HL-DT-ST DVDRRW GWA-4164B not recognizing CDs, DVDs OK


I have a HL-DT-ST DVDRRW GWA-4164B Drive. The problem is that CDs won’t play. Well, actually, out of all my music CDs, one will play, kind of ok, but I’m impressed that is even recognized. And it’s Pure Prarie League to boot, but I’m dating myself. Note, pretty much all of my CDs are pretty old.

DVDs play just fine. Well, there appears to be a consistent but extremely shortlived pause when it plays a movie, like every second or so. Amazingly enough, if you want to your eyes can filter that out, at least, I seem to. But, if you want to see it, it is also easy enough to see.

I don’t know how well it burns because that has never been an issue. Just not something I needed or wanted to do. But, I do want the machine to work.

My main concern is with CD recognition. Note: I did burn CD-Rs to create recovery CDs, but those are not readable either.


  1. insert disk, disk light flashes rythmically and predictably. From my reading, I think the drive is trying to figure out what kind of disk it is, but can’t do it.

  2. The icon in Windows Explorer does not change from a DVD icon (except with the Pure Prarie League CD). Clicking on the icon does not show any files.

What I’ve done

  1. I tried to use a Philips PH62022 CD & DVD lens cleaner. Although it has a DVD symbol on it, the drive treats it as a CD, meaning it doesn’t recognize it. It does spin somewhat because the disc is not in the same position it started in when I go to remove it.

  2. I blew it out using compressed air.

  3. I took it apart hoping to be able to get at the lens and mirror. I weenied out because I did not want to disassemble the cables holding the PC board in place. There were cables in the center of three sides and none had much slack, they were an effective barrier at disassembly.

  4. I ensured that the controller is set to use DMA (when available) and that it is using Ultra DMA Mode 2. I had hopes for this because it originally was in PIO mode, but, didn’t change anything.

  5. I’ve also checked for a couple of apps that seemed to cause problems. InCD was one, I can’t remember the other, but neither was on my machine.


Is this the kind of thing using updated firmware can fix? My guess is not, but I don’t know.

Any suggestions, ideas, and comments welcome.



The machine information, courtesy of Nero Info Tool 2.21, is

Hardware Information

CPU : AMD Athlon 64 Processor 3000+ 1990 MHz
Bus Speed : 199 MHz
Motherboard : MICRO-STAR MS-7145
System : Gateway W3400
BIOS : Phoenix 6.00 PG
Memory : 512 MB (129ns)
Sound : Realtek AC97 Audio
Video : NVIDIA GeForce4 MX 440-SE (Microsoft Corporation)

Drive Information

Type : DVD±R/RW DL Recorder
Firmware Version : 1.03
Buffer Size : 2 MB
Date : 05-04-25
Serial Number : 0155J2!/
Vendor Specific : 05/04/25
Drive Letter : E:
Location : 4:0
Mechanism : Tray
Read Speed : 40 , 32 , 24 , 20 , 15 , 8 , 4 , 1 X
Write Speed : 4.0 X

Read CD Text : Yes
Return C2 Pointers : No
Read CD-R : Yes
Read CD-RW : Yes
Read DVD-ROM : Yes
Read DVD-RAM : No
Read DVD-R : Yes
Read DVD-RW : Yes
Read DVD+R : Yes
Read DVD+RW : Yes
Read DVD+R DL : Yes
Read Digital Audio : Yes
Read CD+G : No
Read VideoCD : Yes

Write CD-R : Yes
Write CD-RW : Yes
Write DVD-R : Yes
Write DVD-RW : Yes
Write DVD+R : Yes
Write DVD+RW : Yes
Write DVD+R DL : Yes
Write DVD-RAM : No
Buffer Underrun Protection : Yes
Mount Rainier : No
Modes : Packet, TAO, DAO, SAO, RAW SAO, RAW DAO, RAW SAO 16, RAW SAO 96, RAW DAO 16, RAW DAO 96

Region Protection Control : RPC II
Region : 1
Changes User : 4
Changes Vendor : 4

Adapter 5

Description : Primary IDE Channel

Description : system32\DRIVERS\atapi.sys
Company : Microsoft Corporation
Version : 5.1.2600.2180 (xpsp_sp2_rtm.040803-2158)
Description : IDE/ATAPI Port Driver

Attached Devices
Description : Master: HL-DT-ST DVDRRW GWA-4164B
Type : CD-Rom Drive
DMA : On
Autorun : On

Interface Information

Adapter 6

Description : Secondary IDE Channel

Description : system32\DRIVERS\atapi.sys
Company : Microsoft Corporation
Version : 5.1.2600.2180 (xpsp_sp2_rtm.040803-2158)
Description : IDE/ATAPI Port Driver

Attached Devices
Description : Master: WDC WD800BB-22JHC0
Type : Disk Drive
DMA : On

I flashed it with the v1.05 driver. No appreciable change.

