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Appeared on: Sunday, February 17, 2002
CyberDrive CW038D CD-RW

1. Introduction

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- Introduction:

was established in Taipei back in 1994. Since then the company has grown to become one of the leading Taiwanese CD-ROM drive manufacturers. The main weapon of Taiwanese manufacturers has always been a good performance that comes at a low price. With the introduction of CW038D Cyberdrive has brought up something unique in the recording industry. The first recorder with 12x re-writing speed! Despite the fact that there isn't any specification standard for such an increased re-writing speed, CyberDrive's engineers dared to take on the challenge, and currently this recorder is the fastest re-writer around. How can this new proposal handle some already established recorders from Plextor, LiteOn and Teac? Can the increased 12x re-writing speed be the only reason why you should buy this drive?

- Features:
The drive supports 16x writing speed -max- with "ExacLink" as the main anti-buffer underrun technology. The exact writing speeds are 4x, 8x, 12x (CLV), 16x (Z-CLV?) and re-writing speeds at 2x, 4x and 12x (CLV). The drive has a buffer of 2MB, supports all available writing modes (TAO, DAO, Multisession and Packet Writing) and RAW writing.

- Technologies:

ExacLink is a technology developed by OAK Technologies and has been used by Yamaha, LG, Mitsumi and CyberDrive as an anti-buffer underrun solution. OAK describes ExacLink as: "....allows high speed, high quality writing of discs on the first try, regardless of the computer performance and drive buffer size. Buffer under-runs are no longer a problem with ExacLink since the drive automatically responds to the condition and continues writing as soon as more data is available without causing a buffer under-run error...."

The drive also utilises a quality media detection system, which automatically lowers the maximum recording speed, according to the media condition. The same system can also be found on the Mitsumi CR-4808TE, which also uses ExacLink, and that leads us to the conclusion that both these drives use the same ExacLink ICs chipsets.

- The package:
The package in which the drive arrived was the retail European version. This included: The drive itself, a multilingual manual, 1 piece (16x certified) of CyberDrive 74min CD-R blank (real manufacturer CMC Magnetics), 1 piece of CyberDrive 74min HS-RW Blank (real manufacturer CMC Magnetics), audio cable and mounting screws. The software supplied with the drive was Nero Burning ROM v5.5.3.1 OEM and Ahead InCD v2.2.6 (for packet writing use). The package will be available in the retail stores at 132 EURO (plus the VAT valid in the corresponding country).

The front of the drive doesn't have the CybeDrive logo, and illustrates the exact features of the drive "16x/12x/40x" - no HS-RW logo is present. You will also find only one led, the eject/stop/play/next buttons and the headphone input jack/volume selector:

At the back of the drive we will find the usual connectors (IDE interface, power), the jumpers for setting the drive as a Master/Slave, the SPDIF output connector and the analog/digital output connectors:

- Installation:
The CyberDrive CW038D was installed as a Master in the secondary IDE BUS. The drive worked in UDMA33 mode and after rebooting, it identified itself as the "CW038D ATAPI CD-R/RW". We unchecked the Auto Insert notification, checked DMA and rebooted.

The drive was a July 2001 model with firmware revision v0.97c installed. After the shipment of the drive a newer firmware update (1.00C) was made available to all users, which improved the writing performance mostly with HS-RW media. We used Nero Burning ROM (, Ahead InCD (2.26), CloneCD ( and Padus DJ (3.50.799) for the recording tests.

- Test Machine:
WinMe OS
Soyo 7VCA
Celeron II 566 over clocked to 850 MHz
128MB SDRAM PC 133
Quantum Fireball EX 6.4 GB UDMA 33
DAWI 2975 - PCI (ULTRA) SCSI Host Adapter
CyberDrive CW038D firmware v1.00c
PleXWriter PX-W1610A firmware v1.03
TEAC CD-516EB firmware v1.0A
LiteOn LTR-16101B firmware vTS0N

2. Data Tests

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Data Tests

Test Method:
- SCSI Mechanic v3.0x: This was used to compare the drive's  I/O performance against other various CDR-W drives (see charts). We used a pressed CD containing PlexTools v1.08 for all tests.
- Nero CD Speed v0.84b was also used to check the drive's performance with pressed CDs. For that test, we also used the PlexTools v1.08 pressed CD.

