Original Link: http://www.anandtech.com/show/1732



Introduction

The two things that help create a great performing DVDR drive are the hardware (laser, DSP, motor, etc.) and the drives' firmware. A drive's firmware can be the final deciding factor of its overall performance, or even the performance of a single area.

It is difficult to benchmark a DVDR drive for that reason. Firmware can change once a year, or even as quick as once a day, depending on the team in charge of testing the units. Therefore, performance can change drastically from year to year, or day to day.

We have taken 6 units from 6 different manufacturers and tested two brands of media on them, including DVD+/-R, RW, +/-R DL, and CDR. The drives are BenQ's DW1640, LG's GSA-4163B, NEC's ND-3540A, Pioneer's DVR-109D, Sony's DRU-720A with updated firmware, and Toshiba's SD-R5372.

We updated the firmware on all of these drives at the time that we tested them. Note that there may be new versions of the firmware released since then. Henceforth, we cannot gaurantee that our benchmarks will have used the latest updates at the time of publication.

Our benchmark results show each drive's performance with the specific firmware installed, but also how each drive should perform compared to the other drives. Take a look at our results...

Special thanks to BenQ for supplying us with the DW1640.
Special thanks to Sony for supplying us with the DRU-720A.
Special thanks to Marken Communications for supplying us with Verbatim brand test media.
Special thanks to Antarra Communications for supplying us with Ridata brand test media.




The Test

Our benchmarks include a few tests to show the performance of each of our test drives. We first use Nero CD-DVD Speed to create a data disc, which tests the write capabilities/performance of the drive. We then run a transfer rate test to benchmark the read capabilities as well as verify the data on the disc.

Finally, we use our Plextor PX-712A drive to read the media for PI/PO errors. According to the ECMA standard...
A row of an ECC Block that has at least 1 byte in error constitutes a PI error. In any 8 consecutive ECC Blocks, the total number of PI errors before correction shall not exceed 280.

A row is 182 bytes long where the last 10 bytes contain PI (Parity Inner) information. An ECC block is 208 rows long where the last 16 rows contain the PO (Parity Outer) information. This gives us a maximum possible PI error amount of 208 errors per block and for 8 blocks after each other, this sum is of course 8 times higher giving a maximum possible amount of 1664 PI errors.

If a row of an ECC Block contains more than 5 erroneous bytes, the row is said to be “PI-uncorrectable” or PIF (Parity Inner Failures).

In any ECC Block, the number of PI-uncorrectable rows should not exceed 4.
Now, some writers may create discs with more than 208 PI errors and they are not necessarily unreadable, but they are not the best quality discs around.

Our test bed:

AMD Athlon64 3500+ (2.2Ghz)
Giga-byte GA-K8NXP-SLI
NVIDIA 6600GT SLI Edition (single 128MB card)
1GB (512MBx2) Corsair XMS4400
Plextor PX-712A, Firmware v1.07

Microsoft Windows XP SP2
Nero CD-DVD Speed 4.00
PlexTools Professional XL 3.03

The Competition

  Firmware Access Time
(CD/DVD)
DVD +/-R Write DVD +/-RW Write DVD +/-R DL Write CD-R/RW Write CD/DVD Read Buffer Size
BenQ DW1640 BSHB 120ms/
120ms
16x/16x 8x/6x 8x/NA 48x/32x 48x/16x 2MB
LG GSA-4163B A104 125ms/
145ms
16x/16x 8x/6x 4x/NA 40x/24x 40x/16x 2MB
NEC ND-3540A 1.01 120ms/
140ms
16x/16x 8x/6x 8x/6x 48x/32x 40x/16x 2MB
Pioneer DVR-109D 1.55 120ms/
130ms
16x/16x 4x/6x 6x/NA 40x/24x 40x/16x 2MB
Sony DRU-720A JY03 140ms/
135ms
16x/16x 8x/6x 4x/NA 48x/24x 40x/16x 2MB
Toshiba SD-R5372 TU55 100ms/
120ms
(200ms DVD-RAM)
16x/16x 8x/6x 5x/NA 48x/24x 48x/16x 2MB



16x -R - MCC 03RG20

For our first test, we used Verbatim 16x DVD-R media to test the high speed -R write capabilities of each drive.

16x -R - MCC 03RG20 Write

The GSA-4163B takes the lead as it writes a full disc in 316 seconds. Our winner from the last roundup, NEC, comes in at second place with its ND-3540A, writing the disc at 355 seconds. And last place goes to Toshiba's SD-R5372 as it writes a full 16x DVD-R disc in 447 seconds.

16x -R - MCC 03RG20 Read

As far as reading back the created data discs on each drive, BenQ's DW1640 reads back its disc the fastest, in 297 seconds, with the ND-3540A following closely behind at 300 seconds. The rest performed the task at above the 7min mark and the SD-R5372 couldn't even read back its disc.

