It seems that Maxell has different production lines (different factories maybe?) and in my experience Maxell discs with stack rings and inner hub serials like P3BE244B for +R and M5FA314A for -R are better than the discs with a smooth surface and inner hub serials like N121GK164L1609686. I had an entire poor batch of MXLRG03 that had the smooth surface and long serial numbers. I probably got maybe 3 discs or so out of 50 that actually burned at 8x; the rest either dropped to 6x or simply failed early in the burn. Never had any problems with the Apple-branded MXLRG03 which have the stack ring and the shorter Mxxxxxx serials. Same with MAXELL002; last spindle I had was spotty; some would burn at 12x but some would drop to 6x. Again these were discs with no stack ring and long serial. I've never experienced such problems with the Maxell HG 8x DVD+Rs (no stack ring but short Pxxxxx serials).