Question on external DVD burners being slower than internals

Hi,

I’m a complete newb to this forum and to DVD burners in general so please forgive me beforehand :bow:

Anyway, my question pertains to a new NEC-3550A burner that I purchased that I promptly converted into an external by putting it into a Bytecc 320F external enclosure.

I hooked it up using the USB 2.0 cord to my Dell Inspiron 4000 laptop which is PIII-900 MHz, BIOS A18 (I know there is an updated A23 BIOS available), 256 SD-RAM, 8MB ATI card, and a Toshiba 80 GB 5200 RPM. I bought some Memorex 16X DVD+R disc to try out and I burned a 4.4 GB data disc on my first try without making a coaster :smiley:

The question is this, it took 34 minutes!!! to burn this disk and is this:

a) ‘normal’ or average speed? (I don’t think so because all the reviews on the 3550A show that it can burn DVD+R in ~6 minutes)

b) What can I do to make this external burner burn faster? (I do defrag my hard drive before a burning session and I had 24 GB free at the time of my initial burning)

c) Is this because I have too slow of a setup?

d) Are external burners inherently slower than internal ones because of the USB 2.0/Firewire interface?

Thanks for your help. :iagree:

Internal is the fastest, firewire is a close second, and usb is mixed, depending partially on the chipset and drivers. Your USB results are actually not far from normal for USB. Some chipsets give better results than others. If speed is an issue, better look at firewire or internal.

Welcome to forum drcy. :slight_smile:

Your laptop probably only supports USB-1 (~1.2MB/s) speed. You’ll have to add a PCMCIA to USB-2 card. :wink:

I have no knowledge about your enclosure or if it’s compatible with your DVDRW though. Visit the manufacturer for additional info.

As harley2ride says, the performance of USB2 is dependent on the supporting chipsets. However USB2 tends to hammer the processor a lot anyway, so if yours was doing something else with a higher priority, then things would slow down.

Thirty-four minutes does sound a bit of a long time though. I used to burn 8x +Rs on a Dell P4 (1.4 MHz) laptop via USB2 and it usually took the standard time - about 12-14 minutes. Why don’t you try burning at 8x: it might be quicker.

Just a few checks:

  1. Do you have DMA access to the drive enabled in the Windows -> System -> Hardware -> Device Manager ->IDE channel options?

  2. What was happening with the computer and device buffers of the burning application when the actual burning was going on? Were they visually emptying faster than the HDD could fill them?

  3. What is the burning application, btw?

Thanks for the help so far.

Internal is the fastest, firewire is a close second, and usb is mixed, depending partially on the chipset and drivers. Your USB results are actually not far from normal for USB.

It’s to my understanding that internal is the fastest but USB 2.0 has a transfer rate of 480 Mbps while Firewire is about the same as USB 2.0.

Your laptop probably only supports USB-1 (~1.2MB/s) speed. You’ll have to add a PCMCIA to USB-2 card.
I have no knowledge about your enclosure or if it’s compatible with your DVDRW though.

I have a USB 2.0 PCMCIA card installed. And the Bytecc enclosure is compatible with the DVD burner.

As harley2ride says, the performance of USB2 is dependent on the supporting chipsets. However USB2 tends to hammer the processor a lot anyway, so if yours was doing something else with a higher priority, then things would slow down.

  1. Do you have DMA access to the drive enabled in the Windows -> System -> Hardware -> Device Manager ->IDE channel options?

Yeah, I am using Nero 6.6 OEM and it was the only program running at the time. Maybe it is my chipset…I’ll try it using 8x. How would I enable teh DMA access to the drive? I remember seeing that it was not enabled for the burner. Thanks for the tip.

Strange things happen with external enclosures when you exceed the maximum speed they can transfer data at.

My DW1655 in an external USB2 and Firewire case will hit 12.2x speed BUT if it trys to go past faster than that the transfer rate starts a quick downward spiral till it reaches the end of the disc. If I limit burning speed to 12x then it will burn at 12x upto the end of the disc.

An example of my firewire and USB (in that order) Speed tests on a DVD+R disc are here (http://club.cdfreaks.com/showthread.php?t=161637)

Well, I think I found the culprit. I began another data DVD backup and I asked the program to do a speed/transfer test to determine how fast it could write and I indicated that I wanted it to burn at 12x but after doing its’ test, Nero told me that I am limited to 4x speed (5,540 KB/s) because the “speed of source data is too slow.”

So is there anyway I can speed up this ‘source data’? Do I need more RAM? Or do I just need a new computer :doh: Do you guys think I should flash the chipset BIOS to the latest and try again? Thanks for all your help.

You should use FireWire instead of USB if that is possible.

I also use a laptop with an external burner - but as stated above I use firewire. I also only ever using my external hard drive (also on firewire) to burn the source data from. I can burn at x16 with absolutely no problems.

Go to http://www.simplisoftware.com/Public/index.php and download HD Tach - this will give you the transfer rates of your hard drive.

My external drive gives me an average read rate of 35.7 MB/s with a burst read of 87.9 MB/s -

Thanks…maybe I’ll pick up a Firewire PCI card then…

Your problem could easily be the chipset so before you make any big outlays, you need to see what your chip says. Open the case and look at the top of the chip.