16x -R - MCC 03RG20

It's not surprising that the SD-R5372 couldn't read its disc. It had 545,904 PI errors spread out across the disc. What is surprising is that the ND-3540A came in at the second fastest when reading back its disc while it had the second highest number of PI errors - 386,858 to be exact.

We have created ZIP files of the screenshots that we have taken of the Nero CD-DVD Speed and PlexTools benchmarks. Feel free to click on the links below to download them.

BenQ DW1640
LG GSA-4163B
NEC ND-3540A
Pioneer DVR-109D
Sony DRU-720A
Toshiba SD-R5372



16x +R - MCC 004

Our 16x DVD+R tests are performed the same way with Verbatim brand media.

16x +R - MCC 004 Write

The GSA-4163B takes 1st place again as it writes a full DVD+R disc in 335 seconds with the DW1640 following this time at 346 seconds. The top two leaders from our last roundup, NEC and Pioneer, came in at 3rd and fourth places with a write time of 354 seconds.

16x +R - MCC 004 Read

16x +R - MCC 004

The DVR-109D produced an unbelievable amount of PI errors on disc, about 1.3 million. We couldn't believe that the unit could even read back the disc successfully on its own. So far, however, there doesn't seem to be any tight correlation between this drive's PI errors and the ability to read back a disc.

We have created ZIP files of the screenshots that we have taken of the Nero CD-DVD Speed and PlexTools benchmarks. Feel free to click on the links below to download them.

BenQ DW1640
LG GSA-4163B
NEC ND-3540A
Pioneer DVR-109D
Sony DRU-720A
Toshiba SD-R5372



16x +R - Ritek R04

Here, we start to see that not all drives accepted Ritek media.

16x +R - Ritek R04 Write

Only 4 out of the 6 competitors could see the disc, let alone write to it. The DW1640 wrote to the disc the fastest in 349 seconds with Sony's DRU-720A following at second.

16x +R - Ritek R04 Read

Here, the DRU-720A could not even complete a read, which means the write wasn't as successful as we thought.

16x +R - Ritek R04

The number of PI errors is in the millions for the SD-R5372 and DVR-109D, more than 2.6 million for the latter.

We have created ZIP files of the screenshots that we have taken of the Nero CD-DVD Speed and PlexTools benchmarks. Feel free to click on the links below to download them.

BenQ DW1640
LG GSA-4163B
NEC ND-3540A
Pioneer DVR-109D
Sony DRU-720A
Toshiba SD-R5372



4x -R DL - MKM 01RD30

4x -R DL - MKM 01RD30 Write

Pioneer's DVR-109D writes to the DL media the fastest, but...

4x -R DL - MKM 01RD30 Read

...BenQ seems to pick up data quickly off its disc within 720 seconds.

4x -R DL - MKM 01RD30

We have created ZIP files of the screenshots that we have taken of the Nero CD-DVD Speed and PlexTools benchmarks. Feel free to click on the links below to download them.

BenQ DW1640
LG GSA-4163B
NEC ND-3540A
Pioneer DVR-109D
Sony DRU-720A
Toshiba SD-R5372



2.4x +R DL - MKM 001

It has been a while since all of the drives have been able to write to a disc. Take a look at the results for the older 2.4x DVD+R DL media.

2.4x +R DL - MKM 001 Write

2.4x +R DL - MKM 001 Read

BenQ's DW1640 writes and reads the disc fastest at 918 seconds and 718 seconds respectively. Sony's DRU-720A writes and reads to the DL media at the slowest rate, at 1619 seconds and 1511 seconds respectively.

2.4x +R DL - MKM 001

Toshiba has the greatest number of PI errors read on the disc, but still only in the 6-digit area.

We have created ZIP files of the screenshots that we have taken of the Nero CD-DVD Speed and PlexTools benchmarks. Feel free to click on the links below to download them.

BenQ DW1640
LG GSA-4163B
NEC ND-3540A
Pioneer DVR-109D
Sony DRU-720A
Toshiba SD-R5372



6x -RW - MKM 01RW6X01

We tested each drive with 6x DVD-RW media...

6x -RW - MKM 01RW6X01 Write

Each drive seems to write to the media successfully and below, we see that each drive can read back the discs as well.

6x -RW - MKM 01RW6X01 Read

When it came time to read the discs for PI errors, our PX-712A unit would not even see the MKM 6x -RW media. This is a possible incompatibility with the drive, which we will investigate in the future.

We have created ZIP files of the screenshots that we have taken of the Nero CD-DVD Speed and PlexTools benchmarks. Feel free to click on the links below to download them.

BenQ DW1640
LG GSA-4163B
NEC ND-3540A
Pioneer DVR-109D
Sony DRU-720A
Toshiba SD-R5372



8x +RW - MKM A03

Now, we look at each drive's performance with the new 8x DVD+RW media.

