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Appeared on: Monday, February 18, 2002
PleXWriter PX-W124TS CD-RW


1. Installation
PleXWriter PX-124TS SCSI CDR-W - Page 1

Introduction:
Plextor
A brand-name familiar to most CDR enthusiasts and professionals alike. A name with has a long record in the CD(-R) business. Their first reader was released back in 1990 (when the company's name was still "Texel Corporation"), and their first burner appeared in 1994. A not-so-much successful first attempt, largely due to the inherited limitations and "flaws" of the underlying Philips "engine". Since those first days, Plextor has always been at the front-line of the CD-arena, enriching it with new technologies and offering the most reliable solutions.

Back in mid-nineties, anyone interested in obtaining a reliable copy of an Audio disk was forced to use a Plextor drive as the source for recording. The first Plextor to completely justify these expectations was the 8x CD reader. This drive established Plextor as the "Ferrari" of CD drive manufacturers. Until recently, Plextor drives were available only at SCSI configurations. (I know several persons who went the SCSI way, just to be able to declare themselves owners of these "beauties" made out of metal, plastic and glass...)

CDR technology was always at the hands of a small group of Japanese (and one European) manufacturers of the core components. Plextor was never one of them. However, this small company was able to rise and gain a prominent position among the final product assemblers and makers. Owing its fame on the unique quality of the underlying components, their first rate rotors and the superb firmware they have been equipping their drives with.

Plextor PlexWriter PX-124TS Internal DrivePlextor uses major components from various manufacturers. For the recorder production, they purchase the OPU (Optical Pick-Up) and Decoder LSI from Sanyo. CPU, memory, DSP, spindle motor, etc. come from other manufacturers. Plextor develops it's own schematics, PCB, mechanism and firmware. In comparison to other drive manufacturers, they spend more engineering time and effort to integrate and support all the features of the components (high-speed reading, DAE speed and precision) in the firmware. This makes the difference in a Plextor drive. Even they use (some) components ,which also used by their competitors, performance and features are in most cases higher.

Last year, CDR technology went mainstream. Consequently, prices were driven down, drives and software recording applications became more reliable and a stiff competition among the primary drive-makers emerged. Plextor is now confronted with a rising competition from the many other, mainly Taiwanese, manufacturers. The main question now is: Will they still keep the edge over all others?

Recording Speeds and Times

74 mins / 650 mb

1x

74 mins

74 mins / 650 mb

2x

37 mins

74 mins / 650 mb

4x

18.5 mins

74 mins / 650 mb

6x

12.34 mins

74 mins / 650 mb

8x

9.25 mins

74 mins / 650 mb

12x

6.17 mins

Package:
The retail version that came at our offices included the drive, a manual (in 12 languages!), a CDR software package (CeQuadrat 3.7 Standard Edition and PlexTools v1.04), 2 blank CDs (one recordable and one erasable), an audio cable and an IDC cable (SCSI ribbon). The Drive is also equipped with a small but efficient (as you will find out later) fan, too bad it's not the "ball-bearing" kind, thus a little noisy.

Using the popular "CDR Identifier" program we were able to determine Ricoh as the CDR media maker. The erasable disk maker has remained unknown, both to us and the program itself:

Plextor CDR-W Media:

ATIP: 97m 27s 00f
Disc Manufacturer: Disc ID not allowed
Assumed Dye type:  Disc ID not allowed (Type 0)
Media type: CD-ReWritable
Recording Speeds:  min. unknown - max. 4X
Nominal Capacity:  651.86MB (74m 12s 00f / LBA: 333750)

Plextor CDR Media:

ATIP: 97m 27s 66f
Disc Manufacturer: Ricoh Company Ltd.
Assumed Dye type:  Phthalocyanine (Type 6)
Media type: CD-Recordable
Recording Speeds:  min/max. unknown
Nominal Capacity:  651.86MB (74m 12s 00f / LBA: 333750)

Installation:
Installing the PlexWriter PX-124TS was an easy process. Since we already had a Yamaha 8424s and a Sanyo CRD-BP2 installed on out test-system, we simply added the "new sheriff in town". We left the default SCSI ID to 3 and the termination on. After booting, the CDR-W identified itself as Plextor CD-R PX-124TS into both the BIOS & Windows 98 SE.

Nero Burning Rom Select Device

We also installed PlexTools version 1.04 , since they offer some helpful information to the user and allow certain setting tweaks. With it you can change the drive's properties (spin-down time, speed selection, lock/unlock of the tray, etc.). Other useful features offered by PlexTools are the ability for data CD Copy and Digital Audio Extraction. You don't need any external program for quick and easy copying of CDs of any type. Finally, using this program, you can erase CD-RWs.Even though most users will probably be acquainted with the Plextor Manager 2000 (which is bundled with Plextor drives in US). We personally think that PlexTools is more powerful and more easy to use.

