Reviews Leaderboard Database Reference Search StorageReview Discussion Reliability Survey Search About StorageReview.com Contents

Plextor PX-W2410TA

  August 27, 2001 Author: Tim Zakharov  
Special thanks go to Plextor Corporation for providing our evaluation unit

Introduction

Over the past decade, the name Plextor has been synonymous with quality optical products. Known first as TEXEL America, the company was renamed to Plextor Corporation in 1994. Their CD-ROM drives have been on the market since 1990 (the TEXEL DM-3020, a 1X reader) while their first burner (the Plextor PX-R24CS, a 2X recorder) was introduced in 1996. During this period, Plextor earned critical acclaim as a solid SCSI optical drive manufacturer.

In 1999, Plextor introduced their first ATAPI model, an 8x4x32 CD-RW called the PX-W8432A. By this time, the ATAPI standard had some time to mature from its more problematic beginnings. Other manufacturers had been using the ATAPI standard for quite some time, in effect paving the way for Plextor's adoption of the protocol. The result was a drive that won numerous awards. Thus began Plextor's love affair with the ATAPI interface.

Since the PX-W8432A's introduction, Plextor has produced two more SCSI burners (the PX-W124TS and PX-W1210TS), both now two generations behind with 12X write speeds. Meanwhile, ATAPI drives like the PX-W1210TA (12x10x32) and PX-W1610TA (16x10x40) have introduced more people than ever before to Plextor's product line.

Rumors abounded about Plextor eventually producing a 16X SCSI model, but it has not yet surfaced (nor may it ever). Instead, we are greeted by the PX-W2410TA, an ATAPI burner with unprecedented 24X write speeds. Join us as we examine Plextor's iteration of the fastest CD-RW drive on planet today!

Specifications

Specifications according to Plextor :

  • Maximum write speeds of 24X Zone CLV
  • Maximum rewrite speeds of 10X CLV
  • Packet-writing speeds of 10X CLV
  • CD read speeds of 40X CAV
  • Digital audio extraction speeds of 40X CAV
  • 4096 KB buffer
  • 140 ms average random access time
  • ATAPI/ATA-33 interface
  • BURN-Proof
  • PowerRec-II
  • 1-year Warranty (2 years in Europe)
Notable are the 4 MB buffer (double most competitors') and the ATA-33 interface. Plextor's previous burner offered an ATAPI/DMA-2 interface.

Plextor's implementation of Zone CLV begins at 16X until 6 minutes into the disc before jumping to 20X. 20X is maintained until the 16-minute mark, at which point the drive ramps up to 24X where it stays for the remainder of the burn. The zone locations are optimized to keep drive RPMs at safe levels (below 8600 RPM) to ensure maximum write quality.

What about PoweRec-II? PoweRec stands for Plextor Optimized Writing Error Reduction Control. The original PoweRec debuted on the 16X Plextor and served to optimize write quality by identifying and testing the disc prior to writing, then monitoring the write quality in real-time during the burn process. PoweRec-II furthers this by testing the write quality at the end of each zone to determine whether to continue writing at the same speed or to increase write speed. Plextor has an excellent flowchart on their European site detailing this process. Note that PoweRec-II is an automatic feature that cannot be disabled in our Nero Burning ROM test software.

For more information, click here to see Plextor's online product page.

The retail box contents include:

  • The drive
  • Roxio Easy CD Creator 5.0 and DirectCD 5.0
  • Plextor Manager 2000 Software Suite
  • One Plextor 650 MB CD-R blank
  • One Verbatim 650 MB High-Speed CD-RW blank
  • Foldout installation poster
  • 62 page Operations Manual
  • 64 page Plextor Manager 2000 Users' Guide
  • 40-conductor IDE cable
  • Bag containing 4 mounting screws, 1 extra jumper and 1 emergency eject pin
  • Warranty registration card
About the only thing missing is an audio cable. Plextor likely omits it because nearly all sound cards come with one already, but given that most other retail optical drive packages include one, we consider it a slight oversight.

The drive face is identical to the PX-W1610TA save for the speed rating printed on the right side. The plastic is molded with a slightly grainy texture that provides a subtle difference from your everyday OEM drive. Like the PX-W1610TA, the tray mechanism ejects a bit more slowly than most drives.

The rear of the drive sports a cooling fan and digital audio out in addition to standard optical drive connectors. The two pins on the far left will drop the drive to PIO-4/DMA-2 in the event problems are experienced at ATA-33 interface speeds. This would likely happen only on older systems that do not have robust UDMA support.

