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Plextor PlexWriter 40/12/40A CDRW Drive
Date: Mar 09, 2002
Author: HH Editor
The Plextor PlexWriter 40/12/40A CDRW Drive - Page 1

The Plextor PlexWriter 40/12/40A CD-RW Drive
Cutting CDs as fast as you can play them

3/10/02 - By  Dave Altavilla

As of late, CD-R technology has been keeping pace with the type of blinding speed of technological development that exist in the PC Graphics market.  One could easily draw a comparison between the product development cycle times of nVidia and Plextor, as well as a few others in the CD-R arena.  It was only a few short months ago that we exposed you to the features and performance of the Plextor 24X CD-RW drive.  Now, less than 6 months later, we're here to show you what Plextor's 40X CD-RW drive can do. 

As the branding suggests, Plextor's 40X CD-RW drive should be significantly faster than their already well received 24X unit.  In addition, this new drive boasts a 12X Re-Write speed which should bring approximately a 17% boost in performance to the table, on Re-writeable media.  Finally, this extra performance is being made available to the consumer for roughly a $25 premium, as our recent findings, on various price search engines, show the 40X CD-RW at approximately $155 versus the 24X at $130.  However, does this new Plextor speed burner really live up to the lofty goals of it's specifications?  That's what we'll try to show you in this HotHardware look at the PleXWriter 40/12/40A.

Specifications / Features Of The PlexWriter 40/12/40A
Burning as fast as you can read
  • 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.

  • "PoweRec II", an exclusive Plextor technology, guarantees the highest quality write across a broad base of media

  • 3-in-1 drive: 40X CD-R, 12X CD-RW, 40X max CD-ROM

  • 120ms Average Random Access

  • 4 MB Buffer

  • Records highest quality audio CDs (audio recording speed limited to 24X)

  • 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/XP Compatible

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


Click images for full view


If you compare notes to the 24/10/40 drive, the only real differences are, the fact that this new 40X burner is specified as a 40X CD-R and 12X CD-RW capable drive and the slightly faster 120ms Average Random Access time.  The same 4MB on board buffer exists, as well as the standard compliments of "Burn Proof" technology to eliminate buffer under-run errors and Plextor's PoweREC II technology.  Speaking of PoweREC II, let's refresh your memory a little bit on what this technology is all about.


As with the 24/10/40A, the 40/12/40A has a built in archive of sorts, consisting of all the various certified CD-R and CD-RW media types of various manufacturers.  Here's what Plextor has to say about PoweREC II and what it does for this drive's performance with all the different types of ROM media you can pick up at your local retailer.

"All Plextor CD-RW drives contain a media catalog of all certified media, listed by manufacturer and part number. This catalog is stored in ROM and is used to set the appropriate "Write Strategy" for the disc being recorded. This feature not only enables the drive to successfully burn a disc at high-speed, but assures the user that the disc has been written as precisely as possible, improving the playback ability on all other CD drives, even those of poorer quality. This assurance comes even though the disc media itself might contain some imperfections.

Plextor's 40/12/40A CD-RW drive also features a highly sophisticated algorithm that checks the quality of the media at each stage of its Z-CLV write process. Once a zone has been reached, the drive will optimize its laser power to begin writing at the highest speed possible, while maintaining superb write quality. A feedback mechanism, controlled by firmware, monitors the results of the write process for conformity."


Alright then, make sure you remember this little feature, as there will be a quiz on this later on in our article.... Just kidding!  Actually, the reason you should keep this in mind is because we discovered a few very interesting points relative to PoweREC II technology and various media types.  We'll cover this in detail later but for now, let's look at the setup of our new 40X speed burner as well as some of the software bundle.


Setup, Installation and  Software



The Plextor PlexWriter 40/12/40A CDRW Drive - Page 2

The Plextor PlexWriter 40/12/40A CD-RW Drive
Cutting CDs as fast as you can play them


3/10/02 - By  Dave Altavilla

We've shown this next pictorial in our last three Plextor CD-RW drive reviews.  At the risk of looking a little Fred Sanford-like, we'll recycle it for you here, since it is an excellent diagram of how one of these drives (or just about any CD drive for that matter) is hooked up inside your PC case.

Click image for full view

If a picture says a thousand words and you only need about a dozen or so to get the job done, I would say that just about covers the physical setup of this drive.  Let's look at some of the software.

Installation and Software
Roxio's CD-Creator is looking up!

Plextor includes a well rounded bundle of CD Burning software from what is now known as Roxio Corp .  Formerly from Adaptec, Easy CD Creator 5 Basic is the CD Authoring Software of choice for Plextor.

Roxio's Project Selector, CD-Creator and Direct CD
Click images for full view



Third party applications -   Click N' Design 3D Lable Maker and Liquid Player



In addition to the Roxio burning software you also get a couple of fairly interesting trial applications from Liquid Software and Stomp Inc.  Click-N Design is a CD label creation program and Liquid Player is a multi-format audio player, ripping and creation program.  Click-N Design is just trial version and Liquid player is a fully usable "lite" version.  Both of these are fairly useful tools but we were hoping to have full registerable versions of each.  However, many of these features, including CD label creation can also be found in the full Roxio CD Creator suite that is included.

Hot Hardware's Test System
Northwood driven

- Pentium 4 2.2GHz. NorthwoodProcessor
- Abit TH7II-RAID Motherboard

- 512MB of Samsung PC800 RAMBUS DRDRAM,

- IBM DTLA307030 30Gig ATA100 7200 RPM Hard Drive

- nVidia GeForce 4 Ti 4600 128MB AGP Graphics Card,

- Intel 100tx PCI NIC, 56K PCI Modem

- Sound Blaster Live Sound Card,

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

- Plextor 24/10/40A CD-RW Drive

- Plextor 40/12/40A CD-RW Drive

- Windows XP Professional

- Direct X 8.1 and nVidia reference drivers version 27.50


CD-ROM Read Performance - PlexWriter 40/12/40A
Read performance with Nero CDSpeed

The first numbers we will show you are CD-ROM read performance with Ahead Software's Nero CDSpeed.

Pioneer 10X DVD / 40X CD


Plextor PlexWriter 24/10/40A


Plextor PlexWriter 40/12/40A



Both Plextor drives actually beat out the Pioneer 10X DVD / 40X CD drive, by a small margin.  What was somewhat interesting, although we are not completely confident with the results data, was the fact that in 1X mode, the 40/12/40A Plextor unit actually consumed about 14% CPU utilization versus its 24X brethren.  We're not sure if this was an anomaly with the benchmark software or if this is typical with the new 40X Plextor unit.  Regardless, the overall performance of this new CD-RW drive, when reading at 40X, is very comparable to the 24X Plextor unit.

Let's turn up the heat.


DAE, Media  Performance Variations, Write and Re-write Performance

The Plextor PlexWriter 40/12/40A CDRW Drive - Page 3
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