iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






LG GSA-4040B DVD±RW/DVD±R DVD-RAM Drive Review

January 16, 2004

LG is one of the companies that aggressively promotes its new DVD-Multi format. But if the previous Super-Multi model GMA-4020B supported only two formats out of three, the GSA-4040B integrates all widely used CD and DVD recording technologies and provides users with a universal tool for handling any type of optical media. The today's tests will show how good this tool is.

LG GSA-4040B


  • Interface: E-IDE/ATAPI
  • Read speed:
    • CD-ROM/R: 32x Max.
    • CD-RW: 24x Max. 
    • DVD-ROM: 12x Max. 
    • DVD-R/RW: 10x Max. 
    • DVD+R/+RW: 10x Max. 
    • DVD-RAM: 3x, 2x, 1x

  • Write speed:
    • CD-RW: 16x, 12x, 8x, 4x 
    • CD-R: 24x, 16x, 8x, 4x 
    • DVD-RW: 2x, 1x 
    • DVD-R: 4x, 2x 
    • DVD+RW: 2.4x
    • DVD+R: 4x, 2.4x
    • DVD-RAM: 3x, 2x

  • Formats supported:
    • CD: CD-ROM, CD-ROM XA, CD-DA, CD-Extra, CD-Text, CD-R (Orange Book Part 2), and CD-RW (Orange Book Part 3), Supports High Speed Disc Media, Reads Photo CD (Single and Multi-Session), Reads CD-I and Video CD 

  • Access time:
    • CD-ROM: 110ms (Typical)
    • DVD-ROM: 130ms (Typical)
    • DVD-RAM: 150ms (Typical)

  • Buffer: 2MBytes 
  • MTBF 100,000 POH 
  • Dimensions: 146mm x 180mm x 41.3mm
  • Weight: 0.9 kg

The drive came in the OEM package, without any accessories. Its design is pretty ascetic, the front panel houses only a one-color LED, an emergency eject hole and an Open/Eject button. The tray is designed exceptionally for DVD-RAM media without cartridge, which can be either DVD-RAM discs able to come out of cartridge or DVD-RAM discs without it. 

The label on top provides information on the location and time of production, and BIOS version. Note that I updated the BIOS version before testing the drive.

Here's the drive's base.

And here you can see how it looks inside. 

The installation caused no problems. A user is offered a standard procedure, like that for an ordinary CD-ROM drive. The drive needs no special drivers. You can do just with the NeroBurning Rom; as for me, I used the latest version  - 

If you want to handle DVD-RAM media in the mode of the removable media drive you have to install special drivers - it took us a while until we could find them on one of the company's sites. Such a poor support of the device selling for over six months already is simply a disgrace. After installation of the drivers the drive is seen as a standard optical drive and a removable media drive.

Now let's use other utilities to get more information on the drive; for example, Nero Infotool and DVDinfoPro tells what formats and disc types are supported by the drive:

As you can see from the screenshot, it's still impossible to turn the drive into RPC-1 (according to www.rpc1.com). However, you can use the DVD Region free program which provides the regional protection. 

EAC (EAC Configuration Wizard) tells us about Audio CDs. 

Test results

DVD recording

First of all, we will try to burn DVD-RAM media as we are promised a certain speed gain  - the maximum speed was lifted from 2x to 3x. But to reach that speed you have to get DVD-RAM designed for 3x burn speeds. However, we didn't have such discs at the time of testing on our market. Also, you need a respective 3x DVD-RAM disc to reach 3x at reading.

In the tests we used a standard DVD-RAM disc from TDK. Although the disc must be burnt at 2x the actual time of recording corresponds to 1x. It's like with the previous model GMA-4020B. When the DVD-RAM drive was used as a removable media drive the situation was similar. The matter is that according to the DVD-RAM burning technique each recorded sector is immediately checked by reading, that is why the burn time is twice greater than expected.

