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Plextor PlexWriter 16/10/40A CDRW Drive
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Date: Mar 08, 2002
Section:Storage
Author: HH Editor
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The Plextor PlexWriter 16/10/40A CDRW Drive - Page 1
 

The Plextor PlexWriter 16/10/40A CD-RW Drive
Quick cuts and speedy reads...

4/4/01 - By  Dave Altavilla

You've got to love the PC and PC Peripherals Market.  I don't know of any other industry that releases new products and technology with such a fevered pace, such that obsolescence is a way of life, with next generation product always waiting in the wings to perform the proverbial "leap frog" maneuver.  There is one thing for certain.  In this business, you skip a beat and you might as well hand in your pink slip, because the game can be over in the blink of an eye. 

The product we're going to look at here is indicative of the level of execution that most manufacturers must hit with product development cycles.  Plextor, known for years as a company that produces top notch CD and CD-RW drives, has upped the anti once again with their new 16X capable CD-RW drive.  Boasting the ability to burn a full CD in about 5 minutes, we decided to put Plextor's best to the test.

Specifications / Features Of The PlexWriter 16/10/40A
Born to burn

  • E-IDE (ATAPI-4) interface

  • "Burn Proof" Technology - Eliminates buffer under-run errors and allows for better multi-tasking in the Windows environment while creating a new disc.

  • 3-in-1 drive: 16X CD-R, 10X CD-RW, 40X max CD-ROM

  • 140ms Average Random Access

  • 2 MB Buffer

  • Capable of Digital Audio Extraction at 40X max

  • Supports CD-DA; CD-ROM (Mode 1); CD-ROM (Mixed Mode); CD-ROM XA (Mode 2, Form 1 and Form 2 and Mixed Form; CD-I; Photo CD; Video CD; CD-Extra; CD+G; CD Text

  • Compatible with a large number of CD-R and CD-RW media

  • Flash ROM allows for easy upgrade over the Internet

  • Windows 95/98/2000/ME and NT4.0 Compatible

  • Supports Disc-at-Once, Track-at-Once, Session-at-Once, Variable & Fixed packet writing modes

Click images for full view
 
 

 
Other than the obvious 16X write performance the drive is claiming, this drive also has impressive 10X re-write capabilities as well as snappy 40X read figures.  You'll also notice the PlexWriter 16/10/40A has a nice large 2MB data buffer.   In addition, Plextor'
s "Burn Proof" technology promises that you'll be able to multi-task during a burn session and do things like surf the web and send email, without hitting dreaded "buffer under-runs" that will leave you with a drink coaster for a CD instead of the data CD you were trying to create.  That is a fairly impressive claim and we'll prove it out in the pages to come.

Physically, the drive looks much the same as the 8/4/32 PlexWriter we reviewed here not long ago.  There are some subtle differences however.  For one the CD tray itself is slightly 'beefier" than the 8/4/32 drive.  My pet peeve on that product was the fact that the face plate on the tray actually broke off and was somewhat flimsy.  On the 16/10/40A, the tray is much more solid and even the motor and tray mechanism seemed more rugged.  Thank you Plextor, for hearing our plea.  Finally, there is a small Nidec fan in the back of the 16/10/40A that was not present in their 8X burner.  What does this tell you?  Well, for one thing the drive can heat up a bit when under a load and writing at 16X speeds.  We only heard it spin up once in our testing and it doesn't run constantly.

Well then, let's get down to business.

Setup, Installation and  Software

 

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The Plextor PlexWriter 16/10/40A CDRW Drive - Page 2
 

The Plextor PlexWriter 16/10/40A CD-RW Drive
Quick cuts and speedy reads...

4/4/01 - By  Dave Altavilla

Installation of this drive is a total non-event.  That is to say it is no different that setting up any other CD-ROM drive.  There is really only one thing you should note, when installing any CD-RW drive for that matter.  It is best to give a recordable drive its own EIDE channel if you can.  If you have another CD-ROM in your system, slave it to the hard drive and put the CD-RW in master mode on its own channel.  This will also help prevent buffer under-runs and give the CD-RW all the bandwidth on the channel.  On the other hand, Plextor's burn proof technology will supposedly guard against that.  In our opinion however, if you have the spare channel, give the CD-RW its own connection.  Better safe than sorry. 
 

This is a quick snapshot of all the connection that are made on the back of the drive.  Just for your reference.


 

 
Installation and Software
Plextore delivers the tools 

Plextor does a nice job of bundling in the tools you'll need to get most any job done.  Here are just a few screen captures from the various applications that came with our drive.

 

Plextor's Manager 2000 suite comes with a number of nifty utilities including a "CD Ripping" utility that allows you to convert CD Audio to wave files.  DiscDupe does just what you might think. It makes exact replicas of a standard CD and also allows you to use the PlexWriter as a source and destination drive in the system with its drive "image" capabilities.  This is a nice touch for those that wish only to have one CD drive of any kind installed but specifically need to make copies of CD's.

Adaptec's CD Copier
    

Adaptec's CD Creator 4 (Audio Mode)

And then there are the Adaptec ad-ins.  CD Copier is essentially just a CD Duplicator but we found it to be a little more reliable and stable when multi-tasking while cutting a CD.  CD Creator on the other hand, is a very intuitive GUI driven CD Mapping and Creating Tool, that really does a nice job of giving you a good picture of the layout of the CD you are creating.

In the above screen capture, we decided to create an audio CD but creating a data CD uses very much the same interface.  This utility lets you drag and drop files to the layout window in the bottom.  It then tabulates the time in minutes that are left on the CD that is available for recording.  All told, the bundle with the PlexWriter series of CD-RW drives is excellent and just about all you would need to get any job done.
 
Hot Hardware's Test System
Pentium 4 with all the trimmings

- Asus P4T Motherboard with Pentium 4 Processor @ 1.5GHz.

- Intel D850GB Motherboard with Pentium 4 Processor @ 1.5GHz.

- 256MB of Samsung PC800 RAMBUS DRDRAM,

- IBM DTLA307030 30Gig ATA100 7200 RPM Hard Drive

- nVidia GeForce 2 Ultra 64MB AGP Graphics Card,

- Intel 100tx PCI NIC, 56K PCI Modem

- Sound Blaster Live Sound Card,

- Pioneer 10X/40X DVD/CD ROM Drive,

- Plextor 16/10/40A CD-RW Drive

- WindowsME 

- Direct X 8.0 and nVidia reference drivers version 6.50

- Intel chipset drivers version 2.80
 

Benchmarks  with The PlexWriter 16/10/40A
Read performance... none too shabby

The first area we'll look at is the read performance of this drive.  SiSoft Sandra will give us a baseline metric versus our Pioneer DVD-104S drive.

    Pioneer 10X DVD / 40X CD                      Plextore PlexWriter 16/10/40A
                   

We were very impressed with the fact that the PlexWriter 16/10/40A could keep up and even surpass a standard 10X DVD / 40X CD ROM drive.  Our impression of the Pioneer drive was that it was fairly speedy.  Next to the Plextor drive, it pales somewhat now.  So far so good Plextor.

Let's dig in a little deeper, shall we?
 

CD Speed, Write/Re-Write Performance and the rating

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The Plextor PlexWriter 16/10/40A CDRW Drive - Page 3
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