8x +RW - MKM A03 Write

Again, only 4 of the 6 drives are able to see the disc...

8x +RW - MKM A03 Read

...and only 3 of those 4 drives are able to read back the data disc.

8x +RW - MKM A03

We tried to read the disc written by the Toshiba unit, but the Plextor drive couldn't see it either. The PI errors ranged between 250,000 and 432,000.

We have created ZIP files of the screenshots that we have taken of the Nero CD-DVD Speed and PlexTools benchmarks. Feel free to click on the links below to download them.

BenQ DW1640
LG GSA-4163B
NEC ND-3540A
Pioneer DVR-109D
Sony DRU-720A
Toshiba SD-R5372



6x -RW - Ritek W06

We tested 6x Ritek DVD-RW media also.

6x -RW - Ritek W06 Write

6x -RW - Ritek W06 Read

Only 5 drives could write and read the discs. The black sheep in this test was LG's GSA-4163A. Again, the PX-712A was not able to read any of the discs for PI errors.

We have created ZIP files of the screenshots that we have taken of the Nero CD-DVD Speed and PlexTools benchmarks. Feel free to click on the links below to download them.

BenQ DW1640
LG GSA-4163B
NEC ND-3540A
Pioneer DVR-109D
Sony DRU-720A
Toshiba SD-R5372



8x +RW - Ritek 008

We then performed tests with 8x Ritek DVD+RW media.

8x +RW - Ritek 008 Write

Here, only 4 drives were able to write to the media: BenQ, Sony, Toshia, and Pioneer...

8x +RW - Ritek 008 Read

...and only 3 out of those 4 could read back the disc. Toshiba's SD-R5372 was not in the group. PlexTools could only see the disc written by BenQ's DW1640, which had 124,247 PI errors.

We have created ZIP files of the screenshots that we have taken of the Nero CD-DVD Speed and PlexTools benchmarks. Feel free to click on the links below to download them.

BenQ DW1640
LG GSA-4163B
NEC ND-3540A
Pioneer DVR-109D
Sony DRU-720A
Toshiba SD-R5372



48x - CDR - Fujifilm

With CDR media, we expect all new drives to perform OK at best and that is just what we saw...

48x - CDR - Fujifilm Write

...except in the case of Toshiba. The SD-R5372 could not read back the CDR, and we tried more than once.

48x - CDR - Fujifilm Read

48x - CDR - Fujifilm

48x - CDR - Fujifilm

However, the number of C1 and C2 errors clearly show why the drive could not read back the 48x CDR.

We have created ZIP files of the screenshots that we have taken of the Nero CD-DVD Speed and PlexTools benchmarks. Feel free to click on the links below to download them.

BenQ DW1640
LG GSA-4163B
NEC ND-3540A
Pioneer DVR-109D
Sony DRU-720A
Toshiba SD-R5372



Final Words

What makes a DVDR drive perfect? Well, for one, it has to be able to write to just about any media that we throw at it and then read it back without a hitch. A perfect write should have no PI/PO(DVDR) or C1/C2(CDR) errors on it when read back with PlexTools.

So, what makes a DVDR drive acceptable, a great deal, better than the rest? The ideal, best drive out of a group should be able to write to high quality media without any problems, and should be able to read back a disc to which it wrote in the first place. It should have no problems reading a disc unless it reports a successful write incorrectly. This is what we saw in our benchmarks today. There were a few drives like the Toshiba SD-R5372 and LG GSA-4163B that could write a disc "successfully", but not read it back with its own laser.

Half of these drives failed to even see Ritek brand RW media, which cannot be caused by a bad batch of media. Sony's DRU-720A wrote to them perfectly, but even its disc had a good number of PI errors. We were really dissapointed in the NEC ND-3540A's performance when compared to drives like the BenQ DW1640, but hopefully their performance will improve as their BIOS matures.

The only drive we saw that could write to the majority of discs and quickly at that was BenQ's DW1640. It had average performance on most of the benchmarks. but always had a successful read to go with the successful write. The only disc that it could not write to was the MKM A03 8x DVD+RW.

Besides that single issue, the DW1640 has features to aid in successful writes, as well as bitsetting features to allow greater compatibility of the media to which it writes. The bitsetting utility can be downloaded from BenQ's website. Over these 6 DVDR units, we recommend the BenQ DW1640 for its performance and reliability in writing to various types of media. Expect this drive to start showing up on retail store shelves very soon.

Special thanks to BenQ for supplying us with the DW1640.
Special thanks to Sony for supplying us with the DRU-720A.
Special thanks to Marken Communications for supplying us with Verbatim brand test media.
Special thanks to Antarra Communications for supplying us with Ridata brand test media.


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