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Appeared on: Monday, February 18, 2002
Ricoh MP7125A CD-RW


1. Introduction

Ricoh MP7125A IDE CDR-W - Page 1

Introduction:
Ricoh introduced back in 2000 the "JustLink" technology which helped user eliminate coasters from buffer underrun errors. The first drive which was supplied with this technology was the MP9120A. After quite long time, Ricoh shipped in 2001 the second model (MP7125A), which supports "JustLink" technology. The drive's features are the same with what the competitive drives (from Sanyo, Plextor, TDK) have to offer but includes different anti-coaster technology. Could the new drive stand the competition? Do we have here an alternative solution for our burning needs? Continue reading...

Supplied Package:
The package supplied was the retail Europe version. This included: The drive itself, a set-up guide, 1 CD-R blank, 1 High Speed RW Blank, Audio cables and mounting screws. The software supplied with the MP7120A was: Nero Burning ROM v5.0.3.0 and Ahead InCD v1.69 (for packet writing use). There isn't any printed manual included - just an electronic pdf file. Another issues is that the drive's retail package advertises that the drive has Ricoh 80min sample CD inside when our package had Ricoh's 74min CD inside. Not a big problem but it's nice to see all the advertised features included.

The front of the drive reminds a typical Ricoh CDR-W drive. It includes the drive model code (MP7125A) along with the "JustLink" and "HighSpeed" logo and the drive features (12/10/32). You will also find only one led, the eject button, the headphone input jack/volume selector:

At the back of the drive we will find the usual connectors (IDE interface, power), the jumpers for making the drive Master/Slave, the SPDIF output connector and 3 jumpers which are not used (factory reserved).

Installation:

ATAPI CDR-W drives are simple to install. Just decide what the drive should be, master or slave, set the appropriate jumper and start! After booting, the CDR-W identified itself as the Ricoh CD-R/RW MP7125A. We unchecked the Auto Insert notification, checked DMA and rebooted. The drive was a December 2000 model with firmware revision v1.00. For most of our tests we used the latest Nero v5.0.4.4 among with Ahead InCD 1.82.

We also noticed a weird bug in the latest CloneCD v2.8.4.3..Even the program doesn't show up that the drive supports "JustLink" technology, in the real world tests the JustLink works just fine. We guess that CloneCD authors must update the software in order fully support the drive.

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
PlexWriter PX-W1210A firmware v1.07 (TLA#000)
Ricoh MP7120A firmware v1.20
Ricoh MP7125A firmware v1.00
Ricoh MP9120A firmware v1.20


2. Data Tests

Ricoh MP7125A IDE CDR-W - Page 2

Data Tests

Test Method:
- SCSI Mechanic v3.0: This was used to compare the Ricoh's 7125A I/O performance against other various CDR-W drives (see charts). We used a pressed CD containing PlexTools v1.06 for all 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 Ricoh 7125A performed very well in most of our tests. Its performance (700) is very good in the Average Random I/O but it cannot reach the MP9120A top performance. The drive seems to perform very good also in the Average Sequential I/O tests since it produced a very good result (3621), which even if it's not the highest, it is still very good. Last but not least, all Ricoh drives have much lower Same Sector I/O test results compared to the PleXWriter PX-W1210a. In general, we can say that the drive's performance is not the best you can find around but also it's not the worst also..

- CD Speed 99 v0.80 results: (click here to see the chart)

Using CD Speed 0.80, we can see that the Ricoh MP7125A has the second average reading performance after the PX-W1210A. The performance gap is low (0.3x) but it's there...

The Ricoh MP7125A has the same seek times which the MP9120A also had. Actually from the test results the MP7125A is slightly slower (3-7ms) than the MP9120A which however is much faster than what tShe competition (PX-W1210A) has.


3. RW reading tests
Ricoh MP7125A IDE CDR-W - Page 3

RW reading tests

For the RW tests we used Ricoh HS RW media written at 10x speed. The Ricoh MP7125A performed very well since it gave back around 24.72x average reading speed:

CloneCD Tests

- Procedure:
We used CloneCD (v3.0.0.9) and 3 original CDs (Rally Masters, Euro2000 and Vrally 2 Expert) in order to test the reading time for Ricoh MP7125A. We also tested the reading performance with backups of the original CDs since the reading speed varies among original and backup media. For comparison reasons we added the results from Ricoh MP9120A, Ricoh 7120A dn PleXWriter PX-W1210A.

