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MSI DR16-B DVD +/- R/RW MSI DR16-B DVD +/- R/RW: We have a spin with MSI's latest DVD/CDRW burner that combines plenty of features, including Dual-Layer Technology.
Date: December 1, 2004
Written By:

Performance Testing

MSI 915P Neo2 Platinum: Intel P4 560, 2 x 512MB Corsair TWINX PC5400 Pro, MSI RX800XT, 160GB Seagate SATA 7200.7, Windows XP SP1, ATI Catalyst 4.11.

We used Nero and its tools for all the testing today, and results should be easily reproducible for those who wish to gauge performance. For the burn tests, the comparison drive will be HP's DVD630i 16x burner which is also a dual layer drive and supports 16x +R, 8x -R, 4x +/- RW and 2.4x +R DL.

Read Speeds - Audio CD

New Order's Greatest Hits was the CD of choice as it nearly fills a CD's capacity of 74 minutes. As we can see, the drive reaches very close to the 40x maximum read speed, and would probably do so with a maxed out music CD. Note that the MSI DR16-B is a CAV drive so it will not sustain 40x. The minimum for the test CD was 17.39x and the average was 29.95x.

Read Speeds - Data DVD

We used the SySmark 2004 DVD for our DVD read tests as the data DVD is one of the more challenging ones we have in terms of being read from. Most DVD drives we've used with this DVD seem to have some trouble reading the latter part of the disc and the MSI DR16-B is no exception. Since the DVD isn't at it's maximum capacity, we were unable to hit 16x read speeds, but did average 11.42x.

We're not sure if it's the software or the drive itself, but we had no success whatsoever performing this test with movie DVDs. Every disc we threw at the drive failed to initialize, though the DR16-B had no problems playing the DVDs through DVD playback software.

Digital Audio Extraction - CDeX

We used CDeX to rip the contents of the Barenaked Ladies: Stunt to our hard drive. Results are in minutes, seconds, and lower times are better.

MSI DR16-B v1.0
MSI DR16-B v1.4
HP DVD630i

We're ones to preach that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. In this case, updating the firmware improves reliability and the speed of the DR16-B, though it still trails the HP's performance.

Burning Performance - CD Media

I collected a number of media files, ranging from 4MB to as much as 150MB and burned them on to a CD. In total, there was 645.9MB across eight files. We used Sony 52x CDR media, and a TDK 32x CDRW CD for our CDRW tests (which were done at 24x).

MSI DR16-B v1.4
HP DVD630i

The HP was slightly quicker than the MSI for both CD-R and CDRW. Both drive's burned CDs worked fine on 3 AOpen, 2 Plextors and 3 MSI drives.

Burning Performance - DVD Media: Single Layer

We copied the contents of our SySmark DVD and added a number of additional benchmark files to create a total folder size of 4.37GB. We stuck with just 8x Memorex DVD-R and DVD+R, as 16x media is still relatively hard to find.

MSI DR16-B v1.4
HP DVD630i

The MSI drive averaged almost 11x during this test, peaking at 12x at the latter part of the disc, which isn't bad considering the media itself is 8x. The HP drive was limited to a maximum of 8x, and thus the difference in performance. One thing to note is that the MSI 12x burn on 8x media worked fine on all our other DVD drives except for an AOpen 1640 DVD drive. Burning the disc at 8x corrected the issue.

MSI DR16-B v1.4
HP DVD630i

Both drives supported 16x burn speeds (according to Nero) for the 8x media, and as the results above show, burn times decreased (dramatically for the HP). While the MSI never quite got to 16x, the average speed (11.67x) was higher than it was on the HP (10.97x).

Burning Performance - DVD Media: Dual Layer

We added more benchmark files to our DVD burn folder to increase the total folder size to 8.13GB. We purchased a 3-pack of Verbatum Dual Layer media at the whopping cost of $40 USD (ouch, that's half the cost of this drive!).

MSI DR16-B v1.4
HP DVD630i

Both drives were locked in at 2.4x, but the MSI does beat the HP by a slight margin. It seemed that the HP paused slightly near the end of the track, which we're at a loss to explain why. We repeated the test with our last disc, but ended up with the same result.

Final Words

In terms of performance, the MSI DR16-B provides ample speed for a Dual Layer drive. Performance is on par with the HP unit and is quite a bit quicker in DVD-R burning. All the DR16-B burns worked flawlessly, and if you can find them, 16x DVD writes is as fast as it gets.

We had some issues reading Dual Layer burns on some set top players, as well as a Playstation 2. At this time, we're pointing at the media itself as the incompatibility problems cropped up for both the burners tested today. Considering the cost of Dual Layer media (three discs sells for $50 CAD), we're a little hesitant about using these discs as a means of "backing up" Hollywood movies for playback. That being said, with a storage capacity of over 8GB, data backups will be much easier with the larger media, though at 2.4x, be prepared to wait a while for the burns to complete.

While the DR16-B worked reliably, we needed to update the firmware to v1.4. Chances are, retail drives are still running the older v1.0 revision, but MSI's LiveUpdate makes updating this a breeze. The new firmware eliminated the issue of drive vibration with pre-recorded DVD and CD discs when idling, as well as adding support for more media. We are a little concerned that the drive was unable to run commercially pressed movie DVDs in the Nero CD/DVD Speed application, but these discs did playback with software DVD players without any problems.

Outside of the performance and package, MSI includes all the other features we consider must haves for any burner that is released, such as buffer underrun protection and low noise. The MSI DR16-B is noticeably quieter than the HP unit, and about on par with their slower (MSI) DR4-A drive when burning DVDs.

Pros: Decent performer, well priced, reliable operation (with firmware revision v1.4), Nero 6 included.

Cons: Not the fastest burner on the market. Some pre-1.4 firmware issues. Dual Layer media is expensive (though not the drive's fault).

Bottom Line: MSI put together a decent drive with some good software in the DR16-B package. While it didn't stand out performance-wise, the drive's feature set and pricing make this tough to ignore. Just make sure you remember to update the firmware.

If you have any comments, be sure to hit us up in our forums.


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