Hot Hardware pits 5 DVD burners against each other. Drives include an ASUS, BenQ, Lite-On, Plextor and a Sony.
It used to be the case that the fastest optical drive was, by default, the best. Reducing CD burn times from 12 minutes to eight and then to six was considered significant evolutionary progress. But then a barrier was encountered, where the imperfect nature of mass-produced compact discs precluded, or at least made it much more difficult, to spin them faster than 52x. Rather than risk spontaneously disintegrating media, drive manufacturers have since focused their attention elsewhere. After all, we’d tend to agree that a polycarbonate saucer spinning in excess of 10,000 rotations per minute next to our knees is plenty, thank you.
So, now we have DVD burners flying along at 16x, or roughly 22MB per second, and it’s said that we won’t see those devices spin much faster either. Not that we’d be disappointed otherwise since it’s already possible to fill a 4.7GB DVD in about six minutes.
The big focus today centers on accelerating the performance of dual-layer drives and media until Blu-Ray and HD-DVD technologies become more prevalent. That’s a particularly good thing, too, because the first generation of DL (dual-layer) hardware was aggravatingly slow, often occupying the better part of an hour to fill a single 8.5GB disc. And don’t even get us started about the prices of blank DL media. Fortunately, those prices are slowly eroding and it’s now possible to get a pack of three discs for about $30. They’re still a far cry from the $.50 per blank DVD-R that you can find online, but forward progress nonetheless.
Performance is improving as well. The fastest DL drives write at 5.5MB per second (4x) or almost twice as fast as the 2.4x drives they replace. Further, single-layer speeds persist at 16x and the best hardware even burns standard CDs at 48x. Though not quite 52x, that’ll certainly suffice.
Today, we have a collection of five, cherry-picked (by us, not the manufacturers) DL DVD writers at several different price inflections and with a number of performance characteristics. They’re all armed with the latest firmware files and ready to battle, so if you’ve been holding off on a new optical drive, we’re giving you the opportunity to compare software packages, burn speeds, and prices.