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IDE CD-RW drives roundup: TDK CyClone CDRW161040

April 17, 2001



Today we are dealing with the latest product from TDK - CyClone CD-RW Writer 16X/10X/40X. It is interesting that the trademark "CyClone" is moving only along the Europe, and in the USA this drive is known as a "veloCD ReWriter".

The TDK is the first honest 16x recorder, and only after the wide sales of the CyClone/veloCD ReWriter we saw the PlexWriter PX-W1610A on the market. The previous model of TDK - CyClone 12x/10x/32x - showed perfect results, and today we are starting benchmarking the new model with a great interest.

Meet our hero!

TDK CyClone CDRW161040

Test results

The drive we managed to put our hands on had 5.29 firmware version. The overwhelming majority of errors and troubles were caused by this version's drawbacks. Not so long ago TDK has put the 5.31 version on their site where the most part of the errors is corrected. Besides, today there is a newer firmware version, 5.32, which suits all recorders based on the Sanyo CRD-BP1400P chips (including the TDK CyClone CDRW161040). That is why we will without fail speak about correction of the errors, but a bit later.

Besides, we decided to refuse diagrams in all cases provided that this measure doesn't affect a clearness of the results.

CDWinBench 99 CD-ROM Transfer Rate

Apart from the CD-ROM Teac 540E, for comparison in reading performance we have taken the Plextor PX-W1610A and Yamaha CRW2100E recorders.

Note that for CDWinBench tests updating of the firmware up to 5.32 helps to gain nothing.

The TDK recorder has taken the second position in this test outscoring the CD-ROM TEAC CD-540.

The CDRW161040 falls not too far behind the Plextor PX-W1610A.

The CPU utilization was:

A bit lower reading performance of the new TDK recorder allowed it to outperform the PX-W1610A. Nevertheless, like in case of the Plextor, CPU utilization of the CDRW161040 was a bit higher than in case of other participants.

CDWinBench 99 CD-ROM Access Time

Despite the lower access time as compared with the Plextor, the TDK turned to be the closest to the TEAC CD-540. Of course, a couple of milliseconds doesn't matter much, but a much higher time than marked in the specifications proves the might of the TDK.

CDWinBench 99 CPU Utilization

Both TDK and Plextor load the CPU not very much as compared with the other drives. And this fact confuses me a bit taking into consideration the results of the test "CDWinBench 99 CD-ROM Transfer Rate. CPU utilization".

Time taken for CD recording

For better comparison we have taken the CD-RW Plextor of the previous generation - the PX-W1210TA with maximum record speed equal to 12X.

Recording of the CD-R Philips Silver Premium (cyanine, 16x rated record speed) 16X

CD-RW drive Time (min.)
Plextor PX-W1610A
6.08
Yamaha CRW2100E
6.53
TDK CyClone CDRW161040
6.11

It is obvious that the Plextor and the TDK do not differ in speed. They both write rather quickly in the CLV mode, unlike the Yamaha recording in the P-CAV mode.

Recording of the CD-R Mirex Pro (phthalocyanine, 12x rated record speed) 16X

CD-RW drive Time (min.)
Plextor PX-W1610A
6.28
TDK CyClone CDRW161040
6.12

The CDRW161040 records the phthalocyanine discs a bit faster than the competitor. 16 sec, though, do not matter much.

Recording of the CD-R Mirex Pro (phthalocyanine, 12x rated record speed) 12X

CD-RW drive Time (min.)
Plextor PX-W1610A
8.07
Yamaha CRW2100E
8.16
TDK CyClone CDRW161040
7.52

The result is the same: phthalocyanine discs are much dearer for the CyClone than for its contestants.

Recording of the CD-R "noname" (cyanine, the rated record speed is unknown) 4X

Starting from this test we will use other technological CD-Rs with a dark-blue active working surface (before we used ones with a blue-green surface, like of the Taiyo Yuden discs).

