External HD speeds, home cinemas and computers



Hi. I'm trying to put together an OK-ish home cinema in my tiny bedroom. I know that to the purists this is imposible, but I'm not wanting perfection, just a good, reliable system that can store films on my HD and play them on my PC, through my projector. I bought the projector this morning on ebay - http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=5811048497&ssPageName=STRK:MEWN:IT and have decided that I should get the following to complete my system:
250GB external HD running on USB2 (will 480mbps be fast enough?)
USB2 PCI card
TV PCI card (I would get freeview, but we don't have reception here)
512/1GB RAM (already got 512, but it's struggling)
Amp - an old class A 250 Watt hifi amp will do.

My main query is the external HD. For £110/inc shipping it seems too good to be true - I can offload 60BG from my almost full 120GB C drive and backup my 40GB MP3 player for peace of mind. I'll still have 150GB for saving films and tv progs... how many hours is that in standard quality? Will 480mbps be fast enough for film (DVD, CD) quality? Thanks in advance for your advice!


Moved to HCPC's


Novice Member
Yes USB2.0 is usually fast enough.

USB2.0 = 480mbps = 50MBps (b= bit/B = byte = 8 bits)

Generally video is stored at 1-6Mbps

depending on your hard drive you should see 10-30MBps.

The drive will run slower than the interface, this is normal, you will see similar performance between inside and outside, but...
1) Make sure you plug directly into the USB on the computer and not via a HUB
2) It will run best if the ports are not shared with a USB webcam etc.

£110 seems ok. In general, an external drive empty case is £10-20 and you can pick up 320GB for £100.




thanks - that was just what I wanted to know - oh and i picked my first projector up today and I'm loving it!

The Dude

Distinguished Member
yeah, you'll be fine. I store all my movies on my external USB2 drives :)

Paul Shirley

Novice Member
£110 looks about the going rate.

I've noticed my USB2/Firewire drive runs noticeably faster in Firewire mode, USB is full of overhead but both modes are more than fast enough for what you want. The only thing I would worry about is the quality of your mboard USB ports, particularly if you plan to use standby or hibernation on the PC with a powered on USB drive. USB is generally flaky in my experience.

Tip: your drive will arrive formatted with FAT32. Reformat as NTFS straight away (or your choice of journaled filesys on Linux), any USB flakiness or accidental shutdowns can be disastrous with FAT32 - I've had one drive pretend to be totally empty after a crash. Also check that WinXP doesn't enable System Restore on it, symptom is a drive that won't gracefully turn off.

The Dude

Distinguished Member
all very good points... :thumbsup:

Maff et1

I've got a Lacie 250Gb USB2 drive and it's very nice. If you are planning on leaving the drive on 24/7 I'd go for one with a fan (or at least lots of openings), the lacie is virtually solid and gets warmer then I'd like after 10hrs or so.

I prefer firewire now though, currently awaiting delivery of my 2nd Formac 500gb 800mb/s firewire drive. Built like a tank and stackable. For 210 quid it's a bargain: http://www.dabs.com/uk/Search2/Product Details.htm?quicklinx=3NQZ&searchphrase=formac
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