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Plextor PX-W1610TA (CD-RW) review

March 30, 2001



Today we are dealing with a CD-RW drive of the new generation from Plextor. The 16x recorder is called PX-W1610TA. Today our aim consists not only in studying its speed characteristics and record quality but the aim is also to estimate whether it is rational to purchase this drive today. It is no secret that Plextor products are always expensive. Nevetheless, they are always in demand. A customer, leaving quite a big sum of money in the shop, could always count on high disc record quality and high reliability despite huge record volumes. Because of these two characteristics - reliability and record quality - Plextor recorders are used in duplicators where load is always high and high quality is required.

Keeping their reputation high, Plextor was never eager to surprise the world with their new products and extension of a model series: they bend every effort to properly debug their next generation devices. All these also concern the Plextor 16/10/40 drive. The managers of the company reacted calmly upon Yamaha's announcement of a recorder which can write at 16X. Besides, they took easy shipping of CyClone 161040 CD-RW drives from TDK. In the beginning of the January the company said that a new device was due for the beginning of February. And Plextor, unlike many other processor and video card manufacturers keeps the word.

A later launch of the 16X model, as compared with Yamaha, allowed Plextor to bring in some vital improvements concerning both functional possibilities and a recording process, as against the Yamaha CRW2100E. Today we will compare these two models (PX-W1610TA and CRW2100E), since they are in the same weight class though they differ in price.

First of all I should note true 16X of the PX-W1610TA. We get used to seeing 40X, 50X, 52X… on CD-ROM drives. And we know that the max speed is achieved only on outer tracks, but not always and not on every disc. And recorder manufacturers started to resort to various tricks. Yamaha has realized Partial CAV (P-CAV) record mode in its 16x CD-RW drive. It means that record speed reaches the maximum value only at the definite part of the disc. On the contrary, Plextor has been using CLV record mode where record speed is constant.

Here is a figure for you to understand my words better

As you can see, the Yamaha CRW2100E reaches 16x speed only at the 14th minute. The Plextor offers the accurate 16X record speed in CLV mode.

Burn-Proof support in the PX-W1610TA (like in other drives based on pickup of Sanyo) allows to use only 2 MBytes of buffer memory despite a very high record speed (in the CRW2100E the buffer takes 8 MBytes).

Besides, the Plextor drive has "Powerec" technology support (Plextor Optimized writing Error Reduction Control). According to Plextor engineers this technology allows to establish all necessary characteristics of a disc in order to choose appropriate laser power and a maximum possible record speed.

For deeper comparison look at characteristics of the recorder:

Plextor PX-W1610TA

Test results

CDWinBench 99 CD-ROM Transfer Rate

For comparison of performance in read operations we chose Plextor PX-W1210TA and Yamaha CRW2100E models apart from CD-ROM Teac 540E recorder.

Superb! The new model of Plextor, which has 40x read speed, showed the result even better than the CD-ROM TEAC CD-540E. The Yamaha CRW2100 is just a bit faster than PX-W1210TA.

Again, the PX-W1610TA is ahead of its nearest competitor - 12x PX-W1210TA by a great margin.

The CPU utilization was:

Well, high performance caused high CPU load. Though in today's pace of development of microprocessor industry taking away of 0.873% processor resources will hardly bewilder anyone.

CDWinBench 99 CD-ROM Access Time

The result of the 16x Plextor model is also higher than that of the PX-W1210TA, however, it corresponds to the specification. The Yamaha CRW2100E is only a bit quicker than Plextor recorders.

CDWinBench 99 CPU Utilization

Despite high results in all tests the total CPU utilization with the Plextor model in use turned to be higher than in case of other devices. It looks quite strange considering the results of the "CDWinBench 99 CD-ROM Transfer Rate. CPU utilization" test.

Time taken for CD recording

For more vivid comparison we have taken a Plextor CD-RW drive of the previous generation - PX-W1210TA with 12X maximum record speed.

