Pioneer DVR-108D

We took our first look at the Pioneer 108D under the official US firmware (at the time) back in August. Since then, we retested the drive with lots of new media and a newer firmware. Pioneer and NEC arguably share the title of most mature 16X solutions available - both drives have been available for three months now.

Below, you can see the individual specifications of the drive.

 Pioneer DVR-108D 16x DVD-/+RW Drive
Interface PATA
CD Write Speed 32X, 24X ZCLV
16X, 8X, 4X CLV
CD Rewrite Speed 24X ZCLV
16X, 10X, 4X CLV
CD Read Speed 40X MAX CAV
DVD-R Write Speed 16X, 12X, 8X CLV
4X, 2X, 1X
DVD-RW Rewrite Speed 4X, 2X, 1X CLV
DVD+R Write Speed 16X, 12X, 8X ZCLV
4X, 2.4X
DVD+RW Rewrite Speed 4X, 2.4X CLV
DVD+DL Write Speed 2.4X CLV
DVD-RAM Read Speed 2X CLV
DVD Read Speed 16X MAX CAV
Supported Modes DAO / DAO-RAW 16 & 96
TAO
SAO / RAW SAO, RAW SAO 16 & 96
Packet Write
Multi-Session
Supported Formats DVD+R (DAO, incremental, seq)
DVD+RW (random)
DVD-R (DAO, incremental, seq)
DVD-RW (restricted overwrite)

CD-R, CD-RW, CD-ROM, CD-DA,
Mixed Mode, CD Extra
Photo CD, CD Text, Bootable CD, UDF
Access Time CD: 130ms
DVD: 140ms
Buffer 2MB

Since Pioneer is our definitive 16X recorder that we have already reviewed, we are comparing all of our specifications against it. The most disappointing aspect of the drive that we have noticed during our analysis over these last few weeks has been the (relatively) slow CDR burn speeds. 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.

Retail versions of the drive come with a redesigned bezel look. For the OEM version that we obtained for the review, the bezel retains the same bland pale design seen in the Pioneer 107 and 106D (and its derivatives).




Click to enlarge.


The drive is recognized in Nero's Infotool as such:



Here's a high resolution scan of the topside of the DVR-108D showing off its label.




Click to enlarge.


Below, you can see another high resolution scan of the drive's internal components.




Click to enlarge.


Our drive came with the NEC D63635GM and C3335 chipsets featuring Hynix DRAM. NEC's D63635 digital signal processor (DSP) was the first to 16X, and thus far, has a very stable track record. Keep in mind, even though the NEC 3500A and the Pioneer 108D utilize the same controllers and servos, they are designed and built completely different. NEC's design revolves around a single double-sided PCB with differing flash/DRAM solutions. The Pioneer drive also supports reading of DVD-RAM media at 5X speeds. There are many similarities between the drives, such as the multi-chip analog controller approach.

A few other drives on the market, like the ASUS DRW-1604P, are built on the same design and chipset, and generally offer identical performance. However, the Pioneer 108D has the most mature firmware and reference design; its performance should equal or surpass other models on the same platform.

Feel free to download the performance graphs for the DVR-108D here.

The Test NEC ND-3500A
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  • 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??...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 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."
    Reply
  • 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?
    Reply
  • 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

    Reply
  • 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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