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Turbomax Mac Hard Drives:
A Price/Performance Breakthrough

by Jon Leland

Good news for video project studios: hard drive prices are falling faster than kids down a playground slide. And, some Mac configurations have gotten even more cost effective thanks to Irvine, CA-based ProMax which has developed a special adapter for G3 Power Macs. ProMax is shipping a specially-designed PCI host adapter for ATA 33 EIDE hard drives that is called TurboMAX. This $99 sub-system allows the new Macintosh "blue" G3 workstations (as well as 8600, 9500 and 9600 Macs) to utilize these low-cost, high-capacity drives. This enhancement is particularly attractive on the "blue" G3's because these Macs have a Firewire port built into the motherboard and thus do not require an additional video digitizing card.

Although a RAID version of TurboMAX is also available, because ATA 33 Enhanced IDE drives have a sustained data transfer rate of 14MB per second (and burst to 33MB/sec., hence their name), they are work well for DV non-linear editing using software like Adobe Premiere or Apple's soon-to-be-released Final Cut software. These drives currently have a 16.8 gigabyte capacity with a 25-gig version promised for later this spring. A typical configuration of two 16.8-gig drives (more than 32 gigs total, or enough storage for almost 2-1/2 hours of DV footage) and the TurboMAX host adapter currently costs only $830. But, ProMax Sales/Marketing Director Josh Mellicker advises that readers should check for current pricing when they're ready to buy because "prices are dropping daily." In fact, prices dropped substantially during the week that this article was being researched.

While IDE drives have been used by Apple in G3's since last summer, they have only been used by Apple because SCSI has been the dominant drive connection standard on the Mac. And to date, Apple has only used IDE drives internally. While ProMax does offer a separate housing that enables Mac's to use EIDE drives externally, it offers multiple internal configurations that should be ample for most project studios

By using unique adapter brackettes, TurboMAX enables the new "blue" G3's to accommodate up to four of these drives internally.

ProMax accomplishes this with two drives in the G3's standard drive bays and an additional two drives in special TurboMAX mounts above the G3's CD-ROM drive. With the up-coming release of 25-gig EIDE drives, TurboMAX will enable G3 configurations with 100-gigs of internal video storage (in addition to the boot drive) for not much more than $1,600.

That's almost 5 hours of DV video and a true price/performance breakthrough.

Bottom line, I priced a fully configured ProMax Mac non-linear editing system capable of professional DV post-production including a "blue" G3, DV studio deck, monitors, 192MB of RAM and 32-gigs of additional storage for under $8,000. Amazing.

Jon welcomes feedback and suggestions via e-mail at [email protected]



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