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DVD-ROM/CD-R/RW Drives Roundup (Part 2)

August 23, 2002






I didn't expect so many various drives from huge and well-known companies. For example, Plextor - there are no users who have never heard about drives of this company before. The testing technique remained the same. But we will add results of testing with a DVD+R disc. Therefore we will be able to evaluate operation of the tested drives with all latest DVD standards. 

Test participants.

Test results.

Recording of CD-R and CD-RW discs (Part 2).

CD recording time.

As some combo drives have lower maximum write speed, we carried out the tests at several speeds so that it can be possible to compare different devices. 

Recording of the CD-R SKC (cyanine, 16x rated speed).
 

CD-RW drive Time at 12x(min.) Time at 16x(min.) Time at 20x(min.)
PIONEER DCR-111 06:52 --:-- --:--
PLEXTOR PX-320A 06:58 06:22 06:34
LG GCC-4120B 06:28 --:--  --:-- 

The LG's drive is the fastest in recording cyanine media at 12x. 

Recording of the CD-R Philips Silver Premium (phthalocyanine, 16x rated speed).
 

CD-RW drive Time at 12x(min.) Time at 16x(min.) Time at 20x(min.)
PIONEER DCR-111 06:35 --:-- --:--
PLEXTOR PX-320A 06:48 05:22 05:24
LG GCC-4120B 06:28 --:--  --:-- 

Again the LG's drive copes best of all with the phthalocyanine discs at 12x. The write speed of this drive is identical for both media types. 

It's interesting that recording at 20x is sometimes slower than at 16x for the Plextor. It can be caused either by the Power Rec II technology used for record quality improvement or by the Z-CLV technology used at high speeds (this technology controls changes in the write speed depending on a disc's zone). 

Time of full formatting of a CD-RW disc in UDF format with the InCD ver. 3.24.3. CD-RW recording in UDF, 650 Mb test packet in 6500 files.

Philips CD-RW74 4x 
 

CD-RW drive Formatting time (min.) Recording time (min.)
PIONEER DCR-111 29:25 55:41
PLEXTOR PX-320A 28:50 55:12
LG GCC-4120B 28:53 56:12 

Verbatim DataLifePlus 10x 
 

CD-RW drive Formatting time (min.) Recording time (min.)
PIONEER DCR-111 12:43 26:12
PLEXTOR PX-320A 13:01 26:10
LG GCC-4120B 22:38 42:31 

Unfortunately, the LG's drive has 8x maximum when working with high-speed CD-RW discs, hence such modest results. The Plextor's solution takes the first position in the tests with CD-RW media. 

Operation with 80mm CDs using a CD-RW disc, formatting and recording in UDF.

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

CD-RW drive Formatting time (min.) Recording time (min.)
PIONEER DCR-111 10:32 6:04
PLEXTOR PX-320A 10:45 6:06
LG GCC-4120B 11:03 6:10 

All drives are able to read and write 80mm discs well. 

BLER factor of recorded CD-R discs.
For these tests we used a device described in this review
 

CD-RW drive Philips Silver Premium SKC 16x 
PIONEER DCR-111 4-8 12-16
PLEXTOR PX-320A 29-36 34-41
LG GCC-4120B 1-3 3-6 

Obviously, the high write speed affected the results of the Plextor's solution, and even the Power Rec II didn't help. Nevertheless, they are not so bad. The LG's recording quality looks quite surprising. 

Overburn.
 

CD-RW drive Philips Silver Premium SKC 16x 
PIONEER DCR-111 75:34.04 76:35.42
PLEXTOR PX-320A 76:29.25 77:07.35
LG GCC-4120B 76:31.29 78:06.59 

The highest Overburn is reached with the LG's model on all media types. 

Basic parameters of CD reading.

CDWinBench 99 test results.
 
 




 
 


 
 


 
 


Although the Plextor's drive outscores the Pioneer's in the data rate by a great margin, it loses to the latter in the Winmark. 

NERO CD Speed results.

Test CD reading. 