ATIP: 97m 28s 22f
Disc Manufacturer: Multi Media Masters & Machinery SA
Reflective layer: Dye (Long strategy; e.g. Cyanine, Azo etc.)
Media type: CD-Recordable
Recording Speeds: min. unknown - max. unknown
nominal Capacity: 702.83 MBytes (79m 59s 74f / LBA: 359849)

CD-RW drive Time (min.)
Plextor PX-W1610A
20.29
Yamaha CRW2100E
20.58
TDK CyClone CDRW161040
20.30

The situation is similar to the case of the cyanine CD-R Philips Silver discs.

According to the results of recording of 4 discs I can say that the TDK CyClone CDRW161040 doesn't yield and even wins sometimes from the Plextor PX-W1610A.

Time taken for the full formatting of CD-RW discs in UDF format

Philips CD-RW 4x

CD-RW drive Time (min.)
Plextor PX-W1610A
29.56
Yamaha CRW2100E
29.48
TDK CyClone CDRW161040
30.01

The both Sanyo transport based devices (TDK and Plextor) showed identical results. All drives were tested with the DirectCD 3.03b program, but for experimental purposes we tested the devices with the 5.0 version. At the first attempt to format the disc with the DirectCD 5 on the TDK drive the formatting hang. The time meter traversed the mark of 55 min, and the drive was still informing on an ongoing formatting. 20 minutes of waiting gave nothing. Only after rebooting of the PC the DirectCD started to work flawlessly, and the disc was formatted at 30 min. A bit later the situation has taken place again. I hope that in the update version of the Roxio software it will be corrected.

CD-RW Ricoh 10x

CD-RW drive Time (min.)
Plextor PX-W1610A
12.25
Yamaha CRW2100E
20.31
TDK CyClone CDRW161040
14.56

2 and a half minute lag of the TDK is not small, especially in case of huge amount of work in a packet recording mode.

Record of a CD-RW disc (UDF)

Philips CD-RW 4x

CD-RW drive Time (min.)
Plextor PX-W1610A
20.28
Yamaha CRW2100E
21.38
TDK CyClone CDRW161040
21.35

The TDK again lags behind the PX-W1610A and outscores the Yamaha CRW2100E by a few seconds.

CD-RW Ricoh 10x

CD-RW drive Time (min.)
Plextor PX-W1610A
9.31
Yamaha CRW2100E
11.22
TDK CyClone CDRW161040
10.43

The PX-W1610A is maintaining its position in the test with usage of the high-speed CD-RW disc. The CyClone is again 1 minute behind.

BLER mark for CD-Rs recorded with TDK CyClone CDRW161040

CD-R disc, record speed Philips Silver Premium, 16x Mirex Gold, 12x Mirex Gold, 16x noname, 4x
BLER
11-15
0-4
2-6
110-135

The results of the Plextor PX-W1610A are:

CD-R disc, record speed Philips Silver Premium, 16x Mirex Gold, 12x Mirex Gold, 16x
BLER
10-12
1-3
2-5

(in this test we used a device described in the fifth part of the review)

The scores are almost identical. A high BLER mark of the cyanine "noname" disc is accounted for by the difference from the discs used in the testing before. Having recorded new cyanine discs also on the Plextor PX-W1610A, we have made sure that the PlexWriter results are within the same range with the TDK: 100-140.

Now let's see what the CDCATS "thinks" about it.

Philips Silver Premium, 16x

Mirex Gold, 12x

Mirex Gold, 16x

noname, 4x

The TDK CyClone implements recording at 16x speed a bit worse than the Plextor PX-W1610A does. Note that we have taken CD-R Mirex discs produced in last-year September, when the manufacture of these discs was only being formed, and far not all parameters were optimal. It has caused some bursts on the graphs in the tested parameters of Land-Jitter and Pit-Jitter. The test results of the "noname" disc have revealed that even at low speeds some extremely cheap technological CD-R discs are not the best solution for recording, especially for music recording.

To get the detailed information on the parameters go here.