Afterwards, we unchecked the auto-insert notification, used Tweak UI 95 for disabling data disk auto-play and rebooted. PlexWriter PX-124TS was a January 2000 model with version 1.00 firmware. Our lookout at the Plextor Europe website revealed a new firmware revision (1.02), which we immediately downloaded, and updated the drive. This version enabled the UltraSCSI mode (20MB/s) for the communication of the drive over the bus with the host adapter. All is now set, let the benchmark war begin! Might want to grab the latest 1.06 firmware revision since it adds MMC DAO RAW!

Test Machine :
ABIT BH6
Celeron 300A over clocked to 464 MHz
164 MB SDRAM PC 100
WD 18GB UDMA 66
Quantum Fireball EX 6.4 GB UDMA
AdvanSys ASB3940UA - PCI (ULTRA) SCSI Host Adapter
Asus 3400 TNT
CL AWE32
MS Windows 98 SE
KenWood 72x v2.12
Plextor UltraPlex 32xmax
Plextor UltraPlex 40max, Firmware v1.03
Plextor PleXWriter PX-124TS, Firmware v1.02
Teac 540E Firmware v1.0A
Sanyo CRD-Bp2 Firmware vBc12


2. Data Tests
PleXWriter PX-124TS SCSI CDR-W - Page 2

Data Tests

Test Method:
We used CD WinBench 99 v1.1, CD Speed 99 v0.6 and SCSI Mechanic v2.1h (evaluation version) to run the data tests. All tests (except the WinBench one) were done using identical recordable media (Mitsui).

For comparison purposes we present in the following figures of test results for this drive against results obtained from widely available drives of similar performance of our CDR arsenal.

CD WinBench 99 v1.1 results:

CD-Rom WInMark 99

CD Rom Access Time

CPU Utilization

CDRom Tranfer Rate


CD Speed results:
-
Speed : Bigger is better
- Seek Times : less is better
- CPU Usage : less is better

Speed (x)

Seek Time (ms)

CPU Usage (%)

Start

Average

End

Random

1/3

Full

1x

2x

4x

8x

Sync Data Transfer On

13.86

24.35

32.21

149

176

282

2

4

7

15

Verdict of Data Tests:
The PleXWriter PX-124TS performs quite good as a reader. The average transfer rate is 3.5Mb/s and the maximum is 6.2MB/s. It's seek time (149ms) stays within its specifications and is considered quite good for a CDR-W drive but might prove inadequate if you throw in CDs with many tiny files. It's reading speed when dealing with CD-RW disks ranges from 9x to 21x with an average of 15x! Isn't this amazing? Even the Plextor 40x CD-ROM can read the same disk only at 8x (most drives in the market reach utmost 4x!) The improvement of Plextor in this field is outstanding!

Concerning the CPU usage, it's quite good for a SCSI device. Like every other Plextor CD-ROMs and CD-RW drives, the Retry Count is a little high (10), and this may cause problems when dealing with scratchy CDs. Finally, the Plextor PX-124TS can read in RAW mode, which means that it can be used along with CloneCD as a reader.


3. DAE Tests
PleXWriter PX-124TS SCSI CDR-W - Page 3

DAE Tests

CD Speed  results:       (Speed : Bigger is better,  Seek Times : less is better, CPU Usage : less is better)

Dae Quality/ Accurate Stream

Speed (x)

Seek Time (ms)

CPU Usage (%)

Start

Average

End

Random

1/3

Full

1x

2x

4x

8x

Sync On

10 - Yes

9.32

15.64

20.40

159

181

291

4

7

11

21

Plextor PX-124TS DAE Graph (Sync Datat Tranfer  On)

Various Rippers Results

Test Method: We used the CDFS.VXD driver and EAC v0.9 pre beta 3 to test the audio capabilities. EAC reported that the drive was capable of producing accurate stream and it also reported "caching off". Tests were made for comparing "Burst" vs "Secure Stream with caching" mode.

Tested CD: The Chemical Brothers "Dig Your Own Hole" - Track :  1, 5, 11

Comparing Method :
- Ripped Tracks 1, 5, 10 of the CD with Drag & Drop (using CDFS) and with EAC (Secure & Burst mode).
- Edited all wavs with Hedit v2.0.04 and located the 2 following bytes (chosen randomly)
- Removed all previous bytes and saved.
- Then in a Dos window compared them using: FC /b x.wav y.wav

Programs Settings:

CDFS Driver v4.00.130: Drag  & Drop
EAC v0.9b:Burst & Secure Mode / Rip Speed Default / Allow speed reduction / Error correction medium

Program

Average Speed / CPU Usage

Listening Quality

1 Track

5 Track

11 Track

CDFS Driver v4.00.130

26sec = 11.03 / 7%

23sec = 15.80x / 11%

24sec = 13.32x / 8%

No clicks. No sec lost. Seemed ok!

EAC v0.9b (burst)

7.8x / 20%

12.8x / 26%

18.8x / 38%

No clicks. No sec lost. Seemed ok!

EAC v0.9b (secure)

3.0x / 6.6%

4.7x / 7.0%

6.0x / 11.0%

No clicks. No sec lost. Seemed ok!