- SCSI Mechanic v3.0x results:

The CyberDrive CW038D is the slowest drive in the SCSI Mechanic tests. The drive gave the lower performance results in the Average Sequential and Same Sector I/O and the third best for Random I/O. As it seems the CyberDrive cannot threaten the popular hot selling drives.

- Nero CD Speed v0.84 results: (click here to see the CD Speed 99 graph)

Using Nero CD Speed 0.84b, we confirmed the SCSI Mechanic results. The CyberDrive has the lowest average reading speed with 29.78X. The PleXWriter PX-W1610A holds the first place and the LiteOn 16101B follows right behind it.

In the "Seek Times" test, the CyberDrive also gave average seek times and the only drive that is slower than that performance is the Plextor one. Its average random seek time is 108secs. Both Teac and LiteOn are much faster with under 95ms seek time.

- 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 the CyberDrive CW038D is the slowest drive among the competition. The drive needs 463secs to complete the reading of the PSX CD, while the Plextor needs only 54secs:

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

With CDR media, the CyberDrive performs better than pressed CDs, and has around 30.46X average reading speed, slightly higher than the TEAC 516EB.

3. RW reading tests
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RW reading tests

- Nero CD Speed v0.84 Test: (Click here to see the CD Speed 99 graph)

For the RW tests, we used TDK's HS-RW media. The CyberDrive CW038 has an 18.9X average reading speed, which is the third best in this test :

CloneCD Reading Tests

- Procedure:
We used CloneCD (v3.0.8.2) 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 performance of the CyberDrive CW038D. 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, Teac CD-W516EB and LiteOn LTR-16101B. The following picture shows the drive's reading/writing capabilities:

- SafeDisc 1/2 Results:

The CyberDrive drive skips bad sectors very slowly. It needs around 10mins to create the image of a SafeDisc 1 protected CD, while the PleXWriter PX-W1610A needs only 2minutes. The LiteOn LTR-16101B is much faster, and as for the Teac 516EB you probably need to buy an extra drive for reading protected CDs...

Again with SafeDisc v2.0 protected CDs, the CyberDrive continues performing very badly...

LaserLock 1/2 Results:

In the LaserLock protected CDs test, the CyberDrive is the fastest drive with the original CD and the second best with the backup CD. The competition has many problems reading such protected CDs so the CyberDrive wins the first place easily. With the backup CD, the PleXWriter PX-W1610A leads the race.

With LaserLock 2 protected CDs, CyberDrive is the fastest drive when reading the original CD. The drive's performance is better with the backup CD, but once again it cannot reach the performance of PleXWriter PX-W1610A.

SecuROM Results:

The CyberDrive CW038D can read SubChannel data from Data/Audio tracks without any problems and very fast! Both Teac and PleXWriter cannot follow and the LiteOn 16101B doesn't support reading of SubChannel data.

4. DAE Tests

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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 CyberDrive CW038D with various AudioCDs (both pressed and CDR). The posted DAE results are the average of both applications, but the CPU usage was 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:
As the program reported, the drive doesn't do "Caching" data, it supports "Accurate Stream" and doesn't support "C2 Error info".


- Pressed AudioCD results: (click here to see the CD Speed 99 graph)
The CyberDrive supports up to 32x DAE speed with both pressed and CDR media. The drive uses full CAV as the main reading technology. However, compared to the other competitors, CyberDrive CW038D seems to have the lowest DAE performance:

The drive has an average of 24.2x, staying far away from the top performer PX-W1610A, which leads the race with 30.3X(!). The LiteOn LTR-16101B comes second with 28.0X and Teac 516EB third with 26.4X.

