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Appeared on: Monday, September 19, 2005
ASUS CRW-5232A-T


1. Introduction

Asus, one of the biggest hardware manufacturers, known for its reliable and high quality products, has released an internal CD Recorder, the CRW-5232A-T, equipped with the latest innovative technologies which includes a SATA interface, a feature that not many CDRW drives currently offer.

Features

- SATA Interface enhances data transfer data capability up to 150MB/s

- Swift Data Recording
The ASUS CRW-5232A-T allows users to burn a full 650 MB CD in less than 2 and half minutes

- FlextraLin Buffer Underrun Errors Prevention Technology
Built-in FlextraLink prevents users from buffer underrun problems and eliminates the creation of unusable discs. Throughout the recording process, FlextraLink consistently monitors the data buffer status to ensure best recording quality under high-speed operation.

- FlextraSpeed Optimal Writing Speed Adjustment Technology
Built-in FlextraSpeed and AI Auto Speed Adjustment Tech. enhance accuracy and reliability when reading/writing/re-writing across a broad range of certified media in different formats. FlextraSpeed continuously monitors the recording media and sets the optimal writing speeds to ensure best recording quality. The ASUS proprietary FlextraSpeed occupies minimal system resources so the PC remains full operational and available for other applications even during recording process.

- Data Transfer Highway
Get on the data transfer highway with the Intel R915PM chipset. Combined with the DDRII Dual Channel memory module, the V6000V offers large memory bandwidth and processing speed with stability.

Noise reduction technology achievement with the combination of AFFM & DDSS II technologies:

1. Airflow Field Modification (AFFM): Eliminates the uneven airflow inside ASUS drive resulting in quieter and more stable operation.

2. Double Dynamic Suspension System (DDSS II): Anti-vibration system developed by ASUS.

The DDSS technology is designed to minimize the vibration caused by the spindle motor and resonance between components as well as the drive and PC cases. The ASUS patented DDSSII stabilizes, both horizontally and vertically, the pick-up head, achieving more precise tracking and focusing, while reducing vibration and noise caused by high-revolution spindle motors.

- Specifications
Data Transfer Rate CAV Write/ Z-CLV ReWrite/ CAV Read
Sustained Transfer Rate CD-ROM: 52X Max.
DAE: 52X Max.
CD-Write: 52X, Max.
CD-ReWrite: 32X, Max.
Random Access Time 100 ms typical
Writing Mode TAO (Track-At-Once)
DAO (Disc-At-Once)
SAO (Session-At-Once)
Packet Write, Multi-Session, DAO-RAW
O/S Compatibility Windows XP/ 2000
Interface SATA
Data Buffer 2 MB
Anti-Coaster Technology FlextraLink
Recording Technology FlextraSpeed
Disc Formats CD-DA, CD-ROM, CD-ROM XA, Photo CD, Mixed Mode CD-ROM,CD-Extra, CD-Text, CD-I, Video CD, DVCD, Bootable CD
Disc Diameters 12 cm and 8 cm
MTBF 100,000 Power On Hours/ Typical
Operating Duty Cycle (Read) 20% POH
Operating Duty Cycle (Write) 1% POH
MTTR 30 Minutes
Mounting Orientation Vertical and Horizontal (+5° ~ -5°)
Dimension (W x H x D) 42.5x148.5x173.2mm
Weight 830g
Power Requirements DC + 5V ± 5%
DC +12V ± 10%
Temperature Operating: 5°C to 45°C
Storage: -20°C to 60°C
Humidity Operating: 20% ~ 80% (Non-condensing)
Storage: 15% ~ 85% (Non-condensing)
Vibration Operating: 0.3 G peak (at 5~500 Hz)
Storage: 2.0 G peak (at 10~500 Hz)

The drive supports RAW DAO 96, CD-R/RW read/write with buffer underrun protection and C2 read error correction function. It also supports CD Text and CD+G read features.

- Retail package

The retail package for the Asus CRW-5232A-T includes the drive, a quick installation guide, four mounting screws, an emergency eject pin and the Nero Suite.

