When CDRW burners first arrived on the scene, there was a standards war on which CD rewritable standard would reign. Eventually, -RW won the fight, bringing with it better compatibility with multiple devices than the +RW standard. Unfortunately for the consumer, a new standards war occurred in the DVD writing world, further confusing the buyer.
Given the DVD burner standards war (which is pretty much a moot point now), rather than settling into one specific standard, many DVD burners today support multiple standards. They have also gotten much faster, currently topping out at 16X burn speeds. A new technology this past year that has emerged is Dual-Layer Technology. No longer do studio DVDs need to be compressed as dual-layer writable DVDs can store up to 8.5GB of data. Copyrights are of course a different story, but that should be a given, right? ;)
Today we'll be looking at which supports multiple formats of DVD and CD burning, Dual-Layer Technology, as well as 16X DVD burn speeds.
|" 16x DVD+R writing / 4x DVD+RW rewriting / 2.4x DVD+R writing
" 16x DVD-R writing / 4x DVD-RW rewriting / 16x DVD-ROM reading
" 40x CD-R writing / 24x CD-RW rewriting / 40x CD-ROM reading
" 8.5GB Dual-Layer Technology
" Seamless Link prevents buffer underrun and minimizes recording failures
" Supported over-burn feature
" Supported 99 (870MB) or 90min (800MB) CD-R disc
" Supported 8cm or 12cm disc diameter
" 2MB internal buffer
" Enhanced IDE/ATAPI interface
" Horizontal and vertical operation
" PIO Mode 4, DMA Mode 2 and UDMA Mode 2
" Supports optimum power control
" Supports DVD+R write speed at 2.4x, 4x, 8x, 12x and 16x
" Supports DVD+RW write speed at 2.4x and 4x
" Supports DVD+R DL write speed at 2.4x
" Supports DVD-R write speed at 1x, 2x, 4x 8x, 12x and 16x
" Supports DVD-RW write speed at 1x, 2x and 4x
" Supports CD-R write speed at 8x, 12x, 16x, 24x, 32x and 40x
" Supports CD-RW write speed at 4x, 8x, 12x, 16x and 24x
The MSI DR16-B
On the box, the drive's capabilities are clearly labeled, and inside, we have the DR16-B drive, as well as a number of CDs and documentation. The CDs include version 6 of Nero's Express burning suite, and InterVideo's WinDVD and WinDVD Creator, which will allow some basic DVD creation. There are four screws for installation included, as well as an audio cable, but no IDE cable.
The MSI DR16-B is designed to be slightly shorter than a standard CD/DVD drive. With the increasing popularity of small form factor PCs, this will insure that the MSI drive will have fewer problems fitting into these tight setups. On the front of the drive, things are pretty bare. There is an eject button, activity LED and manual eject pin hole, but no skip forward button.
Moving to the rear of the drive, we have a 40-pin PATA connection, Master/Slave/CS jumper, power connection and an audio output where you can run the included cable to a sound card.
Installation is straightforward. Find an available 5.25" external bay, and slide the drive in. Use the four screws to secure the drive. Depending if you choose to have the drive as the master, or slave, you can set the jumper to the appropriate position. Plug in the power, and audio cable and you're all set.
The DR16-B features a black DVD/CD tray. Why black? In theory, the black tray will absorb any refracted light during the drive's operation. This will make reads and writes more reliable, and a no brainer on MSI's part to do this.
As mentioned earlier, the MSI DR16-B supports 16X read and write speeds to DVD+R and DVD-R. For DVD +/- RW, speeds are limited to 4X write, while the write speed of dual-layer DVDs is 2.4X. On the CD side of things, CD-R read and writes are set to 40X, while CDRW the burn speed tops out at 24X.
For reliable burns, the drive has a 2MB buffer for the data, as well as Seamless Link to minimize buffer underruns. MSI's A.B.S technology is present, which minimizes vibration during operation which will not only provide better performance, but also more reliability when reading and writing to disks. We did initially have some issues with random disk vibration (some CD-R disks rattled while the drive was idle), but this was corrected when we upgraded the firmware to v1.4.
While we're not doing a software review today, MSI does include the latest version of Nero's Express burning suite. Actually, they include version 6, but you can update it to v6.6 through Nero's website.
Once the package is installed, pretty much anything you'll ever need to do with an optical drive is available through the software. Everything is well organized, and is tailored to be as user friendly as it gets. I'm not too wild about how it forces itself into your system options and quick launch, but those of you who like software that does everything for you with minimal input will probably be happy with this.
Another useful feature of the software is the InfoTool. Here, almost every aspect of the drive is documented (after a quick run by the software to check the features), including the drive's speed and firmware revision. Speaking of the firmware, MSI's LiveUpdate is a web interface that is incredibly easy to use and can update the drive's firmware without the need of a floppy or reboot into DOS.