iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Pioneer DVD-117LJ DVD-ROM  Review

February 3, 2003

  • ATAPI interface (ATA/ATAPI-5, Ultra DMA66). 
  • Formats supported
    • DVD-ROM : DVD-ROM & Video (Single and Dual Layer),DVD-R (DVD-RAM not supported), DVD-R/W 
    • CD-ROM : CD-ROM (Mode 1), CD-R, CD-RW (Supports AM2), CD-ROM XA Mode2 (form 1, form 2), Photo-CD (Single or Multi-session), CD-Extra, CD-DA(4-10X at Audio play, 16X at data extraction) 

  • Reads 8cm and 12cm DVD and CD 
  • Data buffer: 256 Kbyte 
  • Data rate: 
    • DVD Transfer Rate 16x (21600 KB/s) 
    • CD Transfer Rate 40x (6000 KB/s) 

  • Access time: 
    • DVD 95 ms 
    • CD 90 ms 

  • Installation: horizontal and vertical
  • MTBF 100,000POH (20% duty) 
  • Weight: 1 Kg. 

The drive arrived in the OEM package. It is an extension of the 16x DVD-ROM line from Pioneer. This drive often ships as an OEM version under the trade marks of various big companies. The design of the front side is very ascetic as it incorporates only a Load/Eject button. The front panel has a rubber layer to reduce noise and protect from dust. The drive supports operation via the UDMA/66 interface and, after installation, the BIOS will remind you that you should use the respective cable. 

Additional information on the device

Nero CD-Speed

EAC Configuration Wizard

As usual, both programs have different attitude toward processing C2 errors. But I trust the EAC more because this program directly extracts audio tracks, and if it asserts that it can't use C2, it means it. 

Test results

Quality of operation with CDs

CDWinBench 99

  • CDWinMark99 - 2320 
  • CD-ROM Transfer Rate 
    • Inside - 2960 KB/s 
    • Outside - 5720 KB/s 

  • CPU utilization - 1.23% 
  • CD-ROM Access Time - 86.2 ms 

Testing with a standard CD

Average Speed 29.85x
Start Speed 17.49x
End Speed 39.60x
Random Seek 100 ms
1/3 Seek 112 ms
Full Seek 140 ms
Reading type CAV
CPU usage 1x 1%
Accurate stream Yes
DAE quality Score 10
SpinUp Time 0.94
SpinDown Time 3.82
Disc Recognition Time 2.89 sec

CD-ROM Drive Analyzer

CD-R reading

CD-RW reading

Scratched CD reading

Advanced DAE Quality(Nero CD-Speed)

Offset 288 bytes ( 72 samples)
Sequential Read Test Average Speed: 16.34 X 
Data Errors: 2 
Sync Errors: 0
Harmonica Read Test Average Access Time: 577 ms
Data Errors: 0
Sync Errors: 0 

Total Data Errors: 2
Total Sync Errors: 0
Quality Score: 100.0

On The Fly Copying Simulation Copying at 1 X
Copying at 2 X
Copying at 4 X
Copying at 6 X
Copying at 8 X
Copying at 10 X
Copying at 12 X
Copying at 16 X
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 cannot read data from the Leadout

CD audio track extraction (CDDAE 99, EAC)

CDDAE scores

  Licensed disc Pirated disc
Average extraction speed 14.6x 14.5x
Total errors 0.00% 0.00%
EAC scores (superb quality) 

  Licensed disc Pirated disc
Average extraction speed 34x 3.5x
Total errors 0.00% 0.00%

Direct copying of information from 780 MB CD-R (90 min.) to HDD

The drive couldn't read the 780MB disc - it had errors at the end and screamed trying to read the information but the attempts were futile. 

Quality of operation with DVD

Nero DVD Speed

Testing with the one-layer DVD

Average Speed 11.28x
Start Speed 6.61x
End Speed 15.45x
Random Seek 93 ms
1/3 Seek 110 ms
Full Seek 186 ms
Reading type CAV
CPU usage 1x 4%
SpinUp Time 1.00 sec
SpinDown Time 3.92 sec
Disc Recognition Time 4.18 sec

Testing with the two-layer DVD

Average Speed 9.01x
Start Speed 4.98x
End Speed 5.43x
Random Seek 97 ms
1/3 Seek 110 ms
Full Seek 187 ms
Reading type CAV
CPU usage 1x 1%
SpinUp Time 1.07 sec
SpinDown Time 3.79 sec
Layer Change Time 75 ms
Disc Recognition Time 5.77 sec

Compatibility with recordable DVD

DVD-R reading

  DVD-RW reading

  DVD+R reading

  DVD+RW reading

DVD-Video playback with Cyberlink PowerDVD 4.0

The DVD video was played without any problems. No artifacts were noticed. The quality wasn't affected either when the layer was changed. 


  • Tray - 6/10 
  • CD 
    • Seek - 6/10 
    • General noise - 7/10 

  • DVD 
    • Seek - 6/10 
    • General noise - 7/10 

On the whole, the drive is noisy when working at the maximum speed. It's possible to reduce the speed only using external programs. Nero DriveSpeed supports only 12X, but with the Pioneer's utilities you can change it. 

However, this utility is not flexible enough as there are only two modes available, but, as a trade-off, you can set a desired mode permanently. 


In operation with the unbalanced discs the drive vibrated noticeably though not too strongly. However, it didn't prevent the drive from reading the disc successfully at the high speed. 

Thermal conditions

The thermal conditions are good. The measurements were taken after 2-hour intensive operation. 
T inside the PC case - 36°C 
T of the upper surface - 46°C 
T of the lower surface - 47°C 

Possibility to make it multizone (RPC-1)

According to www.firmware-flash.com/ it's possible to change the status of the drive from RPC-2 (region locked) to RPC-1 (region free).


This is a further extension of the DVD-ROM line from Pioneer. The drive sports good compatibility with all types of CD and DVD media and works quickly enough, especially with DVD. But it's unable to work with 90min CDs and has modest CD speed control functions. By and large, this is one of the most popular DVD-ROM drives. 

Roman Shelepov(srl@ixbt.com)

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