One last noteworthy item is the sheer weight of the drive. Though SR has not brought scales into its testing regimen, the drive feels substantially heavier than most internal optical drives.

The drive arrived with firmware revision 1.00. No updates were available during the evaluation period.

In terms of noise, the PX-W2410TA is roughly equal to its predecessor. This makes it one of the quietest CD-RWs we have tested - in both reads and writes. Write speed changes at the various zones are nearly inaudible in sharp contrast to the Ricoh MP7200A's easily audible RPM ramp-ups. The 24X Plextor also does a good job of keeping heat levels low. Could this be related to the built-in fan on the rear of the drive? We'd wager in the affirmative.

Current online pricing is as low as $225. This places it about $10 higher than TDK's 24X model. Lite-On's 24X offering can be had for as much as $75 less ($150 for the retail package), as can Sanyo's 24x10x40 OEM bare drive.

For an overview on methodology, click here.

CD-ROM Performance Results

Low-Level Measurements

[an error occurred while processing the directive]

[an error occurred while processing the directive]

Ziff-Davis' CD Winbench 99 measures sustained transfer rates and random access times.

In the transfer rate measure the PX-W2410TA performs nearly identically to its predecessor, finishing just ahead of the PX-W1610TA in both beginning and ending transfer rates. Its end result of 6180 KB/sec computes to an optimistic 41X average.

In the access time test the PX-W2410TA nearly meets specifications with a 140.3 ms result. This betters the previous Plextor (which also specs at 140 ms) by 4% but still keeps the drive well back of the rest of the competition.

CD-ROM Winmark 99

[an error occurred while processing the directive]

CD Winbench 99's CD-ROM Winmark test runs through a timed script of routines from a variety of popular software programs. The presented score is an average from four different test discs obtained from Ziff-Davis. This tests each drive's ability to read from a range of discs pressed with identical data.

Impressively, the PX-W2410TA makes a big improvement over the 16X Plextor here. Not only does the 24X Plextor average 1268 KB/sec (19% quicker than the 16X), but scores deviate by less than 1% as well. This indicates that the Plextor reads a variety of pressed discs consistently at full speed. The previous Plextor had problems maintaining full spindle speeds with some of the test discs. Still, the PX-W2410TA trails the Ricoh and Teac drives significantly here thanks to the other drives' speedy access times.

File and Disc Copy

[an error occurred while processing the directive]

The file copy test places emphasis on sequential transfer rates by copying a single, 634 MB file. Once again we see a significant improvement over the previous-generation Plextor. The 24X completes the file copy in 2:38. This not only improves vastly on the 16X Plextor, it even edges the Ricoh for top honors. The PX-W1610TA could not maintain full RPMs in this test; hence its copy time of over 4 minutes.

The disc copy test introduces random accesses, due to the multiple files and folders on the test CD. Here the PX-W2410TA again does respectably with a copy time of 3:19. This result trails the top performer by 6%, while edging the previous Plextor by 4%. The small improvement over the PX-W1610TA is likely due to the slightly quicker measured access times we see in the CD Winbench tests.

Digital Audio Extraction

[an error occurred while processing the directive]

SR measures DAE using two programs: CDSpeed99 and CDDAE99. CDSpeed99 measures low-level DAE capabilities, while CDDAE99 is an actual audio ripping program that converts audio tracks on CD-DAs to .wav files on the hard drive.

With CDSpeed99, the PX-W2410TA edges the 16X Plextor for the top spot in the comparison. Average DAE breaks 30X; making it the 3rd fastest audio extractor SR has ever tested. CDSpeed reports perfect extraction quality and support for accurate streaming. However, in informal tests with more severely scratched media, we found the 24X model to sometimes drop speeds to 32X max DAE. The interesting part is that when testing the same discs head-to-head with the 16X Plextor, the PX-W1610TA always extracts at 40X max with perfect extraction quality - even where the PX-W2410TA falters a bit as demonstrated in the screenshot above.

Extraction quality remains excellent in CDDAE99 as long as extremely scratched discs aren't used. The PX-W2410TA extracts our standardized test disc in 2:15 - 5 seconds quicker than the PX-W1610TA. There are no errors detected and extraction quality remains excellent. When we try with highly scratched media, though, we do notice occasional errors detected by CDDAE99 (see screenshot). At no point are any of these errors detectable audibly, though. We listened carefully to all areas that CDDAE highlighted with errors but at no point could we hear any pops or clicks. While the PX-W2410TA continues to provide excellent extraction speed and quality in most situations, it still is a small step behind its predecessor when more beat-up CD-DAs are used. Even so, at no point can we actually hear any of the errors that are detected. To purists, however, this may not matter.

