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Appeared on: Sunday, December 16, 2001
Acer CRW2010A CD-RW


1. Introduction

Acer CRW2010A IDE CDR-W - Page 1

- Introduction:

's previous CRW1208 model was the drive that boosted their worldwide sales. Even if the drive wasn't the fastest one you could buy, it had some unique features that eventually made it very popular among users. The drive supported the "SeamLess Link" anti-coaster technology and could produce perfect backups of SD2 protected CDs. On June, Acer announced a new model bearing the code "CRW2010A". Is this the drive that will make the difference amongst 20x writing speed recorders? Can Acer's new drive compete against Ricoh and Yamaha's 20x competitor drives?

- Features:

The new Acer drive supports 20x writing speed, 10x re-writing and 40x reading speeds, making it directly comparable to Ricoh MP7200 and Yamaha 2200E series. The drive uses Zone-CLV writing strategy in order to archieve both 16x and 20x writing speeds, supports "SeamLess-Link" anti-coaster technology and features a smart detection mechanism to determine the inserted media quality...It is equipped with a 2MB Buffer, Anti-vibration System, dust protection design and power saving features. Last but not least it supports:
Writing speeds: 4x, 8x, 12x (CLV), 16x and 20x (Z-CLV)
Re-Writing speeds: 4x, 8x and 10x (CLV)

- Supplied Package:

The package supplied was the retail European version. This included: The drive itself, the user's guide, MS-DOS drivers, 1 High Speed RW Blank (4x-10x), 1 Acer 16-20x 80min CDR media, Audio cables and mounting screws. The software supplied with the CRW2010A was: Nero Burning ROM v5.5.2.2, Ahead InCD v2.14 (for packet writing use) and Nero Media Player v1.1.0.3. Also included in the package was a diskette which contained an updated driver for the included OEM Nero 5.5.2.2 version. We didn't use it, since we used the brand new 5.5.2.4 version for our tests. Finally we found a nice quick Nero 5.0x setup guide for the daily tasks.

Acer 80min 16/20X CDR media:

ATIP: 97m 22s 66f
Disc Manufacturer: Acer Media Technology, Inc.
Assumed Dye type: Phthalocyanine (Type 6)
Media type: CD-Recordable
Recording Speeds: min. unknown - max. unknown
nominal Capacity: 702.83MB (79m 59s 74f / LBA: 359849)

Acer 74min 4-10X HS-RW media:

ATIP: 97m 26s 65f
Disc Manufacturer: CMC Magnetics Corp.
Assumed Dye type: Phthalocyanine (Type 5)
Media type: CD-ReWritable
Recording Speeds: min. 4X - max. 8X
nominal Capacity: 658.89MB (75m 00s 00f / LBA: 337350)

The front of the drive has the logo of Acer and "High-Speed Recording" embedded on it, along with the maximum supported speeds "20/10/40". Also there are 2 leds (red while writing, green while reading), the eject button, the play/stop button for audio cds and the headphone input jack/volume selector:

On the back of the drive there are the usual connectors (IDE interface, power), the jumpers for setting the drive as Master/Slave/Cable Select, the SPDIF output connector and 2 jumpers which are not used (factory reserved). You will also notice a ventilation shaft:

- Installation:
The Acer CRW2010A was installed as Slave on the secondary IDE BUS. Note that the drive MUST be installed as SLAVE, and that in all other cases it will not work properly. The drive worked in PIO-Mode4 and after booting the system up, it identified itself as the "ATAPI CD-R/RW 20X10". We unchecked the Auto Insert notification, checked DMA and rebooted.

The drive was a June 2001 model with an initial firmware revision of vH.HF. We used the latest version of Nero Burning ROM (5.5.2.4), InCD (2.24), CloneCD (3.0.4.2) and Padus DJ (3.00.780) for the recording tests.

- Test Machine:
WinMe OS
Soyo 7VCA
Celeron II 566 over clocked to 850 MHz
128MB SDRAM PC 133
WD 18GB UDMA 66
Quantum Fireball EX 6.4 GB UDMA 33
DAWI 2975 - PCI (ULTRA) SCSI Host Adapter
ATI AIW 128
Ricoh MP7200A firmware v1.10
Ricoh MP9200 firmware v1.00
Yamaha 2200E firmware v1.0C
Acer CRW2010A firmware vH.HF


2. Data Tests

Acer CRW2010A IDE CDR-W - Page 2

Data Tests

Test Method:
- SCSI Mechanic v3.0x: This was used to compare the Acer's  I/O performance against other various CDR-W drives (see charts). We used a pressed CD containing PlexTools v1.08 for all of the tests.
- Nero CD Speed v0.83b was also used to check the drive's performance with pressed CDs. For that test, we used PlexTools v1.08 pressed CD.