CDTest 99

See the previous parts of the review on CD-RW drives (IDE) for graphs of reading of other drives.

Like in case of the Plextor, the difference in results of each disc was minimal.

A graph of reading of the recorded CD-R Philips Silver Premium (16x record speed)

A graph of reading of the recorded CD-R "noname"(4x record speed)

A green line shows a read speed (left scale), a yellow one indicates the disc rotation speed (right scale, thousand rpm).

The graphs are more even than the Plextor ones: a small fall at the 45th minute is absent. Besides, the TDK worked in the default mode, no jumpers were locked since they were absent.

CD Speed 99 test results of the recorded CD-R Philips Silver Premium.

Plextor PX-W1610TA (UDMA) TDK CDRW161040
Average
32.65x
32.31x
Random Seek
138 ms
137 ms
SpinUp Time
1.80 sec
1.39 sec
SpinDown Time
1.91 sec
5.48 sec
Disc Eject Time
1.64 sec
3.34 sec
Disc Load Time
1.70 sec
8.23 sec
Disc Recognition Time
10.62 sec
0.85 sec

CD Speed 99 test results of the recorded CD-R "noname"

In the "Plextor PX-W1610A (UDMA)" column we are giving the results of the new recorded cyanine "noname" disc (it is not the one which took part in benchmarking of this model).

Plextor PX-W1610TA (UDMA) TDK CDRW161040
Average
30.11x
30.21x
Random Seek
131 ms
120 ms
SpinUp Time
1.76 sec
1.34 sec
SpinDown Time
1.93 sec
5.38 sec
Disc Eject Time
1.76 sec
3.34 sec
Disc Load Time
1.72 sec
8.41 sec
Disc Recognition Time
10.33 sec
0.94 sec

CD Speed 99 test results of the recorded CD-R Mirex (12x)

Plextor PX-W1610TA (UDMA) TDK CDRW161040
Average
32.68x
32.44x
Random Seek
138 ms
122 ms
SpinUp Time
1.74 sec
1.38 sec
SpinDown Time
1.92 sec
5.24 sec
Disc Eject Time
1.74 sec
3.36 sec
Disc Load Time
1.72 sec
8.32 sec
Disc Recognition Time
10.60 sec
0.86 sec

CD Speed 99 test results of the recorded CD-R Mirex (16x)

Plextor PX-W1610TA (UDMA) TDK CDRW161040
Average
32.66x
32.48x
Random Seek
136 ms
122 ms
SpinUp Time
1.72 sec
1.32 sec
SpinDown Time
1.96 sec
5.29 sec
Disc Eject Time
1.71 sec
3.33 sec
Disc Load Time
1.73 sec
8.36 sec
Disc Recognition Time
10.63 sec
0.87 sec

The random seek speed is higher than in case of the PlexWriter. The disc is recognized also very quickly. At the same time, the Disc Eject Time and Disc Load Time are better in case of the PX-W1610A.

CD Quality Check test results of the CD-RW (UDF) discs recorded at 4x

Plextor PX-W1610TA (UDMA) TDK CDRW161040
Read speed
15.84
16.60

CD Quality Check test results of the CD-RW (UDF) discs recorded at 10x

Plextor PX-W1610TA (UDMA) TDK CDRW161040
Read speed
14.76
15.10

CD Quality Check test results of the recorded CD-RW (ISO) discs

Plextor PX-W1610TA (UDMA) TDK CDRW161040
Read speed
20.48
21.20

The TDK reads CD-RW discs excellently!

