Special thanks to Newegg for supplying hardware for this comparison test.

Introduction

How much faster will optical drives get? CD-ROM drives and CD burners topped out at 52X after years of jumping up the ladder from the original 1X speeds, and it seems as though DVD-ROM drives and DVD burners are following the same path; obviously, there is a trend here. Beginning at 1X, then raising the bar to 2X/2.4X just like the old days of CD burners, DVD drives have made it to 16X speeds in only a matter of a few years, thanks to the research that the big name companies performed during the compact disc hype. Two competing standards probably don't hurt acceleration development either.

Before the world takes on the newly-forming standards for high definition discs, like Blu-Ray and HD-DVDs, the life of current 4.5GB/9GB DVDs still has a ways to go. Current audio/video content does not have a high demand for storage space and since there is only a small amount of hardware that can play high definition video, current 4.5GB/9GB DVDs will suffice for a while. Backwards compatible HD-DVD drives are already slated for deployment next year, and Blu-Ray isn't far behind either, but those standards will take a while to be fully adopted. So, we continue our quest to push the limits of current technologies in use today.

Back in August, we looked at Pioneer's 16X burner, the DVR-108D, and compared its performance to that of Plextor's 12X PX-712A, not as a fair competition, because obviously they are of different speeds, but rather as a general measure of how much faster 16X burners are compared to their 12X predecessors. The DVR-108D performed extremely well and carried great features like Dual Layer +R read/write and DVD-RAM read capabilities. Dual layer writing capabilities have become a standard in newer DVD burners. If there is a 16X burner introduced, it had better have the ability to write to a dual layer disc with at least 2.4X speeds, or it most likely won't make it in the market. Many of the big name manufacturers are seeing this as a standard and will not put a stripped down drive in stores for that reason. Other features such as a PI/PO read back ability as well as the newly-introduced bitsetting feature, which we will explain in a bit more detail later, are becoming just as popular as the dual layer feature.

We had mentioned before that as soon as we got our hands on more 16X models from various manufacturers, we would compare each drive's performance, and we have done just that. We pitted Pioneer's DVR-108D against BenQ's DW1620, MSI's DR16-B, NEC's ND-3500AG, Sony's DRU-710A, NuTech DDW-163, LG GSA-4160B and LiteOn's SHOW-1633 to see which unit will rule them all!

Picking the Right Drive
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  • gtanuel - Monday, November 01, 2004 - link

    Just want to add an info about BenQ DW1620 pricing. I bought DW1600 3 days ago at SG$ 98 (that's about US$54-58). After upgrading the BIOS, it's now on DW1620's firmware B7M9. If the physical is the same as DW1620, it's effectively the cheapest 16x among the rest. Reply
  • kernelgui - Monday, November 01, 2004 - link

    On page 13 where you published the test results with Ritek G05 media the graph heading indicates DVD-R 8X write speeds, however the smaller print below that indicates DVD+R media. Can you perhaps clarify if this table is based on + or -

    Thanks,
    Reply
  • Fionavar - Monday, November 01, 2004 - link

    Thanks for the great review! Just one note of possible mistake - you have the DL R speed of the ND 3500a @ 2.4 when I believe it should be 4x. Reply
  • KristopherKubicki - Monday, November 01, 2004 - link

    Maverick215: Testing 8 DVD drives takes more than just a few days. Our roundup was submitted Mid October and posted Nov 1.

    The zip files are at the bottom of each drive page. Look at the bottom of page 6 for the Benq.

    http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=22...

    Kristopher
    Reply
  • Maverick215 - Monday, November 01, 2004 - link

    KristopherKubicki: Let me see if I got this.
    You say that you tested the most recent firmware available on the Benq. Your previous review was posted September 29th, 2004. The next firmware released was B7K9, files in that zip are dated 9.27.04 and it was posted to benq's US site 9.29.04 (the same day the initial review was released) So if you "... tested with the newest firmware possible" then either http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/storage/16xosd...
    is outdated or you tested the drive for 'this' roundup 'before' the previous review was released. I'm inclined to think the latter is true based on the features of B7K9. Similarly, "(your) second look at the DW1620 uses the same firmware, although (you) were able to get some better media." I assume you got this media prior to 9.29.04 as well...
    ---
    Just trying to figure this out for myself here (btw I can't seem to find the .zip files you refer to). I have no vested interest in any of this, just like to see things clearly.
    ---
    Back to the firmware issue. B7K9 introduced a great many write strategies changes.
    I will pick out the media tested that seems to have changed since before B7K9
    Mitsubishi (MCC 03 RG20) DVD-R is now 16x (should put speed about the same as NEC)
    Mitsubishi (MCC 003) DVD+R is now 12x (should be about the same as the RITEK test on the BENQ)
    Ritek (RITEK R04) DVD+R is a 16x supported media
    Mitsubishi (MCC 004) possibly had a write strategy change (uncertain) to make it full 16x; same for (RITEK R03)
    ---
    #35+KristopherKubricki
    Don't get me wrong I understand you guys can't test the latested of the latest ultra alpha zeta laser tool chain master firmware (yes I made that up as I went) and compile a review/comparison instantly. But I would expect if you are using new material for a new review that you use the latest firmware/software etc that is available at the start of that review/comparison. At the VERY least you could mention that firmware revisions/updates/etc have been made (google is easy to use) and likely improve the results of XYZ. Further mentioning new features have been introduced, such as in B7M9 (released 10.27.04) where high speed (8x) disc quality testing with nero cd/dvd speed has been added (must use latest firmware, with latest software).
    I may not expect to see such things on (insert company fanboy website here) but I certainly expect nothing less than what I suggest from "the leading IT source for hardware analysis and industry news"
    Reply
  • Bozo Galora - Monday, November 01, 2004 - link

    BTW CDfreaks says the 1.01 firmware is out. Reply
  • Bozo Galora - Monday, November 01, 2004 - link

    Actually if you look at store pickup it shows in stock (for me) at several places. But no one at those friggin stores ever answers the phone.

    Going out there right now to see, pick up 3 if they have them.

    Thanks for heads up.
    Reply
  • Dennis Travis - Monday, November 01, 2004 - link

    The Modesto, Calif Best Buy had 5-6 the night I got mine. I was shocked to see it there. I am glad I bought it. My friend has the 712 and never a coaster after at least 500-600 DVD's and hunderds of CDR's. And the DVD's play on anything in my house including a Sony DVD that hates all burned media.

    Same with the 716a so far.
    Reply
  • KristopherKubicki - Monday, November 01, 2004 - link

    We will test a PX-716A as soon as we get a sample.

    Kristopher
    Reply
  • Warder45 - Monday, November 01, 2004 - link

    Nm they are backordered till the 11th - 17th. I'll have to check my local BB's to see if any of them got it in. Reply

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