  LG GMA-4020B LG GSA-4040B
Recording in UDF 1.5(2.0): 1GB, one file 15:45 min 14:58 min
Recording in FAT 32: 1GB, one file 14:25 min 14:10 min

The speed of reading of the standard DVD-RAM remains at 2x, and the users have to update their collection of DVD-RAM media to be able to burn and read the media at a higher speed.


  LG GMA-4020B LG GSA-4040B
Average speed  2.03x CAV 2.03x CAV
Random Seek 152 ms 131 ms
Full Seek 462 ms 206 ms
CPU usage (Max Speed) 4 % 5 %
SpinUp Time 1.83 sec 2.05 sec
SpinDown Time 2.98 sec 1.83 sec
Disc Recognition Time 14.34 sec 8.45 sec

As usual, we recorded several types of brand-name and non-brand discs. No problems occurred, the drive successfully detects and records most discs. But it doesn't like SKY DVD+R discs. Although they were successfully recorded (in DVD-Video mode) none of the PC DVD-ROM drives could read them, though the consumer DVD player BBK-916S read them without any problems.

Recording of the discs of both formats was flawless at all speeds available. 

Below is the burn time for various discs.

DVD-R burning
Drive burning at 1x, min. burning at 2x, min. burning at 4x, min.
LG GSA-4040B 59:26 29:14 15:12
SONY DRU-510A 57:48 28:35 15:18

DVD-RW burning
Drive fast cleaning, min. burning at 1x, min. burning at 2x, min.
LG GSA-4040B 00:32 59:16 29:42
SONY DRU-510A 00:56 56:24 27:56

DVD+R burning
Drive burning at 2.4x, min. burning at 4x, min.
LG GSA-4040B 24:38 14:23
SONY DRU-510A 23:12 13:54

DVD+RW burning
Drive fast cleaning, min. burning at 2.4x, min.
LG GSA-4040B 00:32 24:35
SONY DRU-510A 00:23 24:05

All DVDs recorded passed the control reading test on two reference DVD-ROM drives Toshiba SD-M1712 and Pioneer DVD-117LJ. The tests on the consumer DVD player BBK 939 revealed no problems with reading. 

Below are results of reading of the recorded discs for the Lite-On drive with the KProbe utility. The KProbe utility is a new test program developed for OS Widows which estimates a level of C1/C2 errors on a disc tested. The outcome may depend on whether the drive favors a given disc, but anyway, some general data can be obtained. 

LG GSA-4040B, DVD-R 4x (Princo)

LG GSA-4040B, DVD-R 2x (Princo)

LG GSA-4040B, DVD-R 1x (Princo)

LG GSA-4040B, DVD-R 4x (TDK)

LG GSA-4040B, DVD-R 2x (Verbatim)

LG GSA-4040B, DVD-RW 2x (Digitex)

LG GSA-4040B, DVD-RW 2x (TDK)

LG GSA-4040B, DVD+R 4x (Memorex)

LG GSA-4040B, DVD+R 2.4x (Philips)

LG GSA-4040B, DVD+RW 2.4x (Philips)

DVD media reading


Test DVD reading

LG GSA-4040B 1-layer DVD (stamped DVD-Data)

  SONY DRU-510A LG GSA-4040B
Average speed  8.88x CAV 9.12x CAV
Random Seek 139 ms 106 ms
Full Seek 219 ms 206 ms
CPU usage (Max Speed) 2 % 9 %
SpinUp Time 3.15 sec 0.01 sec
SpinDown Time 3.24 sec 2.57 sec
Disc Recognition Time 9.14 sec 3.37 sec

LG GSA-4040B 2-layer DVD (stamped DVD-Video)

  SONY DRU-510A LG GSA-4040B
Average speed  5.99x CAV 6.17x CAV
Random Seek 165 ms 113 ms
Full Seek 225 ms 211 ms
CPU usage (Max Speed) 2 % 7 %
SpinUp Time 3.46 sec 0.01 sec
SpinDown Time 3.29 sec 2.23 sec
Disc Recognition Time 9.14 sec 10.48 sec
Layer Change Time 215 ms 105 ms

Reading of recordable DVD


LG GSA-4040B


LG GSA-4040B


LG GSA-4040B


LG GSA-4040B

The drive successfully reads all types of recordable discs, including multiborder DVDs. 

