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Home > Hardware Reviews > Optical Storage > 40x CD-RW

Monday, March 25, 2002
40x CD-RW Roundup Vol1

1. Introduction

40x CD-RW Roundup Vol 1 - Page 1

Which one is the faster?

- Introduction

The 40X recording family keeps growing with new recorders from ASUS, LiteOn and Cendyne manufacturers. After Plextor PX-W4012A, slowly other manufacturers release their 40x (Z-CLV) recording proposals and the writing speed becomes very interesting for the end users, and of course for us too. Let's see which one is the faster 40x recorder/reader and how good the writing quality is in that high recording speed. Enjoy :-)

- ASUS CRW-4012A

The drive supports 40x writing (Z-CLV), 12x re-writing, has an 2MB Buffer and includes "FlextraLink", "FlexSpeed" and "DDSS II" technologies.

ASUS explains: "...FlextraLink, technology prevents users from buffer underrun problems and eliminates the creation of unusable discs, while FlextraSpeed technology enhances accuracy and reliability when reading, writing, re-writing across a broad base of certified media. Throughout the recording process, FlextraLink technology consistently monitors the data buffer status, whereas FlextraSpeed continuously monitors the recording media and sets the optimal writing speeds to ensure best recording quality. Both ASUS proprietary technologies occupy minimal system resources so the PC remains full operational and available for other applications even during recording process.

The ASUS CRW-4012A drive also features advanced mechanical designs, including the patented ASUS DDSS II technology and unique dust resistance design. DDSS II is an enhanced follow-up to the first generation Double Dynamic Suspension System developed by ASUS. The DDSS technology is designed to minimize the vibration caused by the spindle motor and resonance between components as well as the drive and PC cases. The patented DDSS II stabilizes the pick-up head of the drive in both horizontal and vertical directions that makes tracking and focusing even more precise, and successfully reduces the vibration and noise caused by high revolution of the spindle motor..."

The exact writing speeds are 4x, 8x, 12x, 16x (CLV), 24x (16-24x), 32x (16-32x) and 40x (20-40x) based upon the Zone-CLV recording technology. The writing speeds are 2x, 4x, 8x, 10x and 12x (CLV). The drive also supports 48x (CAV) reading speed. The drive supports all the known writing modes (DAO, SAO, TAO and RAW); among with the packet write/overburning option but there is no Mt. Rainier format support. As it happened with the last ASUS model, the drive is based upon the MediaTek chipset. Lastly it supports AudioCD authoring up to 40x (Zone-CLV) writing.

- ASUS 4012A 40x writing speed

ASUS CRW-4012A supports the 40x writing speed using the Z-CLV writing technology. Below is the Nero CD Speed writing graph, which illustrates the use of Zone-CLV writing technology:

The 40x writing speed range is divided into four zones: The drive starts writing at 20x from the lead-in till the 8mins, then shifts up to 24x until 26mins, shifts to 32x at 30mins, and lastly shifts to the 40x at 52mins and stays there until the end of the burning process. The average recording speed is 30.39X. The drive is supposed to be faster than PleXWriter PX-W4012A but the actual recording tests showed the opposite.

- The package

The package supplied contained: the drive, 1 piece of ASUS 80min 32x CD-R blank (manufactured by Acer, 97m 22s 67f), 1 piece of ASUS 80min 4-12x HS-RW blank (Acer 97m 22s 60f), audio cable and mounting screws. The software supplied with the drive was Nero Burning ROM v5.5.7.5 and Ahead InCD v3.23 (for packet writing use). The drive is still under development, since the firmware revision is only 0.60. In the future, firmware updates will possibly fix all the problems we noticed during our tests.

We don't know yet whether ASUS CRW-3212A comes with a 2-year warranty (only in Europe) or not. Lastly as the package says the drive is "XP" compatible which was confirmed from our test results, since the drive worked without any problems in UDMA-33 mode.

On the front of the drive there are the "ASUS" and the "40x12x48" logos. You will also find only two leds, the eject/play buttons and the headphone input jack/volume selector:

In the rear panel of the drive we will find the usual connectors (IDE interface, power), the jumpers for making the drive Master/Slave, the SPDIF output connector, the analog/digital output connectors and 3 jumpers which are used to setup the drive's working mode, PIO-4Mode (default) or UDMA33. For setting up the UDMA33 mode you just have to remove the middle jumper:

- Installation

ASUS CRW-4012A was installed as a Master in the secondary IDE BUS. The drive worked in UDMA33 mode and after booting, identified itself as "ASUS CRW-4012A". We used WinXP for the recording, reading tests and the DMA was automatically enabled.

The drive was a January 2002 model with firmware revision v0.60 installed. We used the newer build of Nero (5.5.7.8), InCD (3.24), and CloneCD (3.3.4.1) for our recording tests. Note that the tested firmware revision (v0.60) is not final and the drive will be shipped with the v1.00 installed.

ASUS felt the drive was ready enough to be evaluated from our labs and in general the performance was good, with some weak points in the supported media list for the 40x recording speed and several recording problems (with coasters) with the use of specific media in the same speed.

ASUS CRW-4012A automatically reduces the maximum writing speed (4x0) when it detects lower quality media for burning. The below pictures come from Nero when various blank media were inserted:




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