iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Lite-On LSC-24081MX Slim Combo Drive Review

June 24, 2003

The class of slim combo optical equipment this drive belongs to has become widespread not long ago. Such drives are popular mostly with owners of compact and ultra-slim notebooks which have no space for internal optical drives but which have high-speed USB 2.0 or Firewire interfaces. A user can save a lot with a drive from third manufacturers because such products from notebook makers are very expensive. And today we are dealing with a drive from one of the largest Taiwanese optical drive makers - Lite-On. 


  • Interface: USB 2.0
  • Read speed:
    • DVD-ROM 8X CAV
    • CD-ROM 24 X CAV
    • DAE:24X max CAV 

  • Data rate:
    • CD-ROM: 3600 KB/sec (24X)
    • DVD-ROM: 10800 KB/sec (8X)

  • Average access time:
    • CD: 95 ms
    • DVD: 100 ms 

  • Formats supported: 
    • DVD: single/dual layer DVD, DVD+R/RW, DVD-R/RW
    • CD: CD-Audio, CD-ROM, CD-ROM/XA, CD-I, Mixed Mode CD-ROM, Photo CD, CD-Extra, Video CD, CD-Text, DVCD, Bootable CD

  • Write speed:
    • CD-R: 24x ( 3600KB/sec ) Zone-CLV 
    • CD-RW: 12x ( 1800KB/sec ) Zone-CLV 

  • Record methods: Support Fixed Packet, Variable Packet, TAO, SAO, DAO, Raw Mode Burning & Over-Burn 
  • Data buffer: 2MBytes 
  • Service life: 70,000 Hours 
  • Weight: 190 g
  • Dimensions: 138 ( W ) x 24.7 ( H ) x 177 ( D ) mm 

The drive came in the retail package. Judging by the specs, such a small device accumulates a lot of Lite-On's own technologies: SMART-BURN® (avoiding Buffer Under Run error, Automatically adjusting writing strategy & running OPC to provide the best burning quality), SMART-X® (Smart Monitoring & Adjusting Read-speed Technology for eXtraction; for example, DVD-Video will be played at a low speed, and copied at the maximum speed) and DFS® (Floating Double Suspension System to reduce vibration & noise during recording & reading).

The box contains the drive itself, an external pulse power supply unit 2.5A 5V, a USB-miniUSB interface cable, an analog audio cable, blank CD-R and CD-RW, a diskette with drivers for Windows 98, a CD with Nero Burning ROM and InCD, and one more CD with a software DVD player Power DVD XP. 

The drive turns on after you connect it to the power network and to the PC. In front the drive houses only an Eject button and a status LED. 

On the backside you can see a Mini-USB connector (a 5-pin which is getting popular with manufacturers of mobile equipment), a power supply unit connector and an audio-out. There is also a power supply indicator on top near the backside (it works only when the drive is connected to PC). 

If you open the tray you will see a standard pickup usually used in optical drives built in notebooks.

The label above informs when and where the drive was made.

The installation brought no problems to us. In case of the W2K and XP you don't need any drivers (the drive uses USB Mass storage device drivers) - just connect it to PC to make it ready for work. In case of the Win98 you must install drivers before connection or run the installation process at the moment of connecting the drive to PC (the PC may need to restart). To handle the drive I used NeroBurning Rom ver which successfully detects this model. 

And now I'm going to get more information on the drive using some utilities; for example, Nero Infotool which tells what formats and disc types the drive supports

As you can see from the screenshot, it's still impossible to turn the drive from RPC-2 to RPC-1 (according to www.firmware-flash.com). However, you can use the DVD Region free program which provides the regional protection. 

Unfortunately, we couldn't find out whether the drive works with Audio CD with the EAC (EAC Configuration Wizard) simply because the EAC does not support USB 2.0 connected external drives. 

Test results

CD-R and CD-RW recording

CD recording time

Traditionally, we used two types of media - with cyanine and phthalocyanine coating. The number of the trade marks are 4, 2 of each type, to get more information on how the drive treats discs of different trade marks. The burning results will be partially represented in the graphical form.

Recording on Lite-On LSC-24081MX ( Verbatim 48x, cyanine)

The screenshot above is typical for all trade marks of the discs. The write speed was almost the same for all trade marks and types of the media. We also tested ability of the drive to record cyanine discs at the minimal speed, - this mode is usually used by music lovers to get the highest quality sound. 

CD-R disc Burn time
Philips 32x 6:17
Verbatim 48x 6:13
Mirex 48x 6:18
SKC 4x 21:14

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

Recording on Lite-On LSC-24081MX (Verbatim 10x CD-RW)

Although the disc used is certified only for 10X write speed, the drive could burn it at 12X. 

Time of CD-RW full formatting in UDF with InCD ver. 3.5.2

CD-RW recording in UDF format, 530 Mb test packet in 3550 files. 

Verbatim DataLifePlus 10x 


Burn time (min.) Formatting time (min.)
12:45 19:35

Operation with 80mm CDs (tested by the example of a CD-RW disc), formatting and recording in

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

Formatting time (min.) Burn time (min.)
9:12 6:14

The drive reads and burns 80mm discs quite well.

