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Appeared on: Monday, February 18, 2002
Ricoh MP7163A CD-RW

1. Features

Ricoh MP7163A IDE CDR-W - Page 1

- Introduction:
The MP7163A series came in the time period that both 20x and 24x are hot selling and its "reduced" writing/reading specs might be sound too slow for the power user. The middle/lower end user might find the solution interesting since the price of the drive is low. The only company that has offered something similar, at least in the specs, is AOpen with their CRW1632. How the two drives can be compared? Which one is better? Let's find out...

- Features:
The drive supports 16x writing (CLV) max speed among with "JustLink" and "JustSpeed" technologies. The exact writing speeds are 4x, 8x, 12x, 16x (CLV) and re-writing speeds 2x, 4x, 10 (CLV). The drive also includes 2MB of buffer and supports all available writing modes (TAO, SAO, DAO, Multisession and Packet Writing).

- The New features

As Ricoh states: "...The drive comes with newly developed modules and mechanism to enable high-speed writing and reading. High-speed writing is handled by the pick-up module incorporating a high power laser and high precision pulse control. The newly developed digital control LSI controls the pulse width with precision boasting 1.5 times of the traditional mechanism, thus allowing for stable writing at high-speed.

Incorporation of the high-speed rotation type spindle motor gives stable and precise rotation during high-speed writing. The adoption of the high-precision stepping motor for the seeking mechanism enables determination of access position at high precision and high speed access at 120 msec., while improving the noise level. Improvement in wide band and low noise in the pickup's amplifier unit ensures high-speed reading..."

The drive includes "JustSpeed" and "JustLink" technologies to reduce writing problems with un-certified media and avoid buffer underrun errors.

- The package:
The package supplied was the OEM version (bare drive). The retail European version will include: 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 drive would be Nero 5.5.x and Ahead InCD v2.2x (for packet writing use).

The front of the drive reminds a typical Ricoh CDR-W drive. It includes the drive model code (MP7163A) along with the "JustLink" and "High-Speed RW" logo and the drive features (16/10/32). You will also find only one led, the eject button, the headphone input jack/volume selector:

At the backside of the drive we will find the usual connectors (IDE interface, power), the jumpers for making the drive Master/Slave and the analog/SPDIF output connectors:

- Installation:
The Ricoh MP7163A was installed as a Master in the secondary IDE BUS. The drive worked in UDMA33 mode and after booting, identified itself as the "Ricoh CD-R/RW MP7163A". We unchecked the Auto Insert notification, checked DMA and rebooted.

The drive was a May 2001 model with firmware revision vBR.08 installed. We used the Nero (, 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
AOpen CRW1632 firmware v1.03
Ricoh MP7163A firmware vBR.08

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 of the tests.
- Nero CD Speed v0.83b 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 AOpen 1632 seems faster than the Ricoh MP7163A in almost all reading tests, at the SCSI Mechanic tests. The Ricoh MP7163A produced 3633kb/s, which is far away from what the AOpen drive can do. Also the AOpen CRW1632 seems faster in the "Average Random I/O" test.

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

Using Nero CD Speed 0.84b, we see a different image since it reports that both drive have equal reading speed. Both drives have 24.84X average reading speed.

In the "Seek Times" test; the AOpen CRW1632 seems performed slight better than Ricoh MP7163A. Both drives have 93ms average seek times but the rest (1/3, Full Stroke) results are different.

- 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 Ricoh MP7163A is faster than AOpen CRW1632 as CloneCD reported:

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

With CDR media, the AOpen CRW1632 seems 0.02X faster than Ricoh MP7163A.

3. RW reading tests
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RW reading tests

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

For the RW tests, we used TDK's HS-RW media. The AOpen CRW1632 drive again gave slight higher than Ricoh MP7163A:

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 Ricoh MP7163A. We also tested the reading performance with backups of the original CDs, since the reading speed varies between original and backup media. For comparison reasons we added the results of the already tested AOpen CRW1632. The following picture shows the Ricoh MP7163A reading/writing capabilities:

- SafeDisc 1/2 Results

The Ricoh MP7163A is much slower than AOpen CRW1632 as our tests showed.

With SafeDisc v2.0 protected CDs, the Ricoh MP7163A seems having improved reading performance than with SD1 but far away from what the AOpen CRW1632 can give.

LaserLock 1/2 Results

In the LaserLock protected CDs test, the Ricoh MP7163A has better reading performance with the original CD, but AOpen CRW1632 wins back with the backup CD.

With LaserLock 2 protected CDs, Ricoh MP7163A reads the original CD faster than the AOpen CRW1632. This however does not apply with the backup CD, since AOpen performes better.

SecuROM Results

The Ricoh MP7163A can read SubChannel data from Data/Audio tracks very fast! The drive is faster than AOpen CRW1632 with the original CD, but stays slight back with the backup one.

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 Ricoh MP7163A 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 "Caching" data, supports "Accurate Stream" and "C2 Error info".


- Pressed AudioCD results: (click here to see the CD Speed graph)
The Ricoh drive supports up to 32x DAE with both pressed and CDR media. The drive uses full CAV as the main reading technology. The drive had the same exact performance as the AOpen CRW1632:

Since both drive share the same components, its natural their performance be the same. In the DAE test, both drives have 23.3X average DAE speed and the Ricoh seem occupying the CPU less than the AOpen one.