DVD Video copying with Smart Ripper

CD-RW drive Average speed
LG GSA-4040B 4.2 X
SONY DRU-510A 5.6 X

CD-R and CD-RW recording

CD burning time 

Traditionally, we used two types of media, with cyanine and phthalocyanine coating. The number of the trade marks were lifted up to 4, 2 of each type, to get more information of how the drive treats discs of different trade marks. Below is the ATIP for the discs tested. 

Mirex 48x
Disc Type = CDR (B-)
Nominal = 702.83MB (79m 59s 74f/LBA:359849)
Manufacturer = Plasmon Data Systems Ltd.

Philips 32x
Disc Type = CDR (A-) 
Nominal = 702.83MB (79m 59s 73f/LBA:359848)
Manufacturer = RiTEK Corporation

Verbatim 48x
Disc Type = CDR (A+) 
Nominal = 702.83MB (79m 59s 74f/LBA:359849)
Manufacturer = Mitsubishi Chemicals Corporation

The burning results will be partially represented in the graphical form.

Recording on the LG GSA-4040B (Mirex 48x, phthalocyanine)

The screenshot above looks the same for all trade marks of the discs. The burn speed was the same for all trade marks and types of media. We also tested ability of the drive to record cyanine discs at the minimal speed, - the mode usually used by audiophiles to get the highest quality sound. 

Philips 32x 4:26 5:03
Verbatim 48x 4:26 5:04
Mirex 48x 4:24 5:03
Verbatim 8x 21:18 10:28

To extend the picture, I added the results of the Verbatim CD-RW 10x. 

Verbatim 10x
Nominal = 702.83MB (79m 59s 74f/LBA:359849)
Manufacturer = Mitsubishi Chemicals Corporation

Verbatim 24X
Nominal = 656.40MB (74m 43s 00f/LBA:336075)
Manufacturer = Mitsubishi Chemicals Corporation

Recording on the LG GSA-4040B (Verbatim 10x CD-RW)

  Recording on the LG GSA-4040B (Verbatim 24x CD-RW)

The drive has problems with 10x CD-RW media. If it doesn't like one, it slows down the speed to 8x. 

Recording on the LG GSA-4040B (TDK 12x CD-RW)

Most of all I was surprised at the drive's attitude towards Ritek's media selling under TDK trade mark.

Time of CD-RW full formatting in UDF with InCD 4.1.0

CD-RW recording in UDF format, 530 Mb test packet in 3000 files. 

Verbatim 10x CD-RW

CD-RW drive Burn time (min.) Formatting time (min.)
SONY DRU-510A 10:14 9:48
LG GSA-4040B 12:40 10:12

Verbatim 24x CD-RW

CD-RW drive Burn time (min.) Formatting time (min.)
SONY DRU-510A 9:45 6:45
LG GSA-4040B 8:29 6:10

Operation with 80mm CDs (tested with a CD-RW disc), formatting and recording in UDF

Formatting and recording of the 80mm CD-RW disc in UDF, 4x write speed. 

CD-RW drive Formatting time (min.) Burn time (min.)
SONY DRU-510A 9:15 5:48
LG GSA-4040B 9:16 6:04

The drive reads and burns the 80mm discs quite well. 

Reading of the recorded discs on the Lite-On drive with KProbe

Reading of the Philips CD-R recorded on LG GSA-4040B 

Reading of the Verbatim CD-R recorded on LG GSA-4040B 

Reading of the Mirex CD-R recorded on LG GSA-4040B

Reading of the Verbatim 8x CD-R recorded on LG GSA-4040B 

Reading of the Verbatim 10x CD-RW recorded on LG GSA-4040B 

Reading of the Verbatim 24x CD-RW recorded on LG GSA-4040B 


The discs used have the following ATIP. 