- SCSI Mechanic v3.0x results:

The Acer 2010 is the slowest among the 4 tested drives. The drive showed a un-pleasant behaviour with the PlexTools 1.08 pressed CD, especially while it was connected as MASTER. After a suggestion made by the Acer tech support, we connected the drive as SLAVE and most of our problems were solved.

The drive has a very good "Average Random I/O" due to low seek times, and earns the third place in the "Average Sequential I/O" test. The drive delivered around 4383kb/s, while the leader of the test, the MP7200, flies with 4555kb/s. Lastly, the performance in the "Average Same Sector I/O" test is not the best we have seen in our labs, since the drive managed to produce only 1445kb/s. The competition is much faster and the Yamaha 2200E can go up to 25400kb/s!

- Nero CD Speed v0.83 results: (click here to see the CD Speed 99 graph)

Using Nero CD Speed 0.83, we confirmed that the Acer 2010 model gets the third place among our 4 contestants. The drive makes a rather slow entry with 14.34X speed, but the average reading speed is good (29.65X). The competition from Ricoh is strong since both MP7200/9200 are much faster.

In the "Seek Times" test results, the Acer 2010 gets the third place both Ricoh drives. The drive's random seek time is 95ms. The Ricoh MP9200 is still the leader with 88ms and the MP7200 comes second with 93ms.

- CDR Media: (click here to see the CD Speed 99 graph)

The Acer 2010 performed very good with CDR media and reached 40x (max) reading speed. The drive's average reading speed with CDR media was 30.28X and gets the second place under MP7200.


3. RW/CloneCD Tests
Acer CRW2010A IDE CDR-W - Page 3

RW reading tests

- Nero CD Speed v0.83 Test: (Click here to see the CD Speed 99 graph)

For the RW tests, we used TDK's HS-RW media. The Acer 2010 gave the lowest average reading test result (24.39x) among the 4 tested drives, since its top speed reaches only 32x:

CloneCD Reading Tests

- Procedure:
We used CloneCD (v3.0.4.2) and 5 original CDs - Euro 2000 (SafeDisc 1), No One Lives For Ever (SafeDisc 2), Rally Masters (LaserLock 1), Desperados (LaserLock 2) and V-Rally 2 Expert (SecuROM 2) - in order to test the reading time of Acer 2010. We also tested the reading performance with backups of the original CDs, since reading speeds vary between original and backup media. For comparison reasons we added the results of the already tested Ricoh MP72000A, Ricoh MP9200 and Yamaha 2200E. The following screenshot shows the Acer's 2010 reading/writing capabilities:

- SafeDisc 1/2 Results:

The Acer 2010 skips the bad sectors of SafeDisc 1 protected CDs very slowly. The drive's reading performance was the worst among the 4 tested drives.

With SafeDisc 2 protected CDs, Acer 2010 continues its bad performance, as mentioned earlier.

LaserLock 1/2 Results:

The Acer 2010 performs slightly better with LaserLock 1 protected CDs. However, when reading from the backup CD, the drive needs more time to finish the task.

A LaserLock 2 protected CD is a hard task for all readers. The Acer 2010 seems to perform reasonably and follows the Ricoh 9200 results. The Ricoh MP7200 wins the first place with the original CD and the Yamaha 2200E is the best one with the backup CD.

SecuROM Results:

The Acer 2010 DOESN'T support reading/writing subchannel data from DATA tracks. It supports only reading subChannel data from Audio tracks.


4. DAE Tests

Acer CRW2010A IDE CDR-W - Page 4

DAE Tests

Test Method:
We used CD DAE 99 v0.21 beta and EAC v0.9 prebeta 11 software in order to check the DAE performance of the Acer 2010 with various AudioCDs (both pressed and CDR). The posted DAE results are the average of both applications, but the CPU usage is only taken from CD DAE 99, since EAC occupies the system a lot more. As a last note, we used the "BURST" reading mode of EAC. We made a full CD Rip starting from the first to the last track of the CD. The Average DAE reported speed along with the CPU Usage is displayed in the test graphs.

