FW800 card - Drobo v2 / Win7 x64

I wouldn’t usually post a tech-help request to my blog, but I haven’t found an answer to my question in the closed drobospace community, so I’m bringing this one out into the blogosphere.  I’m looking for a FW800 card that works with the Drobo at FW800 speeds on Win7 in x64 mode.

This is what I’ve found so far from Drobo:

We have tested Drobo with the following cards:

Belkin FireWire 800 3 port PCI Card http://www.belkin.com
SIIG FireWire 800 PCI-32T Card http://www.siig.com

The Siig isn’t available in Europe. The Belkin F5U623 is, however if you don’t have a full length PCI socket on your motherboard, I understand that it will only run at FW400 speeds anyway (which is a problem for me as my motherboard only has 2 free short PCI sockets).

Belkin have a more expensive card - which runs on PCI Express x1 (which I believe should be faster) - the Belkin F5U602. I do have a slot for this on my system.

At this point, I’m guessing that my best bet will be to try the PCI express card, and see what happens.

To obtain optimum performance in Windows, we suggest you use a third-party FireWire 800 driver such as the one from Unibrain.  If you do not use a third-party driver, Windows XP SP2 automatically treats any FireWire 800 device as if it were either a FireWire 100 or 400 device, depending on the Microsoft Hotfix applied. Windows Vista treats a FireWire 800 device as if it were connected via FireWire 400.  FireWire performance on Windows XP can also be improved by upgrading to SP3. (ref Drobo FAQ)

Ok - I’m using Win7 x64, which isn’t discussed, but I’m assuming it is going to either work out of the box (if Microsoft have improved the native FW800 drivers to work at 800, rather than 400 - unlikely - because Win7 is heavily based on Vista), or I’m going to need a Unibrain driver, but …

The Unibrain driver has had all sorts of issues with all storage devices (Drobo and every other brand) on Windows Vista 64-bit. Please contact our support for more information. You can also check out our knowledgebase which has information on that driver and its issues (just search: firewire). You need to download the latest build of the Unibrian driver which has a fix for the 2TB issue. I believe they are still working on the Vista 64-bit issues though. Here is the link to Unibrain’s download site.  (ref Terry White’s tech blog)

There are several posts complaining of Vista x64 BSODs, however I’ve not seen any discussion on Win7 x64.

Has anyone had success with Drobo and FW800 on Win7 x64?   Please post your experiences to the comments below.