It is IMHO Plextor's best DVD burner to date. If DL and 16x burning are not important to you, its range of features and quality of burns cannot be beat. My burns on second quality media are as good as other manfacturers burns on TOP quality media. And my burns on top quality media are outstanding.
After getting the drive I stumbled across some threads discussing the problems people have been having with SATA optical/recent Plextor drives (not being recognized/bootable, possibly limiting oc options depending on slot used, forced to use PIO, numerous RMAs on 712/716 drives).
The SATA compatibility issue is true - you must check your mobo manufacturer, chipset, and BIOS revision, and RAID/SATA configuration very carefully. Caveat emptor, fer shure.
You cannot use this forum to determine failure/RMA rates. I'm pretty sure Plextor has sold a lot more 716s than 712s, so it just goes to reason that there will be more RMAs for that drive than the 712. Statistically - Plextor isn't saying. Also, this forum is full of complainers - I should know because I'm one of them! In all seriousness, though, forums attract people who think they might have problems, not those with glowing testimonials.
If you are forced to use PIO mode (BTW, that's for IDE and not SATA), then there is something wrong with either your Windows install or your computer, not the drive.
The drive is still boxed and sealed and I was wondering if I should RMA-Refund it to Newegg and grab a different, possibly faster burner(1640?) or should I take my chance and see how it does? I need to decide ASAP.
I think it's a bit extreme to return a drive, whatever the manufacturer, based on selected negative comments you have read here. What do other sites hardware reviews have to say? What do the 712 scans look like in the scans thread?
I found the 716A for a good price and if it is worth it, I could spring for that.. have all of the "bad" 716's been filtered out by now?
Depends on who you ask. My opinion is that the 716 still has some "issues" (none of which you mentioned above) with 16x capabilities, beta & jitter, and burning quality - so I don't plan on buying one. Others here who have bought one, have not had to RMA it, and think it's the best burner they've ever owned.
If I chose to return the burner will there be a 15% restocking fee even if the box is unopened?
Only Newegg can answer that authoritatively. My guess is that they probably don't.