- DAE features:
We used EAC v0.9 prebeta 11 to examine the drive's features. As the program reported, the drive doesn't support data "Caching" and C2 error info and supports "Accurate Stream"

- Pressed AudioCD results: (click here to see the CD Speed 99 graph)
The DAE ripping speed of Acer 2010 is limited and it reaches 17.3X (average). The drive cannot take on the competition, since the Ricoh MP7200/9200 are able to reach 30X DAE ripping speed (average):

- CDR AudioCD Results: (click here to see the CD Speed 99 graph)
The Acer 2010 gave the exact same results with CDR media. The drive reaches only 17.1X average DAE ripping speed and the competition is simply way ahead:

- Advanced DAE Quality:

The Acer 2010 completed the CD Speed 99 "Advanced DAE test" successfully, but the results weren't perfect. The drive produced 6 Sync Errors, which costed it the 100 (perfect) quality score.

The average reading speed was 17.23X and Nero CD Speed reports that it can read "CD-Text" enabled AudioCDs and the "Lead-In/out" areas. Also it reports that the drive cannot read SubChannel data from Audio tracks, which is false.

- Bad CDR Media results

Despite the fact that CD Speed 99 Advanced DAE test stretches drive's mechanism to the max, we decided to do real life tests with a scratched disc. The disc was dirty, and with some light scratches, enough in order cause problems to most of the tested drives. We used CD DAE 99 software to rip the whole disc (756539616 sectors) and the results are interesting:

Average Speed (X)
Errors
Errors Of Total Disc (%)
Ricoh MP7200A
8.3
505040044
66,76
Yamaha 2200E
5.7
1041038
0.14
Acer 2010
*
*
*
Ricoh MP9200A
8.0
537645437
71,07

As the tests showed, the Acer 2010 denied reading our test disc and returned a reading error code. The rest of the drives have no problems reading the dirty disc, even if they produce some errors. Both Ricoh MP7200/9200 drives return almost 70% of the reading data as inaccurate. The Yamaha 2200E seems a quite good performer, since the reading errors are only 0.14% of the total disc capacity.

- Ripping 90 and 99min CDs:

As we can see from the above graphs, the Acer 2010 has no problem reading 90min CDs. However it denied reading 99min CDs.


5. CDR Tests - Page 1

Acer CRW2010A IDE CDR-W - Page 5

CDR Tests - Page 1

The Acer 2010 is the fourth recorder, following Sanyo BP1500, Ricoh MP7200 and Ricoh MP9200 that supports Zone-CLV writing technology. However Acer's approach is much different than the one implemented by Sanyo/Ricoh's, thus forcing the drive to perform almost as slow as if it were a 16x CLV recorder. The drive uses Zone-CLV in order to achieve both 16x and 20x writing speeds. We used Nero CD Speed 0.83 build-in writing test in order to test the drive's writing performance at both 16x and 20x writing speeds:

Press to see the complete graph!

As Nero CD Speed showed, the CRW2010 starts writing at 12x (CLV) and after 20mins jumps off to 16x (CLV) and continues to write at this speed until the end of the burn. The average writing speed of 16x (Zone-CLV) writing speed is around 14.98x(!) making the drive much slower than a real 16x (CLV) writer.

The same principles also apply for the 20x Zone-CLV writing speed. The drive starts writing at 12x (CLV), jumps to 16x (CLV) at 20min, climbs up to 20x (CLV) at 40min and continues to write at this speed until the end of the burn. The average writing speed of 20x (Zone-CLV) writing speed setting is around 16.87x making the drive much slower than the rest of the 20x available recorders:

Press to see the complete graph!

Although Acer doesn't mention this in the drive specification, it supports a system similar to JustSpeed/FlexSS-BP, which examines the quality of the inserted medium and decides whether it is adequate for 16x and 20x writing speeds.

However it doesn't seem to work correctly, since it failed to recognize that Mitsui 74min (24x), Ricoh 74min & 80min (24x) and Taiyo Yuden 80min (24x) can be written at 20x. When one of the above mentioned media is being used, the drive reduces the recording speed to 16x and does not achieve the desired 20x writing speed (when using Nero). Acer did supplied us with Acer's 1-12x media, which also worked fine at 20x. That means possibly that the 20x writing speed has been optimized upon Acer's media and with newer firmware updates this will be improved.

There is also a possibility of the drive allowing over 16x writing speed, but needing a larger actual burning time! In our lab tests with Maxell 74mins media, the Acer 2010 drive allowed a 16x writing speed, but the actual time reached 6:54, which equals for 12x writing speed :(

- Procedure:

We tested the Acer 2010 with Nero v5.5.2.4, CloneCD v3.0.4.2 and Padus DJ v3.00.780 software. Notice that Padus 3.00.780 fails to identify the drive's writing speed capabilities correctly.