If you have a Prolific 3507, you are in business; go to firewire. If not, you could still be limited to 8X or less.

I also think your processor is slowing your burn down, a P3 900 MHz is quite slower than the newer ones available today. Make sure you have limited startup programs to only essential ones to have the maximum available resources when burning. Assuming you have XP, the 256 ram you have is basically the minimum XP should be run at that’s why it’s important to have as much free memory as possible.

Also Chas0039 may have brought up a vert valid point regarding the chipset on your external enclosure. There were some threads I read a while back that some had compatibiity issue with the mobo’s, sorry, I can’t recall what chips sets and motherboards though.

Hmm, I’ll take a look at my chipset…thx. I was thinking of upgrading to 512 mb RAM anyway so maybe this will push me to get it faster.

Your problem could easily be the chipset so before you make any big outlays, you need to see what your chip says. Open the case and look at the top of the chip.

If you have a Prolific 3507 05034C, you are in business; go to firewire. If not, you could still be limited to 8X or less

My chipset on the external is PL-3507 and I assume that stands for Prolific 3507 so I guess that’s a good thing.

Go to http://www.simplisoftware.com/Public/index.php and download HD Tach - this will give you the transfer rates of your hard drive.

Um, how does this software allow me to attain transfer rates of a hard drive? Just wondering but I’ll give that a go as well.

Thx for all the great help and tips :). I removed my USB 2.0 PCI card and then re-inserted it again after a complete cold boot and it now writes at close to 8X. Technically, what is the fastest USB 2.0 can write at? 16x? 12x? 8x? Or am I just limited because of my slow set-up and lack of memory?

I’m glad you got it working. Probably it was only a USB driver conflict because I once experienced the same on my sons armada M700 not being able to burn above 1x when enclosure was connected to a NEC PCMCIA to USB2 card.

Looking at your specs, it’s safe to say anything above 8x burn speed will cause you buffer problems and slow-downs on burner.
But 8x is not shabby at all and you’ll probably get good burns if you use quality media like Yudens, Maxell, Verbatim.

Happy burning. :slight_smile:

From your relative success it sounds like it is getting DMA access, but might be worth checking (incidentally, by ‘drive’ I meant the burner and not the HDD; sorry). Here’s the full sequence of steps to look at the DMA setting: ‘Start’ -> Settings -> Control panel -> System -> Device Manager -> IDE channel -> right-click on Primary -> Properties -> Options tab.

If you want to see the actual writing speed and how it changes dynamically, then here’s a registry hack for Nero. Since this is a forum for inexperienced users, it should only to be attempted if you’re feeling confident, and the usual caveats of ‘definitely at your own risk’, apply.

Next time you burn, you’ll see the speed changing in real time. For a ZCLV burn (eg on +RW/-RW) it will accelerate in bursts, whereas for a CAV burn (+R/-R) the speed increases continuously up to the maximum.

Thanks Pinto2 and imkidd57. I’m actually satisfied with burning at 8x for now so if I’m limited to it because of my current configuration, that’s ok :p.

From your relative success it sounds like it is getting DMA access

The DMA access is enabled. And as for if I want to pursue the registry hack…hmm, I’m not confident enough to yet.

Hi drcy
Sorry this is maybe a bit late into the subject, but you referred that the “source” was slowing you down. I assume your source is the PC internal drive - have you checked the Max transfer rate for this one, and see how much it represents in terms of “recording speed”?

You have several variables in your set up, one being the PCMCIA. Do you know what it can do? Do you have any other device connected to it?
If you have another USB devices they will share the 480 mbs band, and if one is a USB 1 device it will do even worse.
Other aspect is the disc max speed, not just the nominal. Does your drive firmware recognize that particular disc?
So if you want Max speed and as you use a card adapter, you could go to firewire 800 but that would require you change enclosure - maybe to costly for the added gains.

Hi agomes,

Nah, it’s never too late for some more helpful info ;).

Sorry this is maybe a bit late into the subject, but you referred that the “source” was slowing you down. I assume your source is the PC internal drive - have you checked the Max transfer rate for this one, and see how much it represents in terms of “recording speed”?
If you have another USB devices they will share the 480 mbs band, and if one is a USB 1 device it will do even worse.

I think the “source” its referring to is the USB 2.0 PCMCIA interface being too slow. However, come to think of it, the source I was initially using to burn my DVD was my external hard drive that is USB 2.0 compliant and was plugged into my Iogear USB 2.0 PCMCIA card. My burner was plugged into the other open USB port and so maybe it was limited to 8X because I was using both USB 2.0 port at the same time. I’ll try burning without any other HD or peripherals using the other USB port and see what speeds I can attain.

Other aspect is the disc max speed, not just the nominal. Does your drive firmware recognize that particular disc?
So if you want Max speed and as you use a card adapter, you could go to firewire 800 but that would require you change enclosure - maybe to costly for the added gains

My NEC 3550A’s firmware is 1.05 which is the latest available from NEC. I don’t feel safe enough to use hacked firmware to flash my BIOS as that would invalidate my warranty. The Memorex (Ricoh) DVD+R media I was using is capable to being burned at 16x according to the Nero program I use.

Anyway, thanks for the additional info and tips.