CD-DA Error Correction

Digital Recordings' CD-CHECK tests each drive's error correction abilities with audio CDs. CD-CHECK is a reference disc with five levels of error gap sizes, each isolated to its own track. Error size and other details may be viewed by clicking here.

In each track, a continuous 20-second tone is played. The larger the error gap, the more difficult it is for the drive's error correction to mask the error without an audible pop or click occurring during playback of the tone.

All drives are tested by playing each track five times with each successful playback (no audible pops or clicks) noted. A result of 5/5 indicates that no pops or clicks were heard in 5 out of 5 playbacks of a particular track. A result of 0/5 indicates pops or clicks occurred during all 5 playbacks of a particular track. Digital Recordings indicates the following interpretation of results:

  • Level-1 Pass: Player meets minimum requirements
  • Level-2 Pass: Average error correction
  • Level-3 Pass: Good error correction
  • Level-4 Pass: Very good error correction
  • Level-5 Pass: Excellent error correction
CD-Check Performance
Error Level 1 2 3 4 5
Plextor PX-W2410TA 5/5 5/5 5/5 5/5 0/5
Plextor PX-W1610TA 5/5 5/5 5/5 5/5 0/5
AOpen CRW1232A 5/5 5/5 4/5 0/5 0/5
Ricoh MP7200A 5/5 5/5 0/5 0/5 0/5
Yamaha CRW2200E 5/5 0/5 0/5 0/5 0/5
Teac CD-W516EB 5/5 5/5 5/5 5/5 0/5
Lite-On LTR-16101B 5/5 5/5 3/5 0/5 0/5

The PX-W2410TA upholds the standard set by the 16X Plextor and Teac drives, providing the best CD-DA playback error correction SR has yet seen.

CD-R Media Compatibility and Performance

[an error occurred while processing the directive]

To test each drive's ability to read from a variety of CD-R and -RW media, we duplicate our pressed test CD to these discs and measure low-level performance with them.

The PX-W2410TA equals its pressed CD performance, maintaining a slim lead over the rest of the competition. Maximum read speeds clock in at 6180 KB/sec, or 41X. Access times improve to 132 ms. There are no issues reading from a variety of brands and speeds of CD-R media.

CD-RW Media Compatibility and Performance

[an error occurred while processing the directive]

With CD-RW media read speeds drop to 32X CAV, but access times remain at 132 ms. Drives from Ricoh and Yamaha maintain their 40X CAV transfers, leaving the two Plextors trailing in this category. The PX-W2410TA has no issues reading from various brands of both low and high-speed media.

Write/ReWrite Tests

CD-R Based Duplication

[an error occurred while processing the directive]

Note: We used Memorex 24X Certified media for all formal write tests.

Ahead Software's Nero Burning ROM measures how long each tested drive takes to duplicate audio and data test discs when burning at maximum speeds. All drives are tested as "source" and "destination," creating results for "imaging" as well as "writing."

With our audio disc, the PX-W2410TA completes the burn portion in 3:56 - 9% quicker than the 20X Ricoh and 21% faster than the 16X Plextor.

We see similar results with the data CD: the 24X Plextor is 4% faster than the Ricoh MP7200A while staying 19% ahead of the 16X Plextor. Its data CD burn time of 4:16 is the fastest yet seen by SR.

PoweRec-II Tests

PoweRec-II differs a bit from other manufacturers' optimum write speed control implementations in that the end-user cannot toggle it on or off. 20X drives from Yamaha and Ricoh, for example, have a checkbox in Nero's "Choose Recorder" page that allows one to take their chances burning at maximum speeds regardless of media quality.

To get an idea of how PoweRec-II works, we repeated our data CD burn test with various brands and speeds of media. Note that the slowest-rated media we could find for sale was 16X. Results may vary with other brands/speeds of media.

PowerRec-II Performance
CD-R Media Write Time
Imation 16X 4:14
Sony 16X 4:14
Memorex 16X 4:15
Memorex 24X 4:16
TDK 16X Certified Plus 4:17
Yamaha 20X 4:40

With the exception of the Yamaha 20X Certified, all media writes at 24X speeds with burn times in the neighborhood of 4:15. Apparently with the Yamaha media, PoweRec-II keeps the drive burning at 20X when the final zone is reached. The end result is a slightly longer burn time of 4:40 - 25 seconds slower than 24X writes. This suggests that today's name brand media are manufactured at levels high enough to maintain quality writes at such speeds. It also suggests that PoweRec-II may do an excellent job of maintaining high quality writes at the highest speeds.

