the fan belt isn't behind anything that spins rapidly, like CPU fans.
    *realises the fan belt spins rapidly* :oops:

    Speaking of CPU fans, my fan is continually close to chewing up some cables, like the IDE bus or the power for the hard disks, or maybe the main power supply. Stupid Intel fan design, no outer case to it, just raw blade, one of my IDEs actually has a chunk missing where it made contact one time. I even cut my finger on it once. Maybe twice.

    That's like putting your hand into the gearbox...
  14. moisiss

    moisiss Active Member

    You would still get a PCI add-on.... but apparently it's best to get a Texas Instruments chipset. I have read that some FW interfaces don't play nice with all FW chipsets. That said, I don't think that my chipset is TI (I added a PCI FW card to my comp a while back) but it works fine with the Firepod. I would just NOT get the absolutely most dirt cheap card when you buy one.
  15. EricUndead

    EricUndead Guest

    1394a is 400mbs and 1394b is 800mbs I would by something that is not a combo card and has a good chip set like TI or something. I just had to return one because I knew nothing about firewire and it wouldnt work for my new FP10. The right card is on the way now and it was cheaper, go figure.
  16. thanks for all of the tips and info. So would it actually be better to get the 800mbs 1394b firewire?

    I will look into the TI ones, and also not be a cheapo on cheap PCI's.

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