Introduction and Construction

We have looked at several optical drives from MSI in the past. After all, MSI is still one of the largest optical storage OEMs.

Today, we got our hands on MSI's best DVD recorder to date, the DR8-A. At first, we overlooked the DR8-A, thinking it was just an update on the DR4-A. The DR4-A received mild reviews and did not stir much excitement. As it turns out, the DR8-A is a very capable and potent burner that still has some life in it, particularly for those who favor the DVD+R medium. Does the DR8-A have what it takes to be a low cost equivalent of the Plextor 708A?

MSI bundled the same media package with the DR8-A as it bundled with the DR4-A. Nero Burning ROM 5.5, Sonic MyDVD, PowerDVD and one blank DVD+R were included.

Again, we have to be slightly critical of MSI for including only a 1-page quick help guide for documentation. MSI's website is very helpful and easy to find information, but clean, concise manuals will always trump online documentation.



Click to enlarge.


Asthetically, the DR8-A looks identical to the MSI DR4-A. The drive includes a play/fast forward button and an eject/stop button. Many of our favorite drives, including the Plextor 708A, do not have this capability. However, as we will soon see, the internals of the DR8-A have changed significantly.



Click to enlarge.


There is no rear cutout for fan or exhaust. The components that MSI chose for the DR8-A are mature enough to function only on passive cooling.

Much to our surprise, after disassembling the MSI DR8-A, we discovered the drive is based on the same Sanyo LC897490 chipset found in the Plextor 708A.



Click to enlarge.


Specifications
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  • jonahXP - Thursday, April 15, 2004 - link

    "Before our 8x dual DVD roundup..."

    When will this article be online? I'm looking forward to reading it before I buy a DVD burner.
    Reply
  • richardkenward - Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - link

    I bought one of these drives in the UK a month ago and had nothing but trouble from the start and MSI were no help. On Verbatum data life CD's it starts writing about 1cm from the centre. I write image files on this writer and want them to be read on both PC's and Macs. The CD's have been unreliable on the PC's and failed on the Mac...well only a few images open then one will totally lock it up. The write veridfication always shows up errors. A trial DVD write was sucesssful but took perhaps an hour to complete!

    Tried a TDK R74 CD and the write started in the centre but the image files opened sooo slowly on the MSI drive, and the CD was not seen at all on the Mac! BTW latest firmware was installed and no improvement seen.

    Supplier has sent a replacement and much the same result. Has suggested that I need to update the Chipset on the M board and install SP 4 inplace of 3 on the win2k computer I am using with the MSI drive. Surely this should not be necessary? BTW this box has been running a PlextorW2410TA perfectly for ages, and was only changed to get the facility to burn DVD's.

    Thanks for reading. Any help would be appreciated.
    Reply
  • Ian@CDRlabs - Sunday, April 11, 2004 - link

    You had it finished back in February? Why the wait? Reply
  • KristopherKubicki - Sunday, April 11, 2004 - link

    Lan,

    We had the review finished before the 130D firmware came out. We have a nice sized roundup coming up with the MSI retested at the new firmware.

    Krisotpher
    Reply
  • Ian@CDRlabs - Friday, April 09, 2004 - link

    After reading it over, I have a couple of other comments.

    While MSI claims that the DR8-A supports 99 minute discs, it really doesn't. It can recognize discs up to 93:58 in size and overburn to about that limit as well.

    Kristopher you also make it sound like the NEC 2500A cannot write to 4x DVD+R media at 8x. It can.. just not as well as some drives, like the DR8-A.

    Any reason why you didn't use the 130D firmware?
    Reply
  • Ian@CDRlabs - Friday, April 09, 2004 - link

    ViRGE brings up a good point. However, the error correction HD-Burn uses is not CIRC (nor is it overburning). It's a more efficient algorythm that requires less disc space for error correction info. Even then, I do have to agree with some of the people at CD Freaks. The quality of the written data is questionable with some media. Reply
  • KristopherKubicki - Friday, April 09, 2004 - link

    Virge: Youre not really halving the error correction, youre halving the tolerance for error. However, this isnt much different than people who overburn their CDs either. In some cases it may make more sense.

    Whether you want to use it or not is entirely determined by the user of course. For noncritical data, it is a nice convienence.

    Kristopher
    Reply
  • MadAd - Thursday, April 08, 2004 - link

    I take it HD-Burn disks will only play in compliant drives and not in any old cd-rom? I cant seem to find the answer on any of the links given.

    #3 ... Perhaps half the error correction wouldnt be so bad if we are talking about cds of mp3s?
    Reply
  • ViRGE - Thursday, April 08, 2004 - link

    I don't think it's really a good idea to call HD-Burn a good feature on this drive. Why? Take a look at this post from CD-Freaks(http://www.cdfreaks.com/news/6823)


    HD-Burn will just *halve* the pit length on the CD, so double the data (and effectively half the error correction).


    Now I don't know about you, but CDs are bad enough as is as far as integrity goes. I'm not about to try to halve the error correction, even for another 700MB of space.
    Reply
  • kuk - Thursday, April 08, 2004 - link

    I'm afraid of Mr. CD-R ... I think he'll eat my CD collection at night. Reply

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