FireWire 3-port PCI ATTO Review


There are many port connections out there. There are SCSI, Parallel USB.1.1 and the new USB 2.0.

USB 2.0 is the latest computer connectivity port supplying high speeds of up to 480Mbps. USB has been very popular and companies with products are adapting to this standard.

Then we have Firewire. Firewire has not been that of a popular choice when it comes to PC’s. However, actually Firewire has been faster than USB for a longer time. When the USB 1.1 was capable of transferring 12Mbps, Firewire at its first stage was capable of transferring at up to 400Mbps.

Firewire is one of the fastest peripheral standards ever developed, which is used with multimedia peripherals such as digital video cameras and other high-speed devices like the latest hard disk drives and printers.  Mac users have been accustomed to Firewire (AKA IEEE 1394) and it’s something to know more about.

About Firewire

Firewire was created in 1995 by Apple and is classified as the IEEE 1394 High Performance Serial Bus. Firewire is a high-speed port that has been out far longer than USB 2.0 and reaches up to 400Mbps. 80Mbps shy of what USB2.0 does how many months after Firewire has been out. Many digital and high capacity products such as external hard drives, digital cameras, and digital DV camera hold this port.

Firewire ports have a U-shaped connector sort to speak and are 12mm in height. It can hold up to 63 devices. Recently, it has been popular and now is found on-board many PC motherboards. They have also been catching on with many companies, as it is a low-cost high-speed connectivity port. There are many form of Firewire such as 1394, and I. Link®. From Sony. They are essentially the same thing.

Lastly for this brief summary, Firewire and USB 2.0 have one major difference. The big difference between Firewire and USB 2.0 is that USB 2.0 is host-based, this means that devices must connect to a computer in order to communicate with each other. Firewire is peer-to-peer, meaning that two Firewire cameras can talk to each other without going through a computer. (Thanks to for this information).


  • IEEE-1394 is aimed at higher-speed multimedia peripherals such as video camcorders, music synthesizers, DVCR, DVD/CD ROM, CD-RW, scanner, camera and hard disks.
  • IEEE-1394 offers incredible convenience through "hot plug" capability, eliminating any need to turn off or restart the computer when attaching a new peripherals.
  • IEEE-1394 is ease of use. It also features automatic configuration, jumpers, DIP switches, screws, latches, terminators, simple-to-use cables, and, no device IDs needed.
  • IEEE-1394 is ease of use. It also features automatic configuration, jumpers, DIP switches, screws, latches, terminators, simple-to-use cables, and, no device IDs needed.
  • IEEE-1394 supports up to 63 devices using cable lengths up to 14 feet (about 4.5m). It provides it's own bus power, enabling peripherals to be even simpler.
  • It is cross-platform industry standards
  • BENEFITS of IEEE 1394: You can bring video images directly into your computer over a IEEE-1394 connection as a perfect digital copy with no conversion losses.
  • It provides High Speed Local Area Networking at 400Mbps.
  • Plug-and-Play networking in tree topology.
  • No hubs, hassles, and terminators are needed or used.

Presentation and Bundle

The Firewire card came enclosed in a white box with only the card itself and its supplied cable. No CD’s were included and possibly required. No instructions were included also.  Windows XP users will have no problems as XP has fully support of Firewire. I am not entirely sure of older OS.

As you can see, the Firewire card is very attractive as it sports a red PCB color.


To connect the Firewire card you must do the following:

1. Find an empty PCI slot in you PC. Crack open your case and find one. Refer to your motherboard for further information if do not know which one that is.

2. With the supplied connectors, connect the floppy connector to the Firewire card and connect the 4-Pin Molex connector into your power supply. Push the Firewire card into your PCI slot. From here screw it in and close your case.

3. Fire up your computer. Windows XP will automatically detect a Firewire card. In my case, it found the Firewire card and detected it as a Texas Instrument chip and installed the proper drivers. Done! You are finished and ready to go.

Windows XP helps you install the right drivers.

You can do Firewire Networking

Within Windows XP, you can do Firewire networking. I will be updating this review with benchmarks between USB 2.0 and Firewire when I solidify a product to do so. I will possibly do a Firewire networking article, so look out for that.

The only thing that I found weird and misleading was the 3-port name.  The card is not 3-port.  It is actually 2-ports only.  There are only 2-ports on the rear of the card. Where is the thrid one then you ask?  I really don't know...There is one port that looks like Firewire located on the top left of the PCB, but that doesn't make sense.  If any knows how to use the thrid one, email me.

Update: A source has told me that the third port is in fact the one on the PCB.  You have to run a Firewire cable, (I will look into it) and it connects to a front Firewire port in your case if you have one.


At the time of the writing, I was not able to find a Firewire product to use that allowed a comparision between USB 2. and Firewire. However I was able to borrow a Firewire enabled Mini DV camera. As usual all you do is connect the Firewire cable into the card and it will automatically detect. From there, you may use it.


Firewire is catching on with many manufactures of motherboards and products. It also has many advantages and possibilities of uses such as video and networking. If you are in the market for a Firewire card, you may want to check out the Firewire 3-port PCI ATTO that has.

I rate the FireWire 3-port PCI ATTO a...


Pros and Cons

+ FireWire has many possibilitites
+ Red PCB
+ Works
+ No CD to install
- Plain white box presentation

- Misleading 3-port name.  Need to buy a Firewire cable to connect to front of your case.

Let me thank Firewire Depot for sending this to look at.  Visit them for more information on Firewire enabled products and pricing. 



Custom Search