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Appeared on: Sunday, January 20, 2002
ASUS CRW-1610A IDE CD-RW


1. Introduction

ASUS CRW-1610A IDE CDR-W - Page 1

- Introduction

While optical market is about to experience the first 40X recorders, ASUS engineers atempted to develop a new recorder with 16X supported speed. This time ASUS developed a new upon their own strength and powered from MEDIATEK chipsets. The ASUS CRW-1610A is a 16x10x40 CD-RW IDE and was shipped at December 2001.You might think this recording proposal of ASUS will not have the expected response ,as it comes out late. The answer is that you should firstly test the drive and then come up with conclusions about performance and whether such a buy is worthless. ASUS seems to have an ace in the sleeve and this is what we are about to examine.

- Features

The drive supports 16x writing (CLV) speed -max- among with "FlextraLink" as the main anti-buffer underrun technology. The exact writing speeds are 2x, 4x, 8x, 12x, 16x (CLV), re-writing speeds 2x, 4x, 8x,10x (CLV)and reading speeds 40x Max (CAV). ASUS CRW-1610A has a 2MB buffer memory and supports TAO, DAO, SAO and Packet Write, as writing modes..

- The features

ASUS CRW-1610A employs FlextraLink technology, a flexible strategy preventing users from buffer underrun problems caused by an empty data buffer, thereby eliminating the creation of unusable discs. Throughout the recording process, FlextraLink technology consistently monitors the data buffer status to ensure best recording quality. Once the available data drops below 1% of the total buffer capacity, FlextraLink suspends the recording and sets a marker at the last written position to avoid recording blocks. As soon as enough cache data is refilled in, the pickup head repositions itself to the marker and restarts the recording. FlextraLink uses minimal system resources so the PC remains full operational and available for other applications even during recording process.

The drive also features patented ASUS DDSS II technology which is an enhanced follow-up to the first generation Double Dynamic Suspension 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 patented DDSS II stabilizes the pick-up head of the drive in both horizontal and vertical directions by a built-in damper between the core mechanism and traverse as the first suspension, and an isolator between the traverse and loader mechanism as the second suspension. Both damper and isolator have precisely been calculated and designed using special rubber materials with different levels of elasticity. DDSS II makes tracking and focusing even more precise, and successfully reduces the vibration and noise caused by high revolution of the spindle motor.

- The package

The package in which the drive arrived was the retail version and included the drive, a multi-language quick installation guide, an ASUS 16x CD-R disc, an ASUS 4-10x HS-RW disc, data/audio cables and mounting screws. The software supplied with the drive was Nero Burning ROM v5.5.3.5 OEM and Ahead InCD v2.29 (for packet writing use).

The front panel of the drive is has the "ASUS" and "16x10x40" logos, a red (write indicator) and a green (read indicator) led, a play/skip button used for audio CD playback, the stop/eject button and the headphone input jack/volume selector:

In the rear panel you will find the usual connectors (IDE interface, power), the jumper terminals, the SPDIF output connector and the analog/digital output connectors:

- Installation


ASUS CRW-1610A was installed as a Master in the secondary IDE BUS. The drive worked in UDMA33 mode and after booting, identified itself as the "ASUS CRW-1610A ". We unchecked the Auto Insert notification, checked DMA and rebooted.

The drive was a December 2001 model with firmware revision v1.20 installed. We used the Nero (5.5.6.4), InCD (2.26), CloneCD (3.3.2.1) and Padus DJ (3.50.818) 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

ASUS CRW-1610A firmware v1.20
Mitsumi CR-4808TE firmware v1.1B
PleXWriter PX-W1610A firmware v1.03
LiteOn LTR-16101B firmware vTS0N


2. Data Tests

ASUS CRW-1610A IDE CDR-W - Page 2

Data Tests

- SCSI Mechanic v3.0x results

ASUS CRW-1610A performed well in the SCSI Mechanic test. It gave back 786 kb/s in the "Average Random I/O" test, which is the second best below Mitsumi CR-4808TE. Also, the drive takes the first place in the "Average Sequential I/O" test, with 4641kb/s . In the "Same sector" test, ASUS gave the third best performance, following Plexwriter PX-W1610A and LiteOn 16101B.

