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| Setup of the PleXCombo 8/8/24-8U |
| External Combo Drive |
As an external drive, the PleXCombo 8/8/24-8U is obviously suited best for environments that demand portability. Weighing in at 1.1 pounds, the drive certainly doesn't add much to a laptop case and it's slim dimensions (5.55"x.87"x6.73") make for easy carrying. Plextor includes a power adapter as well as an AC power cord for connection to a standard 120V wall socket. Additionally, a USB cord comes bundled. While the external PleXCombo drive is designed for operation with a USB 2.0 port, it also functions connected to a USB 1.1 controller. Unfortunately, performance drops to 4x write, 4x re-wrie, 6x read and .7x DVD read.
The expansive hardware compatibility of Windows XP makes it easy to setup an external disk drive. Simply, the 8/8/24-8U is connected to a power source, plugged into an available USB slot, and turned on. Windows XP detects the drive, installs the necessary drivers and finalizes the setup. Windows 98 SE users will need to install supplementary USB drivers, but for the most part, setup is truly a piece of cake.
Like many of Plextor's other CD-RW drives, the 8/8/24-8U drive utilizes a black CD tray, which purportedly absorbs excess laser light. According to Plextor, the dark tray consequently minimizes jitter and increases reliability. Optimized power circuits also help eliminate electrical noise, further reducing the effect of jitter.
Many of the other features offered by Plextor's internal drives are not available with the 8/8/24-8U, like PowerRec, VariRec, and SpeedRead. However, the most important feature, Buffer Under Run Proof technology, is present and accounted for. Enthusiasts that consider themselves early-adopters will remember the frustration of writing a CD while trying to multi-task, only to have the burn process fail due to the internal buffer running out of data. Should the 8/8/24-8U's 2MB buffer run out of data (which is less likely to happen at 8x recording than it would for faster, 48x internal drives), the drive will track the occurrence and resume writing once the buffer is refilled rather than return an error. The Buffer Under Run protection allows you to start recording and go back to browsing the Internet, typing a term paper or balancing the checkbook.
HotHardware Test Systems
CD-RW Grudge Match
ASUS P4T533 i850E Motherboard
Intel 2.2GHz Pentium 4 Processor
512MB RIMM 4200 RDRAM
Seagate Cheetah 10k RPM SCSI HDD
ATI All-In-Wonder 8500
Windows XP Professional
Utilities and Media Used For Testing
Nero Burning ROM 188.8.131.52
Nero CD Speed
A 644MB data CD was used for transfer testing
The Ladies Man was used for DVD testing
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| CD-ROM Performance Tests - PlexCombo 8/8/24-8U |
| Did Somebody Say NERO? |
Plextor PleXCombo 8/8/24-8U
TDK VeloCD 24/10/40x
Ahead Software's Nero InfoTool utility outlines the pertinent features of each drive in a manner easy to digest. For the sake of comparison, we used TDK's internal 24/10/40x CD-RW. Obviously, the internal drive is faster, but note that the 8/8/24-8U can also read DVD-ROM, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, and DVD+RW discs. Both drives allow for buffer under-run protection, but the Plextor drive clearly supports several extra write modes.
Nero CD Speed:
| Plextor PleXCombo 8/8/24-8U |
| TDK VeloCD 24/10/40x |
Along with InfoTool, the retail Nero Burning ROM package also includes the CD Speed benchmarking utility. The first test the application runs is a pure speed test. Starting at under 5x transfer speeds, we expected the Plextor drive to increase quickly in order to peak at the rated 24x read speed. However, 10.4x was the most the 8/8/24-8U would deliver. In comparison, the internal TDK drive pumped out the expected 40x read speeds. Both drives scored disappointing results in the Burst Speed test - the TDK drive bursting 1MB per second and the Plextor drive topping out at 250KB per second. Finally, the 8/8/24-8U consumed significantly higher processor resources, especially as speeds increased from 4x to 8x.
File Transfer, DVD Testing and Conclusion