Yamaha's newest burner, labeled "16/10/40," is primed for disclaimers. CD-R write speeds are not truly 16X; rather, they start at 12X and continue in a CAV-fashion to 16X, where they stay for the remainder of the disc space. CD-RW rewrite speeds almost never reach the advertised 10X, remaining at 8X or even lower in most situations. Finally, 40X read speeds are only reached at the outer edge of an 80-minute disc (standard 74-minute discs top out at about 38X). We even had trouble realizing the claimed 40X CAV audio extraction rates-we only saw such speeds on scratch-free CD-DAs. Not to mention the extremely high noise levels during full-rpm reads. Were it not for our second evaluation sample's confirming voice, we'd question our drive's results.
Regardless of our caveats, though, the fact remains that the CRW2100E outperforms the previous-generation "12/10/32" competition in some situations. These include CD-R write speeds, where it was 19% faster than the 12X competition; sequential read speeds, 15% faster than the 32X competition; read speeds with CD-RW media; and DAE, with average ripping speeds 9% faster than the next competitor.
The bottom line: If you rewrite to CD-RW media, especially in packet-writing situations, this drive may not be for you; if you expect to use the drive as a replacement for your CD reader and are sensitive to high noise levels, this drive is probably not for you either.
We feel comfortable recommending this drive only to those who will use it primarily for writing to CD-Rs. Although we use 16X-rated Verbatim media in our official tests, we have no issues writing at 16X speeds with 12X-rated media from Ricoh and TDK during informal use. This means you'll likely be able to finish off your current stash of 12X-rated media without compromising the improved write performance this drive offers.
If you're in a hurry for faster CD-R writes than your current 12X or slower unit will provide, check out Yamaha's CRW2100E. At $230, its price is not much higher than the 12X competition. Otherwise, we recommend holding off until 16X CLV units from other manufacturers appear.