Comparing Results

CDFS Driver v4.00.130

EAC v0.9 (burst)

1 Track

5  Track

10 Track

1 Track

5 Track

10 Track

EAC v0.9b (secure)

same

same

same

same

same

same

Verdict of DAE Results:
The PlexWriter PX-124TS DAE performance is very good. Most people know Plextor drives from their near perfect DAE speed and quality. In this drive also Plextor has that magic touch and managed to make the drive capable of ripping WAVs with speeds up to 18-20x without any problems. Of course, the drive performance is not equal to a Plextor CD-ROM. But this really isn't a problem since most people will find the Plextor PX-124TS DAE performance at least accurate.


4. CDR Tests

PleXWriter PX-124TS SCSI CDR-W - Page 4

CDR Tests

We mostly tested Plextor PX-124TS on it's capabilities to write CDs in different write speeds (4x, 8x, 12x) ,media and modes.

CDR-W Capabilities:

Feurio Device Info

As we can see Plextor PX-124TS supports all current CDR/W modes. However it doesn't have a feature that most people would love to see (MMC DAO RAW). We hear several rumours that this will be added with next firmware revision. Indeed we hope so.  Let's head over to the CDR tests now:

Update:
With firmware version v1.04 Plextor added MMC DAO RAW to their drive. This mean that drive with latest CloneCD becomes the faster CD Duplicator on earth!!!

CDR-W Tests:

Software used :
Nero v4.0.8.3 / NTI CD MAKER Pro v3.6.890 / Padus DJ v2.00.412

Brand Of CDs :
Prodisc / Prostech / Ritek / Princo 8x, 12x / Basf / Maxell / Mitsui Gold & SG / TDK / Verbatim / Yamaha 4x RW / LeadData 4x RW / BTC 2x RW

CDR Tests :
On the Fly CD Copy (both Data and Audio) (with Plextor PX-40TS/KenWood 72x)
Data CDs (Multisession - TAO, DAO, SAO)
AudioCDs (from mp3 and wav files) + CD-Text CDs
VideoCD
OverBurn (74, 80min)

Verdict of CDR Results:
After living with this burner for almost 2 months, we can now say that this marriage worked out really well. After all, so willing and feature-rich brides are hard to find today 

Burning at 12x speeds theoretically requires 12x certified media, but in practice 8x media will do just as fine. But problems will arise using 4x ? 6x media, actually we couldn't make a single working copy using such discs, we either got a "semi-bad-burn" or a totally non-working disc. On the contrary we had no problem whatsoever using even the cheapest no-name 8x media.

Overburning on 74 & 80 min. discs is now a fact, really welcomed one, and a clear plus compared to previous Plextor writers.  As a final note we'll once again say that PlexWriter PX 124-TS this is a really good recorder and have no CDR problems at all! However it has the known problem which all Plextor CDR-W drives have... It cannot read the overburned part of an overburn CD!!! :(


5. CDR Tests

PleXWriter PX-124TS SCSI CDR-W - Page 4

CDR Tests

We mostly tested Plextor PX-124TS on it's capabilities to write CDs in different write speeds (4x, 8x, 12x) ,media and modes.

CDR-W Capabilities

Feurio Device Info

As we can see Plextor PX-124TS supports all current CDR/W modes. However it doesn't have a feature that most people would love to see (MMC DAO RAW). We hear several rumours that this will be added with next firmware revision. Indeed we hope so.  Let's head over to the CDR tests now:

Update:
With firmware version v1.04 Plextor added MMC DAO RAW to their drive. This mean that drive with latest CloneCD becomes the faster CD Duplicator on earth!!!

CDR-W Tests:

Software used :
Nero v4.0.8.3 / NTI CD MAKER Pro v3.6.890 / Padus DJ v2.00.412

Brand Of CDs :
Prodisc / Prostech / Ritek / Princo 8x, 12x / Basf / Maxell / Mitsui Gold & SG / TDK / Verbatim / Yamaha 4x RW / LeadData 4x RW / BTC 2x RW

CDR Tests :
On the Fly CD Copy (both Data and Audio) (with Plextor PX-40TS/KenWood 72x)
Data CDs (Multisession - TAO, DAO, SAO)
AudioCDs (from mp3 and wav files) + CD-Text CDs
VideoCD
OverBurn (74, 80min)

Verdict of CDR Results:
After living with this burner for almost 2 months, we can now say that this marriage worked out really well. After all, so willing and feature-rich brides are hard to find today 

Burning at 12x speeds theoretically requires 12x certified media, but in practice 8x media will do just as fine. But problems will arise using 4x ? 6x media, actually we couldn't make a single working copy using such discs, we either got a "semi-bad-burn" or a totally non-working disc. On the contrary we had no problem whatsoever using even the cheapest no-name 8x media.

Overburning on 74 & 80 min. discs is now a fact, really welcomed one, and a clear plus compared to previous Plextor writers.  As a final note we'll once again say that PlexWriter PX 124-TS this is a really good recorder and have no CDR problems at all! However it has the known problem which all Plextor CDR-W drives have... It cannot read the overburned part of an overburn CD!!! :(



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