Removing the screws and opening the drive's cover voids the drive's warranty. For reference reasons we post the following pictures.

The main chipset is from Mediatek.

- Installation

The drive was connected to our test PC and was identified as "ASUS CRW-5232A1-T" under WinXP SP2. All reading tests were done with firmware v1.00.

The following pages include test results for the ASUS drive in comparison with two other devices, the Freecom FC-1 and Aopen CRW5232.


2. Transfer Rate Reading Tests

- CD Format

The ASUS CRW-5232A-T supports up to 52X reading speed with CDR media and 40X with CDRW. Below are the transfer rate graphs and the comparison with the other two drives:

The drive confirmed the manufacturers specifications of 52X reading for CDR and CDROM media. All three drives reported similar performance with CD media while with US-RW, there was a difference due to each drive's supported speed, with the AOpen supporting 52X reading, the Asus 40X and Freecom only 32X.

- Appendix

Nero CD-DVD Speed Graphs


3. CD Error Correction Tests

In the following tests we check the drive's behavior when it comes to reading scratched / defective discs. The test discs we used are the ABEX series from ALMEDIO.

- ABEX TCD-721R

Errors total Num: 1356478
Errors (Loudness) dB(A) Num: 141369 Avg: -78.9 dB(A) Max: -35.4 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples Num: 4776 Avg: 1.0 Samples Max: 9 Samples
Skips Samples Num: 0 Avg: 0.0 Samples Max: 0 Samples
Total Test Result 75.3 points (out of 100.0 maximum)

The ASUS drive showed quite good performance with the ABEX TCD-721R. The total error count is a little above average at 1356478 but the loudness error level is low. There are no skipped samples and the total test result score of 75.3 is quite good.

- ABEX TCD-726

Errors total Num: 0
Errors (Loudness) dB(A) Num: 0 Avg: -174.0 dB(A) Max: -174.0 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples Num: 0 Avg: 0.0 Samples Max: 0 Samples
Skips Samples Num: 0 Avg: 0.0 Samples Max: 0 Samples
Total Test Result 100.0 points (out of 100.0 maximum)

The Abex TCD-726 test disc is usually a simpler case for error correction. The CRW-5232A drive performed brilliantly with a total score of 100.

- CD-Check Audio Test Disc

The CD-Check Test Disc is a very useful tool for evaluating the Sound Reproduction / Error correction capabilities of a CD player. The disc offers a signal combination with disc error patterns to rate the drive's abilities to read music and reproduce it completely. Five tracks on the disc contain a sequence of progressively difficult tests. These tracks are referred as Check Level-1 through Check Level-5.

The files are reproduced (played) through a software multimedia player (i.e. Windows Media Player). Each level is considered as passed, if the tone coming out from the speakers is smooth, continuous without interruptions, skipping or looping. The higher the Check Level passed, the more reliable the sound reproduction of the tested device.

Error Level 1 2 3 4 5
ASUS CRW 5232A-T 5/5 5/5 5/5 5/5 4/5

Almost a perfect performance.

- Conclusion
It would appear that the CD error correction capabilities of the ASUS CRW-5232A-T are extremely good. One of the best overall performances with CD defects we have seen from any drive.

4. Protected Disc Tests
- Reading Tests

To create an image of the various protected titles to the hard disk, we used the latest version of Alcohol 120% software and the appropriate settings, according to the protection type of the inserted discs. Below you can see the duration of each process as well as the transfer rate in each case.

Game Title Protection Scheme
PSX "NBA Jam Extreme" Lybcrypt
Serious Sam The Second Encounter SafeDisc v.2.50.051
VRally II SecuROM v.2

The Asus drive overall, is a faster reader/ripper than the other two drives in this comparison, with much higher reading/ripping speeds with PSX and SecuROM protected discs. In the case of Safedisc, the reported speed is about average.

