Bad luck with NEC 3550A/4570A. Overheating?

I’m having the worst luck in the world with my drives.
First, my old trusty HP CD-RW dies. Took the opportunity to go with a DVD Writer.
That was about 6 months ago.

So I get a BenQ DW1640. That worked great. Then one Monday, nothing would play. I take the Audio CD out (the same one still in from the previous day, and worked fine), and put another one in.
It made a horrible grinding/clicking sound as it tried to spin up, and would simply give up.

After asking around on IRC what my next drive should be, I got a NEC 3550A.
This drive worked great… for about a week. I couldn’t figure it out, a song would play good for maybe 30 seconds (sometimes more/less).
I touched the top of the drive, and it was hot. Not warm, hot. It was on the edge of burn-the-back-of-your-hand hot.

Keep in mind, I don’t run this computer with a cover. If I put a cover over this case, it would turn into an oven and fry everything. The case is an ancient, bulky ATX case from some Pentium II.
Please, don’t tell me I need proper a proper case/cooling :>

Back on topic.
I suspected overheating at first, but just don’t understand why.

I plopped a desktop fan directly over the drive and blasted it as Windows tried to play from the CD. As seconds progressed, the CD could finally be read and a song would play, but would skip like mad. Giving it a minute, the entire CD could be played in full without any problems, as long as the fan was blasting air onto the drive.

OK, overheating likely the cause. I decide to try another NEC, the recently released 4570A, which had to come all the way from the UK (Royal Mail is royally slow).

Guess what? Within minutes, this bugger started the exact same problem, and it’s not until I get cold air blasting on it that it starts working.

Needless to say, I’m super pissed at NEC atm. I never even knew a drive could act this way when there’s heat. I never even knew these drives could overheat, just playing an Audio CD!
Oddly enough, I was able to get 2-3 decent DVD rips/burns without the fan over the drive.

I’m at a loss, desperately typing this at 6am in the morning, without any prior sleep.

Quick System Specs:
Enermax 450 Watt PSU
P4 3.0 Ghz w/ HT
512x2 DDR400 @ Dual Channel
Gigabyte 8knxp Rev2.0 mobo
80-Pin/80-Conductor IDE Cable on Secondary Master.
Yes, DMA is enabled and works.
WinXP Pro SP2

Anyone have ideas to offer, or maybe a different drive to try?


From reading your post this really might be necessary.

Guess what? Within minutes, this bugger started the exact same problem, and it’s not until I get cold air blasting on it that it starts working.

Something must be the reason for your hardware overheating. It might be a too high voltage of your power supply, a CPU / graphics adapter generating too much heat or really a case that doesn’t match your hardware.

Needless to say, I’m super pissed at NEC atm. I never even knew a drive could act this way when there’s heat. I never even knew these drives could overheat, just playing an Audio CD!

I don’t think you can blame NEC here. I assume something else is very wrong in your system that causes the overheating. Your BenQ surely wouldn’t have died if everything was OK.

But when two previous drives had no similar problems on the exact same hardware/setup?

The BenQ worked for 3 months without any problems, btw.
The HP CD-ReWriter worked for even longer (3+ years) under the same conditions.

So you can understand my confusion.

Do you have another PSU that you can try? I’m not sure if this still holds true, but from the past, there was a claim that BenQ drives were more sensitive to power fluctations during operation. I’d imagine if the voltage ripple on the +12V line fluctuate too intermittently or out of specification, it could be a premature death for the drive. Since there are always power losses as the line gets longer, that fluctuation could be worse if the molex connector is at the end. Perhaps the current limiter within the PSU isn’t operating properly also.

It just so happens that older equipment typically has a better tolerance since the parts in there were better. I had a HP 8200 that still worked before I gave it out as a freebie. That was the only drive which still burned the old TDK 16x CD media w/o any problems, probably because new drives don’t even know what that media was.

Three months is not really much I’d say. My NEC 2500 is two or three years old, the 3540 at least a year and the 4550 some months. None of these drives had any heat problem.

I just started a thread on this forum about my NEC 3500 and NEC 3520 dying in Jan and April in 2 separate machines, after burning DL+R media. I have good case fans installed and an Antec 450W and Thermaltake 480W power supplies in those machines. However, I wonder if my NEC drive overheated and thus died like your Benq and NEC 3550a.

No, I don’t have any other PSU’s to try out, and I severely doubt that is the problem component in this case. Also, the molex that is connected to my current and all previous drives is the shortest one out of the bunch.

The BenQ did not die because of heat, nor did the HP. My drives are not dying due to heat, they simply will not read the disc properly or at all until I place a fan on top of the case, blowing air onto the top of the drive.