CD-RW Based Duplication

[an error occurred while processing the directive]

Here the pressed data disk is duplicated to CD-RW media at the drive's fastest rewrite speeds. At present, 10X is the quickest rewrite speed available, and all drives in the comparison are 10X rewriters.

The 24X Plextor pulls up the rear in the burn portion of this test with an average time of 8:15. This trails the Ricoh MP7200A by 4% in a tightly grouped race.

CD-R Based Stress Tests

During a burn process at the drive's maximum write speed, we first run CPU-intensive tasks to see how the drive is able to maintain its task under heavy-load conditions. Then, we hit Ctrl-Alt-Del to bring up the Close Program dialog box. This freezes the testbed mid-burn. When Nero indicates the drive buffer is empty, we hit Esc to cancel the dialog box and resume the burn.

The PX-W2410TA passes the test with flying colors. The burn process can be paused indefinitely; when un-paused, the burn resumes where it left off. We paused a 619 MB burn various times for various lengths of time, finally allowing it to complete. The burned disc was fully readable with all data intact.

[an error occurred while processing the directive]

InCD Formatting

Ahead's InCD formats CD-RW media.

The PX-W2410TA takes 12:40 to format our test CD-RW for packet-writing duties. This ties Plextor's previous burner but trails the Ricoh by 10%.

InCD Packet-Writing Performance

Packet-write speeds are determined by timing the copy of a 195 MB folder from the hard disk to an InCD-formatted CD-RW via Windows Explorer.

Once again, the PX-W2410TA virtually ties its predecessor. Its copy time of 2:38 is less than a second quicker than the PX-W1610TA and trails the Yamaha by only 3%. We again find that all 10X packet-writers perform nearly identically.

Nero CD-RW Erasing

Finally, Nero's CD-RW eraser utility times how long it takes to return a formatted CD-RW to a blank state.

The PX-W2410TA's full erase time of 8:14 is less than 1 second quicker than the 16X Plextor. It trails the Ricoh by only 2% in another tightly-grouped race.

Conclusion

Plextor's PX-W2410TA brings a host imposing specs to the table, including 24X writes, BURN-Proof, an expanded buffer size, and Plextor's own optimum write speed control called PoweRec-II. Our tests show very impressive performance in most categories, with relatively few weak areas.

In summary, the drive's positive aspects are:

  • 4 MB buffer is double the size of most competitors' drives
  • BURN-Proof eliminates buffer underrun errors
  • PoweRec-II maintains maximum write speed and quality
  • Quiet operation
  • Built-in cooling fan helps keep drive temps low
  • Read consistency with pressed CDs is improved over previous model
  • Highest DAE speeds available
  • Excellent CD-DA playback error correction
  • 24X writes are the fastest SR has tested

Minuses include:

  • Priced higher than competition
  • Audio cable not included
  • Slow access times compared to competition
  • DAE quality, while still excellent, is a bit below the standard set by the PX-W1610TA
  • Rewrite and Packet-Write performance is slightly slower than the competition
Overall, the PX-W2410TA sets new standards for a CD-RW in write performance. While audiophiles and hardware enthusiasts may look down upon the minor DAE issues we uncovered, the drive's extraction quality is still excellent with all but the most beat up discs. Even when quality is measurably lower, the drive's excellent error correction easily masks any playback anomalies.

The StorageReview.com Safe Buy Award



Simply put, this designation means we'd purchase this product without regret. Sure, there may be a slightly better, slightly faster, and/or slightly less-expensive model from a competitor, but you can't go wrong with this particular unit. This award is applicable, of course, to all units at the top of their class, but also applies to units that, though not quite best-of-class, provide a strong showing nonetheless. What may influence buying decisions more is the drive's relatively high price tag. While it's true that the retail package offers more than most other competitors' offerings, budget-minded users as well as those in search of a "quick and basic" burner might be more tempted by low-priced alternatives from Ricoh, Lite-On or Yamaha. However, for those looking for high quality and are willing to pay for it, the Plextor will not disappoint.


HOME | ARTICLES | LEADERBOARD | PERFORMANCE DATABASE | REFERENCE GUIDE
COMMUNITY | RELIABILITY SURVEY | SUPPORT SR! | ABOUT SR |

Copyright © 1998-2005 StorageReview.com, Inc. All rights reserved.
Write: Webmaster