- Writing Tests

The ASUS CRW-5232A-T supports the DAO-RAW writing mode. For checking the drive's EFM correction status, we used 3 different game titles with different SafeDisc 2 versions having the latest software patches installed. After making the images of the various titles onto the hard disk, we burned them (at maximum speed) with Alcohol 120% v1.9.2.1705. Two different discs were created for each title; one with the "Bypass EFM error" enabled and one more with the function disabled.

The table below shows the results of the attempted backups and whether they worked (game installed / played normally), or not.

Drive

Fifa 2004
SD v3.1

Sims Superstar SD v2.9 Sims Unleashed SD v2.8 Serious Sam-Second Encounter v1.07
SD v2.60.052
Max Payne
SD v2.51.020
EFM OFF EFM ON EFM OFF EFM ON EFM OFF EFM ON EFM OFF EFM ON EFM OFF EFM ON

ASUS
CRW-5232A-T

No Yes

The drive will produce working backups with the newest v3.1 builds. This is a big plus for this drive and something very important for all CD-RWs, since they must compete in a market where DVD burners are now quite cheap but fail to deliver the goods in the area of games backups.


5. DAE Tests
- Pressed and CDR AudioCD

The ASUS CRW5232A-T supports up to 52X CAV DAE speed. When using a pressed AudioCD and its CD-R copy with EAC, we logged the following results:

As EAC reports, the drive caches DAE, supports accurate stream and can report C2 error information.

- Advanced DAE Quality

The ASUS CRW-5232A-T managed to achieve a score of 100 (perfect) in the Nero CD Speed Advanced DAE test. CDSpeed showed that the average reading speed is 33.35X and that the drive supports reading of SubChannel data and CD-Text, while Leadin and Leadout data are not supported.

- Reading 90/ 99mins AudioCDs

Those discs are a common issue for most drives on the market. The Asus CRW-5232A-T managed to read/rip only the 99min test disc while it failed to read the 90min disc.


6. Protected AudioCDs
For this test procedure we used three audio discs with different audio copy protections. The ripping process performed for all protected Audio discs was performed with Exact Audio Copy v0.9 beta 5.

The tested protected Audio discs were:

The Cactus Data Shield 200 contains artificial errors that are not easy to bypass with the reader, while the Key2Audio contains a second session, causing problems on readers when they try to read the Table Of Contents (TOC).

The tested tasks are:

The ASUS drive recognized up to the 12th Audio track of the CDS200 disc,

and with the "Retrieve Native TOC" option removed, the 13th Data track.

The test results are shown in the following table:

ASUS CRW-5232A-T
Key2Audio
CDS200
Ripping process completed, EAC reports no problems, Read&Test CRC comparison successful for all tracks
Ripping process completed, EAC reports no problems, Read&Test CRC comparison successful for all tracks

The ASUS CRW-5232A-T will rip both Key2Audio and CDS200 protected audio discs. Both discs were recognized and their contents were ripped at the maximum speed. No timing problems were noticed with both test discs.

This is a "special" CDS200 build, since it doesn't contain any artificial errors during the ripping process. Most problems occur then trying to write the ripped wav files, since the produced CD-R disc contains C2 and CU errors! This "problem" is rumored to be connected with specific chipset weaknesses..

We ripped the disc contents with EAC and burned the produced wav with the latest Nero version as AudioCD+CD-Text. The burned media was checked for C1/C2 errors with PlexTools software using Plextor PX-716A (firmware v1.08).

ASUS CRW-5232A-T CDS 200.0.4 - 3.0 build 16a
Reading and writing performed without any errors

The C1/C2 error graphs indicate that the drive manage to produce a 100% error free disc.

Lets try to extract all wav files with the Plextor PX-716A and PlexTool DAE Error Correction 5th Level enabled:

No errors were reported after extracting all files.


7. CD Recording Tests
The ASUS CRW-5232A-T supports recording speeds of 52X for CD-R and 32X for US-RW. The writing speeds that the Asus drive can burn at are 4X, 8X, 16X, 24X, 32X, 40X, 48X and 52X. Below are the recording speeds as detected by Nero Burning Rom.

According to Nero CDSpeed, the drive reached the maximum 52X speed. The test started at 23.54X and finished at 52.89X having an average speed of 40.09X. Click on the image below to see the whole graph.