BLER factor of the CD-R recorded

The most important part of the tests, and we here used the device described in this article.

CD-R disc BLER 
Philips 32x 7-18
Verbatim 48x 18-34
Mirex 48x 23-38
SKC 4x 64-94

The error level on the SKC media is very high, but in other cases it is acceptable. 

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

KProbe is a new test utility developed for OS Windows with functions similar to the earlier used WSES; it estimates a level of C1/C2 errors on a disc tested. The results partially depend on whether the drive likes a given disc or not, but some general information on a disc tested can be obtained. 

Philips disc recorded on the Lite-On LSC-24081MX 

Verbatim disc recorded on the Lite-On LSC-24081MX 

Mirex disc recorded on the Lite-On LSC-24081MX

SKC disc recorded on the Lite-On LSC-24081MX 

The results on the last screenshot are in full conformity with the BLER measurements in the previous test for the SKC disc. Later we will publish the test results obtained with the professional equipment CDCATS SA3, and then we will see who is right in this test. 


CD-RW drive 80 min CD-R 90 min CD-R
Lite-On LSC-24081MX 81:42.35 91:47.06

In this test we used the 90min CD-R disc, but it failed several times, and we had to record three discs to get the data. Although there was an error at the end of burning, the data recorded were successfully read on other drives.

Testing main read parameters of CD discs

CDWinBench 99

Winmark 1460
Inside transfer 1510 Kb/s
Outside transfer 3320 Kb/s
CPU Utilization  3.06 %
Access Time 97.7 ms


Test CD reading

Lite-On LSC-24081MX

  Lite-On LSC-24081MX
Average speed  18.74x CAV
Random Seek 108 ms
Full Seek 308 ms
CPU Usage 8X  49 % 
SpinUp Time 0.07
SpinDown Time 0.84
Disc Recognition Time 5.0 sec
Accurate stream Yes

CD-ROM Drive Analyzer

CD-R reading

Lite-On LSC-24081MX

CD-RW reading

Lite-On LSC-24081MX

Low-quality CD reading

Lite-On LSC-24081MX

CD audio track extraction 

Audiograbber 1.82 Lite-On LSC-24081MX
  Licensed disc  Pirated disc
Average extraction speed 16.30x 15.40x
Total errors 0.00% 0.00%


Advanced DAE Quality(Nero CD-Speed)

Lite-On LSC-24081MX drive

Note that the drive correctly reads Subchannel Data. In general, the drive copes well with this test and demonstrates a good kit of tools for quality audio track extraction. 

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, then here you can find the HTMl help file.

DAE Quality (EAC)

This test was made by the developer of the EAC, and it's called DAE Quality (here you can find its description). 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 the C2 processing quality, have a look only at general data of audiotrack extraction quality.

Lite-On LSC-24081MX drive

    Lite-On LSC-24081MX
  • Total Test Result : 56.9 points (of 100.0 maximum)

Direct copying of information from 780 MB CD-R to HDD

The drive successfully copied contents of the 780MB disc without any errors. 

Lite-On LSC-24081MX

Copy time

  • Lite-On LSC-24081MX - 6 min. 30 sec.

Main reading parameters of DVD media


Test DVD reading

Lite-On LSC-24081MX single-layer DVD (pressed DVD-Data)

  Lite-On LSC-24081MX
Average speed  5.97x CAV
Random Seek 103 ms
Full Seek 173 ms
CPU usage (Max Speed) 5 %
SpinUp Time 0.03 sec
SpinDown Time 1.38 sec
Disc Recognition Time 5.28 sec

Lite-On LSC-24081MX 2-layer DVD (pressed DVD-Video)

  Lite-On LSC-24081MX
Average speed  4.48x CAV
Random Seek 111 ms
Full Seek 204 ms
CPU usage (Max Speed) 4 %
SpinUp Time 0.02 sec
SpinDown Time 3.38 sec
Disc Recognition Time 4.59 sec
Layer Change Time 86 ms

Reading of recordable DVD

DVD+R reading

Lite-On LSC-24081MX

DVD+RW reading

Lite-On LSC-24081MX

DVD-R reading

Lite-On LSC-24081MX

DVD-RW reading

Lite-On LSC-24081MX

The drive doesn't cope well with DVD+R/RW media, but it correctly reads Multiborder discs. 

DVD Video copying with Smart Ripper

CD-RW drive Average speed
Lite-On LSC-24081MX 4.6 X

Physical characteristics of the drive

Noise, thermal conditions, vibration.

For this class of drives a noise level of this model is acceptable. Noise comes mostly from discs which are not properly balanced. The drive also noticeably vibrates at that. Although protection from such effects is said to be provided, we have to admit that this technology doesn't work in all cases. But in spite of vibration the drive managed to finish reading of such discs. 

The drive doesn't get too hot even when used a lot. Its temperature didn't affect quality of reading the media. 


Lite-on is known mostly due to CD-RW recorders from SONY which places OEM order with Lite-On. But the whole line of optical drives from Lite-On is already available on our market. The tests show that owners of notebooks are offered a handy and compact combo drive which confidently works with all optical discs. The only downside is that the vibration and noise reduction system doesn't always work properly. 

Roman Shelepov aka SRL (srl@ixbt.com)

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