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Plextor PX-W124TSi - Write/ReWrite Performance Results

  September 28, 2000 Author: Tim Zakharov  

Write/ReWrite Tests

CD-R Based Duplication

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Here we use Adaptec's CD Copier utility to image audio and data CDs to our testbed's hard drive, then burn the images back to CD-R at the test unit's highest-rated speed. We time each process, which includes the formation of the Table of Contents and Closing of the CD. The only part excluded from our times (rightfully so) is the process of physically swapping the source and destination discs out of the test unit.

Duplicating an audio CD involves extracting the audio from the source, imaging the tracks to our hard drive, then burning this image to the CD-R. The 12/4/32 averages almost 9:23 to image our 65-minute audio disc. The time it takes to burn the image back, however, is only 6:54, a testament to the 12X writing speeds (though not quite as fast as Plextor's claimed 6 minute figure for 650MB on their website). In all, it takes 16:16 to duplicate our CD-DA.

When duplicating our data CD, however, it takes only 3:17 to image our 619MB test CD. This is because simply reading data (14X-32X) is a much faster process than extracting digital audio (9X-20X). Because optical media is written and read from the inside of the disc outward, minimum read speeds are often emphasized more than maximum, as CDs are seldom filled completely to the outer edge. As we can see, the 12/4/32 takes an average of 7:12 to write our data CD image. This is quite comparable to the write speeds recorded for our audio CD above. In total, it took us 10:29 to duplicate our data CD.

CD-RW Based Duplication

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This test is identical to the CD-R based duplication test above, except we use CD-RW media. Also, we forgo the CD-DA portion and focus only on the data CD. We believe that end-users are much more likely to use CD-RW media with data than with CD audio. As we can see, the 12/4/32's 4X rewrite speeds severely limit the unit in this test. Where it took only 7:12 to burn our data CD at 12X, it takes over 19 minutes to rewrite the same data at 4X. This leaves us with a total duplication time of 22:20.

CD-R Based Stress Tests

Here's where we get to see what each unit is really made of. Our first test involves burning a 195MB folder from HDD to the test unit while Unreal Tournament (a popular first-person shooter) cycles through its introductory flyby loop. Be sure to see our updated Methodology section for details on how we test this. The 12/4/32 had no problems completing the burn at 12X for this test.

Our second, more severe stress test, involves burning the same 195MB folder while Ziff-Davis' Winbench99 CPUmark99 test runs. This test stresses not only the CPU, but all levels of memory subsystem as well. In effect, there are absolutely no system resources available to lend towards burning.

Indeed, we found out just how stressful this test is. Our 12/4/32 test unit encountered buffer underruns at 12X, 8X, and even 4X. At 12X and 8X, the drive's buffer dried up almost immediately, but at 4X, it took a minute or so for the buffer to finally give out. So we tried 2X. Here the drive had no problems burning. We noticed the buffer meter in Easy CD Creator never strayed below 90%. We are now eager to see how future burners fare in this grueling test.

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DirectCD Formatting

Those of us who use DirectCD's packet-writing abilities are painfully aware of how long it typically takes to format a blank disc into the UDF format. Subsequent formats of an already formatted disc, however, can be done much more quickly with the Quick Format option. We test these two processes with CD-RW media to give our readers an idea of how long they'll have to wait.

As we can see, the 12/4/32 takes a full 35 minutes to format a 4X CD-RW from a blank state to a DirectCD disc. Successive Quick formats, though, take only 57 seconds. As more burners arrive into our labs, we will get a better idea of how these figures compare.

DirectCD Packet-Writing Performance

In this test we time how long it takes to copy and paste a 195MB folder from our testbed's HDD to a freshly formatted DirectCD CD-RW. The Plextor 12/4/32 completed the copy in a little over 7 minutes. Looking at our CD-RW Duplication results and doing a little math, it appears that DirectCD copies incur a bit of overhead. The burning portion of our CD-RW duplication test averaged about 556kb/sec, while the drive burned at about 464kb/sec in our DirectCD test. That's roughly a 20% drop in burn speeds by choosing the convenience of packet-writing over standard duplication.

DirectCD CD-RW Erasing

Finally, we time how long it takes to return a DirectCD-formatted CD-RW to a blank state using the CD-RW Eraser utility included with DirectCD. There's nothing too fancy to report here-our 12/4/32 test unit completed the erase in just over one minute.



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