- CDR AudioCD Results: (click here to see the CD Speed 99 graph)
The drive performs the same as with the pressed media. The average DAE is slightly lower and reaches 23.6X, far away from the top:

- EAC Secure Extract Ripping mode:

After many viewers' 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)
LiteOn LTR-16101B
Teac 516EB
PleXWriter PX-W1610A
CyberDrive CW038D

- Advanced DAE Quality:

The CyberDrive CW038D performed marvellous in the Nero CD Speed Advanced DAE quality test. The drive produced 0 data/sync errors and got a perfect score (100). The drive can read "CD-Text" enabled AudioCDs and can read "SubChannel Data" (from audio tracks) as the test results indicate:

- Bad CDR Media results:

Despite the fact that Nero CD Speed Advanced DAE test stretches a 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 Of Total Disc (%)
LiteOn LTR-16101B
Teac 516EB
PleXWriter PX-W1610A
almost 0
CyberDrive CW038D

As the tests proved, the CyberDrive's performance with bad AudioCD media is not very good. The drive stops reading after 5secs and therefore you cannot rip the wavs to HD. Other drives don't have any problems with it and Teac 516EB is the champion with 0 errors.

- Ripping 90 and 99min CDs:


As we can see from the above graphs, the CyberDrive CW038D doesn't have any problems ripping a 90min Audio CDR media. However it stops reading around 90mins, as the Nero CD Speed test showed.

5. CDR Tests
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CDR Tests

Click To Enlarge!The CyberDrive CW038D 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. According to Nero CD Speed the drive's average writing speed was 15.14x.

The interesting fact here is that the drive doesn't use pure 16x CLV writing speed. The drive starts writing at 12x, for the first 12mins, then jumps up to 16x at 18mins and stays there until the end. The writing method seems like Z-CLV but we thought that OAK's chipsets didn't supported such writing method :-)

The drive also has a build-in system for recognizing lower quality media and automatically reducing the writing speed. That means you are not allowed to write un-certified media at 16x! Also note that the drive doesn't support simulation when "ExacLink" is activated according to the Nero

- Procedure:

We tested the CyberDrive CW038D with Nero v5.5.4.0, CloneCD v3.0.8.3 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. The drive's build-in quality media detection system seems to have some bugs and flaws, since it reported that our brand new Mitsui 24x CD-R media can be written at only 12x!

- 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 CyberDrive managed to outperform all the other recorders in the 12x writing speed! The drive needs only 400secs to finish the task. Other recorders (LiteOn, PleXtor) need 5-6secs and the Teac 27secs more!

While the drive's performance was superb in 12x recording speed, in the 16x writing speed things are much different. Despite the fact that we used all different brands of media, the drive kept giving the same burning time. According to our tests, CyberDrive CW038D needs 15secs more than the rest to finish the task. The answer can be found if we have a look at the Nero CD speed writing graph! The drive uses Zone-CLV to achieve 16x writing speed! The PleXWriter PX-W1610A still holds the first position with only 312secs.

- 80min CDs:
Following the same procedure like the one in the previous test, we created a DataCD with data lower than 80min (79:49:50), since the drive doesn't support overburning, and used the same media for all burns:

Again in the 80min CD task, the CyberDrive is the fastest recorder with only 429secs. The competition needs 6-9 more seconds to finish.

With 80min CDs at 16x writing speed, the CyberDrive is 12secs faster than the Teac 516EB with 347secs. The PleXWriter comes first with only 334secs and the LiteOn third with 341secs.

- Overburning Tests:
The CyberDrive CW038D doesn't support overburning!

- CD-Text Results:
We created several AudioCDs with CD-Text enabled. The CyberDrive can write/read CD-Text enabled CDs.

- CloneCD Tests:
CloneCD v3.0.8.2 reports that the drive supports the DAO-RAW as well as SAO-RAW writing mode. CloneCD also recognizes that the drive also supports anti-buffer underrun protection (even with the name BurnProof/JustLink). From our test results DAO-RAW recording works without problems for the SafeDisc 1, LaserLock 1/2 and SecuROM 2 protections.