PIONEER DCR-111



PLEXTOR PX-320A



LG GCC-4120B 




PIONEER DCR-111 PLEXTOR PX-320A LG GCC-4120B 
Average speed 27.43x CAV 30.70x CAV 24.69x CAV
Random Seek 94 ms 111 ms 99 ms
Full Seek 183 ms 392 ms 157 ms
SpinUp Time N/A N/A N/A
SpinDown Time N/A N/A N/A
Disc Eject Time 0.76 1.44 sec 1.31 sec
Disc Load Time 10.22 sec 12.32 sec 8.82 sec
Disc Recognition Time 0.00 sec 0.08 sec 1.08 sec
Accurate stream Yes Yes No

Again the Plextor's drive is ahead in the disc reading speed, but falls behind in all other parameters. 

CD-ROM Drive Analyzer

CD-R reading.

PIONEER DCR-111 



PLEXTOR PX-320A 



LG GCC-4120B 



CD-RW reading.

PIONEER DCR-111 



PLEXTOR PX-320A 



LG GCC-4120B 



Low-quality CD reading.

PIONEER DCR-111 



PLEXTOR PX-320A 



LG GCC-4120B 



As we can see, the Plextor's drive enabled a speed reduction mechanism for the low-quality discs. If this drive decides that a given disc is of poor quality, it will reduce the speed without any further attempts to lift it up. In all other respects, all discs cope quite well with reading of low-quality CDs. There were no uncorrectable errors in the reading process. 

Sound track extraction from audio CDs (CDDAE 99).

PIONEER DCR-111
 

  Licensed disc Pirated disc
Average extraction speed 15.3x 14.7x
Total errors 0.00% 0.00%

PLEXTOR PX-320A
 

  Licensed disc Pirated disc
Average extraction speed 32.8x 32.2x
Total errors 0.00% 0.00%

LG GCC-4120B 
 

  Licensed disc Pirated disc
Average extraction speed 17.6x 12.4x
Total errors 0.00% 0.00%

Plextor promised in its booklets the highest possible extraction speed. Well, it's really so. This drive leaves all its competitors far behind. 

Advanced DAE Quality(Nero CD-Speed)

PIONEER DCR-111


Offset 2640 bytes (660 samples)
Sequential Read Test Average Speed: 15.97 X 
Data Errors: 0 
Sync Errors: 0
Harmonica Read Test Average Access Time: 127 ms
Data Errors: 1321875
Sync Errors: 0 

Total Data Errors: 1321875
Total Sync Errors: 0
Quality Score: 75.0

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
data errors
Copying at 16 X
too slow
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. 1 sectors (-00:00.01) from the Leadin 
Leadout Drive cannot read data from the Leadout


PLEXTOR PX-320A


Offset 272 bytes (68 samples)
Sequential Read Test Average Speed: 29.71 X 
Data Errors: 0 
Sync Errors: 0
Harmonica Read Test Average Access Time: 159 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. 3325 sectors (00:44.25) from the Leadout


LG GCC-4120B


Offset 2812 bytes (703 samples)
Sequential Read Test Average Speed: 18.11 X 
Data Errors: 0 
Sync Errors: 0
Harmonica Read Test Average Access Time: 138 ms
Data Errors: 293750
Sync Errors: 0 

Total Data Errors: 293750
Total Sync Errors: 0
Quality Score: 90.6

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
Data Errors: 58750 
Copying at 10 X
Data Errors: 29375
Copying at 12 X
too slow
Copying at 16 X
too slow
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): 00:00.00 -> incorrect!
Absolute position (33:35.00): 64:00.00 -> incorrect!
Index (1): 1

Test 3
Track (36): 36
Relative position (00:00.00): 64:00.00 -> incorrect!
Absolute position (70:02.00): 64:00.00 -> incorrect!
Index (1): 1

Leadin Drive cannot read data from the Leadin 
Leadout Drive cannot read data from the Leadout

The data obtained earlier coincide with the above results. The Plextor's drive copes with it best and fast of all. 

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.

Reading of CD-R 780MB (90min) 
 

CD-RWdrive Rostok Media 90 min
PIONEER DCR-111 5:26 min
PLEXTOR PX-320A 6:34 min
LG GCC-4120B 8:10 min

All drives read excellently the test CD. The Pioneer's drive is on the top. 

