DVD-ROM Performance Results
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DVDSpeed99 measures sustained transfer rates and CPU utilization at 1X.
Unfortunately, Lite-On's drive has difficulty reading our DVDTach98 test disc, spinning up and down repeatedly throughout the test. Lite-On first replaced the test unit, yet when the 2nd sample behaved identically, they requested to send us their own DVD disc for testing. It worked flawlessly. Lite-On's disc was also used in Pioneer's DVD-116 and found to work perfectly there as well, yielding results identical to the DVDTach98 disc. If the LTD163 had problems reading our DVD-Video, there might be cause for concern, but when the Lite-On had no problems with it, we were forced to consider an odd compatibility issue between the drive and our DVDTach98 disc. Thus, the following data results are from Lite-On's DVD disc.
One other point of interest: Whereas the DVD-116 was CPU-limited in its DVD read speeds, the Lite-On is not. In our testbed, the DVD-116 requires a 750 Mhz P3 to reach 16X DVD reads; slower processor speeds tend to cap the Pioneer at 14X or lower. The LTD163, on the other hand, reaches unhindered DVD reads at 500 Mhz. Though two different processors were used at various bus speeds to determine this, reported scores are taken with the testbed's standard P3-450 Mhz processor. This issue will be addressed in our third-generation testbed. For now, though, the processor remains as-is to retain result database consistency.
Able to reach 15X at the outer edge of the disc, the LTD163 averages 11.6X across our entire DVD-Video disc. In comparison, the Artec maxes out at 14.2X (not processor-limited; rather, the drive's true speed) while the DVD-116 is limited to 11.4X with DVD-Videos. DVDSpeed99 reports CPU usage of 5% at 1X for the Lite-On. In comparison, the Artec and Pioneer both average 6%.
With data DVDs, the LTD163 reaches 15X at the outside again, averaging 11.7X across the entire disc. Again CPU usage is 5% at 1X. As mentioned earlier, the Lite-On requires 500 Mhz CPU speeds in our testbed to reach 16X transfers at the outer edge, achieved at both 66 Mhz FSB (7.5X multiplier) and 112 Mhz (4.5X multiplier). This makes the small hump at the end of the transfer rate graph disappear.
Subjective Playback Observations
No subjective quality issues arise during playback of portions in two movies (Twister and The Matrix). Remember, DVD movies play at 1X, so just about any modern DVD-ROM drive will do a good job playing movies provided it is installed in a system with decent CPU speeds (greater than 300 Mhz) and sufficient memory (at least 64 MB, preferably 128 MB). Systems with hardware-based DVD decoders may get away with slower CPU speeds. The video card and decoding hardware/software typically play a much greater role in playback performance than the drive itself.
Though most DVD-ROM drives spin up to full spindle speeds when playing DVD-Videos (reading data intermittently off of the disc), the Lite-On LTD163 spins at very low RPMs (1X?) during movie playback. This offers nearly silent operation in comparison to the competition while playing DVD movies. For those looking for a quiet DVD player for their computers, this is the drive! An ancillary benefit- the drive remains very cool during movie playback. After 30 minutes of movie play it remains room temperature. Kudos to Lite-On for implementing this!