Review: Miglia Alchemy FW 800 PCI Card

This card is a dream. It simply works and works well (June 9th, 2004)

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Product Manufacturer: Miglia

Price: $99

The Good

  • Fast fw400 port (better than Apple\'s own on the earlier PowerMacs), two fw800 ports easy installation.

The Bad

  • Lack of documentation (not that it really needs any)

Miglia is primarily a company focused on the DV enthusiast. They have products for firewire RAID so that large amounts of video can be stored redundantly, products for converting analog video to digital and back, among other devices. Why would they need to market a firewire card?

First, the PowerMacs that came with firewire, from B&W G3 through the last of the graphite PowerMacs, have a firewire controller for the 400mbps ports that is slower in transmission of data than it should be when interfacing with hard drives.

Secondly, firewire 800 gives twice the bandwidth provided you have a firewire800 device. There's no reason you shouldn't be able to take advantage of that speed on a PowerMac that is fast enough for the tasks you're working on (or is the one you must use due to budget limitations).

The cost of the card is significantly less than that of a new PowerMac, yet offers the same transfer speeds and ability to chain devices. Unlike some firewire cards, which cannot handle powered devices like the iPod which charges via firewire, the fw800 card uses a four pin Molex connector like those used to power hard drives so that it has plenty of power for devices.

This card is a dream. No drivers are required for use in OS X; it simply works and works well. The card itself isn't displayed by Apple System Profiler in 10.2 unless there is a device connected to it, so do not fear if you install it and do not see any evidence that it is installed without a device attached.

Perhaps the only thing missing from the box is a card with illustrations depicting the process for installing the card. You and everyone's neighborhood teenager knows how to install a PCI card, but there are still folks who call the local Apple store or reseller asking for someone to install the card for them. After all, folks would rather be working on using the computer than upgrading it.

by Victor Marks


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