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Ricoh MP9120A CDRW/DVD


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Ricoh MP9120A CDRW/DVD - CD-ROM Performance Results

  November 2, 2000 Author: Tim Zakharov  

For an overview on methodology, click here.

CD-ROM Performance Results

Low-Level Measurements

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Winbench 99's sequential transfer rate test shows Ricoh's combo drive to be a 16X reader at the inner tracks, while slightly overachieving at the outer edge of our test disc-33X. This is right in line with specs and a hair faster than either of the Plextor burners.

Ricoh's 100 ms access time specification for the MP9120A is the fastest we've seen for any type of burner, but our test sample blows its own spec out of the water with a measured average of 88 ms. This is better than some stand-alone CD readers and should yield good Winmark scores. Let's see if this holds true.

CD-ROM Winmark 99

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The MP9120A does indeed do well in the Winmark test with an excellent average of 1348. This virtually ties it with Pioneer's DVD-303S as the fastest 32X reader we've benched in the Winmark test. It's also over 20% faster than Plextor's 12/10/32A, another impressive feat.

File and Disc Copy

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Our file copy test in many ways is a sequential transfer rate test. When copying a single 635 MB file, random accesses, by definition, cannot occur. As we can see, the Ricoh completes this test in just under 03:18, which is right in line with most of the other 32X readers we've tested.

In the disc copy test, random accesses become relevant because of the many files of various sizes on our test disc. Here we see the MP9120A's excellent random access times come into play. The Ricoh completes the disc copy test in an average of 03:42, which, when compared to the other 32X readers we've tested, is second only to Toshiba's SD-M1212. The Toshiba likely wins because of its slightly better measured access times. Still, the Ricoh does very well as a 32X CD reader, especially considering it's also a writer, rewriter, and DVD reader.

Let's see if the Ricoh can keep up the pace in our digital audio extraction tests.

Digital Audio Extraction

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Ouch. And things were going so well. The Ricoh has serious problems keeping up with its 32X max audio extraction rating. Things start off fine with the first couple of tracks-beginning extraction rates are about 15X. But shortly thereafter, the drive hits bumps in the road and eventually drops to what appears to be fail-safe mode: 8.74X. Granted, our test CD-DA is not perfect, but we haven't seen any other drives choke on it to this extent. To see if there was a possible drive problem, we went through our audio CD collection, testing many more discs. We found a direct correlation: the more surface scratches, the greater likelihood that the audio extraction would drop significantly below ideal. Even our newest, cleanest CD-DAs could not be extracted at full speed consistently. Some runs would produce flawless extraction rate graphs, beginning at 15X and finishing at or close to 32X; but subsequent retries of the same disc would occasionally show drops in extraction speeds.

Apparently, the MP9120A in its current state is extremely picky about the quality of CD-DA surfaces it is trying to read from. At least, however, we found no issues with the quality of extraction. We listened to selections of tracks that were extracted at full speed, as well as tracks that were mid-slowdown in the extraction process, and could find no audible quality issues. CDSpeed99 and CDDAE99 confirmed our auditory findings: no errors were reported, extraction quality was given the highest rating, and accurate streaming support was detected. Just be prepared for the possibility of real-world extraction speeds in the neighborhood of 10X.

It appears that Ricoh places an extremely high priority on extraction quality, to the point that they'll sacrifice gobs of speed to maintain accurate DAE. Then again, it's possible that the engineering feats involved in making such a jack-of-all-trades drive posed limitations in this area. After all, we've seen plenty of optical drives yield fast and accurate DAE with less-than-perfect CD-DAs. At any rate, based on our tests we consider DAE speed (not quality) to be a weakness in this drive.

CD-R Media Compatibility and Performance

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Fortunately, the MP9120A returns to top form in our media compatibility and performance tests. Our CD-R read tests show full compatibility with our 74-minute TDK 12X and 80-minute Imation 12X media. In addition, performance with these media remained equal to pressed CD reads.

CD-RW Media Compatibility and Performance

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For our CD-RW read tests, we used Verbatim, Memorex and Sony 4X-rated media. All three brands showed full compatibility in read tests in addition to read performance equal to pressed CD reads. In fact, we measured random access times slightly better than we did with our pressed CD. Informal copying tests with a CD-RW copy of one of our pressed discs confirmed read performance equal to the pressed disc.

We are extremely impressed with the Ricoh's performance reading CD-Rs and CD-RWs. How does it do, though, when writing to said media? Follow along as we find out.

 Write/ReWrite Performance Results...


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