Introduction and Construction

Even with the backing of enormous manufacturers like Hitachi and LG, the DVD-RAM format never quite got off the ground in the retail market. Only up until a few months ago, you needed a separate DVD-RAM burner to write data. LG was the first to step up to the task in creating a true, universal DVD writer using chipsets designed from the ground up. Today, we take a look at their second generation "Super Multi" drive and see if it can really take the heat against tried and true burners already available on the market.

The GSA-4120B comes with fairly good documentation in both paper and electronic form. We were pleased with the level of detail included in the manual. However, the software bundle was just average. Included was PowerDVD, PowerProducer Gold, Nero Express and InCD. These are good starter software packages, but a drive of this caliber should really bundle the full version of Nero. No media was included with the drive.

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Below is a quick overview of specifications on the drive:

LG GSA-4120B DVD-/+R Drive
Interface PATA
CD Write Speed 40X, 32X, 24X (Z-CLV)
16X, 12X, 8X, 4X (CLV)
CD Rewrite Speed 24X (Z-CLV)
16X, 12X, 8X, 4X (CLV)
CD Read Speed 40X Max (CAV)
DVD-R Write Speed 8X (Z-CLV)
4X, 2X (CLV)
DVD-RW Rewrite Speed 4X, 2X, 1X (CLV)
DVD+R Write Speed 12X, 8X (Z-CLV)
4X, 2X (CLV)
DVD+RW Rewrite Speed 4X, 2.4X (CLV)
DVD-RAM Write Speed 5X (CLV)
DVD Read Speed 16X Max (CAV)
Supported Modes DAO / DAO-RAW 16 & 96
SAO / SAO 16 & 96
Packet Write
Supported Formats DVD+R (DAO, incremental, seq)
DVD+RW (random)
DVD-R (DAO, incremental, seq)
DVD-RW (restricted overwrite)

Mixed Mode, CD Extra
Photo CD, CD Text, Bootable CD, UDF
Access Time CD: 135ms
DVD: 155ms
Buffer 2MB

Most specifications on the GSA-4120B are similar to that of the Plextor 708A, our previous champion for DVD recording. The Plextor 712A was able to raise the bar on all of these specifications except DVD dual layer and DVD-RAM recording. However, the addition of these two burn types are significant advantages over any Plextor burner.

DVD Dual Layer (DVD DL) is something vendors and end users have been talking about for a considerable amount of time now. Unfortunately, media still has not hit the mainstream. We are hearing from select vendors that the occasional disc or two will sell for upwards of $5, but in the meantime, we have to sit and wait for Verbatim and Ritek to let their media slowly trickle down to end users.

Oddly enough, Nero and DVD Info Pro identify the GSA-4120B as only capable of 4X DVD-RAM burning (the box advertises 5X). Since we do not have 5X DVD-RAM media, nor was any included with the drive, we simply have to take LG's word for it until reliable 5X media becomes available.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Unfortunately, the drive does not use a chipset with which we are particularly familiar. The previous LG GSA-4081B used a custom chipset that was based loosely around NEC and Hitachi components. More than likely, the GSA-4120B is still based around a Hitachi chipset, since the drive cover clearly states "Designed by Hitachi-LG Data Storage Inc".

Click to enlarge.

There are no official booktype setting capabilities for this drive. There are several unofficial firmwares that burn the discs with a DVD-ROM booktype, but we will only focus on retail firmware in this review.

Burn Tests CDR Media
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  • MysticMan1 - Wednesday, July 7, 2004 - link

    Update: I see in another review that the reviewer was able to burn 2 DL disc and play them back successfully.
  • MysticMan1 - Friday, July 2, 2004 - link

    What I find odd is that on the LG web site it says that the LG GSA-4120B "supports" DL disc, but it doesn't say you can burn a DL disc with this the GSA-4120B burner, maybe that's why all the test on DL media ended with coasters :P
  • mino - Sunday, June 27, 2004 - link

    Kris: 3x RAM media would suffice as ViRGE allready pointed out.
    You also benchmarked DVD+R 8x and didn't skip these tests just because no 12x media were present.
  • AtaStrumf - Sunday, June 20, 2004 - link

    Missing images here as well!

    As for LG's DVD burners. I and a friend both have LG GSA-4081Bs and we're quite happy with them. It writes quickly, reads quickly, the only complaint is that it sucks for burning CDRs. Very slow, very picky with media, simply no good. I put my TEAC 24x CD-RW and friend's LiteOn 48x CD-RW back in after a week or so.

    As for the need for DVD burners that araczynski was asking about. How do you suppose I burned 105 GB I downloaded last month? This month I'm already at 72 GB and there are still 10 days to go. I'd go crazy if I didn't have a DVD burner.
  • ViRGE - Friday, June 18, 2004 - link

    Kris: Are you asking where the 5x DVD-RAM media is, or just DVD-RAM media in general? Newegg carries DVD-RAM discs, although a 5-pack is $20.

    PS I'm getting the same missing image problem as MadAd
  • MadAd - Friday, June 18, 2004 - link

    I have 2 images missing on page 1, nero_identify.gif and dvdinfo.gif
  • ZORAX - Friday, June 18, 2004 - link

    I wonder why LG keeps using Z-CLV for burning...
  • ZORAX - Friday, June 18, 2004 - link

  • KristopherKubicki - Friday, June 18, 2004 - link

    mino: Where is the DVD RAM media?

  • mino - Friday, June 18, 2004 - link

    hmm, where is DVD-RAM test boys ??

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