- CDR AudioCD Results: (click here to see the CD Speed 99 graph)
The drive performs quite well with CDR media. The average DAE was around 23.4X:

- EAC Secure Extract Ripping mode

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

Tested Drives
Average DAE Speed (X)
Ricoh MP7163A
AOpen CRW1632

- Advanced DAE Quality

The Ricoh MP7163A performed excellently at the Nero CD Speed Advanced DAE quality test. The drive produced 0 data/sync errors and got a perfect score (100). 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 Of Total Disc (%)
Ricoh MP7163A
almost 0%
AOpen CRW1632

As the tests showed, the Ricoh MP7163A has better DAE ripping speed/quality when scratched CDs are being used. The drive managed to rip the entire CD with a DAE speed of 20.6X and produced only 949 errors. The AOpen drive needs much improvement since almost 88.74% of the read data were not correct.

- Ripping 90 and 99min CDs

>> Click To Enlarge!

As we can see from the above graphs, the Ricoh MP7163A does not have any problem ripping both 90min and 99min CDs.

5. CDR Tests
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CDR Tests

Click To Enlarge!The Ricoh MP7163A 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 16.02X as Nero CD Speed revealed.

The drive also supports JustSpeed, which automatically will reduce the writing speed in case an un-certified 16x CD is inserted and the drive detects that cannot be written safely at the maximum writing (16X) speed.

- Procedure:

We tested the Ricoh MP7163A with Nero v5.5.3.0, CloneCD v3.0.9.2 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" with an amount of data slightly higher than 74mins (74:03:65). We burned the same data amount with both CDR-W drives:

The Ricoh MP7163A is faster by 2seconds. Also the drive uses less CPU usage than the AOpen CRW1632.

Again at the 16x writing speed (with JustSpeed disabled), the Ricoh MP7163A is faster, however now with only 1 sec deference.

- 80min CDs

As with the previous test, we created a DataCD (80:01:47) and used the same media for all burns:

In the 80min CD task, the Ricoh MP7163A is faster than the AOpen CRW1632. The drive needs 6 less seconds than the AOpen one.

Again at the 80min CDs, the Ricoh MP7163A is faster. The AOpen needs 4 extra secs to end the task and that gives Ricoh the first place.

- Overburning Tests

The Ricoh MP7163A supports overburning up to 99minutes!

- CD-Text Results:
We created several AudioCDs with CD-Text enabled. The Ricoh can write but not read CD-Text Audio CDs.

- CloneCD Tests:
The CloneCD v3.0.8.2 reports that the drive supports the DAO-RAW writing feature. The drive also supports JustLink. From our tests results DAO-RAW writing works without any problem 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" and "Emperor Battle for Dune" CD titles. We used the Ricoh MP7163A both as reader/writer. The produced backup didn't play using the same drive or any drive we tested. Therefore the Ricoh MP7163A cannot produce SD2 working backups.

- 8cm mini CDs:
The Ricoh MP7163A does support reading only of 8cm CDs and/or business cards.

- Buffer Underrun tests:
The Ricoh MP7163A supports the "JustLink" anti-buffer underrun technology that has been developed by Ricoh. The drive worked without any problems when buffer underrun caused from our side.

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 in 10x HS-RW media. Both drives support fully the HS-RW writing standard:

The AOpen CRW1632 leads this test with lower time than Ricoh MP7163A. The AOpen also seems to have lower erase time than the Ricoh drive.

- 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) we completed the test twice to eliminate possible time measurement faults and user errors:

The results showed that the Ricoh MP7163A is slower than the AOpen CRW1632 in both reading/writing performances at the packet writing mode.

7. Conclusion

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Positive (+):

Negative (-):

- Supports 16x writing (CLV) speed
- "JustLink" anti-coaster technology
- "JustSpeed" media quality detection system
- Good data reading performance
- Very Good Seek times
- Very good DAE quality with scratched CDs
- Supports HS-RW standard (10x re-write)
- Supports DAO-RAW
- Supports reading/writing of SubChannel Data
- Supports CD-Text (writing)
- Supports Overburning (up to 99mins)
- Supports Ultra-DMA 33 connection interface
- Very quite tray operation

- Bad CloneCD reading performance with SD1/2 protected CDs
- Doens't support reading of CD-Text
- Fair packet reading/writing performance
- Failed to backup SD2 protected CDs

Ricoh's MP7163A has only one competitor with the name AOpen CRW1632. Both drives have the exact same specifications and someone possibly expected to have the same performance also. This did not confirmed in all tests. Both drives have similar performance in some cases, but also are very different in others.

In short words, Ricoh seem faster when writing CDs, by a few seconds, have better DAE quality but have also problems. The drive's CloneCD performance is not very good when reading SD1/2 protected CDs, doesn't support reading of SubChannel data and seems slower in some tests. Both drives support "JustLink" and "JustSpeed" technologies and cannot produce working SD2 backups.

So which one is better? The Ricoh or AOpen drive? The price would possible be the final decision. The AOpen can be found at the price of 84$ and as for the Ricoh we would estimate as the same price tag. The real question now is why buy one of the above recorders, when with extra 7$ you can have a 20x (either Ricoh or AOpen) CD-RW drive? ;-)

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