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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  • Sabresiberian - Monday, November 01, 2004 - link

    #15 DL is important to me because I know the price of media will drop and I want the drive I buy to be as useful as possible for the longest time possible. I might be buying it today but I will be using it tomorrow :) Overall you make some good points :)

    I think this is a difficult time to do this kind of article, because other improved versions will be available before the end of the year. For example, the Plextor 716A will be released with SATA capabilities.

    I think its wierd that you couldn't get the Plextor drive in time, as I know this product has been reviewed by others.
    Reply
  • southernpac - Monday, November 01, 2004 - link

    A recent (17 August) article in PC World advised extreme caution when buying an OEM (versus retail) DVD burner. It said that OEM units "carry no manufacturer's warranty, lack burning software and are ineligible for firmware upgrades" (therefore costing more in the long run). Many examples were given. I would appreciate advise as to whether this is percieved to be a real concern. If so, NEC has no retail outlet - how would you buy a non-OEM unit? Reply
  • southernpac - Monday, November 01, 2004 - link

    A recent (August 17th) PC World article advised extreme caution when buying OEM vs. retail DVD burners. It claimed that OEM versions carry no manufacturer's warranty, lack software and are ineligible for firmware upgrades (therefore actually costing more in the long run). Many examples were given. I would appreciate some advise as to whether this is percieved to be a real risk. If so, NEC has no retail outlet - how would you buy a non-OEM unit? Bill Reply
  • Gatak - Monday, November 01, 2004 - link

    How about overburn tests? I have many times wanted to burn 50-100MB more than a standard single-layer disk but failed because my drive or software won't do it. Reply
  • Codyman - Monday, November 01, 2004 - link

    I'm kinda wondering if a PX716A couldn't get crammed into this test somehow. Been waiting for this review in hopes that it would've been in this test and I haven't been waiting the extra couple months for nothing. Reply
  • danidentity - Monday, November 01, 2004 - link

    I'd like to see a list of recommended media for different speed grades (4x, 8x, etc.) for different burners. Reply
  • techfuzz - Monday, November 01, 2004 - link

    Why weren't the firmware on all the drives tested brought up to at the very least the most recent officially released version? For example, NEC's current official firmware is v2.17 where the v2.16 used in this roundup is the original firmware as-shipped from the factory?! Reply
  • Bozo Galora - Monday, November 01, 2004 - link

    firmwares are on www.cdrinfo.com Reply
  • ecouser - Monday, November 01, 2004 - link

    Doesn’t Samsung make a Dual Layer DVD burner? If so why isn’t it in this roundup? Reply
  • MIDIman - Monday, November 01, 2004 - link

    Yay! I'm a winner! I was waiting for this article, but couldn't wait long enough, and picked up the NEC two weeks ago. Couldn't be happier.

    Here's hoping for better Ritek 8x/16x support...
    Reply

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