- Nero CD Speed v0.85 results: (click here to see the CD Speed graph)

Using Nero CD Speed 0.85, we confirmed the SCSI Mechanic results. ASUS CRW-1610A is faster than the other drives in the test and read the pressed CD at 31.81X average speed.

In the "Seek Times" test, ASUS CRW-1610A kept the good performance. Its average random seek time is 100secs, just 8 ms slower than LiteOn 16101B.

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

With CDR media, ASUS CRW-1610A performs better than pressed CDs and gave a 32.64X average reading speed, the best in this test.

- HS-RW media: (Click here to see the CD Speed graph)

For the RW tests, we used HS-RW media from Ricoh. ASUS CRW-1610A has a 22.88X average reading speed, which is the second best performance among the tested drives:


3. CloneCD reading Tests
ASUS CRW-1610A IDE CDR-W - Page 3

CloneCD Reading Tests

- Procedure

We used CloneCD (v3.3.2.1) 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 performance of ASUS CRW-1610A. We also tested its reading performance with backups of the original CDs, since the reading speed varies between the original and the backup media. For comparison reasons we added the results of the already tested PleXWriter PX-W1610A, Mitsumi CR-4808TE and LiteOn LTR-16101B. The following picture shows the drive's reading/writing capabilities:

- PSX Pressed Media

For this test we used the PSX game 'NBA Jam Extreme'and we ripped the image to HD with CloneCD. We measured the reading times and ASUS CRW-1610A is one of the best solution for someone who wants to have fast PSX images ripped into his HD, since it's the fastest (as well as Plextor) among the tested drives:

- SafeDisc 1/2 Results

The ASUS CRW-1610A skips bad sectors realy fast. It needs only 2:26 mins to make image of a SafeDisc v1.0 protected CD, even faster than PlexWriter PX-W1610A!

With SafeDisc v2.0 protected CDs, ASUS CRW-1610A is still fast and gets the second best position behind Plextor, which leads the race..

- LaserLock 1/2 Results

In the LaserLock protected CDs test, ASUS CRW-1610A needs 7 mins with the original and only 4:40 mins with the back CD. The drive is the fastest with the original CD and also fast with the backup one, although PleXWriter PX-W1610A seems to have be established in the first position with the very high 2143.52 sectors/sec performance.

With LaserLock 2 LaserLock 2 protected CDs, ASUS is the faster drive as far as it concerns the original CD. However it didn't manage to overcome the Plextor drive with the backup CD, as in the case of LaserLock v1.0 protected CDs...

- SecuROM Results

The ASUS CRW-1610A can read SubChannel data from Data/Audio tracks very fast! The competitor drives simply cannot follow..


4. DAE Tests

ASUS CRW-1610A 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 ASUS CRW-1610A with various AudioCDs (both pressed and CDR). The posted DAE results are the average of both applications. We made a full CD Rip starting from the first to the last track of the CD. The Average DAE reported speed is displayed in the test graphs.

- DAE features:
As the program reported, the drive doesn't support "Caching" of data but supports "Accurate Stream" and "C2 Error info" operations .

- Pressed AudioCD results


The drive uses full CAV as the main reading technology. However compared to the other competitors, ASUS CRW-1610A is slower:

The drive gave an average of 19.2x, staying far away from the top performer PX-W1610A. The LiteOn LTR-16101B comes second. All drive produced no DAE errors.