In the event the disc supports only up to 48X, the writing strategy is still CAV. In that case, the drive will start the burning procedure at 21X and will finish at 48X with an average speed of 36X.

For the burning tests, we created an 80min data compilation through Nero Burning Rom, recording the data on a 700MB disc.

The ASUS CRW5232A-T finished the task in 2:35 minutes, a little surprising for a drive with a maximum 52X writing speed.

The writing time varies according to the inserted media, as our tests showed. Below is a chart demonstrating all recording times with various media.

The fastest recording time came with Memorex 80min 52X media which took 155secs (2:35mins).

Brand ID Code Manufacturer Name Lead Out TIme Burned Speed
MMore 80min 52X 97m17s 06f Moser Baer India Ltd 79m59s74f 52X
Philips 80min 52X 97m15s17f Ritek Co. 79m59s70f 48X
Intenso 80min 52X 97m32s19f Prodisc Technology Inc. 79m59s72f 48X
Intenso 80min Black Dye 48X 97m32s19f Prodisc Technology Inc. 79m59s72f 40X
Ridisc 80min 52X 97m26s66f CMC Magnetics 79m59s71f 52X
SKC 80min 52X 97m26s 26f SKC Co Ltd 79m59s73f 48X
Taiyo Yuden 80min 48X 97m24s01f Taiyo Yuden Company Limited 79m59s72f 48X
Memorex 80min 52X 97m26s66f CMC Magnetics 79m59s71f 52X
TraxData 80min 52X 97m15s17f Ritek Co. 79m59s70f 48X
TraxData 80min Black Dye 40X 97m15s17f Ritek Co. 79m59s70f 48X

- Other features

Overburning writing
No
CD text reading/writing
Yes

The ASUS supports 16X, 24X and 32X P-CAV rewriting speeds with Ultra Speed Rewritable Media (US-RW).

Below you can see the Nero CD-DVD Speed writing simulation test with blank 32X US-RW media from Verbatim.

The drive starts the writing task at 16.01X and reaches the maximum 32X at the 49:00 min address mark on the disc using Z-CLV strategy. According to CDSpeed, the average writing speed is 24.17X.

- CD-RW Mount Rainier Tests

The ASUS CRW-5232A-T supports the CD-RW Mount Rainier write feature.


8. Writing Quality Tests - Clover System Tests

The Clover System CDX Compact Disc Analyzer is a high-speed tool to quantitatively measure the quality of a CD. It will analyze CD-DA, CD-ROM, CD-ROM XA, CD-I, CD-R, Photo-CD, Enhanced CD and CD-RW discs at 4X, 8X, 24X, 32X or 40X speed. It effectively measures disc quality by examining the quantity and severity of CIRC errors generated during playback. It also provides the capability to measure signal parameters related to pit geometry, such as asymmetry and reflectivity. Together, all these bits of information provide a thorough analysis of disc quality. The Clover Systems Analyzers can also perform various format-checking tests on data discs, and do bit-for-bit data comparison on all types of CDs. All tests are carried out at the maximum speed of 40X.

CIRC error correction uses two principles to detect and correct errors. The first is redundancy (extra information is added, which gives an extra chance to read the disc), and the second is interleaving (data is distributed over a relatively large physical area). The CIRC error correction used in CD players uses two stages of error correction, the well known C1 and C2, with de-interleaving of the data between the stages.

The error type E11 means one bad symbol was corrected in the C1 stage. E21means two bad symbols were corrected in the C1 stage. E31 means that there were three or more bad symbols at the C1 stage. This block is uncorrectable at the C1 stage, and is passed to the C2 stage. Respectively, E12 means one bad symbol was corrected in the C2 stage and E22 means two bad symbols were corrected in the C2 stage. E32 means that there were three or more bad symbols in one block at the C2 stage, and therefore this error is not correctable.

