When it comes to CD Winbench 99, it's all about access times. As we can see, the Toshiba holds the crown in our access time tests, coming in just a hair slower than its 80ms specification. This trend continues as the Kenwood, the next speediest, yields a 91.2ms measured access time. Plextor's PX-40TSi shows an even greater discrepency between expected and actual, a full 9.2ms slower than its rating. As you may recall from our previous article, 3 out of 5 ATAPI drives beat their access time spec, two by a significant margin. The UW Plextor, however, stumbled on our test CD, repeatedly erroring out and spinning down during testing. We could not get even one clean run, so we tried some other CDs in informal testing and did find one that the PX-40TSUWi could complete the test with (this indicates no mechanical problems). Its results were comparable to the PX-40TSi, but because of our strict testing procedures we could not include these results.
When it comes to transfer rates, Kenwood's 52X dominates, with a nearly flat transfer rate across our test CD. Speeds started at 47X at the inner tracks, and ended just a hair faster than 52X. Our next-closest competitor, Toshiba, was far behind at 20.5X-42X transfer rates. The Plextor brothers, both rated at the same 40X as the Toshiba, fell in a bit behind the XM-6401B. An interesting comparison throughout testing, the UW Plextor was a hair slower than the Ultra version here, 3% back at the inner tracks, but catching up and nearly equaling its brother by the outer edge of the disc.
So, do our access time rankings hold when examining CD-ROM Winmark scores? Read on to find out!
CD-ROM Winmark 99
Predictably, the drives finished in exactly the same order they did in the access time test. The Kenwood, despite a 12X advantage in transfer rates, finished 2% behind the Toshiba, which tested over 10ms faster than the UCR-415 in access times. Interestingly, the Toshiba could have finished much higher, but had real problems with one of our CDWB99 discs. We retested for verification purposes, but the read problems continued, creating an ugly 22% deviation (repeated in the retest) in scores-not pretty to a benchmarker, but nontheless reality.
Next up was Plextor's Ultra 40X Max unit, just over 12% back of the leader. Our UW Plextor again had read problems, appearing to favor some of our CD Winbench 99 discs, while taking a particular dislike to one of them. A retest with all four discs confirmed the PX-40TSUWi's pickiness with reading our test CDs. Because the Winmark test is application-level, we accept runs with read errors, as it is a good indicator of how each drive may react to a variety of discs in real-world use. The UW Plextor's scores varied by over 12% between the four test CDs (at least the deviation was consistent between retests!), in the end leaving it 12% behind its brother and 23% behind the Toshiba.
In our ATAPI roundup, we noticed a strong correlation between two low-level tests and our two real-world copy tests. The transfer rate test seemed a good indicator of how the drives performed in our sequential File Copy test; access time results seemed to play a strong role in our multiple-file Disc Copy test. Let's see if these trends hold for our SCSI units.
File and Disc Copy
If not for the Toshiba, all four drives would have placed in the same order as in the transfer rate tests. If you recall from our ATAPI roundup, the Toshiba offering there did the same thing. The SCSI Toshiba goes through the same read troubles at the outer edge of the CDTach disc that the ATAPI 48X unit did; speeding up and slowing down as if it needed to re-read the information...but only right at the end of the test. Again it is the Kenwood coming out on top here, finishing the file copy over 20% faster than the 2nd place PX-40TSi. The PX-40TSUWi and the Toshiba unit virtually tied, nearly 11 seconds slower than Plextor's U-SCSI 40X.
In the multiple file Disc Copy test, the outcome is again similar to what took place in our ATAPI roundup. The Kenwood, despite a disadvantage in access times, used its brute-force transfer rates to outrace the competition, finishing at over 22% faster than the next-fastest drive, the Toshiba 40X. From there, all is orderly as the remaining three drives (all rated the same speed), finish in the same order as their access times. Again, the UW Plextor is slower than the Ultra version, this time by 7.5 seconds, or almost 4%.
In taking a closer look at the two Plextors, we see that the UW is 7% slower in the sequential File Copy, while only 4% slower in the access time-weighted Disc Copy. This seems to indicate that the UW's problems are not strictly isolated to its difficulties in the access time tests. A bit of research on Plextor's website shows that the UW version has had significantly fewer firmware updates than their mainstream flagship CD-ROM drive, the PX-40TSi. Perhaps Plextor is placing more man-hours of development with their meat and potatoes unit. Let's see what happens as we delve into other, less traditional areas of CD-ROM performance.
Digital Audio Extraction
As for the quality of audio extraction, all of the SCSI units are acceptable. CDSpeed99 rates each drive at a perfect 10/10. Using our Grado SR60 headphones to listen to selected ripped tracks from our test audio CD, the .wav files played back sounding no different than directly off of the CD. Each of these drives should provide outstanding quality in audio extraction.
CD-R Media Compatibility and Performance
CD-RW Media Compatibility and Performance