Final Words

We have taken these 16X dual layer capable burners and thrown various media at them to see how each unit burns and reads back. From our results, we can see that the Pioneer DVR-108D, LG GSA-4160B, and NEC's ND-3500A came out on top with their ability to burn any type of media almost flawlessly as well as burn 2.4X dual layer media at 4.0X speeds (DVR-108D & ND-3500A). Our graphical presentations show that these three drives have the best read and write performance as far as DVD+/-R/RW media goes, and also top the list in dual layer write performance. The ND-3500A does have the highest CD read and right speeds by a hair, with LG's GSA-4160B coming in at second resulting in read/write times of 32.80X/29.15X, respectively.

We were extremely disappointed to see that MSI's DR16-B and Sony's DRU-710A produced dual layer coasters, since we had expected these big names to put out exceptional products. We hope with future firmware updates, these manufacturers can resolve the issues so that their products can be more competitive in the 16X market. The 710A wrote to our 80min Fujifilm CDRs the quickest of the bunch at an average of 32.36X, and only came second to the NEC ND-3500A in DVD+R 16X writing tests with LiteOn's SOHW-1633S, but couldn't come close to the top of the list in any other area.

Various features set these 8 burners apart from each other as well as others that are being introduced into the market. One feature that we thought would make a world of difference is the ability to change the "Book Type" of a disc when writing to it. This bitsetting feature is implemented in 5 out of the 8 drives on the list. In particular, the feature in the ND-3500A helps bring the unit to the top of the list. If LG had implemented bitsetting into their GSA-4160B, it would have helped their product climb the ladder to compete with the NEC drive.

To NEC's ND-3500A for exceptional DVD+DL, DVD+/-R, CDR write speed and quality at a fair price.

Unlike CDRs, the DVDR world is plagued with the dual standards, which make it slightly difficult to maintain compatibility with standalone DVD players. For this reason, the bitsetting feature might come in handy more than the ability to read and write DVD-RAM media. This is what kept LG's unit from winning the #1 spot, which we have awarded to the NEC ND-3500A. Its read and write performance and quality as well as its inclusion of the bitsetting feature and high DL write speeds along with a price of $68, which is the lowest price of all 8 drives, puts the drive at the top of our list with the gold medal.

Surprisingly absent from this roundup were any representatives of Sanyo or Ricoh 16X drives. The Plextor PX-716A probably utilizes a Sanyo chipset, given their track record, but we could not obtain a sample in time for the roundup. Ricoh's extremely anticipated 16X core seems to have all but vanished, even from the drives that were supposed to ship with it - including the NuTech DDW-162 featured today. A late entrance from both chip makers does not bode well, but we look forward to featuring both in the next DVD recording roundup!

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



View All Comments

  • yourdeardaniel - Tuesday, November 2, 2004 - link

    the PO graphs dont work for me. Reply
  • CrazeeHorse - Tuesday, November 2, 2004 - link

    Yeah, Belzer is right. NEC have not allowed overspeeding of MCC003 anywhere, your read transfer speeds have been mis-mentioned as your write speeds. MCC003 stays at 8X! Reply
  • Belzer - Tuesday, November 2, 2004 - link

    WTF. The write speed tables for 8x MCC DVD±R show the read transfer graph not the write speed.
    Here are the correct tables for some of the drives (pictures are missing for the LG and the rest are OEM versions so I don't bother to check them):
    MCC 02RG20
    Time Speed Drive
    6:33 10.44x BenQ
    6:33 10.22x NEC
    6:49 10.01x Pioneer
    9:29 7.05x Lite-On

    MCC 003
    Time Speed Drive
    6:26 10.47x BenQ
    6:46 10.01x Pioneer
    8:11 7.96x Lite-On
    9:47 6.72x NEC

    And it's the time not the average speed that is interesting so for MCC 004 (again pictures missing for several drives in the zips):

    Time Speed Drive
    5:50 11.38x BenQ
    6:04 11.68x LG
    6:50 10.00x Pioneer

    Also the BenQ does not cost $90, it costs $67 for the OEM version at Newegg (and you're taking the price of the OEM versions for other drives). Now if you also had bothered to update the firmware to the latest the BenQ would have had the by far best media support too making it the clear winner imo especially as a 4x DVD+R DL firmware update is expected to be released later this month for free.
  • Maverick215 - Tuesday, November 2, 2004 - link

    Ok now I can do even less... will check back tomorrow to see if its working then Reply
  • Maverick215 - Tuesday, November 2, 2004 - link

