Special thanks to Newegg for supplying hardware for this comparison test.


How much faster will optical drives get? CD-ROM drives and CD burners topped out at 52X after years of jumping up the ladder from the original 1X speeds, and it seems as though DVD-ROM drives and DVD burners are following the same path; obviously, there is a trend here. Beginning at 1X, then raising the bar to 2X/2.4X just like the old days of CD burners, DVD drives have made it to 16X speeds in only a matter of a few years, thanks to the research that the big name companies performed during the compact disc hype. Two competing standards probably don't hurt acceleration development either.

Before the world takes on the newly-forming standards for high definition discs, like Blu-Ray and HD-DVDs, the life of current 4.5GB/9GB DVDs still has a ways to go. Current audio/video content does not have a high demand for storage space and since there is only a small amount of hardware that can play high definition video, current 4.5GB/9GB DVDs will suffice for a while. Backwards compatible HD-DVD drives are already slated for deployment next year, and Blu-Ray isn't far behind either, but those standards will take a while to be fully adopted. So, we continue our quest to push the limits of current technologies in use today.

Back in August, we looked at Pioneer's 16X burner, the DVR-108D, and compared its performance to that of Plextor's 12X PX-712A, not as a fair competition, because obviously they are of different speeds, but rather as a general measure of how much faster 16X burners are compared to their 12X predecessors. The DVR-108D performed extremely well and carried great features like Dual Layer +R read/write and DVD-RAM read capabilities. Dual layer writing capabilities have become a standard in newer DVD burners. If there is a 16X burner introduced, it had better have the ability to write to a dual layer disc with at least 2.4X speeds, or it most likely won't make it in the market. Many of the big name manufacturers are seeing this as a standard and will not put a stripped down drive in stores for that reason. Other features such as a PI/PO read back ability as well as the newly-introduced bitsetting feature, which we will explain in a bit more detail later, are becoming just as popular as the dual layer feature.

We had mentioned before that as soon as we got our hands on more 16X models from various manufacturers, we would compare each drive's performance, and we have done just that. We pitted Pioneer's DVR-108D against BenQ's DW1620, MSI's DR16-B, NEC's ND-3500AG, Sony's DRU-710A, NuTech DDW-163, LG GSA-4160B and LiteOn's SHOW-1633 to see which unit will rule them all!

Picking the Right Drive


View All Comments

  • Warder45 - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    I think some are forgeting that testing these things doesn't happen over night. Between other reviews, news, etc and normal working hours it could be quite easy to have a new firmware come out after you've already tested.

    For the plextor drive it does seem like bestbuy's website has them in stock for $140 with a $30 MIR. So is the extra's of a plextor worth the extra $30 to $40?
  • Mem - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    I notice with the Lite-On 1633 drive you was for the roundup still had the original firmware,there`s a new firmware "BSOK" update out dated 26th OCT that has "matched more media" support.

    I happen to own the external version and can say it`s very quiet while burning and also in playback mode,the only noisy thing is the tray when ejecting IMHO,btw I think it`s a great burner very low P1/PO errors and no bad burns so far.
  • Dennis Travis - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    What is interesting is I just bought a Plextor PX-716a at Best Buy this last week. It works GREAT so far. Will do more testing but so far it's fast and reliable. It is at UDMA 4 by the way. It flys.

    It came with both a White and Black face and door.
  • Bozo Galora - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    er, Nov 8 for PREORDER
    apparently they are still working out bugs

    I note in the specs that the drive will run in UltraUDMA mode 4 or 66MB/sec in addition to PIO
  • Bozo Galora - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link


    looks like Nov 8 for USA
  • Bozo Galora - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    I have never seen a 16X Plextor review - care to link one?

    Latest Plextools out today 2.18
  • Mookie13 - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    Can anybody comment on the noise level of any of these drives (esp. the NEC, BenQ and Pioneer)? I'd like to throw one of these in a sff and use it as a htpc, so a loud drive spinning sound would really bother me. Reply
  • KristopherKubicki - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    Maverick215: Feel free to download the .zip files with all of the disc quality q-tools and nero tests.

    techfuzz: When we tested the drive 2.16 was the newest available.

    As for the BenQ drive, we tested with the newest firmware possible.

  • Aquila76 - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    From page 9 (Sony Review) <<...dual layer burners are pseudonymous with 16X burners...>>

    I think the word you're looking for is 'synonymous', not 'pseudonymous'. A pseudonym means 'a fake name', whereas a synonym means 'basically the same thing'. However, in Sony's case, pseudonym may be more accurate.
  • Belzer - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    I find the average write speed of 11.88x for the NEC on 8x DVD±R MCC media very hard to believe. It would need to support them at max 16x speed to get this average speed and it does not, unless you've used a hacked firmware.

    I also doubt that the Pioneer is faster than the BenQ @12x on 8x MCC DVD+R if you compare the actual write time. Other tests have shown the BenQ to be a good 30 seconds faster than the Pioneer at 12x thanks to PCAV write tech (vs. ZCLV).

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