Verbatim 48x
Disc Type = CDR (A+) 
Lead In = 97:34:23
Lead Out = 79:59:74
Nominal = 702.83MB (79m 59s 74f/LBA:359849)
Manufacturer = Mitsubishi Chemicals Corporation

Intenso 99 min
Disc Type = CDR (A-)
Lead In = 96:43:37
Lead Out = 79:59:74
Nominal = 702.83MB (79m 59s 74f/LBA:359849)
Manufacturer = RiTEK Corporation

CD-RW drive 80 min CD-R 99 min CD-R
SONY DRU-510A 80:45.30 --:--.--
LG GSA-4040B 81:49.10 95:58.28

CD reading parameters

CDWinBench 99

  SONY DRU-510A LG GSA-4040B
Winmark 2370 1030
Inside transfer 2370 Kb/s 2380 Kb/s
Outside transfer 4660 Kb/s 4600 Kb/s
CPU Utilization  1.86 % 13.3 %
Access Time 120 ms 110 ms


Test CD reading

LG GSA-4040B

  SONY DRU-510A LG GSA-4040B
Average speed  23.83 CAV 25.10 CAV
Random Seek 124 ms 113 ms
Full Seek 237 ms 234 ms
CPU Usage 8X  6 %  8 % 
SpinUp Time 1.34 3.44
SpinDown Time 2.25 2.31
Disc Recognition Time 10.19 sec 10.10 sec
Accurate stream Yes Yes

CD-ROM Drive Analyzer

CD-R reading

LG GSA-4040B

CD-RW reading

LG GSA-4040B

Low-quality CD reading

LG GSA-4040B

CD audio track extraction (CDDAE 99, EAC)

LG GSA-4040B
Average extraction speed 16.2x  7.6x 
Total errors  0.15% 0.00%

Advanced DAE Quality(Nero CD-Speed)

LG GSA-4040B 

The detailed information on the tested parameters is given in the help file to the Nero CD Speed test program. If you don't want to download the utility, here you can find the HTMl help file. 

DAE Quality (EAC)

This test was made by the developer of EAC, and it's called DAE Quality (see its description here). In short, it measures quality of audio data extraction and quality of C2 error processing with a special test disc. In this case it's impossible to measure C2 processing quality, you just look at the general data on quality of audiotrack extraction. 

LG GSA-4040B 

    LG GSA-4040B
  • Errors total Num : 8120390
  • Errors (Loudness) Num : 358034 - Avg : -73.1 dB(A) - Max : -5.9 dB(A)
  • Error Muting Num : 166100 - Avg : 21.6 Samples - Max : 3584 Samples
  • Skips Num : 2 - Avg : 6.0 Samples - Max : 6 Samples
  • Total Test Result : 62.9 points (of 100.0 maximum)
  • C2 Accuracy : 77.0 %

Direct copying of information from 832 MB (92 min) CD-R to HDD

The drive successfully copied the contents of the 832MB drive without any errors. 

 LG GSA-4040B 

Copy time

  • LG GSA-4040B - 12 min. 32 sec.

Drive's physical characteristics 


CD-RW drive Tray CD-Seek CD total DVD-Seek DVD total
LG GSA-4040B 7/10 6/10 7/10 6/10 7/10

There's no much noise when the drive works with properly balanced CDs or at a lower than maximum speed. 

Thermal conditions

CD-RW drive T inside PC case, C T of the upper surface, C T of the lower surface, C
LG GSA-4040B 36 48 48

The drive doesn't get hot even if used a lot. But be careful when placing other devices close to it as they can burn.

Vibration in case of unbalanced CDs

The drive vibrated when it handled such disc but it managed to finish its reading without errors. 


So, all DVD formats have finally gathered in one drive. The merger passed well - we have no complaints about the DVD part. However, the CD section is not that flawless. First of all, the drive might have problems with 10x CD-RW media. Secondly, the audiotrack extraction is not that perfect - some tests finished with a lot of errors. However, they are not that important disadvantages, and the drive deserves a high score for its functionality and operation. 

Roman Shelepov (srl@ixbt.com)

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