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Appeared on: Monday, February 18, 2002
Pioneer DVD-105S DVD ROM

1. Introduction
Pioneer DVD-105S IDE DVD ROM - Page 1

Pioneer recently released the fastest DVD-Rom on the market: It supports 16x DVD reading and 40x CD-Rom reading speeds. Having already owned Pioneer's 10x DVD-Rom model (DVD-104S), we decided to put the new and the old model down the benchmark arena and see if the advertised 16x reading speed really makes any difference to the end user or not.

As you may know, all DVD-Rom drives produced after January 1st 2000 are RPC2 compliant. This means that now the region lock is based on both hardware (drive) and software (player) and it gives the user the chance to change the region only 5 times. After that the player is locked to the last region change. Read more about it over here.

- Package :
We received the OEM version of Pioneer 16x DVD Rom (DVD-105S), which included only the drive. As you can see in the pictures, this model has a slot-in system for loading discs. The drive is also available with a traditional tray mechanism, as DVD-115. For the time being, the drive is released only with an IDE interface, and no info has been announced about a SCSI model. The front of the drive is identical to the 104S:

- Installation :
We installed Pioneer DVD-105S as master on the secondary IDE bus. The drive identified itself as Pioneer DVD-Rom DVD-105 from both DOS and Windows. We enabled DMA under WinME and after that we were ready to start the test. We also installed the latest PowerDVD version (3.0) for measuring the DVD performance.

The supplied drive was an August 2000 model with v1.22 firmware revision. You must specify one region when you first try to use the drive as a DVD player. We selected Region 2 for our tests and we had another 4 hardware changes left before the drive locks forever.

However users have found ways to overcome this problem. There is a site called Pioneer's Region Free Heaven which has *patched* region free firmware (RPC1) for almost all Pioneer DVD-Rom models. If you need to change regions frequently visit this site. You will find something interesting there for sure.

If you decide to use the region free firmware read the instructions very carefully. Of course the drive can be flashed back with future original Pioneer firmware updates but the region-free status will be lost.

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
CL GForce2 GTS
Plextor UltraPlex 40max firmware v1.04
Pioneer DVD-105S firmware v1.22
Pioneer DVD-104S firmware v2.02

2. Data Tests

Pioneer DVD-105S IDE DVD-ROM - Page 2

Data Tests

Test Method:
- SCSI Mechanic v3.0: This was used to compare the Pioneer's 16x vs. 10x DVD-ROm  I/O performance (see charts). We used a pressed CD containing PlexTools v1.06 for all of the tests.
- CD Speed 99 v0.80 was also used to check the drive performance with pressed CDs. For that test we used PlexTools v1.06 original CD.

- SCSI Mechanic v3.0 results

As you can see from the graph above, the DVD-105S model is much faster (as expected) than the previous 10x model. Noticeable is the high Average Random I/O throughput over the 40x CDVD-W drives we tested in past. The drive has averaged 5.0mb/s which is very good.

- CD Speed 99 v0.80 results:

Using CD Speed 0.80, we can see that the DVD-105S model is again faster than the previous 104S model.

The DVD-105S has much higher seek times than the 104s does.

RW reading tests

For the RW tests we used Ricoh HS RW media written at 10x speed:

The 105 model is much improved over the previous 104S model and can deliver up to 24x when reading HS RW media.

CloneCD Tests

- Verdict of CloneCD Tests:
Both Pioneer drives performed very bad in CloneCD tests. The drives have big trouble when trying to read CDs with errors (3h to make image of protected CD). This may be a drawback for possible buyers. Notice that both drives don't support reading of SubChannel data, as CloneCD reported.

3. DAE Tests

Pioneer DVD-105S DVD-ROM - Page 3

DAE Tests

Test Method:
We used CD DAE 99 v0.2 with AudioCDs in order to check DAE performance of the Pioneer DVD-105S and we compared it with the DVD-104s model.

- Pressed AudioCD results:
As with the previous 104S model, Pioneer 105S has its DAE speed locked at 13x max. Not the best DAE performance you can get nowadays:

- Princo 74min AudioCD:
The same thing happened with CDR media. Both drives delivered around 12.5x average DAE speed, which is far behind than what the competition offers

- Advanced DAE Quality

Here is a very interesting situation. The 16x model (105S) seems to have worse DAE quality (74.1) than the old 10x model (104S). That is a point which Pioneer should fix soon with a firmware upgrade, since the 74.1 score is not good. Last the drive refused to read both 90 and 99minutes CDs :(

4. DVD Tests

Pioneer DVD-105S IDE DVD ROM - Page 4

DVD Tests

- Test Method :
We used DVD Speed 99 v0.2 to run DVD tests (DMA enabled for both drives). All tests done at least 3 times, took worst results, with same DVD title. The DVD Speed author suggests avoiding using dual layer DVDs since the performance might be lower than the actual one. For that propose we used a single-layered DVD title, which taken from PC Magazine.

- DVD Speed results:

As you can see the Pioneer DVD-105S manages to deliver around 15.000kb/s and confirms the title of the faster DVD-Rom around. The seek times for DVD reading are lower than the ones we got from the CD test and are better than 104S model. The CPU usage is also very low.

- DVD Ripping Tests
Yes, we know what you might think: "We got our DVD-Rom, now we need to make a DivX ;) from it". So we need to rip the movie in our HD. Is there any difference between the 2 models since the 105S supports 16x reading DVD-Rom speed? The answer seems to be no. We tested both drives with the Matrix movie and with DVD Decrypter v2.1. Below are the results when we ripped the whole movie:

As you can see both drives have similar average ripping speed. The increased 16x DVD-Rom reading speed of DVD-105S doesn't seem to affect the DVD ripping performance.

- Movie Tests :
We tested Pioneer DVD-104S with many DVDs and our total impression is pretty good. When playing DVD movies average CPU Usage was 77% using Power DVD v3.0. If you have a SVGA card with hardware acceleration and you enable it, the CPU usage will drop nearly at 50%! We faced some problems when we enabled Hardware Acceleration with Power DVD 3.0 and 6.49 & 7.17 nVidia Detonator drivers. The picture appeared scrambled so we couldn't use the hardware acceleration. Also don't forget to grab DVD Genie, which will help you change regions for the software player. This will not defeat the hardware region lock (which can be overcome with region-free firmware).

5. Final Verdict

Pioneer DVD-104S DVD ROM - Page 5

Final Verdict

Positive (+) :

Negative (-) :

- 16x DVD Reading speed
- CD Text Support
- Very good Data transfer times
- Good seek times
- Digital Output
- Flash Memory
- Lower noise compared with previous 104S model

- Region-locked in hardware (RPC2)
- Low DAE speed
- Bad CloneCD performance
- Still noisy enough
- Doesn't support 90 and 99min CDs

Overall, the Pioneer DVD-105S seems to be a successful successor to the DVD-104S model. The data reading performance is very good, and seek times should be good enough for most users. The DAE speed is low and seems to have problems. CloneCD users will find this drive a bad choice due to its bad performance and will possibly look elsewhere for a better solution. The DVD performance is very good and will give you many hours of entertainment.

On a second thought, we have to admit that the worst points which displeased us, are low DAE and CloneCD performance. If the drive performed better in those two areas, it would be a must-buy! The hardware lock (RPC2) isn't really a negative point, since there is a solution to overcome it. Finally, the drive is noticeably less noisy than the previous 104S model, but is still noisy enough to make your ears complain :)

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