Record of CD-R Philips Silver Premium 16x (16x)

It's obvious that CLV record mode of the Plextor drive allows to gain nearly a minute as compared with the Yamaha CRW2100E which uses P-CAV mode. Difference between 12x and 16x drives from Plextor is quite noticeable and constitutes a bit less than two minutes.

Besides, We conducted 16x recording on a CD-R Mirex Pro as an experiment. It is an experiment since officially there is no support of 16x record speed for the disc. The test was 6 min 28 sec long, i.e. 20 s longer than in case of the CD-R Philips Silver. This fact implies that the Plextor PX-W1610TA drive has chosen a bit lower speed for phthalocyanine Mirex discs than for cyanine Philips discs.

Record of a CD-R Mirex Pro (12x)

At 12x record speed the gap between the Plextor and the Yamaha drives is not considerable. The PX-W1610TA has won 9 seconds from the CRW2100E.

Record of a CD-R "noname" (4x)

When recording a cyanine disc of a noname manufacturer the 16x Plextor was 10 seconds faster than its predecessor.

Considering the results of recording 4 discs I can state that the Plextor PX-W1610TA is a leader in recording CDs of any type.

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

Philips CD-RW (4x)

Performance of the new Plextor recorder when formatting 4x CD-RW disc was the same as in case of the PX-W1210TA (the second difference doesn't matter). The Yamaha turned to be faster than the both Plextors.

CD-RW Ricoh 10x

Here the PX-W1610TA performed excellently - nearly two times better than the Yamaha drive. Besides, it won 4 minutes from the 12x model.

Record of a CD-RW (UDF)

Philips CD-RW 4x

You shouldn't underestimate possibilities of the previous generation of Plextor drives. It works not worse with not high speed CD-RW discs, and considering wide popularity of such discs today it can be a telling argument when choosing a drive which is primarily intended for work with rewritable discs. The fact that the Yamaha lagged behind the leader by 1.5 minutes doesn't advertise it.

CD-RW Ricoh 10x

The PX-W1210TA remained in its position also in the test where a high-speed CD-RW disc is used. Time gain is not considerable as compared with the 16x Plextor model, and if a disc before usage will need full formatting the total gain can be brought to nought, considering very high results of the PX-W1610TA when working with high-speed CD-RW discs exactly at the formatting stage.

BLER mark for a CD-R recorded with Plextor PX-W1610TA

CD-R, write speed Philips Silver Premium, 16x Mirex Gold, 12x Mirex Gold, 16x noname, 4x
BLER 10-12 1-3 2-5 15-17

An analog table cab be made for the Yamaha CRW2100E as well:

CD-R, write speed Philips Silver Premium, 16x Mirex Gold, 12x Mirex Gold, 16x noname, 4x
BLER 220-300 95-155 150-190 105-185

In our lab we have already had a SCSI version of the Yamaha 2100-series drive. The CRW2100S's results are better than those of the IDE-analog but are still far from Plextor's results.

What can CDCATS say?

CD-R, write speed CDCATS graph
Philips Silver Premium, 16x

Mirex Gold, 12x

Mirex Gold, 16x

noname, 4x

(For testing we used a device described in the fifth part of the review)

The data show that for cyanine CD-Rs 12x speed is close to a threshold. Phthalocyanine Mirex discs worked quite good at irregular speed.

You can get deeper information on parameters here.

CDTest 99

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

With the UDMA mode enabled the CDSpeed99 graph for all discs look this way:

A green line is a read speed (left scale), a yellow one is disc rotation speed (right scale, thousands rpm).

The differences were so insignificant that we decided to give one graph instead of 4. The difference was only in hardly noticeable speed decrease on the 45th minute. It's interesting that there was speed decrease in case of cyanine Philips and noname discs, and the recorded CD-R Mirex discs didn't have it - the line was ideally even.

When using default settings the result changes tremendously:

So untypical results with factory settings can be accredit to imperfection of the test system which is still a beta-version. The drive's capability to work as a good 40x CD-ROM device is proved by the results obtained with the UDMA mode enabled.