- CDR AudioCD Results

The drive performs exactly the same as with the pressed media. The average DAE is again around 19.6X:

- EAC Secure Extract Ripping mode

After many viewer's requests we have added the EAC's secure extract ripping mode results, which ensures maximum produced WAV quality. Note that for each drive we used the build-in detection function:

Tested Drives
Average DAE Speed (X)
Pressed
CDR
LiteOn LTR-16101B
10.08
7.5
PleXWriter PX-W1610A
8.4
8.9
Mitsumi CR-4808TE
7.3
7.4
ASUS CRW-1610A
5.6
5.7

- Advanced DAE Quality

ASUS CRW-1610A performed very well in the Nero CD Speed Advanced DAE quality test. The drive produced 0 data/sync errors and got a perfect score (100). The software shows that the drive cannot read "CD-Text" enabled AudioCDs and can read "SubChannel Data" (from audio tracks).

- Bad CDR Media results

Despite the fact that Nero CD Speed 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 were very interesting:

Average Speed (X)
Errors
Errors Of Total Disc (%)
LiteOn LTR-16101B
26
155252
0,02
PleXWriter PX-W1610A
29.3
5069
almost 0
Mitsumi CR-4808TE
17.4
95
almost 0
ASUS CRW-1610A
23.3
539528
0.07

As the tests proved, ASUS CRW-1610A has a good DAE quality. The drive reported 539528 errors, when PleXWriter PX-W1610A has 5069 and LiteOn 155252. ASUS engineers could improve the drive's performance when damaged Audio CDR media being used.

- Reading Protected AudioCDs

For the test procedure we used 3 protected AudioCDs, which we tested in both recognition and ripping (with CD DAE) processes:

* Pressed AudioCD with Sony KeyAudio
* Pressed AudioCD with Cactus Data Shield 200 (Natalie Imbruglia - White Lilies Island)
* CDR AudioCD protected with Cactus Data Shield (CDS100) - made with Clone Audio Protector v1.1 (adding 30 secs lead-out)

KeyAudio
CDS200
CDS100
ASUS CRW-1610A
Cannot recognize the disc contents
Recognizes all the audio tracksexcept from the last, ripping/reading impossible
Reads all tracks as Data tracks - ripping impossible

As the test results showed, ASUS CRW-1610A is not prepared to handle any AudioCD protected discs.

- Ripping 90 and 99min CDs

The ASUS CRW-1610A doesn't have any problems to rip a 90min Audio CDR. Also, the drive can rip up to 98 min CDs.


5. CDR Tests
ASUS CRW-1610A- Page 5

CDR Tests

ASUS CRW-1610A supports up to 16x (CLV) writing speed. We used Nero CD Speed build-in writing test in order to test the drive's writing performance. The drive's average writing speed is 16.01X as the Nero CD Speed shows:

- Procedure

We tested ASUS CRW-1610A with Nero v5.5.3.5, CloneCD v3.0.5.1 and Padus DJ v3.50.799 software. For the CDR tests we used: Verbatim 74min (16x) & 80min (16x), Taiyo Yuden 74 & 80min (24x), Mitsui 74min (24 & 16x) and Ricoh/Verbatim/TDK 74min HS-RW media.

- CD-R Tests

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

The ASUS CRW1610A needs 323secs to finish the task. That's 11secs slower than PleXWriter!

- 80min CDs

Following the same procudure as in the previous test, we created a DataCD (80:01:47) and used the same media for all the burnings:

Again in the 80min CD task, ASUS CRW-1610A needs 10 more seconds than PleXWriter and 2 more than LiteOn drive.

- Writing Quality Tests

We used Creation's (Plasmon based) 16x certified media for our writing quality tests. We used Nero 5.5.6.4 and all CDs were Audio CDs with 74:51:27 in size. The produced CDs, were measured from DigitalDrives and results are illustrated in the following tables:

Creation 74min 16x media
Model
C1
Average Burning Time (secs)
Max
Average
ASUS CRW1610A
21
1
343

The ASUS CRW1610A gave a low average C1 error rate meaning that the recording quality is high using 74min CDs:

C1C2 Graph for 74mins Click To Enlarge!

When using Creation's 80min 16x media, the C1 error rate is higher:

C1C2 Graph for 80mins Click To Enlarge!

- Overburning Tests

The ASUS CRW-1610A supports overburning up to 99minutes!

