MSI took their time entering the DVD recordable market. You may recall that MSI has traditionally been one of the largest producers of optical storage products in the world! (This probably stemmed from their ability to produce drives cheaper than LiteOn without sacrificing too much quality). Like ASUS and Pioneer, the MSI DR4-A shares virtually the same specifications, chipset and bundle as the Sony DRU-510A. MSI already has a newer 8X burner comparable to the Sony DRU-530, which we will look at in a later roundup.

MSI's DR4-A does not seem up to par with their excellent line of motherboards. The media bundle was good — Sonic MyDVD and Ahead Nero's Burning Rom. Unfortunately, the single page of documentation that came with the drive was disappointing, to say the least. It looks as though MSI spent more time on the box art than what they put in the box.

 MSI DR4-A DVD-/+R Drive
Interface IDE
CD Write Speed 24X, 16X, 12X, 8X, 4X (CLV)
CD Rewrite Speed 10X, 4X (CLV)
CD Read Speed 40X Max (CAV)
DVD-R Write Speed 4X, 2X, 1X (CLV)
DVD-RW Rewrite Speed 2X, 1X (CLV)
DVD+R Write Speed 4X, 2.4X (CLV)
DVD+RW Rewrite Speed 2.4X (CLV)
DVD Read Speed 12X Max (CAV)
Supported Modes DAO / DAO-RAW 16 & 96
SAO / SAO 16 & 96
Packet Write
Supported Formats DVD+R (incremental)
DVD+RW (random)
DVD-R (DAO, incremental, multi-border)
DVD-RW (restricted overwrite)

CD-ROM XA, Mixed Mode, CD Extra
Photo CD, CD Text, Bootable CD, Mount Rainer
Access Time CD: 160ms
DVD: 200ms
Buffer 8MB

We enjoyed the fact that MSI/Sony went with an 8MB buffer on their 4X dual capable drives. Even though critics and skeptics argue that larger buffers will not help when it comes to burning a DVD, we feel that the proof is in the pudding. It costs the manufacturer literally a few cents to add a slightly larger buffer, but the benefit of lower errors pays off.

Our MSI burner was based on the LC99390K chipset, and used the same in the Sony DRU-510A. With the announcement of their DR8-A just last week, MSI will begin to phase back on the DR4-A some time after the holiday season. Unfortunately, for those of you who bought a DR4-A, your burner was only new for 4 months before it became obsolete.

ASUS DRW-0402P/D Sony DRU-530A


View All Comments

  • nopcbs - Thursday, December 25, 2003 - link

    I don't understand the big concern that people have with +/- write compatability. If you get a + camp burner with bitsetting capability that gets you access to virtually all set top players by setting the DVD book type to DVD-ROM on the disk you video create. The + camp recorders still read the - camp disks, too. The only thing you miss is the ability to write to - camp disks, but who cares unless you already have a bunch of them? The + disk are as easy or easier to find and often cheaper. The high speed (8x) - camp format seems to exist only in theory (the NEC 2500 MAY be an exception, no tests available as yet), too,while there are loads of + 8x burners around.

    Who needs - camp format write ability, in other words? The format should have died a peaceful death except for Pioneer's stubborness.

    Is there fault in my reasoning?

    - nopcbs
  • SUOrangeman - Sunday, December 21, 2003 - link

    Forgot to mention, I think the NEC ND2500 claims to do 8x DVD-R.

  • SUOrangeman - Sunday, December 21, 2003 - link

    Speaking of the NuTech firmware ... did they deliver on the 15th?

    The NEC ND2500 id now available at LiveWarehouse.

    Pioneer A07 is supposed to show next month.

    I recently read that the Sony is dropping OptoRite-made drives and will now go with LiteOn units for 8x (DRU-530). I can only presume that the current 530s are equivalent to the DD401 while any forthcoming 530s will be equivalent to the 811.

  • thepriceisright - Friday, December 19, 2003 - link

    I like the articles here but sometimes I wonder...

    The Liteon drive did exceptionally well other than the fact it doesn't burn at 8x like the plextor.

    I really *dislike* how you guys do the roundups sometimes its like comparing a 9600 to a 9800xt. No duh the 9800xt will win but sometimes price is a important deciding factor. This was just a example.

    Do a review with only top of the line drives either in stats or price ranges. Or if that review would be too short then use the skills that got you this job and add a note saying something along the lines of; “Although the cheaper Liteon drive did not come with the burning software I myself would like to of had the $100+ price tag makes it a tempting buy. If money was of no concern the Plextor drive is the Cadillac of dvd burners and is sure to be worthy of the hefty price tag.” Since I am not a reviewer I am sure you can use those skills to spruce it up.
  • LoneWolf15 - Monday, December 15, 2003 - link

    I would have liked to see the firmware versions Anandtech posted listed under each review. Then we could tell if Nu-Tech has released new firmware for their writer, for example. It is a good reference.

    Aside from that it was an excellent article. Thanks very much for reviewing something I know we all want to know about.
  • holymaniac - Monday, December 15, 2003 - link

    Anyone know which DVDRW is the quietest?
  • KristopherKubicki - Monday, December 15, 2003 - link

    ChefJoe: It turns out the 107 drives probably will not be capable of 8X DVD-R (At least at Computex Taipei and COMDEX Las Vegas they were not). I'm willing to bet the delay in release is NEC and Pioneer working on making those drives 8X DVD-R capable. All our sources say its physically the pickup that is not capable of DVD-R 8X, not the burn strategies/firmware.

  • Boonesmi - Monday, December 15, 2003 - link

    i wish you had included the pioneer A06 drive Reply
  • ChefJoe - Sunday, December 14, 2003 - link

    Any news on the Pioneer A07 ? Back in September's plextor article it was said " Pioneer and NEC are both expected to produce 8X capable DVD+R and DVD-R capable drives in November (DVR-A07 and ND-2300A, respectively), but Plextor has the upper hand with market saturation and aggressive pricing. "

    I'm really interested in an 8x Pioneer.
  • DonB - Sunday, December 14, 2003 - link

    I'd like to see it commented somewhere in DVD articles which drives (if any) are able to play any region DVDs and which are locked to a certain region. Reply

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