- SD2 Support:
For the SD2 tests we used the "No One Lives For Ever", "Emperor Battle for Dune" and "Max Payne" CD titles. We used the CyberDrive CW038D both as reader/writer. The produced backup didn't play using the same drive or any drive we tested. Therefore the CyberDrive CW038D cannot produce SD2 working backups.

- 8cm mini CDs:
The CyberDrive CW038D does support 8cm CDs.

- Buffer Underrun tests:
The CyberDrive CW038D supports "ExactLink" anti-buffer underrun technology, which was developed by OAK Technologies. The drive worked without any problems when we tried to caused buffer underruns intentionally. Whenever we pressed ctrl+alt+del the drive's LED started blinking and when we un-froze the PC the writing procedure was resumed :-)

6. RW Writing Tests

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RW Writing Tests

We used Nero for writing CDs in maximum RW writing speed for all the tested drives. The CyberDrive supports up to 12x (CLV) writing, which of course doesn't apply to the HS-RW format. The drive's original firmware (0.97c) produced un-readable CDs at 12x, but the newer v1.00c seems to solve all the problems we had faced. In order to achieve the increased 12x re-writing speed, you can use normal 4-10x HS-RW media. We asked Ricoh if the increased 12x writing speed can cause integrity problems to both the written data and the physical status of the medium and the answer was negative. As it seems the already produced 4-10X HS-RW media can withstand higher re-writing speeds, but in order for other manufacturers to support it, the specifications must be officially published first. Therefore, in the near future we should be able to experience and use re-writing speeds much higher than 10x :-)

The drive doesn't support 10x re-writing speed at all, as Nero shows:

As you might have expected the CyberDrive CW038D is the fastest re-writer around and the following graph proves:

The CyberDrive needs exactly 400secs to finish the task, due to increased 12x re-writing speed. The Average CPU Usage is also in the same levels as the rest of the recorders, and the most impressive is the low quick erase time (only 25secs!).

- Packet Writing Tests:
We used Ahead InCD v2.26 for all Packet Writing tests. We used TDK 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 any possible time measurement faults and user errors:

The CyberDrive CW038D leads the packet writing test, due to its increased (12x) re-writing speed. The drive's average writing speed, in packet writing mode, was 8.65X. That is the fastest writing time you can find! Reading speed is also good, compared to what both LiteOn and TEAC can do.

7. Conclusion

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Positive (+):

Negative (-):

- First drive to support 12x re-writing (CLV) speed!
- "ExacLink" anti-coaster technology
- Has build-in media quality detection system
- Good data reading performance with both CDR/pressed media
- Best re-writing/packet writing performance around!
- Supports DAO-RAW
- Supports reading/writing of SubChannel Data (very fast!)
- Supports CD-Text (reading/writing)
- Supports Ultra-DMA 33 connection interface
- Retail package includes Nero 5.5
- Low price (75$<=)

- 16x writing speed is Z-CLV
- Build-in media quality detection needs improvement
- Doesn't support overburning :(
- Problems with scratched Audio CDR media
- DAE performance lower than competition
- Low PSX ripping speed
- Bad CloneCD reading performance with SD1/2 protected CDs
- Failed to backup SD2 protected CDs
- Stops reading at 90mins

CyberDrive has brought something unique to the CD-RW scene. The first 12x re-writer! Even if there isn't an official specification to support and set the standards of the increased re-writing speed, the current HS-RW media can handle it without any problems.

The CyberDrive CW038D doesn't support pure 16x CLV writing speed, and that is a sacrifice that renders it slower than the competition. ExacLink and the build-in media quality detection system are a big help to its performance. We did notice detection problems with Mitsui's 24x media, which should be worked on by CyberDrive engineers and finally solved in a future firmware release. The DAE ripping speed is good but with scratched CDs you will have problems, since the drive will deny reading them. Last, but definitely not least, CloneCD users will like the drive's increased SubChannel reading speed and support for almost all types of CD protection (except SD2).

The drive can be bought for around $74 on the market, which makes it a very attractive solution. The competition is very close, with LiteOn 16x $80, Teac 516EB $108 and PleXWriter PX-W1610A $162.

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