Well, Gforce99, I feel your pain. I consider myself a Plextor "fan" but it has been a tough relationship. I own a 712a and two 716a's. All work marvellously (now), but each was a disaster out of the box. Each one has been replaced. One of them (my first 716) has been replaced 3 times. The sad thing about this is when folks hear this tale of woe, they think, "Man, what's wrong with YOU?!" I mean, really, it's hard to believe the quality can be that bad. Yeah, I guess I'm a bonehead.
I'm sure the luck of the draw may have something to do with it all. The last 716a I bought was a TLA0307. Having already been through the mill getting working versions of its two siblings already in my rig, I was hoping that maybe with this latest version all the problems would be gone. Consider that bubble to be popped, my friend.
My computer is a fast P4 with 1 GB of HyperX RAM and half a terabyte of drive space. It's hand-built from stable components, and well ventilated. My P/S is 550 Watts. My hard drives are all SATA and my ATAPI devices each live on on their own controllers, each as a master. There is no issue with DMA problems, etc. Except for UDMA PCI controllers, I have no other PCI cards. My system is fast. I don't consider myself a novice and I am well aware that there are many factors that can interract to cause problems.
OK, having said all that, here's what the tale is with the last 716. The drive would not complete any burn at a speed faster than 4X. In fact, it would ramp down to 12x about halfway through the burn. Let me state that I was using Verbatim DVD+R 16X media. I also have TY DVD-R 8X that also worked just as poorly. Looking at the FE/TE test, it was obvious that no matter what disk I used, at about 1.2 GB into the burn the tracking error would jump way off the scale into the stratosphere. This is the point where the drive would slow during burning. I was bummed. I swapped the drive to other locations, but the problem followed the drive. And,yeah, I did update the firmware to 1.08 but it made no difference. Of course I tried lots of media and wasted more money on that than I care to admit. Like I said, boneheaded.
Wanting to go the RMA route, I sent Plextor screen shots of the problem, gave them a complete listing of all that I had done to troubleshoot the problem, etc. All I got back from them was a form letter telling me to check all the things we all already know about. I really don't think theyread a thing that I said or looked at my screen caps. Basically they were telling me that PowerRec was slowing things down because my media was crappy. (Yes PowerRec was doing that, of course, but my media is good stuff.) Then they told me I have DMA problems. (I don't) Also, they told me that other device might be interfering. I doubt that. Anyway, you get the idea. Oh, they gave me lots of niftly links to sites telling me that bad media is a BIG problem. I guess Plextor finds it hard to believe their drives might be crap right out of the box. I even ran their disk-wasting diagnostic that cranked for about an hour(!) and ended without finding an error. This test finishes in about 10 minutes on my other drives, but all Plextor cares about is if it finishes without error. If it runs for a week, they don't care!
I took a chance and took the drive back to the store. I didn't want to go this route, because I guess I wanted Plextor to fix the problem and not have to deal with the store. Also, I really didn't want to make that trip and end up with another bad new drive. The dreamer in me told me that if I got a drive right from Plex, it would be a good one.Yeah, I know. There's a lot of wishful thinking it seems when dealing with a Plextor purchase these days.
Anyway, lucky me. The replacement drive is a burning monster. It burns my quality media at rated speed, and then some, and the burn quality is spectacular. Finally.
I don't think I'll buy another Plextor. I don't see the point. The only reason I made the same mistake 3 times is that I am stubborn and I do like having matching equipment. I am hoping these drives will last for several years. I don't intend to build a new machine for about 5 years. The new machine will not have Plextor drives. I don't see anything coming from Plextor these days to justify the premium price.
Sorry for the long post, but at least that's off my chest. Plextor makes good drives if you can find the ones that work.