Basic parameters of DVD reading.

NERO DVD Speed test.

Reading of test DVD. 

PIONEER DCR-111 



PLEXTOR PX-320A 



LG GCC-4120B




PIONEER DCR-111 PLEXTOR PX-320A  LG GCC-4120B
Average speed 5.88x CAV 2.07x P-CAV 4.50x CAV
Random Seek 92 ms 180 ms 106 ms
Full Seek 182ms 323 ms 182 ms
SpinUp Time 1.03 sec 1.58 sec 2.27 sec
SpinDown Time 2.76 sec 2.49 sec 3.68 sec
Disc Eject Time 0.76 sec 1.46 sec 1.19 sec
Disc Load Time 7.17 sec 23.91 sec 14.41 sec
Layer Change Time 87 ms 172 ms 15 ms
Disc Recognition Time 0.00 sec N/A 0.17 sec

As you can see, the intelligence of the Plextor's drive played a mean joke, because when working with DVD-Video the drive switches to a lower speed to reduce a noise level. Unfortunately, we were not able to raise the speed manually. 

DVD-Video copying with the Smart Ripper.
 

CD-RWdrive DVD beo
PIONEER DCR-111 10:15 min
PLEXTOR PX-320A 28:32 min
LG GCC-4120B 13:34 min

Well, the Plextor's model has expressed a desire to work at a reduced speed with DVD-Video. 

Reading of the recordable DVD discs.

Reading DVD+R.

PIONEER DCR-111 



PLEXTOR PX-320A 



LG GCC-4120B 



All drives managed to read information from the DVD+R disc. But we constantly pressed the Retry button because of multiple errors with the Pioneer's disc. 

DVD+RW reading.

PIONEER DCR-111 



PLEXTOR PX-320A 



LG GCC-4120B



All drives cope nicely with this format. The highest speed is reached by the Plextor's model. 

DVD-R reading.

PIONEER DCR-111 



PLEXTOR PX-320A 



The LG's drive can't read the DVD-R. The Plextor's model defines the disc's size incorrectly, hence the errors. But it did finish reading the disc. 

DVD-RW reading.

PIONEER DCR-111 



PLEXTOR PX-320A 



LG GCC-4120B 



Here the Pioneer's drive is in the same situation as before. It failed to define the disc's size correctly and brought in some errors. But again, it was able to read the contents till the end. 

DVD-Video playback with Cyberlink PowerDVD 4.0.

All drives play DVD-Video without any artifacts. 

Drives' physical characteristics. 

Noise.
 
CD-RW drive Tray CD-Seek CD general DVD-Seek DVD general
PIONEER DCR-111 7/10 7/10 6/10 8/10 8/10
PLEXTOR PX-320A 10/10 7/10 6/10 8/10 8/10
LG GCC-4120B 8/10 7/10  7/10  8/10 8/10

All drives make much noise at the highest speeds. The LG's drive turned out to be the quietest one. Nevertheless, all drives are able to reduce the maximum speed with the external programs and the overall noise level can be brought to the acceptable value. 

Thermal conditions.
 

CD-RW drive T inside the system unit, C T of the upper surface, C T of the lower surface, C
PIONEER DCR-111 36 g 48 g 49 g
PLEXTOR PX-320A 36 g 45 g 46 g
LG GCC-4120B 36 g 46 g  47 g 

The only drive we are not pleased with is the one from Pioneer. In course of operation it was the hottest. The other drives behaved better. Nevertheless, I don't recommend to place any devices close to them to avoid overheating. 

Vibration in operation with badly balanced CDs.

The LG's one worked worst of all with such discs. It vibrated a lot. The other two drives had it much better. 

Conclusion.

So, we have pumped through some more combo drives from well-known manufacturers. The Plextor's solution thrives here, though it has some downsides, for example, it has problems with some recordable DVD formats, but I hope it will be corrected in its next versions.  


Roman Shelepov aka SRL (srl@ixbt.com)

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