TDK Vortex 121032 IDE CDR-W -
In March 2001 TDK decided to reach the 12X recording market with a new CD-RW
drive proposal: The TDK Vortex 121032A. The company developed a new CD-RW drive
product line, trying to approach the average consumer with a reliable and affordable
solution. The TDK Vortex 121032 supports the exact specifications its brother
drives do and additional adopts the "JustLink" technology, which helps
users eliminate buffer underrun errors during the recording process. The question
is whether the new drive can stand the competition. Do we have here an alternative
solution for our burning needs? Continue reading...
package supplied was the retail Europe version and included: The drive itself,
an operation manual, a quick installation guide, an emergency eject tool, 1
CD-R 74min blank, 1 High Speed RW Blank, Audio cables, an IDE cable, mounting
screws and a very useful CD-R pen. The software supplied was Nero Burning ROM
v188.8.131.52, Ahead InCD v1.8 (for packet writing use) and TDK Digital MixMaster
TDK Digital MixMaster is an all around solution, which contains:
-Audio player supporting Wav, Audio CDs, MP3 and VQF files
-Built-in audio equalizer
-Ripping of AudioCDs to WAV files and direct burn to CD capability. Direct conversion
of MP3, VQF audio files to WAV files and straight CD burning.
-CD-to-CD copy for both data and Audio CDs.
-Recording from analog sources capability.
-CD cover editing.
Let's take a look at the drive itself. At first look you see a typically coloured
drive, except from the tray's front door, which fades to silver-grey. The TDK
logo is placed in the middle, as usually. You will also see a led, the eject
button and the headphone input jack/volume selector. TDK surprises the beginner
user as he presses the eject button: The front of the tray is not what he sees
but it comes out straight ahead, totally black and slightly see-through, after
bending down the outer silver-grey door. The real tray has a white TDK and a
12/10/32A logo on its front. Here is how the drive looks at first sight:
At the back of the drive we will find the usual connectors (IDE interface,
power), the jumpers for setting the drive to Master/Slave option, the analogue
and the digital audio output connectors and 3 jumpers which are not used (factory
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 "TDK CDRW121032A". We unchecked the Auto Insert notification,
checked DMA and rebooted. The drive was a March 2001 model with firmware revision
v1.00. For most of our tests we used the latest Nero v184.108.40.206 among with Ahead
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 MP7125A firmware v1.00
Acer 1208 firmware v9.GB
TDK Vortex 121032 firmware v1.00
2. Data Tests
121032 IDE CDR-W- Page
- SCSI Mechanic v3.0 & CD Speed 99 v0.80 Tests: With these tests
we attempted to compare the I/O performance of TDK's Vortex 121032 to other
various CDR-W drives (see charts) and we also checked the drive performance.
In all of our following tests we used a pressed CD containing PlexTools v1.08
- SCSI Mechanic v3.0 results:
The graph above gives TDK Vortex 121032 good chances against the competition
since the drive performed well in most of the tests. The Average Random I/O
performance (738) places the drive in the second position behind the Acer 1208
(798). At the Average Sequential I/O test all of the drives have almost the
same behaviour with a slight leading to the Plexwriter PX-W1210A. Lastly, at
the Same Sector I/O test TDK Vortex 121032 did not manage to reach the remarkable
Plexwriter PX-W1210A performance (13150) but it came up with better results
against the three remaining drives. You could also notice that Ricoh MP7125A
performed in an almost identical way to the TDK Vortex 121032.
- CD Speed 99 v0.80 results: (click here
to see the CD Speed 99 graph)
At the CDspeed 0.80 reading performance test all the drives tried to reach
the 25X average speed. All the drives started their reading session at approximately
14,5X and ended at almost 32X, as expected. TDK Vortex 121032 performed adequately
in the above tests delivering a smooth operating behaviour.
Seeking time results of TDK Vortex 121032 are not so good compared to the
other drives. Acer 1208 holds the first place since it gave some very good times
when was tested. TDK could calibrate the drive's mechanism a little better.
