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

  • gtanuel - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    Just want to add an info about BenQ DW1620 pricing. I bought DW1600 3 days ago at SG$ 98 (that's about US$54-58). After upgrading the BIOS, it's now on DW1620's firmware B7M9. If the physical is the same as DW1620, it's effectively the cheapest 16x among the rest. Reply
  • kernelgui - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    On page 13 where you published the test results with Ritek G05 media the graph heading indicates DVD-R 8X write speeds, however the smaller print below that indicates DVD+R media. Can you perhaps clarify if this table is based on + or -

  • Fionavar - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    Thanks for the great review! Just one note of possible mistake - you have the DL R speed of the ND 3500a @ 2.4 when I believe it should be 4x. Reply
  • KristopherKubicki - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    Maverick215: Testing 8 DVD drives takes more than just a few days. Our roundup was submitted Mid October and posted Nov 1.

    The zip files are at the bottom of each drive page. Look at the bottom of page 6 for the Benq.

  • Maverick215 - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    KristopherKubicki: Let me see if I got this.
    You say that you tested the most recent firmware available on the Benq. Your previous review was posted September 29th, 2004. The next firmware released was B7K9, files in that zip are dated 9.27.04 and it was posted to benq's US site 9.29.04 (the same day the initial review was released) So if you "... tested with the newest firmware possible" then either
    is outdated or you tested the drive for 'this' roundup 'before' the previous review was released. I'm inclined to think the latter is true based on the features of B7K9. Similarly, "(your) second look at the DW1620 uses the same firmware, although (you) were able to get some better media." I assume you got this media prior to 9.29.04 as well...
    Just trying to figure this out for myself here (btw I can't seem to find the .zip files you refer to). I have no vested interest in any of this, just like to see things clearly.
    Back to the firmware issue. B7K9 introduced a great many write strategies changes.
    I will pick out the media tested that seems to have changed since before B7K9
    Mitsubishi (MCC 03 RG20) DVD-R is now 16x (should put speed about the same as NEC)
    Mitsubishi (MCC 003) DVD+R is now 12x (should be about the same as the RITEK test on the BENQ)
    Ritek (RITEK R04) DVD+R is a 16x supported media
    Mitsubishi (MCC 004) possibly had a write strategy change (uncertain) to make it full 16x; same for (RITEK R03)
    Don't get me wrong I understand you guys can't test the latested of the latest ultra alpha zeta laser tool chain master firmware (yes I made that up as I went) and compile a review/comparison instantly. But I would expect if you are using new material for a new review that you use the latest firmware/software etc that is available at the start of that review/comparison. At the VERY least you could mention that firmware revisions/updates/etc have been made (google is easy to use) and likely improve the results of XYZ. Further mentioning new features have been introduced, such as in B7M9 (released 10.27.04) where high speed (8x) disc quality testing with nero cd/dvd speed has been added (must use latest firmware, with latest software).
    I may not expect to see such things on (insert company fanboy website here) but I certainly expect nothing less than what I suggest from "the leading IT source for hardware analysis and industry news"
  • Bozo Galora - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    BTW CDfreaks says the 1.01 firmware is out. Reply
  • Bozo Galora - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    Actually if you look at store pickup it shows in stock (for me) at several places. But no one at those friggin stores ever answers the phone.

    Going out there right now to see, pick up 3 if they have them.

    Thanks for heads up.
  • Dennis Travis - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    The Modesto, Calif Best Buy had 5-6 the night I got mine. I was shocked to see it there. I am glad I bought it. My friend has the 712 and never a coaster after at least 500-600 DVD's and hunderds of CDR's. And the DVD's play on anything in my house including a Sony DVD that hates all burned media.

    Same with the 716a so far.
  • KristopherKubicki - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    We will test a PX-716A as soon as we get a sample.

  • Warder45 - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    Nm they are backordered till the 11th - 17th. I'll have to check my local BB's to see if any of them got it in. Reply

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