BLER (Block Error Rate) is defined as the number of data blocks per second that contain detectable errors, at the input of the C1 decoder. Since this is the most general measurement of the quality of a disc, you will find BLER graphs for all media tested below. If you click on the images you can see a more detailed table, indicating error levels. The Red Book specification (IEC 908) calls for a maximum BLER of 220 per second averaged over ten seconds. Discs with higher BLER are likely to produce uncorrectable errors. Al low BLER shows that the system as a whole is performing well, and the pit geometry is good. However, BLER only tells us how many errors were generated per second, and it does not tell us anything about the severity of those errors.

Intenso Black Dye 80min 48X at 40X

Intenso 52X at 48X

SKC 52X recorded at 48X

Traxdata Black Dye 40X recorded at 48X

TraxData 52X recorded at 48X

Memorex 52X recorded at 52X

Philips 52X recorded at 48X

Ridisc 52X recorded at 52X

MMore 52X recorded at 52X

Taiyo Yuden 48X recorded at 16X

Taiyo Yuden 48X recorded at 32X

Taiyo Yuden 48X recorded at 48X

- Summary

The writing quality with most media was good, especially with Taiyo Yuden, which were the only to pass the Clover CDX test. Only two out of eleven media reported E32 errors, something that might be improved with a newer firmware revision. You should also keep in mind that we are dealing with a very strict testing procedure that the majority of drives and media fail to pass.


9. C1 / C2 Error Measurements

We measured the C1 / C2 error rate on the recorded discs we burned at the various supported writing speeds and various media. The software we used is PleXTools Professional V2.24b, and particularly the built-in Q-Check utility. The reader was the Plextor PX-716A (firmware v1.08)

Intenso Black Dye 80min 48X at 40X

Intenso 52X at 48X

SKC 52X recorded at 48X

Traxdata Black Dye 40X recorded at 48X

TraxData 52X recorded at 48X

Memorex 52X recorded at 52X

Philips 52X recorded at 48X

Ridisc 52X recorded at 52X

MMore 52X recorded at 52X

Taiyo Yuden 48X recorded at 16X

Taiyo Yuden 48X recorded at 32X

Taiyo Yuden 48X recorded at 48X

- Summary

The Asus reported good writing quality with most media while in a few cases, it needs some improvement. Especially in the case of Memorex and MMore media, Plextools reported C2 and CU errors. Writing at 16X or 32X is much safer than 48X or 52X and the above results confirm this.


10. Conclusion

The ASUS CRW-5232A-T is a CDRW drive with a SATA interface aimed at users who still burn a lot CDs. This can come in handy with many recent Intel 9xx chipset based motherboards which have only one IDE port but plenty of SATA.

The drive is a fast reader with low seek times. Its error correction capability is very good according to our tests, since it managed to read all the five tracks of our CD-Check Audio Test Disc, something we don't see with many drives, while with the ABEX TCD-721R and TCD-726 test discs, it reported excellent performance.

The ASUS CRW-5232A-T supports 52X CAV DAE speed and offers features such as cached DAE, accurate stream and C2 error information. It received a score of 100 (perfect) in the Nero CD Speed Advanced DAE test with an average reading speed of 38.98X. Key2Audio/CDS200 protected Audio discs are not a problem for the drive which will read/rip flawlessly. It supports 99min reading Audio CDs but has problems with 90min Audio CDs.

Ripping game CDs is something that proved easy for the ASUS excepting perhaps Safedisc protected discs, where the drive reported only average behaviour. PSX and SecuROM protections however are not a problem. The drive will produce working backups with the newest v3.1 builds, something very important for a CD-RW.

The maximum 52X writing speed uses the CAV strategy, as does the drive at 48X. The drive will fully burn a 700Mb CD in 2:35min. All the tests were done with the only firmware revision currently available. The writing time is highly dependent on the disc since in our tests, 52X certified media were burned at 48X. The writing quality is good with most media, even at high speeds although once again it seems that it is safer to burn at 16X.

We didn't manage to locate a price for the drive on the e-market. The ASUS CRW-5232A-T is relatively new on the scene and might not be available yet.

- The Good

- The Bad.

- Like to be fixed



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