That leaves two options still to go:

  1. try booting on a bootable CD
  2. as a last resort, disassemble and clean the lens (cables be damed).


open the tray, turn off the computer, carefully move tower and blow out the drive with an air compressor, clean computer while doing it

my nec 3550 started saying all my burned dvd’s were dvd-rw’s

fine now

Thanks for the suggestion DaChew, but I’ve already done that. Both with the drive in the machine, and then on a bench after having removed the drive from the machine and then removed the case.


Ok, armed with a bootable CD, I find it is still ignored by the drive. I did ensure that the BIOS boot sequence used the HL-DT-ST DVDRRW GWA-4164B drive as the initial item in boot order.

The bootable CD worked fine in the Dell E310 machine.



for the time being, I hooked up a Sony CDU311 CD-ROM drive in my wife’s machine (emachine W3400) so that she can listen to compact discs if she wants to .

In doing so, I came across two things I don’t understand:

  1. obviously the Sony unit is old (8x player. I think the manufacture date is 1/2000). When I installed it in this machine (manufactured in the last year and a half), I learned that it needed an ATAPI-to-ATAPI audio cable, not a JST to ATAPI CD Audio cable. At least, I thought I learned that. I didn’t have such a cable. Indeed, until now I did not know that one existed. Not expecting to hear the music, I went ahead and inserted a compact disc just to test that the player software would work. Lo and behold, music came forth. I don’t understand. How does that happen? I did noticed earlier in this whole process that the DVD player did not have an audio cable, but I just took that as the advantage of newer technology, not something the CDU311 would be able to utilize. Does the CDU311 support Digital Audio Extraction?

  2. one specific CD plays, but the drive raises a real ruckus. The noise diminishes as it moves from the first track on through the playlist. About halfway through, the drive sounds normal. It’s very tempting to think that the drive is really wound up at a high speed in those early tracks, but the music sounds fine. Is it vibration, some warping of the CD? CDs play from the inside out, right? so I’d expect less vibration on the earlier tracks and more on the later tracks because I’d expect warping to be more prominent further from the center. However, inspecting the disk, it doesn’t look warped at all. All other CDs I’ve played work fine and do not exhibit this problem. Any idea what this might be? Is the CDU311 a CLV drive?



If I’m interpreting this correctly, it looks like the CDU311 does support digital audio extraction:



optical drives wear out, buy new ones, quit beating a dead horse

That’s helpful.

You’re right. I should just toss two drives, that together do what I need them to do, into the trash and go right out and spend money, which I may or may not have, on a third.

In addition, trying to learn about an area that I’m unfamiliar with is wholly overrated. ‘Rip-and-replace’, that should everyone’s guideline.

Chewy, dead bodies have a great deal to teach us. Ask a med student.

If you don’t like my posts, don’t feel like you have to respond.


sorry to interupt your conversation

I finally disassembled the drive to try and clean the lenses. The packaging – which is really pretty awesome – makes that difficult to do. The cables I mentioned earlier in this thread were not the problem, they are actually very easy to remove and then reconnect. It’s getting at the lenses themselves because a flexible circuit board connects the lasers to a small printed circuit board which in turn is mounted directly above the lenses and prisms. It can be moved up and out of the way, but not to sufficiently enough to gain easy access with a tool, clean the lenses after wetting them with lens cleaner, and know you’ve done a thorough job.

So, I’ve exausted everything that I can think of to try. But it’s been interesting. I’ve learned a lot.

To bin_gu2004

To be honest with you, I don’t think attempting to clean the lenses is worthwhile. I think there is a much better chance of breaking the DVD than of fixing the CD. If your DVD is working, be content with that and pick up something that can do whatever CD tasks you want or need to do.

I wish I could have come up with something better.