- Results:

a) SafeDisc Results: Euro 2000 (Total: 257982 sectors - 10141 bad sectors) - Reading Speed: Max

The Ricoh MP7125A gave back the lower reading time compared to the rest 3 drives.

b) LaserLock Results: Rally Masters (Total: 321528 sectors - 6317 bad sectors) - Reading Speed: Max

Things are somehe Ricoh MP7125A continues to report more bad sectors than the real existing ones (especially in the CDR backup). Dispite this problem the drive gave back the best reading speed in this caterogy with the original CD and the worst with the backup CDs.

c) SecuROM Results: Vrally2 Expert - 343767 sectors

The Ricoh MP7125A can read SubChannel Data from Audio/Data tracks and very fast. The Ricoh MP9120A seems much faster, as happened with most tests, and the rest drives just follow.


4. DAE Tests
Ricoh MP7125A IDE CDR-W - Page 4

DAE Tests

- Test Method:
We used CD DAE 99 v0.21 beta and EAC v0.9 prebeta 9 software in order to check the DAE performance of Ricoh MP7125A with various AudioCDs. We brought EAC back to the testing arena since many of you requested it. Note that the posted DAE results are the average of both applications, but the CPU usage is only taken from CD DAE 99. EAC seems to occupy the system much 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 9 to examine the drive's features. As the program reported, the drive isn't "Caching" data, and supports "Accurate Stream" and "C2" error info. However our attempts to activate "C2" error info always locked our PC :( The specifications state that the drive can reach up to 32x DAE (max).

- Pressed AudioCD results: (click here to see the graph)

All tested drives supports 32x DAE (max) according to their specifications. From our tests the PX-W1210A still holds the fastest DAE performance in this category with 24x average ripping speed. The Ricoh MP7125A comes second with 23.2x:

- CDR AudioCD results

As it seems the Ricoh MP7125A works slightly better with CDR media and gave faster ripping speed (23.7x) reducing the gap with the first PX-W1210A:

- Advanced DAE Quality

As you can see all drives got 100 (perfect) score in the Advanced DAE Quality tests. The Ricoh MP7125A gave the faster reading speed in this test with (23.71x). The Advanced test confirmed that the drive supports reading of CD-Text and SubChannel data:

- Ripping 90 and 95mins AudioCDs

The Ricoh MP7125A doesn't seem to like reading anything further than 85minutes.. From our tests with both 90 and 99minutes CDs the drive stopped reading at around 85minutes and returned an error message..

Reading 90minutes CD >> Reading 95minutes CD


5. CDR Tests
Ricoh MP7125A IDE CDR-W - Page 5

CDR Tests

The Ricoh MP7125A is the second drive which supports 12x writing among with the "JustLink" anti-coaster technology. We used the CD Speed 99 build-in writing speed test and confimed the 12x writing speed (12.02x average):

- Procedure:
PadusDJ  writing features screenWe tested the Ricoh MP7125A with Nero v5.0.4.4, CloneCD v2.8.4.3, Padus DJ v3.00.762 software and with the following media: Princo 74min (16x) & 80min (16x), Platinum 80min (12x), Verbatim 74min (16x) & 80min (16x), Mitsui 74min (16x), Prodisc 80min (16x) (red bottom) and with Ricoh/Plextor/Verbatim 74min HS RW. We didn't saw any problems with the various media which had been faced with MP9120A. Another welcomed improvement.

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

As you can see, there are differences between the 4 tested drives. The old Ricoh MP7120A still holds the smaller writing time and the new Ricoh MP7125A is about 5 secs slower. The Ricoh MP9120A is again faster while the PX-W1210A is out of the race (with 416secs). The CPU Usage is very good and certainly lower than the rest of the drives.

- 80min CDs:
As with the previous test, we created a DataCD (80:02:16) and used the same media for all burns:

The Ricoh MP7125A and Ricoh MP9120A drives gave the lower burning time in this test. The later one is 1 sec ahead while the other drives (Ricoh MP7120A & Plextor PX-W1210A) are following with 2 and 6 secs behind.

- Overburning Tests:
We used 90 and 99min CDs (from Medea International and Copy4All) and using Nero we were able to write up to 89minutes. The Ricoh MP7125A however doesn't seem to like 99min CDs at all since all overburning tests with CD Speed 99 and Feurio failed (even if we tried max time 89mins). The 90min media could be written entirely.

- AudioCD Tests:
We created several Audio CDs (including CD-Text). All of the CDs we created were tested with the Plextor PX-40TS and Plextor's CD-Text compatible CD player. From what we saw, everything worked just fine.

- CloneCD Tests:
The Ricoh MP7125A as all previous Ricoh models supports both DAO and SAO-RAW writing modes according to the CloneCD v2.8.4.3. Our tests results confirmed that the drive can work with DAO/SAO RAW.

