Plextor PlexWriter 8/4/32A CDRW - Page 4

Rev Up the Spin Motor and Burn Baby!
Before proceeding to spill the beans on the benchmarks, my usual system setup as before:

  • P3 450 @ 558MHz (4.5 x 124MHz)
  • 128MB LGS RAM
  • Primary Master: 01 x 10.1 GB Seagate Ultra-ATA66 HDD (5400rpm); Primary Slave: 01 x 13.2 GB IBM Ultra-ATA66 HDD (7200rpm); Connected via Abit HotRod-ATA66 controller card: 01 x 13GB Quantum CR Ultra-ATA66 HDD (5400 rpm)
  • 01 x Creative GeForce Pro (32MB DDRAM onboard) using 3.62 reference Nvidia drivers; core/mem settings at 145/355;
  • Secondary Master: 01 x Plextor PX-W8432Ti CD-RW IDE drive
  • Secondary Slave: 01 x Sony 6X DVD-ROM drive
  • SBLive!! Platinum (Liveware 3.0 drivers)
  • VirataLink 1025 ATM card
  • 17” Mitsubishi DiamondScan 70 monitor (0.28 dpi)
  • Win 98SE
  • Ambient Temperature of 25 degrees Celsius.
  • 300W Power Supply

I mainly used gold Ricoh CD-Rs (max rate of 8x) discs and a Mitsubishi CD-RW (max rate of 4x) disc as my media for testing.  I performed various tests using Adaptec’s nifty CD-Writing utilities as seen below. Unfortunately, despite my DVD-ROM being rated as a 32x CD-ROM, it could only sustain transfer speeds of 8x copying of Audio CDs and 4x copying of Data CDs.  Hence, my benchmarks were limited by this anomaly…

Erasing / Formatting a CDRW
Formatting took shorter than expected.  The manual quoted some 50mins for a CD-RW full format but it managed much shorter.  The drive was set to utilize 4x RW speed, although I’m unsure if it affected the erasing in anyway. 

  • Quick Erase / Format: 56 secs
  • Full Erase / Format: 19 mins 45secs

On-The-Fly AudioCD Copy (DVD-ROM to PlexWriter 8432 drive):
Even though the manual had warned against performing On-The-Fly copying with both CD-R/RW and CD-ROM on the same IDE bus channel, I was inclined to stress it out in that config to see how well the Plextor’s buffering system handled the situation.  In addition, I also proceeded to multi-task (surfing the Internet, downloaded my mail and ICQed) during each recording process to test the drive’s robustness.

Using 8x setting and Disc-At-Once mode, I managed to duplicate an audio CD (58:17.62 mins play-length / 512.1MB in size) to a CD-R, under 8 mins 49 secs.  This includes time-taken to prepare the data (approx. 20 secs) and close the session (another 40 secs). The Plextor handled this with ease and the buffer never dove below 98% availability! 

Under 4x but using a CD-RW disc instead (all other settings the same), I managed to copy the same audio CD in 16 min 20 secs.  Again this includes data preparation and session closing time.  Similarly, the Plextor didn’t exhibit any problems handling this.

To further demonstrate the time-taken for a full capacity audio-CD source, I reverted back to 8x speed + CD-R media and recorded another audio CD again (72:29.40mins play-length / 638MB). This took 9 mins 40 secs of writing time in total.

I subsequently verified that each CD-R pressed was free from random skips or glitches by listening through them once.  Perhaps it could be my acute hearing, but I found the pressed CD-Rs having a slightly lower dynamic range compared to the originals.  But unless you’re comparing disc for disc, I do not believe this is distinctly discernible.

If you do the sums, at 8x (1200 Kbytes/sec), an ideal CD-R recording process will take 9.03 mins to record 650 MB worth of data.  The Plextor performs pretty optimally, averaging about 1100 Kbytes/s (i.e. 7.4% more time-taken) during copy.  Although I did notice a typical slowdown in my other multi-tasks functions whilst recording, this was expected and tolerable – I could still surf and ICQ without difficulty.  In summary, recording audio CDs was simply a breeze!

Archiving + Data-CD Recording:
Next I proceeded to see how well it handled writing multiple data files (ie. creating Data-CDs).

Using Adaptec Easy CD Creator 4, I proceeded to archive my various digital pics via the Data-CD utility. As I also wanted to test multi-session capability, I performed three rounds of archiving by leaving the CD open after each session. Using Track-At-Once and 8x recording speed on 3 sets of data of roughly equal sizes:

  • First 200 pictures (151.8 MB) archived in 3 mins 35 secs. 
  • Second session consisted of another 204 pictures (153.9 MB) recorded in 3 min 30 secs.
  • Last 192 pictures (145 MB) added in 3 mins 21 secs.

Even though the CD was left open, the above benchmarks still included time-taken to prepare data and close each session as usual. However, it did show that multi-session writing is not an issue.

Nevertheless, I proceeded with another set of archiving, but recording only 1 large set of data files to test if the drive can sustain numerous multiple transfers without significant speed loss.  In 8x speed, it managed to record 819 files (578.25 MB) in 9 mins 43secs during its writing process.  Invariably, this shows a slow-down to about 1 MB/s, possibly attributable to longer times associated with seeking / reading and copying multiple files as opposed to large, contiguous transfer. However, its performance is still very respectable….

Lastly, I tried out On-The-Fly Data-CD recording from my DVD-ROM drive to the PlexWriter. Unfortunately, as highlighted previously, my DVD-ROM source drive can only sustain transfers to support 4x writing speed under Data CD mode (strangely enough).  Hence, I tried out the “Imaging” method instead at 8x writing speed (i.e. making an image of the source Data-CD onto the HDD, before copying it onto the CD-R). This also allowed me to verify if the drive copes properly under that mode.  The results as follows for 648 MB worth of data:

  • Preparing Data: 9 min30 secs
  • Writing Data: 9 min 45 secs
  • Closing Data: 28 secs

Based on the performance above, I have no qualms using it for any of my recording / archiving purposes at all.  Seems that it works to its designated speeds.

Packet Writing:
In order to test its compatibility with Packet Writing, I employed the use of Adaptec’s Direct CD 3.0.  This requires your CD-R to be formatted first for use, which took me just 8 secs. I subsequently proceeded to archive another round of my digicam pics by dragging and dropping files via Windows Explorer onto the CD-R. I also tried deleting and moving the images within the CD-R, and experienced no glitches at all. On reaching the 652 MB of data limit, the drive took just 40 secs to finalize & render it compatible with normal CD-ROM drives under Win 95/98/NT4 and above. In all, this drive performed yet again without any glitches.

Hmmm…. Sounds like an
impressive drive. Anything else I don’t know?

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