iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






MSI CR52-A2 CD-R/RW Review

We haven't tested MSI's CD-RW drives for a long time already, though its line of optical drives is quite lengthy and reaches DVD recorders. The model that we are testing today is one of MSI's latest solutions in the sphere of CD-R/RW devices. However, at the time of publishing this review the company has released a newer model that supports 32x CD-RW drives. Next time we will examine it. And now we have the MSI CR52-A2 on the preparation table.


  • Interface: E-IDE/ATAPI
  • Read speed:
  • CD-ROM/R: 52x (7800 kBytes/s)
  • Write speed:
    • CD-RW: 24x max.
    • CD-R: 52x max.

  • Formats supported:CD-R, CD-RW, CD-ROM, CD-ROM/XA, CD-DA, CD-I, Bootable CS, Photo CD, Video CD, CD-Extra, Mixed Mode CD, CD-Text
  • Write formats: Disc At Once, Track At Once, Session At Once, Multisession, Packet Writing.
  • Access time: 85 ms
  • Buffer size: 2MBytes
  • MTBF ( Life ) :60000 POH (Duty cycle 25%)
  • Dimensions: 148.5mm x 194.2mm x 42.5mm
  • Weight 0.85 kg

The drive came in a Retail package. The box also contains an analog audio cable, screws, blank CD-R and CD-RW, and CD with Nero Burning ROM and InCD.

On the front panel you can see Audio CD buttons which have become a rarity these days. There is also one multicolor status LED. An operable digital audio-out is placed on the back. Judging by what's written on the box, the drive incorporates quite a lot of MSI's technologies. BURN-Proof® is a well-known buffer underrun error prevention technology. EXACT-Rec is Enhanced eXtracting & Adapting Control Technology for Recording. AWSS is Advanced Weighting Suspension System.

The drive encompasses a pretty old Sanyo's chipset, which doesn't support such ultra-modern but not very useful yet features as Mt.Rainier.

Here are the insides.

The labels on top informs on time and location of its production.

The installation brought no problems. You are offered a standard procedure for CD-ROM drives, no special drivers are needed. To handle the drive I used NeroBurning Rom ver which successfully detects this model.

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.

The EAC (EAC Configuration Wizard) determines whether a given drive supports Audio CDs.

As you can see, the drive can't boast of high-quality audio data extraction.

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 used are 4, 2 of each type, in order 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 the MSI CR52-A2 ( Philips 32x, phthalocyanine) 

Recording on the MSI CR52-A2 (Mirex 48x, phthalocyanine)

Recording on the MSI CR52-A2 (Verbatim 48x, cyanine)

We also checked whether the drive can burn correctly cyanine discs at the minimal speed, - this mode is mostly used by audiophiles to get highest-quality records.

  • SKC 4x: burn time 21:19 min.

To extend the picture, I added the burn results of the Verbatim CD-RW 10x and 24x. Unfortunately, we didn't have 24x 700mb media at hand, and used 650mb discs.

Recording on the MSI CR52-A2 (Verbatim 10x CD-RW)

Recording on the MSI CR52-A2 (Verbatim 24x CD-RW)

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 3000 files.

Recording on the MSI CR52-A2
Disc Burn time (min.) Formatting time (min.)
Verbatim 10x 11:20 14:28
Verbatim 24x 8:25 11:25

Operation with 80mm CDs (tested by the example of 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.)
MSI CR52-A2 9:01 5:54

The drive successfully reads and burns 80mm discs.

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 23-34
Verbatim 48x 9-17
Mirex 48x 6-13
SKC 4x 65-84

Judging by the test results the burning quality is pretty high. Later we will publish test results of the professional equipment CDCATS SA3 to get some more information on the record quality.

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

Reading of the Philips disc recorded on the MSI CR52-A2 

Reading of the Verbatim disc recorded on the MSI CR52-A2  

Reading of the Mirex disc recorded on the MSI CR52-A2  

Some programs sometimes incorrectly detect the new Mirex discs with the ATIP Plasmon.

Reading of the SKC disc recorded on the MSI CR52-A2  

The level of errors on the discs recorded is not very high.


CD-RW drive 80 min CD-R 90 min CD-R
MSI CR52-A2 81:39.58 93:57.57

Testing main read parameters of CD discs

CDWinBench 99

Winmark 2540
Inside transfer 3350 Kb/s
Outside transfer 7050 Kb/s
CPU Utilization 1.57 %
Access Time 77,7 ms


Test CD reading


Average speed 38.56x CAV
Random Seek 86 ms
Full Seek 147 ms
CPU Usage 8X 6 %
SpinUp Time 0.80
SpinDown Time 3.45
Disc Recognition Time 0.10 sec
Accurate stream Yes

CD-ROM Drive Analyzer

CD-R reading 


CD-RW reading

Low-quality CD reading


CD audio track extraction (CDDAE 99, EAC)


Licensed disc  Pirated disc
Average extraction speed 34.3x 33.7x
Total errors 0.00% 0.00%

EAC (high quality mode) MSI CR52-A2

Licensed disc  Pirated disc
Average extraction speed 13.8x 13.4x
Total errors 0.00% 0.00%

Advanced DAE Quality(Nero CD-Speed)

MSI CR52-A2 drive

The drive reads Subchannel Data correctly. In general, it perfectly copes with this test.

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, and we can show you only the general data on audiotrack extraction quality.

MSI CR52-A2 drive

    MSI CR52-A2
  • Total Test Result : 80.2 points (of 100.0 maximum)

Although the drive can't return information on C2 errors, the overall audio track extraction quality is pretty high.

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

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


Copy time

  • MSI CR52-A2 - 5 min. 30 sec.

Drive's physical characteristics


CD-RW drive Tray CD-Seek CD general
MSI CR52-A2 8/10 7/10 6/10

As usual, a high speed makes the drive noisy. When working at the maximum speed with CD discs, it reaches a considerable noise level. The speed can be reduced with external programs  CD-Bremsie or Nero DriveSpeed, and the range of speed is very wide.

Thermal conditions

CD-RW drive T inside PC case, C T of the upper surface, C T of the lower surface, C
MSI CR52-A2 36 48 49

The drive doesn't get too hot even when used a lot. But be careful when placing equipment close to it as it can burn.

Vibration in case of unbalanced CDs

The drive's performance is acceptable when it operates with CDs which are not properly balanced. Although it vibrated and made noise at the high speed, it managed to finish reading the disc.


MSI developed a nice drive which can meet all requirements made for the drives of this class. Some may not like that it doesn't support the up-to-date Mt.Rainier standard, but I don't think that it's that necessary these days. If you need a drive for today's applications, this one can be a good dray-horse.

Roman Shelepov aka SRL (srl@ixbt.com)

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