CD-R Based Duplication
Here we hit another little snag. The MP9120A, being such a new drive, is not yet fully compatible with Adaptec Easy CD Creator. We even applied Adaptec's new 4.02e update, but found that the CD Copier utility's version did not change like the rest of the Easy CD Creator applications (all other aspects of Easy CD worked normally with our Ricoh evaluation unit). CD Copier, however, is the crucial program we use for our duplication tests, so we were in a bit of a quandary. We decided to informally use Prassi PrimoCD Plus, the CD mastering software Ricoh bundles with the MP9120A. Because of the pure state of our optical testbed, though, I chose to install Prassi on my personal machine instead. While I was at it, I swapped in the testbed's P3 450 CPU to try and keep the playing field as level as possible.
The results were comparable to Plextor's 12/10/32A. However, because of the added variable of testing under Prassi instead of Adaptec, we don't feel comfortable proclaiming one a faster writer than the other. We can say with confidence, though, that the MP9120A does indeed write data and audio discs at 12X speeds (in the 6-7 minute range to burn a nearly full CD).
An unfortunate consequence to this Adaptec issue is that the MP9120A won't have duplication results available in our optical database. We regret having to do this, but we had no idea how much longer it would take for Adaptec to fix this problem. This should in no way be looked upon as an issue with the Ricoh, as it was fully functional with Prassi as well as NTI Technology's CD mastering software.
CD-RW Based Duplication
As in our CD-R based duplication tests, we were forced to use Prassi PrimoCD Plus for our CD-RW duplication tests. Again, results were comparable to Plextor's ATAPI drive at 10X. The burn portion of our duplication tests came in a bit under 8 minutes, right in line with the 10X spec.
CD-R Based Stress Tests
Easy CD Creator does support Ricoh's JustLink technology, so we were able to conduct our stress tests normally. Our first stress test, burning a folder while Unreal Tournament's intro flyby sequence loops, is turning out not to be such a tough test afterall. The Ricoh was able to burn at 12X easily, as did the two Plextors we recently tested.
It's our second stress test (burning a folder during Winbench 99's CPUmark99 test) that is bringing drives to their knees. As you may recall, Plextor's 12X SCSI burner could only complete this test at 2X. Plextor's 12/10/32A did manage to complete the test at 12X, but because its BURN-Proof technology kept kicking in during buffer underrun situations, speeds ended being the equivalent of about 4X. Granted, the technology does exactly what it's supposed to (prevents failed burns), so we can only be pleased with these results.
Ricoh's buffer underrun prevention technology does just as well as Sanyo's (the inventor of BURN-Proof). The MP9120A also passed our CPUmark99 stress test at 12X. Like the Plextor 12/10/32A, actual speeds with JustLink pauses factored in were about 4X. And Ricoh manages to do this with gaps of only 2 micrometers at 12X. The first generation BURN-Proof technology leaves 40 micrometer gaps during its pauses-still plenty small enough to be covered up by error correction, but less impressive-sounding on paper. It should be noted here that our quotes on BURN-Proof specs are based on Sanyo's white papers-it is entirely possible that optical drive manufacturers who use Sanyo's licensed technology are able to improve on it, though we have no way of confirming this presently.
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A full format of the included Ricoh-brand high speed CD-RW disc took only 16:23, over two minutes quicker than Plextor's 12/10/32A. Quick formats were also faster on the Ricoh by an average of 11 seconds, with an average quick format time of 23 seconds.
DirectCD Packet-Writing Performance
Ricoh's MP9120A again outraces Plextor's 12/10/32A, this time in our packet-writing tests. Using Windows Explorer, we timed how long it takes to copy a 195MB folder from our testbed's HDD to the included Ricoh high speed CD-RW. Average times of about 2:46 were 15 seconds, or about 9% faster than the Plextor.
DirectCD CD-RW Erasing
Ricoh finishes its DirectCD dominance over Plextor's best with average erase times of 23 seconds, nearly 50% faster than the 12/10/32A's 34 second average.
As we approach the conclusion of formal test reporting, we now look at the final piece of the puzzle: DVD-ROM performance.
DVD-ROM Performance Results...