Performance/Features Conclusion

Looking back to page two and three of this analysis, we wanted to give a quick reference chart to detail as much information as we could about the various burners in our roundup. Below, you can see how our burners performed under media in general. The DVD+R media listed is 16X MCC 004, the DVD-R media is 8X Ritek G05, DVD+DL media is 2.4X MKM 001, DVD-RAM media is Prodisc 3X, and CDR media is 48X Fujifilm.

All speeds given as averages unless stated otherwise.

 Features Comparison
   Pioneer DVR-108D  NEC ND-3500A  BenQ DW1620  MSI DR16-B  LiteOn SOHW-1633S  Sony DRU-710A  LG GSA-4160B  NuTech DDW-163
80min CDR Read Speeds1 31.67 36.53 31.40 31.41 30.30 30.32 32.80 31.59
80min CDR Write Speeds1 24.95 36.43 29.20 29.84 32.36 32.28 29.15 29.68
DVD-R Read Speeds2 9.38 11.88 6.25 6.25 7.72 6.09 7.73 6.26
DVD-R Write Speeds2 10.01 10.22 9.31 9.13 7.81 7.07 7.81 7.71
DVD+R 16X Read Speeds3 9.39 6.25 6.24 6.25 6.15 6.15 6.21 6.24
DVD+R 16X Write Speeds3 10.00 12.03 11.38 10.46 11.90 11.90 11.24 10.38
DVD+R DL Read Speeds4 5.70 3.40 6.04 Coaster 6.17 Coaster 6.17 6.02
DVD+R DL Write Speeds4 4.00 4.13 2.35 Coaster 2.40 Coaster 2.41 2.34
DVD-RAM Read Speeds5 1.95 - - - - - 3.01 -
DVD-RAM Write Speeds5 - - - - - - 1.43 -
CD Seek Time in ms6 131 125 94 94 97 97 113 95
DVD Seek Time in ms7 134 128 95 95 100 101 102 94
Error Diagnostics - - - - X X - -
Booktype Automatic X X X X X - X
Chipset NEC NEC Philips Philips MediaTek MediaTek LG-Hitachi Philips
1     48x 80min Fujifilm media
2     8x 4.5GB MCC 02RG20 media
3     16x 4.5GB MCC 004 media
4     2.4x 8.5GB dual layer MKM 001 media
5     3x DVD-RAM Prodisc media

NEC's dominance of CDR burning came as no surprise. The Achilles heel of the Pioneer 108D is its CDR write speeds.

So, with all of the numbers that we have presented, what do they mean? Where does each of the eight 16X burners stand on the charts? As we presented on our chart above, there are a few drives that have the features and performance levels that put them towards the top. We mentioned earlier how Pioneer and NEC were the most matured drives, since they've been out for about 3 months now. Pioneer and NEC have had more time to test their drives with a long list of media, and have put out firmware updates to resolve some of the compatibility issues when first released while the manufacturers of the newer drives are just beginning to realize what works and what doesn't regarding compatible media.

For media compatibility, it is obvious that there are 3 units that come out on top: Pioneer's DVR-108, NEC's ND-3500A, and LG's GSA-4160B. All three units wrote to media of quality ranging from low to high in all formats including - R/RW, +R/RW, and +R DL.

It is obvious that performance is no problem for these 3 models, and what really makes them stand out from each other is their features. Seven out of the eight drives implemented the bit setting feature. We discussed earlier how setting the "Book Type" of the media increases its compatibility with set top DVD players. All three of our top competitors have this feature, but the 108D can only perform bitsetting automatically on DVD+R DL media. That knocks Pioneer's DVR-108D out of the race for the best burner, but keeps LG's GSA-4160B in the running for its DVD-RAM read/write capabilities. Pioneer may have stayed in the race for its DVD-RAM capabilities, if only it had write capabilities as well as it did read capabilities.

Finally, with the NEC ND-3500A and LG's GSA-4160B going head to head, we looked at the difference in features between the two and realized that the GSA-4160B's DVD-RAM read/write capabilities are not really useful in applications for the common end user. We feel the bitsetting function should take priority over DVD-RAM features, since it increases compatibility with set top boxes instead of creating another option to support. In the end, NEC's ND-3500A comes out on top to win the prize in both performance (fast read/write speeds, great quality of burns) and features (bitsetting, high DL write speeds). Though Pioneer's performance is just as impresseive, it is lagging behind in write speeds.

Write Quality Tests MKM 001 Pricing


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 4, 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 4, 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 3, 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?? 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 ...

  • Maverick215 - Wednesday, November 3, 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."
  • asteamerandy - Tuesday, November 2, 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?
  • rcabor - Tuesday, November 2, 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 2, 2004 - link

  • Maverick215 - Tuesday, November 2, 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

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