Something noticeable is that the CloneCD doesn't regognize that the drive supports "JustLink". However when we made the buffer underrun tests (with CloneCD) the drive kept working after a buffer underrun, which means that "JustLink" supports is working fine in real life... (CloneCD author will have to fully support the drive's JustLink feature in a future release).

SD2 report:
For the SD2 tests we used the "No One Lives For Ever" CD title. We used Ricoh MP7125A both as reader/writer. The results were suprisingly very good. The produced backup worked in:

Worked
Didn't worked
Ricoh MP7125A
PleXWriter PX-W1610A
TDK CyClone 161040
Sanyo CRD-BP1400P
Pioneer DVD-U05S
Plextor PX-40TS
Sanyo CRD-BP4
Yamaha 2100E

The above tests showed that since the backup worked in the Pioneer DVD-U05S there is a good chance that it will work in some other drives also..Again the Ricoh MP7125A cannot produce a 100% working SafeDisc 2 backup as most of the current selling recorders in the market today.

- Buffer Underrun tests:
The Ricoh MP7125A supports "JustLink" anti-coaster technology. From our tests "JustLink" worked very good even when you will make your computer working at full CPU/HD load. The gap lenght of the JustLink technology is under 2micro meters, which in terms of absolute numbers is lower than the BURN-Proof technology.

Verdict of CDR Results:
The Ricoh MP7125A worked very good in our writing tests. If you have read our Ricoh MP9120A review you certainly have noticed the various problems we had with certain CDR media. The Ricoh MP7125A doesn't have those problems and burned without any complaints all the inserted media. The recording times are slightly higher than the internal competition from the old MP7120A and MP9120A but are faster than the PX-W1210A. The drive supports overburning up to 89minutes and showed a strange behavior with 99minutes CDs. The JustLink technology is there and works very well against buffer underrun problems. Finally, the CloneCD users will find the adoption of DAO-RAW writing feature very useful for the backup of their CDs. :)


6. RW Writing Tests
Ricoh MP7125A IDE CDR-W - Page 6

RW Writing Tests

We used Nero 5.0.4.4 for writing CDs at the maximum RW speed for all the tested drives. All other drives wrote at 10x RW writing speed:

The Ricoh MP7125A gave back an average result. The MP7120 and the MP9120 seem to be faster since they finished the task earlier (about 4-5secs). The CPU usage is very good and lower than the other drives, while the erase time was exactly the same with the other Ricoh CDR-W drives.

- Packet Writing Tests

We used Ahead InCD v1.82 for all Packet Writing tests. The drive is packaged with v1.69 and we suggest upgrading to the latest one. We used Plextor HS-RW media and we formatted it. The formatting of the media takes around 7min. 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 the Ricoh MP7125A has a very good packet reading/writing performance. The drive managed to give around 7.07x writing speed -however slower from both MP9120 and PX-W1210A- and around 15.79x reading speed which is also lower than the MP9120A.


7. Conclusion
Ricoh MP7125A IDE CDR-W - Page 7

Conclusion

Positive (+)

Negative (-)

- Supports "JustLink" anti-coaster technology
- Good DATA reading performance
- Very good DAE ripping performance
- Very good performance with various CDR media
- Supports HS RW standard (10x re-write)
- Supports DAO-RAW
- Supports CD-Text
- Supports Overburning (write up to 89mins)
- Supports reading of SubChannel data
- Managed to produce *partial* working SD2 backups
- Good retail package/software

- Bad CloneCD reading performance
- High price (210$)
- Drive came out very late.. :(
- Doesn't support 99min CDs

The Ricoh MP7125A is the second drive that supports "JustLink" anti-coaster technology. The drive's gevenal performance was very good as far as it concerns the Data/DAE various tests. The drive tends to be an alternative solution for the famous PleXWriter PX-W1210A. At least the specs are exactly the same. Does it manage it? We could say yes even it came out very later...The drive just started selling last month (Feb2001) when the competition has shipped 16x writing CDR-W drives in the same price levels as of the Ricoh's MP7125A. The suggested retail price at the moment which this article written is around 210$ but possible the drive's price will drop dramatically due to the competition.

However if you decide to buy the drive, it will keep you satisfied in most of your daily tasks. The CloneCD users will be dissapointed from the drive's low reading performance and will be satisfied from the drive's ability to produce partial working SD2 CDs which might also work in other CD-ROMS/DVD-Roms, as our tests showed. As we stressed before, the drive doesn't have any major drawbacks that could stand in your way heading to the nearest store :)



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