Test Bench:Maxtor 3000XT FireWire Hard Drive


Maxtor Corp.

500 McCarthy Blvd.

Milpitas, CA 95035

(408) 894-5000


If you want more space (and who doesn’t), need to transfer entire projects between the studio and home or have to edit from a laptop in the field, the 160 gig Maxtor 3000XT external FireWire Hard Drive may be your next drive. Like an empty basement when you first move into a new house, a new hard disk is bound to fill up fast. Still, 160GB is huge: You can store 12 hours of DV footage on this drive. But that’s only half the story with the Maxtor 3000XT. The real attraction of this drive is its portability.

Fired Up

Most people didn’t give the physically unassuming 3000XT a second glance, if they even noticed it quietly sitting on top of our edit bay. The hard drive itself rests in a light, strong and utilitarian plastic housing. One warning: the power supply uses an S-video connection and it is possible to mistakenly run +12 volts of direct current right into the S-video jack on your camcorder via the 3000XT’s power cord. The unit itself does not have a power switch, which means that, unless you unplug it, it is constantly spinning. Fortunately, the drive was extremely quiet.

You can use either of the two 6-pin FireWire ports, both bi-directional, to connect the drive to a standard FireWire port on your computer. This device, and others like it, generally do not work with proprietary FireWire cards (e.g. Canopus, Matrox and Pinnacle), although generic FireWire cards can co-exist with these video capture cards (and the drive worked fine using a $30 generic FireWire card we installed on a DVStorm-based system).


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Back That Max Up

This drive excels as a huge storage bin. But with a 5,400-RPM spin rate, we were wary of its performance when capturing DV video. We experienced no dropped frames during our tests. With the exception of a Win98SE computer, which needed to have its Windows FireWire drivers updated, the FAT32 formatted drive worked on every Windows computer we tried in the lab without installing anything. We also tested it on a number of Macs and had no problems.

The purpose of the second FireWire port on the drive is for chaining additional devices. We hooked up our camcorder directly to the drive through the second port so that video data would go out from the camcorder, through the FireWire passthrough on the drive, into the computer, back out of the computer and finally onto the drive itself. Again, we experienced no dropped frames. This is significant, particularly for laptop owners who may only have one FireWire port.

Fast Enough

We recommend this drive for its huge capacity, broad compatibility and good portability. In our tests, the drive was also suitable for extended capture of DV video. We also tested the 80GB 7,200 RPM 3000DV, which was significantly faster for file transfers, but the extra speed was irrelevant for capturing DV video. Even a 20,000 RPM drive wouldn’t be any faster for DV capture but once you can sustain the 25Mbps necessary for DV, fast enough is fast enough.


System Requirements

Platform: PC or Mac

Operating System: Win 98SE, 2000, Me, XP; Mac OS 8.6 or later

Processor: PII or Mac G3


Interface: FireWire

Drive Specs

Cache Buffer: 2MB

Capacity: 160GB

Speed: 5,400 RPM


  • Humongous capacity
  • Small physical size
  • Easy installation


  • No power switch


  • A small portable drive with a gigantic capacity.
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