- CD-Text Results

We created several AudioCDs with CD-Text enabled. ASUS CRW-1610A can write/read audio CDs with CD-Text.

- CloneCD Tests

The CloneCD v3.3.2.1 reports that the drive supports the DAO-RAW writing feature. CloneCD also recognizes that the drive also supports anti-buffer underrun protection (even with the name BurnProof/JustLink). From our tests results DAO-RAW recording works without problems for the SafeDisc 1/2, LaserLock 1/2 and SecuROM 2 protections.

- SD2 Support

For the SD2 tests we used the "No One Lives For Ever" and "Emperor Battle for Dune" CD titles. We used the ASUS CRW-1610A both as reader/writer. The produced backup played in the same drive and in any drive we tested. Therefore the ASUS CRW-1610A can produce SD2 working backups. CloneCD author also lists the drive as capable of doing EFM correction.

- 8cm mini CDs

The ASUS CRW-1610A supports 8cm CDs.

- Buffer Underrun tests

The ASUS CRW-1610A supports "FlextraLink" anti-buffer underrun technology. The drive worked without any problems even when we attempted to cause a buffer underrun, interrupting the burning process.


6. RW-Packet Writing Tests

ASUS CRW-1610A CDR-W - Page 6

RW Writing Tests

We used Nero 5.5.6.4 for writing CDs in maximum RW writing speed for all the tested drives. ASUS CRW-1610A supports the HS-RW format and has a low recording time:

The ASUS CRW-1610A finished burning after 489 seconds, just one second more than the Plextor drive. As for the erasing time, the drive erased the HS-RW disc only after 32 seconds. Very good performance from ASUS.

- Packet Writing Tests

We used Ahead InCD v3.12 for all Packet Writing tests. We used Ricoh HS-RW media and we formatted it. The formatted disc revealed 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) and we completed the test twice to eliminate possible time measurement faults and user errors:

The ASUS CRW-1610A was a really fast writer under the packet writing mode and gets the first place in this test. In the reading part, Plextor is faster (17.33X) and ASUS follows with 15.33X average reading speed.


7. Conclusion

ASUS CRW-1610A IDE CD-RW - Page 7

Conclusion

Positive (+)

Negative (-)

- Supports 16x writing (CLV) speed
- "FlextraLink" anti-coaster technology
- Good writing quality
- Very Good data reading performance with both CDR/pressed media
- Low seek times
- High PSX ripping speed
- Recognizes 90/99 min CDs
- High packet writing performance
- Good DAE quality
- Supports HS-RW standard
- Supports DAO-RAW
- Can backup SD2 protected CDs
- Supports reading/writing of SubChannel Data (very fast!)
- Supports CD-Text (reading/writing)
- Supports Overburning (up to 99mins)
- Supports Ultra-DMA 33 connection interface
- Retail package includes Nero 5.5
- Low price ($75-85)

- Low DAE speed
- Writing times higher than competition!
- Noisy reading operation despite the DDSSII system
- Cannot read/rip protected AudioCDs





ASUS seems to have done a very good job here. The drive performed very well in all the tests and the given performance can be easily compared to those we had met with Plextor, Teac, and LiteOn drives. The drive showed a very good data reading performance with various CDR and HS-RW media, good DAE and quality in data writing. Also, ASUS CRW-1610A can read/write CD-Text on Audio CDs, has very good access times,supports overburning up to 99 minutes and can recognize 90/99 min media. ASUS CRW-1610A will surprise users with a remarkable CloneCD performance. It ripped the protected CD images really fast and of course the produced backup of SD2 CDs did worked in all the drives we tested.

On the lows, we could say that ASUS CRW-1610A does not support very high DAE speeds compared to other drives, writing times are 10+sec higher than the PleXWriter and the drive is quite noisy during the various reading process. Last the drive cannot read/rip protected AudioCDs.

The price of the CRW1610A is estimated around $75-85, which is a good considering the performance and the competition available prices. Of course at this price tag someone could buy a faster 24x recorder (probably from LiteOn) but the ASUS CRW1610A won't let you down either...



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