We used many different brands and types of media: Verbatim 16x, Mitsui 16x & 24x, Prodisc 16x, Ricoh 8x & 24x, TDK D-View 12x, Princo 16x, Maxell 16x, Taiyo Yuden 24x and Verbatim/TDK 74min HS-RW media.

- CD-R Tests:
We created a "DataCD" job with data slightly over 74mins (74:03:65). We burned the same job with all 4 CDR-W drives:

As you can see, the Acer 2010 needs the highest time to finish our burning task. The drive uses Zone-CLV for achieving 16x writing speed, which however is much slower than 16x CLV and P-CAV approaches by Ricoh and Yamaha. The drive is around 26 secs slower than Ricoh 9200 and 15secs than Yamaha 2200E. Also notice that the CPU usage is high - is this due to the Seamless-Link feature?

Let's see how the drives behave at 20x writing speed. The Acer 2010 is again the slowest among the 4 drives. The drive needs 53secs more than MP9200 and 35secs more than Yamaha 2200E. The actual time for 20x writing was 5:15mins, which is about the same time that a 16x CLV writer needs to finish the same task! Also the CPU Usage is again at high rates (27%).

- 80min CDs:
Since the Acer 2010 doesn't support overburning, we reduced our usual burning size, 80:01:47, to 79:54:26 in order to perform the 80min tests. The rest of the drives were measured on their normal (80:01:47) test capacity:

On this test the Acer 2010 needs 27secs more than the Ricoh MP9200A and 16secs more than the Yamaha 2200E to finish the task. As we can see, the time differences between the Acer 2010, Ricoh 9200 and Yamaha 2200 still remain for both 74 and 80min CDs.

At 20x writing speed we have the same results like the ones in our last test. The Acer 2010 needs 336secs to finish the task, 54sec more than the MP9200 and 30secs than the Yamaha 2200E.


6. CDR Tests - Page 2

Acer CRW2010A IDE CDR-W - Page 6

CDR Tests - Page 2

- Comparison Charts:

Let's see how Acer's 20x Z-CLV compares against Ricoh's 20x Z-CLV and Yamaha's 20x P-CAV writing technologies:

Ricoh MP7200/MP9200 - support 20x Zone-CLV
Yamaha 2200E - support 20x P-CAV

Click To Enlarge!

As we described earlier, the Acer 2010 hits the 20x writing speed at 40-42mins making much slower than the rest 20x writing drives. The average writing speeds equals slight faster than a 16x CLV recorder!

Click To Enlarge!

The Acer 2010 keeps all the time it's rotations speed under 6000rpm. That equals to lower noise but also lower recording speeds. The rest drives and are faster:

CDR-W drives
Average Writing Speed (X) with 80min CD
Acer 2010
16.87
Yamaha CRW2200
18.44
Ricoh MP7200
19.50
Ricoh MP9200
19.70

As the following chart illustrates, the differences between Acer's, Ricoh's and Yamaha's 20x writing speed approaches are obvious for both 74 and 80min CDs. Compared to the Acer drive, the Ricoh drives are about 53secs faster and the Yamaha 2200E 30-35secs faster:

- Overburning Tests:
The Acer 2010 doesn't support overburning with Nero 5.5.2.4 software. Update to 5.5.3.0+

- CD-Text Results:
We made several AudioCDs with CD-Text and our tests showed that the drive can read/write CD-Text format.

- CloneCD Tests:
CloneCD v3.0.4.2 reported that the drive did support the DAO-RAW writing feature (only), and anti-coaster technology. From our tests results DAO-RAW writing works without any problems for SafeDisc 1 and LaserLock 1/2 protected CDs. You cannot backup SecuROM 2/PSX Libcrypt protections since the drive doesn't allow writing of SubChannel data.

- SD2 Support:
For the SD2 test we used the "No One Lives For Ever" CD title. We used the Acer 2010 both as reader/writer. The produced backup played flawlessly in the following drives:

Worked:

Pioneer DVD-305S
TDK CyClone 241040
Ricoh MP7200
Ricoh MP9200
Iomega Predator USB
Acer CRW6424MU
Pioneer DVD-105S
CyberDrive 126D
LiteOn LTR-163
Matshita SR-8586
Plextor PX-W40TS
Yamaha 2100E

Didn't Work:

Acer 2010

The Acer 2010 drive denied to playback the SD2 backup it had itself created (a usual error in ~tmp file). We did try to playback another SD2 backup, created by an Iomega Predator USB, and it also didn't work.

