Plextor PX504A DVD+R/RW Drive - HotHardware

Plextor PX504A DVD+R/RW Drive

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 The Plextor PX-504A DVD+R/RW Drive
More Space, More Speed, More Compatability

By, Jeff Bouton
April 15, 2003

Quality & Setup of the Plextor PX-504A
Easy as Pie

Quality:

The Plextor PX-504A has a long list of features.  The drive is able to burn DVDs at 4X speeds while rewriting is completed at 2.4X.  DVD movie playback is locked to run anywhere from 2X to 5X, yet DVD data output is rated up to 12X.  On the CD side, the drive is capable of burning CD-Rs at a top speed of 16X and rewrites at 10X.  Standard CD read speeds have decent headroom at 40X. 

The look of the PX-504A doesn't stray very far from other Plextor products.  What's new appearance wise is the CD tray now has a black piece across the front which has a pin striping effect.  The tray of the drive is also black which helps absorb reflected laser light during the burning process, improving the accuracy of the write.  One of the things that was immediately noticeable was the tray mechanism seems more flimsy than other drives.  We have a PlexWriter 40/12/40A and a PlexCombo 20/10/40-12A drive in house and both have a solid tray that is fast and quiet when opened and closed.  The Plextor PX-504A on the other hand has the sound and feel of a cheaper drive, sounding a bit "clackitty" when the tray goes through its motions.  Some users may not notice this, but when compared to the other models, there is a slight feeling that the quality just isn't quite the same.

 

The front of the drive has the standard components that one would expect to find on a typical optical drive.  A headphone output, volume control, emergency eject hole and standard eject button don the front of the drive.  The back side of the drive also had the usual items including digital outputs, standard audio outputs, master/slave jumpers followed by IDE and power connectors.  What was a little unusual was this square blank opening at the upper center of the drive.  We're not sure what it is intended for, but we get the impression that a small fan may be planned in the future.  Only time will tell.

Installation:

Installation of the drive couldn't be any easier.  The User's Manual includes a simple diagram that paints a clear picture.  If your system configuration doesn't match this simple layout, the manual includes a number of various scenarios that cover a number of different configurations. 

CLICK IMAGE FOR A LARGER VIEW

Once we secured the drive in place with the four mounting screws provided in the package, we connected our power and IDE cable and we were done.  Total installation time was less than 10 minutes.  Follow that up with some software installation and we were burning disks in no time at all.  We feel that Plextor really goes out of their way to make sure the process is simple and painless for even the most inexperienced users.
 

HotHardware Test Systems
It's Snappy

 

MSI KT3 Ultra-ARU Motherboard
AMD AthlonXP 2600+

512MB Geil PC3500 (2-5-2-2)

2 IBM ATA100 7200RPM 80GB HD (RAID-0)

eVGA GeForce4 Ti4600

Plextor PX-504A DVD+R/RW

PlexCombo PX-320A CD-R/DVD

Standard Floppy Drive

Windows XP Professional SP-1

DirectX 9

nVidia Detonator 41.09

VIA 4-in-1s 4.46v

Utilities and Media Used For Testing
 

  • SiSoft SANDRA Professional 2003 (32-Bit)

  • Nero InfoTool

  • Nero CD Speed

  • Nero DVD Speed

  • Nero Burning ROM 5.5.10.20

  • Music Match 7.50 for MP3 Encoding

  • An audio CD 46:16 in Length

  • 700MB of MP3 Files for all Data Write Tests

  • Media: 
    Philips & Verbatim 48X CD-Rs
    TDK 2.4X & Verbatim 4X DVD+R
    Philips 2.4X & TDK 2.4X DVD+RW

 

CD-ROM Performance Tests - Plextor PX-504A
Speeding Things Along


Nero InfoTool:

Before we get started with the benchmarks, we like to run Nero InfoTool to show the scope of the drive's capabilities.

PLEXTOR PX-504A

When we view the "Supported Read Functions" for the drive, we see that the PX-504A offers read support for both DVD-R/RW and DVD+R/RW.  When we move to the "Support Write Functions", as expected, the PX-504A shows support for DVD+R/RW.  We were a little surprised that the Plextor opted not to support Mount Rainier with the PX-504A.  Mount Rainier is a proposed open industry standard backed by such companies as Philips, Microsoft, Sony & HP/Compaq.  The main focus of the proposed standard is to enable native OS support for CD-RW drives.  The potential standard would allow user's to drag and drop files to recordable CDs like a floppy disk, which is a "no brainer" from a user's perspective.  We're a little curious why Plextor would not want to provide support for this functionality.  Nonetheless, this is not a huge strike against the drive and there are a number of after market products that enable this type of functionality like Roxio's DirectCD.  A firmware update could add support for Mount Rainier.


SiSoft SANDRA Pro 2003 (32-Bit):

Another utility we like to run is the CD/DVD module within SiSoft Sandra Pro 2003.  With this test, we ran the module with a DVD data disk in the drive and then with a CD data disk to test the various read performance.

PLEXTOR PX-504A - CD

PLEXTOR PX-504A - DVD

As you can see, the results can vary quite a bit with different media inserted.  In the end, one thing is certain, there are no read performance issues to speak of with the PX-504A.  In the next few pages, we'll focus on some more detailed tests that assess the drives various capabilities.


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