    >I find that comment inaccurate. Pioneer USA's website is generally *months* behind the Japanese or European versions.
    I'm not sure what you're trying to say; and perhaps I wasn't clear since you don't seem to understand what I was saying. I am not familiar enough with pioneer's releases to really give you a certain answer. Though my experience with most of my personal hardware is that it is true one country will lag behind, but often times they end up posting the SAME exact firmware, unless there are language changes(do you really think pioneer USA is further certifying xyz firmware release or even recoding it from scratch? or did I miss you point all together?). Seems especially true for larger multinational corporations (left hand doesn't know what the right is doing) so you'll often see the earliest release on the "mother land" website. There will of course be a gradient of this effect since some companies are more tightly knit.
    My point was that nutech seems to have used plain vanilla OEM/Bulk firmware in their drive. So updating it with a newer firmware from the same line (not "forked" or otherwise customized) made by the same people would be the same as updating any other OEM'd drive with G series firmware. and the same as updating a retail drive with with the H series firmware.
  • Maverick215 - Tuesday, November 2, 2004 - link

    not letting me post large comments breaking them up:
    [ok I lied :)]
    I thought as much on the 3 drives issue as soon as I posted, sorry I got on a roll :)
    >>I think if it's official enough to be on the OEM's website that should be good enough to prove its quality.
  • Maverick215 - Tuesday, November 2, 2004 - link

    Odd... Reply
  • Bozo Galora - Tuesday, November 2, 2004 - link

    Well< I got back from BestBuy and what do you know - they had them. Three on the shelf, I scooped them up and paid and out I went. The whole thing took less than 5 min.

  • KristopherKubicki - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    Maverick215: You are correct, those dates are exactly the dates we worked on those images.

    There are a lot of things in the editorial process that take some time to wade through, although we did the best we could.

    >I must also wonder why you chose 3 of the same drive.

    Some of those drives we did not expect to be the same when we received them. The NuTech we obviously thought was based on a Sanyo chipset (this was detailed in the review). We had no knowledge of the MSI's chipset before we asked for a review sample.

    >I think if it's official enough to be on the OEM's website that should be good enough to prove its quality.

    I find that comment inaccurate. Pioneer USA's website is generally *months* behind the Japanese or European versions.

    >BTW how did you accomplish bitsetting with the 3500..

    The official firmwares past 2.16 (our tested version) support DL bitsetting automatically, anything past 2.26 supports SL bitsetting as well. Since the drives are OEM, they almost always ship with the newest firmware available, and we thought the review should reflect that. Obviously though, we could only test on 2.16.

  • Maverick215 - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    Thanks for the zips. I am obviously blind.
    As I said I understand you can't TEST the latest and imediately post the review. But typing one or two sentances that outline updated firmware changes (esp if those changes occurred several weeks before your submission) wouldn't take much time (unless you type REAL slow) You obviously had to go back to look at the results of the drives that you already tested to do your final comparison. Wouldn't drastic differences warrant a little more investigation rather than to just say NEC/etc is more mature, end of story?
    These dates are the apparent test dates (yes I know modified != created, but it's the best we have)
    Pioneer 10.13-10.20
    NEC 10.13-10.21
    BenQ 9.17-9.28
    MSI 10.12-10.13
    LiteOn 10.13-10.20
    Sony 10.5-10.12 (pics of drive 9.27)
    LG 10.20-10.21
    Nutech 10.20-10.21
    While I imagine you were busy with other things, that's quite a gap.
    I must also wonder why you chose 3 of the same drive.
    From the review it seems BenQ, MSI and Nutech are all using the same hardware, differing only by firmware.
    BenQ B7J9 9.24.04 (beta, from what I can gather)
    MSI M1.4 (can't find directly but others say it's 10.12.04; harder to change this firmware but can still be done, I won't go into it here since it's beyond the scope and likely MSI is more likely to be altering the oem firmware compared to nutech)
    Nutech G7H9 8.25.04 (first release solely for 1620 series drives, from what I can gather) no new firmware apparently; though G7H9 would correspond to B7H9 (G is an indication of OEM/Bulk drive supposedly no difference among same revision they also seem to post to benq's european website within a day or so of each other.
    (this ftp is what you are redirected to from the official website, the ftp houses the older revisions though)
    "retail" 8/25/2004 9/29/2004 10/13/2004 11/1/2004
    "bulk"/oem'd 9/30/2004 10/13/2004 11/1/2004
    What the heck does all this rambling mean!?!?!??!
    in short you could have easily upgraded your nutech to G7K9 (OEM released firmware) and tested it since you apparently didn't test it untill later in october, well after G7K9 was released, perhaps you might have even squeezed in G7L9.
    Yes, you might say that it's not an "official firmware" it will void your nutech warranty!!
    But when the manufacturer refuses to update their website, what choice does the consumer, who wants the most out of his/her hardware, have.
    from nutech's website:
    "This warranty is void if: (yatta yatta) If the unit is repaired, modified or altered, unless such repair, modification or alteration is expressly authorized in writing by NU.
    (yatta yatta)"
    I must say it is worth noting that none of the firmware downloads from NU's site that I looked at contained any such written authorization.
    I think if it's official enough to be on the OEM's website that should be good enough to prove its quality.
    On a side note, one might wonder "is such an upgrade a modification or alteration?" I'm inclined to call it a repair :)
    BTW how did you accomplish bitsetting with the 3500.. To my knowledge NEC hasn't released a tool to do this (when I say NEC, I mean dl'able from, not'd)) and if done in nero I was under the impression that there is a limit to the number of times this can be done (an enforced limit, ie it's coded in like RPC changes rather than the memory "wearing out") just wondering.
    ok three very long posts that rehash the same thing.. unless there's something new I yield.

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