On a last procedure we tried another SD2 backup, created by an Acer 1208, and the results were not what we expected. The SD2 backup created by Acer 1208 DID play without any problems on the Acer 2010. We assume our Acer 2010 model has some kind of defect, since this can easily be considered a malfunction, or else Acer engineers need to investigate on this phenomenon. The bottom line is that the Acer 2010 DOES make working SD2 backups!

- 8cm mini CDs:
The Acer 2010 worked without any problems in our simulation tests. We did try some business cards too, but we don't think that the Acer supports them.

- Buffer Underrun tests:
The Acer 2010 supports the "SeamLess Link" anti-coaster technology for making buffer Underrun error-free CDs. This technology doesn't need any setting and works with all the well known CDR software, including most older titles, since it is based upon the drive and not the software. The drive worked fine even under heavy CPU load pressure from our part (100% CPU Usage).


7. RW/Packet Writing Tests

Acer 2010 IDE CDR-W - Page 7

RW Writing Tests

We used Nero 5.5.2.4 for writing CDs in maximum RW writing speed for all the tested drives in 10x HS-RW media. All drive support fully the HS-RW writing standard:

The Acer 2010 came second in our re-writing tests, behind Yamaha 2200E. The drive needs exact 483secs to finisn the task and the Ricoh MP7200/9200 2 more. The CPU Usage is also increased (17%) and the erase time is superb (only 32secs).

- Packet Writing Tests:
We used Ahead InCD v2.24 for all Packet Writing tests. We used Ricoh HS-RW media and we formatted it. The formatting of the media takes around 10min. After formatting, we tested all four drives for their packet writing performance.

The formatted disc had 530mbs of free space. We copied a 403 MB file (403.147 kbs) from a Hard Disk (on the same PC as the writers) to the formatted RW media-using explorer (we dragged and dropped) we completed the test twice to eliminate possible time measurement faults and user errors:

The results show that Acer 2010 is a great performer in the Packet Writing tests. The drive's writing speed was around 7.20x , slight higher than both Ricoh models but lower than the Yamaha 2200E. The drive continues to perform well in the reading part, but stays below from the competition...


8. Conclusion

Acer CRW2010A IDE CDR-W - Page 8

Conclusion

Positive (+):

Negative (-):

- "SeamLess Link" anti-coaster technology
- Includes system for recognize low quality CDR media
- Good reading performance with pressed CDs
- Very good reading performance with CDR media
- Very good reading/writing packet writing performance!
- Very good writing/erase time with HS-RW media
- Very good access times
- Supports HS-RW standard (10x re-write)
- Supports DAO-RAW
- Supports CD-Text (reading/writing)
- Can backup SD2 protected CDs
- Includes Nero 5.5
- Supports Overburning (with Nero 5.5.3+)

- The drive is almost fast as a 16x CLV recorder - even at max (20x) speed!
- Doesn't support reading/writing of SubChannel data
- Failed to recognize 99min CDs
- Bad CloneCD overall reading performance
- Low DAE ripping speed compared to the competition
- DAE quality needs improvement
- Limited support for 20/24x certified CDs
- Doesn't support UltraDMA-33
- When writing uses high CPU Usage!
- Drive needs to be installed as SLAVE
- Loud noise while reading at full speed
- Higher price than competition (around 170$)

Acer is another company that follows the Zone-CLV writing technology in order to achieve ultra high speed recordring speeds. The final result however is much different that what we had tested in the past. The drive even it supports 20x writing speed in specs, behaves like an 16x CLV recorder in real life tests! The drive's overall performance with CDR media is not good, since it failed to regognize most of our 20x/24x CDR media. You can forget reading/writing SubChannel data and burning 90/99min CDs, since Acer missed to include them. (Update: Acer 2010 supports overburning with Nero 5.5.3.0, which haven't yet published officially).

The drive's price also is another negative. A quick look over pricewatch showed that with 138$ you can buy a bulk MP7200A drive, which is faster in most reading/writing tests. Maybe the price of Acer 2010A drops also in near future but this is something we cannot predict for sure. Of course there is a important feature that will attract users eye: SD2 support. The Acer 2010 is the fastest SD2 recorder ,at least for now, and that gives an extra advantage over the competition. If you need SD2 support and can live with the drive problems then go for it. Else look elsewhere...



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