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

Drive Plextor PX-W1610TA (no UDMA) Plextor PX-W1610TA (UDMA)
Average
8.04x
30.65x
Random Seek
143 ms
138 ms
SpinUp Time
1.73 sec
1.80 sec
SpinDown Time
1.92 sec
1.91 sec
Disc Eject Time
1.65 sec
1.64 sec
Disc Load Time
1.69 sec
1.70 sec
Disc Recognition Time
10.81 sec
10.62 sec

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

Drive Plextor PX-W1610TA (no UDMA) Plextor PX-W1610TA (UDMA)
Average
8.04x
30.60x
Random Seek
141 ms
140 ms
SpinUp Time
1.70 sec
1.76 sec
SpinDown Time
1.96 sec
1.93 sec
Disc Eject Time
1.69 sec
1.72 sec
Disc Load Time
1.71 sec
1.71 sec
Disc Recognition Time
10.64 sec
10.66 sec

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

Drive Plextor PX-W1610TA (no UDMA) Plextor PX-W1610TA (UDMA)
Average
8.03x
30.68x
Random Seek
140 ms
138 ms
SpinUp Time
1.73 sec
1.74 sec
SpinDown Time
1.93 sec
1.92 sec
Disc Eject Time
1.70 sec
1.74 sec
Disc Load Time
1.68 sec
1.72 sec
Disc Recognition Time
10.58 sec
10.60 sec

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

Drive Plextor PX-W1610TA (no UDMA) Plextor PX-W1610TA (UDMA)
Average
8.04x
30.66x
Random Seek
141 ms
136 ms
SpinUp Time
1.71 sec
1.72 sec
SpinDown Time
1.94 sec
1.96 sec
Disc Eject Time
1.76 sec
1.71 sec
Disc Load Time
1.69 sec
1.73 sec
Disc Recognition Time
10.61 sec
10.63 sec

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

Drive Plextor PX-W1610TA (no UDMA) Plextor PX-W1610TA (UDMA)
Read speed
7.68
15.84

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

Drive Plextor PX-W1610TA (no UDMA) Plextor PX-W1610TA (UDMA)
Read speed
7.53
14.76

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

Drive Plextor PX-W1610TA (no UDMA) Plextor PX-W1610TA (UDMA)
Read speed
7.96
20.48

Comparing the Plextor PX-W1610TA with the analog device from Yamaha I can say that the Plextor reads CD-RW discs not worse and even sometimes better in any format. You can clearly see this in case of reading CD-RW recorded in ISO format. You might remember that we noticed the fact that the Yamaha CRW2100E was super at reading CD-RWs.

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

Drive Plextor PX-W1610TA (no UDMA) Plextor PX-W1610TA (UDMA)
Read speed
8.04
24.48
Read speed (TEAC CD-540E)
18.33

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

Drive Plextor PX-W1610TA (no UDMA) Plextor PX-W1610TA (UDMA)
Read speed
8.02
23.16
Read speed (TEAC CD-540E)
18.48

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

Drive Plextor PX-W1610TA (no UDMA) Plextor PX-W1610TA (UDMA)
Read speed
8.02
24.12
Read speed (TEAC CD-540E)
18.56

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

Drive Plextor PX-W1610TA (no UDMA) Plextor PX-W1610TA (UDMA)
Read speed
8.02
24.16
Read speed (TEAC CD-540E)
18.54

The PlexWriter performed here quite good as well. But again all such possibilities can be achieved in case of some overclocking of the CD-RW drive.

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

Plextor PX-W1610TA

Graph of reading

Graph of reading (TEAC CD-540E)

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

Plextor PX-W1610TA

Graph of reading

Graph of reading (TEAC CD-540E)

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

Plextor PX-W1610TA

Graph of reading

Graph of reading (TEAC CD-540E)

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

Plextor PX-W1610TA

Graph of reading

Graph of reading (TEAC CD-540E)

An interesting graph in case of the CD-R "noname". It's not the program to be blamed. We tested it several times, and were receiving such a straight line all the times… It seems that the disc gets fixed to the definite read speed - 8X. Other graphs are quite decent: high speed and absence of a saw. The CD-ROM TEAC drive shows a stable even graph, but the read speed is lower than in case of the Plextor recorder.