3. RW reading tests
TDK Vortex 121032 IDE
CDR-W- Page 3
RW reading tests
For the RW tests we used the Verbatim HS RW media written at 10x speed. The
TDK Vortex 121032 performed better than any other of the tested drives since
it gave back a 24.77X average reading speed. Vortex also appeared to have the
best "Speed start" and Speed End performance. Notice the really small
differences between the TDK's and Ricoh's results...
We used CloneCD (v220.127.116.11) and 3 original CDs (Rally Masters, Euro2000 and
Vrally 2 Expert) in order to test the reading time of TDK Vortex 121032. 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 of the already tested PleXWriter PX-W1610A, Acer 1208 and
Ricoh MP7125A.The following picture is showing the TDK's Vortex 121032 device
a) SafeDisc Results: Euro 2000 (Total: 257982 sectors - 10141 bad sectors)
- Reading Speed: Max
As you can easily see theTDK drive managed to overcome PleXWriter's results
in making an image of the Euro 2000 pressed CD. The drives had the exact reverse
behaviour concerning the backup CD testing. PleXWriter takes the advantage with
42,4 more reading sectors/sec. The other two drives should probably work more
on increasing their error skipping capabilities...
b) LaserLock Results: Rally Masters (Total: 321528 sectors
- 6317 bad sectors) - Reading Speed: Max
TDK Vortex 121032 gave some great reading results with the Laserlock protected
CDs. The TDK's reading performance from the original CD is good but it is even
better as the drive accesses the Backup CD. In this part of the test, Vortex
reported almost 406 (Bad sectors/sec) more compared to the second best performance
from the PleXWriter.
c) SecuROM Results: Vrally2 Expert - 343767 sectors
Still very good performing, the TDK Vortex 121032 is better in the OriginalCD
reading. As for the Backup CD testing, the 1364,15 sectors/sec reported, places
the drive to the second position behind the PleXWriter PX-W1210A drive.
4. DAE Tests
Vortex 121032 IDE CDR-W -
- 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 TDK Vortex 121032 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:
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.
- Pressed AudioCD results: (click here to see the graph)
All tested drives supports 32x DAE (max) according to their specifications.
Our tests showed that the PX-W1210A still holds the fastest DAE performance
in this category with 24x average ripping speed. TDK Vortex 121032 comes second
with 23.4x. You should also consider the fact that TDK occupied the highest
CPU utilization (33%) among the other drives had done.
- CDR AudioCD results:
As it seems theTDK Vortex 121032 works slightly better with CDR media and
gave faster ripping speed (23.5x) reducing the gap with the first PX-W1210A:
- Advanced DAE Quality:
We can see that all drives got 100 (perfect) score in the Advanced DAE Quality
tests. The TDK Vortex 121032 gave a good performance almost equal to the PlexWriter's.
The Advanced test confirmed that the drive supports reading of CD-Text and SubChannel
- Ripping 90 and 95mins AudioCDs
The Ricoh MP7125A doesn't seem to like reading anything further than 86minutes..
From our tests with both 90 and 99minutes CDs the drive stopped reading at around
86minutes and returned an error message.. :(
5. CDR Tests
Vortex 121032 IDE CD-RW-
The TDK Vortex 121032 drive supports 12x writing among with the "JustLink"
anti-coaster technology. We used the CD Speed 99 build-in writing speed test
which confimed the 12x writing speed (12.02x average):
Procedure: We tested TDK Vortex 121032 with Nero v18.104.22.168, CloneCD v22.214.171.124,
Padus DJ v3.00.780 software and with the following media: Verbatim 74min (16x)
& 80min (16x), Mitsui 74min (16x), Prodisc 80min (16x) (red bottom) and
with TDK/Plextor/Verbatim 74min HS RW. We didn't saw any particular problems
with the various tested CD-R.
- 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 four (4) tested drives.
