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
POST A COMMENT

65 Comments

View All Comments

  • kellvarsen - Friday, November 26, 2004 - link

    I would like to congrtulate the Anandtech team for this DVD-RW roundup as they prooved once more that they are better and more thorough with the testing than Tomshardware.And by this i am reffering to the writing quality test mainly ,which in my opinion is the most important and eloquent of them all.Great HL2 review also!!! Reply
  • Tabajara - Tuesday, November 16, 2004 - link

    I've heard several people say that the new Plextor 716A drives are defective, and are mostly burning DVD coasters, specially dual layer ones. Pioneer Europe isn't selling them yet, and this also point to some kind of manufacturing problem. I was waiting for this drive, but now I don't know if I will buy a NEC or a Pioneer one. I would buy the DVR-108 if a new firmware version enables the user the choose the booktype to be used. Reply
  • JaRb0y - Thursday, November 04, 2004 - link

    Curious, did you get the NEC 3500AG to write Fujifilm 48X CDR media at 48X? It appears you did, but I heard NEC limited the speed on some types. My drive does 32X on the Fujifilm TY, am I missing something? Reply
  • DonB - Thursday, November 04, 2004 - link

    "ND-3500A is priced $10 lower than Pioneer's DVR-108D at $68" Prices are really coming down. I bought the same NEC 3500A just a few months ago for $95 + shipping (from NewEgg). Reply
  • eleewhm - Wednesday, November 03, 2004 - link

    you guys sure know how to review dvd writers???
    looks like you are good at opening up the drives only

    Since when does NEC 3500 overdrive MCC003?????? 6:72??...it only writes @8x speeds....

    pls relook at the way you guys post the results...and understand nero numbers before publishing the article...

    see how ppl are thrashing you guys here in singapore...we have a bunch of serious ppl here doing testing ...

    http://forums.hardwarezone.com/showthread.php?p=11...


    Reply
  • Maverick215 - Wednesday, November 03, 2004 - link


    >NEC follows a pattern for each firmware revision: 2.xy, where:
    >
    >X = Type (Retail, OEM, Rebadge)
    >Y = Revision number
    >
    >Till today know patterns:
    >
    >X = 0 (OEM)
    >X = 1 (Retail)
    >X = 2 (I-O Data)
    >X = 4 (Freecom)
    >X = 7 (TDK)
    >X = B (Ricoh)
    >X = F (MadDog)
    >----------------------
    >Y = 6
    >Y = 7
    >Y = 8
    So what 2.26 really represents is the same generation of firmware with feature tweaks from an oem that rebadged the drive. The firmware wasn't released for the "retail" drive. We must distinguish OEM from rebadge now. OEM in the more "traditional" is a drive intended for resale, such as in a system(this is what you'll find at newegg and similar being sold as NEC). OEM rebadge would be a drive intended to be sold by another company with that company's logo etc if they desire, the insides of all these drives could very well be exactly the same, and often times are, since this saves the OEM a great deal of money. At most you'll get different revisions of the same line. (On the flip side you'll see companies such as HP that buy 16x drives from whoever is the cheapest, so Lite-On one month and BenQ the next)
    --
    NEC does have more support than just the "official" there are several "hacked" firmwares
    that provide all kinds of features not in the official releases(bitsetting included), though I think they go beyond the scope of what you were trying to portray.
    --
    So, more fairly you would represent that the drive being OEM(system) might come with a 2.x7 firmware most likely 2.17(see above). An important distinction. Since this would seem to give this drive the same flaw as the pioneer (bitsetting only in DL) that disqualified itfrom winning..
    But, I still don't need dvd-ram :)
    Picking and chosing features from untested firmware and not doing the same from another drive has introduced a clear bias(bias in a scientific sense, which is information/data which skews the results of your study/review due to a sytematic error in your study/review design; I am NOT implying you have a bias to one product or another) in the selection of the winner.
    ==
    as an aside, further confirmation that my assumption about the nutech drives is correct
    email correspondence with Chris Geerlings,
    Field Application Engineer from nutech I inquired to using any of the firmwares from the benq ftp. And he wrote back:
    "I know the (G7)K9 works, the others I haven't tested yet."
    Reply
  • asteamerandy - Tuesday, November 02, 2004 - link

    In you review:

    "If LG had implemented bitsetting into their GSA-4160B, it would have helped their product climb the ladder ..."

    "The booktype setting feature offered in this unit also makes this a great drive. The GSA-4160B is a bit on the steep side ..."

    There are other instances if this abuigity. So which is it? Does the 4160B have the bit setting feature or not?
    Reply
  • rcabor - Tuesday, November 02, 2004 - link

    Why do you say "DVDR burn speeds are excellent, and the drive technically supports 4X DVD+DL burn speeds, even though it does not readily advertise such. You can see our original DL tests on the drive here." But then right below that you show an image of the box that Advertises 4x DVD+R dual layer? Reply
  • rcabor - Tuesday, November 02, 2004 - link

    Reply
  • Maverick215 - Tuesday, November 02, 2004 - link

    Still not working, short story=NEC 2.26=2.16 with tweaks to rebadge specifications. they do not follow traditional revision codes 2.x6=are all same Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now