Audio track extraction from audio CDs (CDDAE 99)

Piano Favorites Acoustic Planet vol.2 Bloodhound Gang "Greatest Hits"
Average extraction speed
27.8X
26.6X
30.07X
Total errors:*
3%
0.2%
0.00%

* - 3% means that the drive extracted 3% of the CD with errors.

Impressing results! Having set the extraction speed at 16X we have obtained an ideal result. Undoubtedly, the Plextor PX-W1610TA is a current leader in track extraction speed among all earlier tested CD-RW drives.

Advanced DAE Quality

We have decided to extend a list of test utilities and programs for studying recorders' possibilities. The "Advanced DAE Test" allows to test a wide range of additional parameters concerning reading/writing of audio tracks. For this purpose we used a disc recorded with this utility.

For deeper information on parameters refer to the help-file of the program.

So, the results:

Offset 276 bytes (69 samples)
Sequential Read Test Average Speed: 27.50 X
Data Errors: 0
Sync Errors: 0
Harmonica Read Test Average Access Time: 191 ms
Data Errors: 0
Sync Errors: 0
Total Data Errors: 0
Total Sync Errors: 0
Quality Score: 100.0
On The Fly Copying Simulation Copying at 1 X - OK
Copying at 2 X - OK
Copying at 4 X - OK
Copying at 6 X - OK
Copying at 8 X - OK
Copying at 10 X - OK
Copying at 12 X - OK
Copying at 16 X - OK
CD Text Drive is capable of reading CD Text information
Subchannel Data Test 1
Track (01): 01
Relative position (01:05.00): 01:05.00
Absolute position (01:07.00): 01:07.00
Index (5): 5

Test 2
Track (17): 17
Relative position (01:33.00): 01:33.00
Absolute position (33:35.00): 33:35.00
Index (1): 1

Test 3
Track (36): 36
Relative position (00:00.00): 00:00.00
Absolute position (70:02.00): 70:02.00
Index (1): 1

Leadin Drive can read max. 75 sectors (-00:01.00) from the Leadin
Leadout Drive can read max. 2200 sectors (00:29.25) from the Leadout

The offset parameter is very important when creating exact copies of CDs. A recorder which has the lowest offset is preferable. But if you would write CDs with right programs then you can adjust this parameter, and thus bring it to minimum.

Quality Score is a key parameter in this test, in case of the PX-W1610TA it constituted 100 scores (maximum value).

Overburn

CD-R Additional disc length obtained Total length of the recorded data
Philips Silver Premium 16x
2 min. 25 sec.
77:08.30
Mirex Pro
2 min. 53 sec.
77:23.66

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 a 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

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

Copying of the recorded CD-R "noname"

Reading of damaged CDs

"Golden" CD:

Scratched:

Result for the golden disc is excellent. The graph is even better than in case of some recorded CD-Rs - even, without falls and jags. On the contrary, the first non-readable part of the disc made the CD-RW drive decrease the speed down to 4X, and the drive worked at this speed up to the end of the disc.

70% of the managed disc were read by the drive.

Conclusion and summary

Undoubtedly, the Plextor PX-W1610TA is the best CD-RW drive among all devices we have already tested. High read speed and high CD-R recording quality, up to 16X, the greatest track extraction speed from an audio CD, fast work with "High-Speed" CD-RW discs are the brightest features of this recorder. Besides, you should take into consideration support for all modern functions such as Overburn, normal work with CloneCD program and its analogs, Burn-Proof technology, and possibility to write in CD-Text format. Despite the fact that data are read at high revolutions, you can hardly hear any noise and vibration. Comparing the PX-W1610TA and CRW2100E according to this parameter, I should note that the Plextor leaves the Yamaha far behind. However, downsides come along with advantages. A raw microprogram is the main drawback. For example, the system will hung if you apply to the drive before a loaded disc is recognized. But I'm sure that in the nearest time possible they will update the microprogram and the PX-W1610TA will work more stable and reliable. Of course, the high price might be a deterrent but if you the device you will receive a powerful tool for fast creation of CDs.

Test programs:


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