Barracuda or Cheetah? How much speed is necessary? : LUSENET : Shooting DV Films : One Thread

When editing digital video with firewire how important is the AV harddrive speed? Is there a need to put out the money for the Cheetah or will the Barracuda do the just fine? Thanks.

-- Eric Colley (, February 05, 1999


I would have to say go with SCSI. Either harddrive is good (they are both AV rated) but from experience, spend the extra dollars and get a good harddrive. In terms of necessary speed, make sure you have nothing less then a 7200 rpm, 8ms seek time, and a 33MB data transfer rate. Anything less would cause frame drops and other serious problems. I use a 9.1GB IBM Ultrastar, 10,000rpm, 5.3ms and it is fabulous. Go to and save yourself a bundle on these harddrives.

-- Chris Penney (, February 05, 1999.

Required drive speed depends a bunch on the type of video editing you're doing. For example, native DV editing can require far less drive speed than near lossless mpeg compression rates.

Some dv systems can get away with a striped drive set of Ultra DMA EIDE drives and the Promise Fastrack controller. I have a DV Master Pro system that never drops frames using a single Seagate Barracuda (7,200rpm) LVE drive connected to an Adaptec 2940U2W controller. It has to handle something like 3-5mb/sec I think; I forget the exact transfer requirements of DV. The audio and system drive is an EIDE Seagate Medalist drive.

On the other extreme, my main editing system that uses a Digisuite LE, runs on striped sets of 3 Barracudas (U2W SCSI drives & controller) for video. I capture at anywhere between 7 and 15mb/sec on that card... not counting the data rates required for layering those video clips during editing. The entire system (including CD reader/writer) is SCSI, which gives better performance than a mix of SCSI and E/IDE drives.

You'll notice that in both systems I chose the Barracuda drives over Cheetahs. I had a few dealers report that the Cheetahs tended to run hot, and I wanted to avoid the headaches associated with that--heat management is tough enough with just 'cuda drives.

Personally, I'd definately recommend investing in the Adaptec 2940U2W controller and LVE capable drives (LW serial # extension on Seagates). Ultra 2 Wide SCSI is not only faster, but also supports longer cable lengths (short's always better though) and tends to be less finicky in general.

As for reliability, I have a total of 9 Barracuda drives now (7 nine- gig drives and 2 eighteen-gig drive) between the two systems. Over the past 6 months I haven't had a single problem with any of them.

Hope that was useful, -- John P.S. I'm assuming you're looking at PC based systems. If you're considering building a mac based NLE system on the new G3 machines you may want to avoid SCSI for video drives. I've read some discussions on the DV email list about problems with SCSI speeds on those machines. I didn't pay a lot of attention to that discussion thread though, so if it applies to you then I'd check it out yourself.

-- John Windmueller (, February 07, 1999.

John is right about the Cheetahs. Those things run hot. Plan on getting a big fan blowing into your system. I would recommend that for all 7200+rpm drives. Please don't skimp on circulation for any of your drives. You and your drives will be a lot happier. Check out dirt cheap drives for brackets with fans built into them.

-- Thomas Koch (, June 21, 1999.


I use the Quantum Atlas III and IV 18 gig SCSI drives as I found them less expensive than the Cheetah. They perform excellent with my Canopus DV-REX firewire card with no dropped frames plus they generally run cooler than the Seagate drives. I have both in my Enlight tower case. I installed two HD fans in the front bays that blow over the drives-a must.

Of the two I would opt for the Atlas IV as it has a two meg cache and has a higher read/write speed. Both drives are LVD drives that need a U2W controller to maximize their performance.


Steven Kahler Admit One Check out my website devoted to using the Canon XL-1 and Adobe Premiere 5.1 to shoot DV features at

-- Steven Kahler (, August 22, 1999.

Get a big Hard Drive with 7200 rpm. IDE is fine. I have a 5400 rpm hd that didn't drop frames till it got about half full. The bigger the hard drive, the more video you can save and the longer you have before dropping frames. Dropping money on a 10K scsi is not necessary unless you are capturing analog in a non DV codec. Also, 7200 rpm scsi is a waste of money.

-- Dick (What Else?) (, November 23, 2001.

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