The BenQ died from mechanical malfunction. The drives in question on this thread are the NEC 3550A and 4570A, which both work, so long as they remain cooled. The reason I brought the HP and BenQ into the picture is because they have been in this exact same rig, and did not require cooling.

I completely forgot about this little bit of information. Both the 3550A and the 4570A I have were manufactured in January of 2006.
Likely just coincidence, but I have pondered the possibility of a bad batch from the assembly line?

Do you live inside an active volcano or something, bro? What is your room temperature & what is yous case temperature?

The optical drives are not the most heat-generating hardware in the PC. They are the last that should have an overheating problem. Just make sure that you don’t install them the one exactly above the other; leave a slot open above and below them. If the drive feels so hot on touch and if it works only with a fan blowing on it, then I can’t imagine what the hard drive, video card, CPU (I suppose you have the Northwood core, cause the Prescott would have evaporated in these conditions) feel like. Yep, you need a new case :flower: , even if you fix the problem with the optical drives. And I suggest you get a good one, with much room inside, not a cheappy.

PS: If you do anything that forces the drive to run at full speed constantly for a long period of time, while full speed is not necessary for that application (eg watching movies, listening CDs), consider using Nero drive speed to cut down the speed. This will decrease the heat generated dramatically.

Thanks for clarifying…

It is in fact a Prescott core, and probably would evaporate if I was still using the stock cooling that came with it.
Full copper heatsink w/ 4000RPM (variable) fan, and this thing still idles at 40-45c

The room here never goes out of the 70-80F range.

This is also the only optical drive in the case, and again, there is no cover.
Nothing but open air on the top of the NEC, and two empty 51/2" slots below it. A slab of aluminum and two 7200RPM SATA drives below that.

It all just doesn’t make sense. Like I said in my original post, I was never even aware optical drives could overheat and act the way this one has to heat.

Weird. I can’t think of anything.
Maybe a bad molex power input from the PSU feeding more voltage, or a malfunctioning IDE cable; but its unlikely

I’m going to try another drive. Any suggestions?
I’m willing to go for another BenQ, but lemme hear what you guys have to say.

Thank God DVD Writers have become so cheap. I still remember $150+ CD-ReWriters (8x speed! lol)

Sort out your case ventilation first. You should not have to run a case with the sides off. Running the case with the sides off does not mean the system will run cooler in itself. Good cases are designed in such a way as to have cool air entering the case at the bottom, circulating around the case cooling the components and finally being exhausted at the top of the case as hot air.

The 3550/4550 and 4570 drives do not create excessive heat, especially the 4570. I think you also need to check that 12 volts is coming from your power supply. Your logic that it was ok before, is no more logical than saying it only happened when you fitted the NEC drive. Components can fail anytime. :slight_smile:

Case/cooling/PSU work is something that will have to wait (at least 10 months). While I’m not ruling either of those out, it’s still a very slim chance that those are the problem.

Your idea of a good case design sounds great. This is not one of those designs. I have to deal with what I have at the moment.

My current cooling solution (if I can call it that) has worked fine for the last 3 years. If anything was going to die because of inadequate cooling, my HDs would die first, then the CPU, GPU, Northbridge, then the PSU (in that order). An optical drive would be last on my list.

Without a voltmeter, I must rely on what the BIOS tells me, and it tells me that the PSU is dishing out volts within-range.

I had the same problem with a BenQ DW1620, so RMA’ed it and the replacement drive died the same death: the bottom of both drives were so hot to be barely touchable!

Now I have a 4550A that is no hotter than a standard CD-ROM drive.

Bad luck, I believe…


and no cooling/power supply changes, of course

Buy a drive that is known to have a good RMA policy (eg Plextor). It’s a good thing to know that they’ll change it if it fails, even if your computer is the reason for the failure and not the drive itself.

After work, I’m going to decide on a new drive. I’ll report here after it’s shipped, installed, and tested.

Thanks for the help everyone.
Great community here.


Why would you play Audio CD in DVD RW at all? Constant rotation of disc can lead to overheating. I mean, you listen to music - that can take a long. At least you could reduce speed of drive with Nero DriveSpeed.

I cannot understand that you are not willing to give this good (?) system a case and power supply which SUITS the built in hardware, e.g. with additional fans.

An old Pentium-II case - running OPEN - is a very bad solution, without the right airflow your system will not cool down, it probably will overheat.

Last but not least - I’d never come to the idea to play audio cds with my DVD-Burner, at least not continuously for hours.

Now you buy new optical drives one after another - you’d better buy a new case and save on buying new drives.