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Plextor PX-W124TSi - CD-ROM Performance Results

  September 28, 2000 Author: Tim Zakharov  

For an overview on methodology, click here.

CD-ROM Performance Results

Low-Level Measurements

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Plextor specifies CAV transfer rates of 14X-32X for pressed CDs. We measured speeds of 15X at the inner tracks and 33X at the outer tracks, right in line with expectations.

In our random access time tests, we recorded an average of 154.3ms, 4% better than what Plextor claims. Let's see how these low-level measures affect the Winmark results.

CD-ROM Winmark 99

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The Plextor's score of 935 is the 2nd worst Winmark score we've recorded. The only other 32X readers in our database are DVD-ROMs from Pioneer and Toshiba, both of which significantly outperform the 12/4/32 in this test. Keep in mind, though, the Plextor's access time is the slowest of the bunch, and the CD-ROM Winmark likes fast access times.

File and Disc Copy

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In our file copy test, we time how long it takes to copy a single 635MB file from CD-ROM to hard drive. By definition, a single file will not allow for random accessing, thereby testing sustained transfer rates exclusively. We see the 12/4/32 struggling a bit in this test, finishing significantly slower than even the two 32X readers in our database. Since the Plextor's lethargic access times cannot affect this score, our best guess for this is perhaps a conservative error correction algorithm in the drive's firmware or electronics. Our test disc does have some light scratches, and Plextor does tout their accurate read performance, so perhaps the drive sacrifices a bit of speed in favor of accuracy. Remember, this drive's reading abilities will likely be used for creating images of data and audio discs more so than for running applications.

Our test unit actually performs slightly better in the disc copy test than in the file copy test. Considering the amount of random accesses that occur in this test (there are 3063 files in a multitude of folders), we are quite surprised. Perhaps this gets back to what we just discussed. The disc we use for this test is in excellent condition, with nary a scratch visible on the surface. At the very least, this is food for thought.

Digital Audio Extraction

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Our DAE tests show a minimum extraction rate of 9.5X at the inside tracks. By the outer edge of our test CD-DA, the 12/4/32 is extracting at just over 20X. Again, this is right in line with Plextor's 9X-20X specification.

If you are using this drive to extract digital audio, chances are you are extracting to your hard drive, and not directly to another burner (having more than one burner in a single system is a luxury most folks likely won't indulge in). This means that the average extraction rate of the drive takes precedence over the minimum, since you don't have to worry about feeding your burner at a minimum required rate. In this case, the 12/4/32 averages nearly 16X across our CD-DA, which places it in the upper third of all the optical drives in our database.

Our examination of the extraction quality did not turn up anything out of the ordinary. CDSpeed99 gave the drive a 10 rating, accurate streaming support was detected, and CDDAE99 also showed no extraction errors. The extraction rate graph was a smooth CAV shape, with no unexpected dips, and we could not hear any pops or clicks in a selection of extracted audio tracks played back through our Grado SR60s in .wav format. All in all, digital audio extraction appears to be one of this drive's strong suits.

CD-R Media Compatibility and Performance

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Our 12/4/32 test unit reads CD-Rs at the same speed it reads pressed CDs. It also has no problems reading our 80-minute test CD-R, copying all 701MB of data to our testbed's HDD without issue.

CD-RW Media Compatibility and Performance

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When it comes to CD-RW media, the Plextor slows down to 10X-22X CAV reads in our measures. Impressively, access times with our CD-RW stuck to 150ms, roughly the same as its pressed CD and CD-R access times.

Most drives tend to read CD-RWs slower than other media because of the reduced reflectivity the media offers, but we've seen instances of very high read speeds. A peek in our database shows the fastest units reaching 32X and higher. Plextor's 12/4/32 is closer to the middle of the pack with its 22X max speeds. We know Plextor has the technology to read CD-RWs at higher speeds (see the PX-40TSi results in our database), so we again wonder if a concern for highly accurate reads led them to throttle back here.

Now that we've completed our look at this drive's read performance, let's take a detailed examination of what consumers will really be buying this product for: Writing and rewriting.

 Write/ReWrite Performance Results...


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