Being as it's our first burner review, we currently have nothing to compare Plextor's 12/4/32 SCSI unit to. However, based on its own merits, we found this drive to perform quite adequately. We encountered no serious issues and test results were more or less as expected.
Our main issue is with the drive's read speeds. We were fairly underwhelmed with its 32X read performance. In fact, we found that it significantly underperformed other 32X readers in our database. However, given the nature and intended use of this drive, we doubt many folks will be buying this to be their main CD-ROM reader. In this light, we do not place much emphasis on its sluggish application-level read speeds.
Writing and rewriting abilities are what this drive is all about. Performance was at or near expectations in all of our timed tests. We were also pleased with its performance in our Unreal Tournament stress test, but wonder how significant its seemingly poor performance in the CPUmark99 stress test is. We will find out as we get our hands on more of the competition.
When looking at the rather steep $330 (retail) street price of this drive, consideration must be given to the software package and amenities. Plextor includes just about everything you could possibly need to get started right out of the box, including latest versions of Adaptec's Easy CD Creator and DirectCD as well as their own Plextor Manager 2000 software suite. Still, we found similar offerings from other manufacturers for significantly less money, though no one but Plextor makes their own software suite. Consideration must also be given to the ethic behind the drive. Plextor frequently provides firmware and software updates on their website (in fact frustrating this reviewer as two retests were mandated by timely firmware update releases ), and the unlimited toll-free technical support included in the 1-year warranty is a nice touch, not to mention the four separate LED indicators informing you exactly what the drive is doing.
For those who own their own software and typically go for the OEM version of drives, other brands warrant consideration as well (we found typical bare drive pricing to be about $300 on www.pricewatch.com -quite steep). By passing up the retail amenities of this drive, you also forgo some of the value of the product. In short, we feel the effort Plextor places in the retail package is what makes it worth the extra money.