Selecting High Performance Firewire Cards for the FLEX-5000 and FLEX-3000

If you are considering using a non-motherboard Firewire host adapters for the FLEX-5000 or FLEX-3000, look at "high end" DV certified Firewire host adapters. These will provide the best performance and compatibility. Many, but not all motherboard integrated Firewire host adapters are not well suited for real-time audio applications because they share IRQs with many other integrated devices, such as USB ports. Sharing IRQs with other devices induces unwanted latency and has been known to cause audio drop outs.

NOTE: A lot of poor performance and audio dropouts and freeze up problems have been resolved by switching from using the motherboard Firewire interface to one that is installed in the computers peripheral bus (PCI, PCI-E, PCMCIA or ExpressCard)

Cautionary Statement: It has come to the attention of FlexRadio Systems' Support that Firewire card manufacturers are changing chipsets without notice. Some of these chipset substitutions are ones that are not fully compatible with the FLEX Firewire driver. While we try to keep this list accurate ad up to date, it is in the buyer's best interest to verify the chipset utilized in a particular card before purchasing it.


  • Use a card that is specifically "approved" for DV editing packages. These cards have better stability (free of jitter) and performance than other Firewire cards.
  • It is recommended that the card you get is using an up to date TI or Lucent AGERE FW323 chipset. Some manufacturers are starting to change to VIA for cost reasons. Other chipsets, such as VIA are known to work fine, especially with Win10, but the TI and Lucent products have a track record of being the most compatible.
  • For one of these cards, you are going to pay between $15 to $80 (USD) depending on the bus type.
  • Do not use a Firewire card that also has USB or any other interface ports integrated on the same card (aka a "combo" card). These are not designed to be high throughput devices are are not best suited for using with FlexRadio Systems' FireWire based transceivers.
  • Do not use Firewire cards that are combo 1394a and 1394b host controllers unless you are using Windows 7. The 1394b host bus adapters do not have native support under Windows XP and Vista.
  • If your motherboard has a specialized PCI slot for communications (usually it is orange), install your Firewire adapter in that slot. These slots usually do not share IRQ (system interrupts) with other motherboard peripherals.
  • If your motherboard has a PCI Express 1x slot, this is the best bus type for a Firewire host controller since it does not share interrupts with other motherboard peripherals.
  • Use high quality Firewire cables with multiple shields and gold connectors. Als,o use the shortest cable possible.
  • If you have an existing Firewire port on your computer, try it out first before buying a different Firewire controller.
  • Buy your Firewire card at a local retailer. If it doesn't work you can easily return it.
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