TDK Vortex 121032 holds the lowest writing time as the following drive Ricoh
MP7125A is about 5 secs slower. In this test PX-W1210A is surprisingly out of
the race (with 416secs). The CPU Usage is very good although it is 0.5% lower
than the second best performer, Ricoh MP7125A.
- 80min CDs:
As with the previous test, we created a DataCD (80:02:16) and used the same
media for all burns:
TDK Vortex 121032 and Ricoh MP7125A drives gave the lower burning time in
this test. Plexwriter and Acer are 6 to 9 secs slower.
- 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 TDK Vortex 121032v
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:
TDK Vortex 121032 supports both DAO and SAO-RAW writing modes according to the
CloneCD v126.96.36.199. Our tests results confirmed that the drive works with DAO-
Something noticeable is that the CloneCD doesn't recognize that the drive
supports simulation writing. We guess that CloneCD author will support the new
Vortex model soon...
For the SD2 test we used the "No One Lives For Ever" CD title.
We used TDK Vortex 121032 both as reader/writer. The produced backup didn't
play using the same driver or any drive we tried to test so we could say that
TDK Vortex 121032 cannot support SafeDisk 2 protected media.
- Buffer Underrun tests:
The TDK Vortex 121032 supports "JustLink" anti-coaster technology.
During our tests "JustLink" worked very good even if while the testing
computer worked at full CPU/HD load. The gap lenght of the JustLink technology
is under 2micro meters, which is lower than the BURN-Proof technology in terms
of absolute numbers.
Verdict of CDR Results:
The TDK Vortex 121032 worked very well in our writing tests. The drive burned
without any complaints all the inserted media. The recording times are the best
in the internal competition and very close to those the Ricoh MP7125A has given.
The drive supports overburning up to 89minutes and doesn't work at all with
99min 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
Vortex 121032 IDE CDR-W -
RW Writing Tests
We used Nero 188.8.131.52 for writing CDs at the maximum RW speed for all the tested
drives. All other drives wrote at 10x RW writing speed (Acer 1208 supports only
It took 481 sec for TDK Vortex 121032 to write fully a HS-RW CD, which is
a quite good performance just 2 sec below PlexWriter's (479 sec). The procedure
occupied the 8,8% of the CPU, percentage close enough to the one the Ricoh MP7125A
gave.As for the quick erasing time it was still in acceptable levels giving
a 49 sec performance.
- Packet Writing
We used Ahead InCD v2.11 for all Packet Writing tests. The drive
is packaged with v1.80 and we suggest upgrading to the latest one. We used Verbatim
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 534mbs 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 TDK Vortex 121032 has a very good packet reading/writing
performance. The drive managed to give around 7.09x writing speed and around
15.9x reading speed. Both results are again very close to those Ricoh MP7125A
had given according to our previous review.
Vortex 121032 IDE CDR-W -
- Supports "JustLink" anti-coaster technology
- Good DATA reading performance
- Good DAE ripping performance
- Very good performance with various CDR media
-Very good CloneCD reading performance
-Supports HS RW standard (10x re-write)
-Supports Overburning (write up to 89mins)
-Supports reading of SubChannel data
-Very good packet writing performance
-Very good retail package/software
- Doesn't support 99min CDs
- High price ($232+V.A.T)
- Doesn't backup SD2 protected CDs
TDK Vortex 121032 is the first TDK drive that supports "JustLink"
anti-coaster technology. The drive's general performance was very good as far
as it concerns the Data/DAE various tests. The drive tends to be an alternative
solution for the 12x CD-RW drive category. Does it manage it? We could say yes
having in mind the good results TDK gave against the Ricoh. Our main objection
is the TDK 's high price although the company officially claims that the drive
is an affordable solution. Maybe prices drop down due to 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 pleased from the drive's high
reading performance but will be disappointed from the drive's ability to produce
partial working SD2. In general the drive doesn't have any major drawbacks that
could stand in your way heading to the nearest store :)