Four High-Speed CD-RW Drives

By Loyd Case  |  Posted 2003-07-03 Print this article Print

Reviews: Recordable CD drives recently hit 52X record speeds. PC Magazine checked out four variants.

If the new 52X CD drives could actually write at 52X speeds over an entire disc, youd be able to duplicate a 650MB CD in about 1 minute 20 seconds. But the units reviewed here are constant angular velocity (CAV) drives, so recording speed varies according to how close a track is to the center of the disc. In other words, 52X refers only to the maximum write speed, which occurs at the outer tracks. The average record speed is less.

The Asus CRW-5224A drive is a compact external CD-RW drive that connects to a PC via USB 2.0. The CyberDrive CW099D CD-R/RW is very much a standard CD-RW drive with no real bells and whistles, but was the fastest on our read tests. The most intriguing thing about the Plextor PlexWriter Premium is its ability to write up to 1GB on standard recordable CDs, versus the normal 650MB. It also has a feature called SecuRec that lets you password protect CD-Rs. The Samsung SM-352BRNS DVD-ROM/CD-RW Combo Drive can read DVD-ROMs, play DVD movies (with a software DVD player), and act as a 52X CD-RW drive.

These are all fast CD-ROM readers, so our testing focused on performance of CD-R/RW writing and digital audio extraction (DAE). Write performance matters to anyone buying a drive for burning CDs, and DAE speed is important to those who want to rip CDs to their PCs. We tested with both 48X and 52X CD-R media to see whether there was a noticeable performance difference. Although 52X drives have been shipping for a few months, the media has become widely available only relatively recently.

We used Ahead Softwares Nero CD Speed to determine CD-R and CD-RW write performance on 48X and 52X CD-R media and 24X CD-RW media. We tested DAE speed using a synthetic audio CD generated by Nero CD Speed.

For comparison purposes, we also tested a Plextor PlexWriter 40/12/40A CD-R/RW drive. Although the drive has been shipping for only about a year, it is already several generations behind current products.

For the full review click here
Loyd Case came to computing by way of physical chemistry. He began modestly on a DEC PDP-11 by learning the intricacies of the TROFF text formatter while working on his master's thesis. After a brief, painful stint as an analytical chemist, he took over a laboratory network at Lockheed in the early 80's and never looked back. His first 'real' computer was an HP 1000 RTE-6/VM system.

In 1988, he figured out that building his own PC was vastly more interesting than buying off-the-shelf systems ad he ditched his aging Compaq portable. The Sony 3.5-inch floppy drive from his first homebrew rig is still running today. Since then, he's done some programming, been a systems engineer for Hewlett-Packard, worked in technical marketing in the workstation biz, and even dabbled in 3-D modeling and Web design during the Web's early years.

Loyd was also bitten by the writing bug at a very early age, and even has dim memories of reading his creative efforts to his third grade class. Later, he wrote for various user group magazines, culminating in a near-career ending incident at his employer when a humor-impaired senior manager took exception at one of his more flippant efforts. In 1994, Loyd took on the task of writing the first roundup of PC graphics cards for Computer Gaming World -- the first ever written specifically for computer gamers. A year later, Mike Weksler, then tech editor at Computer Gaming World, twisted his arm and forced him to start writing CGW's tech column. The gaming world -- and Loyd -- has never quite recovered despite repeated efforts to find a normal job. Now he's busy with the whole fatherhood thing, working hard to turn his two daughters into avid gamers. When he doesn't have his head buried inside a PC, he dabbles in downhill skiing, military history and home theater.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel