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

  • Maverick215 - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    1) where are the 8x disc quality tests, it seems you only did -r, 16x, and DL
    2) who cares about DL at $10 a disc I have to quote you, "read/write capabilities are not really useful in applications for the common end user."
    3) who cares about 16x
    a)it's not readily available
    b) will likely be more expensive when it is
    c) no realized speed improvement (your review states 11.9x max for 16x and 11.88 max for 8x media @ 12x (again we don't know the burn quality of this 8x@12 burn but you gave the result)
    given these I'd have to say "read/write capabilities are not really useful in applications for the common end user." again.
    And to just take one drive here, the benq, you used a BETA firmware, it might be fair if you used a BETA of a upcoming release, but you used a BETA that is 3 public releases and atleast 5 weeks old. you consider NEC more mature, why not give Benq etc a chance to mature? At the very least you could say all burners were updated as of xyz date, at least we would have a reference point. And we could then understand that infact you started doing this comparison 5 weeks ago.
    That minor point aside. If you really care what is applicable to the "common end user" then why not more 8x media with the price of said media and then that media's burn quality tests(16x has a use here in comparing burn quality). 8x is what's most readily available, 8x@12x is comparable burn speed to 16x.
    Sorry but this review just leaves me with an empty feeling. Perhaps I am alone in my opinion, but I can live with that.
  • Reflex - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    Nice to know I made the right choice a month and a half ago when I grabbed the 3500A. It wasn't anything more than me looking for a bargain for a Media Center PC, so I just lucked into the best drive it appears.

    BTW, where do you find the latest firmware for this stuff? And are there any good reccomendations on softare, seeing as OEM drives don't come with it usually...
  • AkumaX - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    don't really care about speed, but which burner has the best COMPATIBILITY and RELIABILITY in terms of burning? the 108D or the 3500A or something else? Reply
  • mkruer - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    So I take it DVD+R/RW won the format wars. BTW that would be a good article in itself. Why IS there a difference between the two formats (that’s -R vs +R) Reply
  • KristopherKubicki - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    Most of the drives we reviewed are the OEM versions - they pretty much all look identical (flat, beige/black, one button).

  • PuravSanghani - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    OCedHrt: Errors have been fixed for your viewing pleasure :) Reply
  • Operandi - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    xsilver: If the drive is a re-badge then just say so in the artical, I don't think a picture is required.

    My point is simply that if your going get pics of the drives you should be taking pics of the portion people will be looking at. Other pics are fine but not geing bezel shoots dosn't make any sense to me.
  • OCedHrt - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    Hmm dunno how to edit. The CD-R write speed for the Pioneer between the graph and the table at the end is also different. Reply
  • OCedHrt - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    The description for the Ritek G05 read test doesn't match the graph at all. One of them is wrong. Reply
  • xsilver - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    I think the circuit pcb thing is a good idea -- some drives a just rebadges of other drives? (asus?) so to tell you look that the pcb / insides Reply

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