Read speed of the recorded CD-R Philips Silver Premium (CD Quality Check)

Plextor PX-W1610TA (UDMA) TDK CDRW161040
Read speed
24.48
23.34
Read speed (TEAC CD-540E)
18.33
18.40

Read speed of the recorded CD-R "noname". (CD Quality Check)

Plextor PX-W1610TA (UDMA) TDK CDRW161040
Read speed
23.16
23.10
Read speed (TEAC CD-540E)
18.48
18.42

Read speed of the recorded CD-R Mirex (12x) (CD Quality Check)

Plextor PX-W1610TA (UDMA) TDK CDRW161040
Read speed
24.12
23.51
Read speed (TEAC CD-540E)
18.56
18.54

Read speed of the recorded CD-R Mirex (16x) (CD Quality Check)

Plextor PX-W1610TA (UDMA) TDK CDRW161040
Read speed
24.16
23.50
Read speed (TEAC CD-540E)
18.54
18.53

The Plextor reads a bit faster than the CDRW161040, but the difference is not such big to grab immediately the former.

Quality of the recorded CD-R Philips Silver Premium (CD-ROM Drive Analyzer)

TDK CDRW161040

Graph of reading

Graph of reading (TEAC CD-540E)

Quality of the recorded CD-R "noname"(CD-ROM Drive Analyzer)

TDK CDRW161040

Graph of reading

Graph of reading (TEAC CD-540E)

Quality of the recorded CD-R Philips Mirex (12x) (CD-ROM Drive Analyzer)

TDK CDRW161040

Graph of reading

Graph of reading (TEAC CD-540E)

Quality of the recorded CD-R Philips Mirex (16x) (CD-ROM Drive Analyzer)

TDK CDRW161040

Graph of reading

Graph of reading (TEAC CD-540E)

The TDK recorder showed the identical graphs in all cases. The CDRW161040 behaves curiously: first it tries to go up to 22X, and then gradually decreases the speed down to 11X. The TEAC reads the discs without noticeable difficulties.

Audio track extraction from audio CDs (CDDAE 99)

Piano Favorites Acoustic Planet vol.2 Bloodhound Gang "Greatest Hits"
Average extraction speed
22.1X
24.4X
24.1X
Total errors:*
8.2%
4.1%
0.00%

* - 8% means that the drive extracted 8% of the CD with errors.

The CyClone is again falling behind the analog device from Plextor. Nevertheless, the company doesn't deceive the customers. In the TDK specification the track extraction speed is 32x against 40x in case of the Plextor. The PX-W1610A has actually reached 30x speed, and the average result was 26X. But I should note that the Plextor extracted tracks with lower percent of errors than the TDK.

Audio track extraction from audio CDs (EAC 0.9 prebeta 9)

Piano Favorites Acoustic Planet vol.2 Bloodhound Gang "Greatest Hits"
Average extraction speed
18.4X
20.6X
24X
Extraction time
00:04:12
00:03:48
00:03:19

Update of the firmware version from 5.29 to 5.32 hasn't affected the recorder's capability of track extraction from audio CDs. The percent of errors hasn't become smaller, and the extraction speed hasn't increased.

Advanced DAE Quality

Unfortunately, the TDK couldn't pass this test. The test was carried out with different discs - both with recorded on the CyClone and with recorded on other CD-RW drives.

Update of the firmware version up to 5.32 didn't help either. The benchmark broke with the starting up of the "Harmonica Read Test"

The only we managed to get from this test was:

Offset 2632 bytes (658 samples)
Sequential Read Test Average Speed: 22.88 X
Data Errors: 0
Sync Errors: 0

Overburn

CD-R Additional disc length obtained Total length of the recorded data
Philips Silver Premium 16x 2 min. 01 sec. 76:44.04
Mirex Pro 1 min. 15 sec. 75:45.55

Besides, we used 90-minute Rostok Media discs with this drive.

The 780 MBytes discs are not standardizated, that is why the recording was carried out in Overburn mode. We have completed our test image of a CD having added data so that the total size of a disc constituted 800 MBytes.

Using the Nero Burning Rom 5.0.4.4. we have achieved a record of 92 min. 02 sec. The recorded disc was easily read by the CD-ROM TEAC 40x and Sony 48x, and the ASUS 50X and LG 48x refused to deal with it. The LG couldn't even see it, and the ASUS 50X saw the data but gave out a message on the error in the very beginning of copying the information onto the HDD.

