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What Are the Different Types of FireWire® Adapters?

FireWire® adapters bridge the gap between various devices and connection types, ensuring seamless data transfer. They range from 4-pin to 6-pin, 9-pin connectors, and even to USB or Thunderbolt conversions, catering to diverse technological needs. Each type offers unique benefits for specific applications. Wondering which adapter will best suit your setup? Let's examine the options together.
Lee Johnson

The different types of FireWire® adapters are cards, hubs, pen drive-style adapters, and cables. These different adapters can be used to convert between FireWire® 400 and 800 and universal serial bus (USB) connections. Some users may prefer to classify the adapters by the connection types they work with rather than the specific method of adaptation. Most hubs and cards work with the majority of connections, but pen drive-style adapters and cables specifically convert from one connection to another. FireWire® is a form of high speed data transfer, with FireWire® 800 offering an 800 megabytes per second transfer rate.

Cables are the simplest type of FireWire® adapters. One end of the cable has one type of connection and the other end has another type of connection. This means these adapters are limited to working with two different types of connection, for example FireWire® 800 and 400, and can be used either way around: from 400 to 800 or 800 to 400. The original wire which comes with the device is rendered useless if there isn’t a matching port on the user’s computer and he or she uses a cable adapter.

A FireWire® port.
A FireWire® port.

Pen drive-style FireWire® adapters work in a similar way to cable adapters, but they have one female input side and one male output side. This means that they can only be used to change one specific type of connection into another type of connection. For example, a pen drive adapter might have a FireWire® 400 input and a USB output. It can only connect to the USB slot on the user’s computer, and therefore can’t be used to convert a USB connection to FireWire® 400. Users need to use the original wire that came with the device to make use of this type of adapter.

Cards and hubs are two more types of FireWire® adapters. Hubs feature multiple ports for input and one or more output ports to connect to the user’s computer. Some hubs feature multiple ports for the same type of input, allowing the user to connect several devices to one port on his or her computer. Cards attach to the motherboard or network card slot on the user’s computer and feature multiple input ports. These solutions offer the user the widest range of connectivity.

The maximum connection speed when using FireWire® adapters is the same as the slowest device. FireWire® 400 provides a 400 megabyte per second transfer rate, and if connected to an 800 port with the use of an adapter, still works at the same the maximum speed. The reason for this is that the data doesn’t go to the faster connection quickly enough to be transferred at higher speeds. Likewise, if a faster connection is changed into a slower one, the information comes in quickly, but can’t be relayed to the computer as quickly by the slower connection.

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    • A FireWire® port.
      By: Timur Anikin
      A FireWire® port.