Direct copying from recorded CDs to an HDD

This test is aimed to obtain more proper information, do not take it as a very serious torture test for the drive's performance. Since the disc structure is nonuniform and compound, the results were low even for 40x devices.

Copying of the recorded CD-R Philips Silver Premium

CD-RW drive Time (min.)
Plextor PX-W1610A 5.36
Yamaha CRW2100E 6.19
TDK CyClone CDRW161040 6.02

Copying of the recorded CD-R Mirex (12x)

CD-RW drive Time (min.)
Plextor PX-W1610A 5.32
Yamaha CRW2100E 6.11
TDK CyClone CDRW161040 5.51

Copying of the recorded CD-R "noname"

CD-RW drive Time (min.)
Plextor PX-W1610A 5.48
TDK CyClone CDRW161040 6.15

Reading of damaged CDs

"Golden" CD:

Scratched:

It is strange that the recorder has found an error where it mustn't be and has read the hard area flawlessly. The TEAC CD-W54E and Plextor PX-W124Tsi available have proved that no new errors have appeared on the disc.

The damaged disc was read by the recorder by 80%. An excellent achievement! Though we obtained it only with the firmware 5.32.

Bugs & fixes.

If you often make copies of protected licensed discs, you will find support of the majority recording modes in RAW-mode very attractive. But after starting a recording process under the CloneCD program the application gives a message on an absence of SubChannel Data reading support and impossibility to record in RAW-DAO mode. However, the 5.31 firmware version solves this problem.

There are also cases when a disc is partially damaged, and data can't be read. You will probably receive a message on a reading error. In the 5.29 firmware it is corrected. In our tests the recorder tried to read the disc time and again, but it only brought about hunging of the system. It is interesting that after the system hungs the recorder is invisible for the BIOS of the motherboard (it was checked with three different motherboards with AMD 750, KT133A and Intel 440BX chipsets). The second pressing of the Reset button allowed to "materialize" the CD-RW again. The 5.31 version has helped again, where this reading bug was corrected. Upgrade of the firmware up to 5.32 allowed for a higher stability of reading.

With the 5.31 firmware version the CyClone was released from the Sanyo inherited bug - hunging of the system after a premature applying to the loaded disc.

Sometimes people put a wrong disc on a tray and realize it simultaneously with pressing the button. After that they have nothing left to do but to press it again. In the most cases the drive will understand the repeat pressing as a cancellation of the previous action. But in case of the CDRW161040 it is not so: pressing the button once more, you will only pull up the tray for several seconds. Although it is not a drawback, but this peculiarity should be corrected.

Another unpleasant peculiarity of the TDK recorder is that the defaulted spin-down time is quite big. After you have finished working with the disc, it keeps rotating at lower speeds and makes unpleasant high-pitched sound similar to that of the 10000 rpm hard discs. If the system block is situated quite far from you, this sound will probably be inaudible due to the noise coming from a power supply unit and a processor's cooler. But if the CD-RW is near to you it will irritate.

  • Firmware version 5.31 can be downloaded from here.
  • Firmware version 5.32 can be downloaded from here.

We do not bear any responsibility for a possible damage of your CD-RW drive after updating the firmware version.

Conclusion and summary

On the whole, it is a stylish, fast recorder from a top manufacturer, the quality of the recorded discs doesn't yield to that of the Plextor drive. It justifies its name "CyClone" since it supports nearly all recording modes in the RAW-mode. Buying the CyClone CDRW161040, beginners obtains everything necessary for disc recording.

At the same time, the recorder does have some bugs, which are connected with the firmware, and not with the hardware part of the device. Reportedly, in the nearest time the price will be cut to be lower than for analog solutions from Plextor. The TDK will be a good choice for people caring of quality and safety of the data recorded.

The TDK CyClone CDRW161040 can be recommended as an alternative to the PlexWriter RX-W1610A, provided that the TDK and Sanyo engineers will release a firmware version with the deleted bugs in the nearest time.

Benchmark programs:


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