Round vs flat IDE cables and media burning: Your views?

I decided to start this thread because I’m at a loss regarding the type of cable that is best for media burning. Right now I am using the default IDE cables that came with my brand new Lanparty board (full specs on my signature field below). These cables are not real round ones, they are normal flat ribbon cables folded into light-reactive plastic, and to me they just look cheap and gimmicky. DFI boards are not cheap, so I was expecting DFI to ship better quality cables with them…

I understand the airflow advantages when using round cables, but I’m not sure whether folding ribbon cables in plastic to make them look rounded is a good idea to start with. There have been users who have reported higher PIF and PIE counts when round cables are used (and this includes high quality, shielded round cables!). Some users online think that high quality flat ribbon cables is the only way to go in order to minimize data loss… Other users recommended RD3XP Gladiator cables as some of the best, but those are not available in Europe, the only way is to order them from Taiwan and have them shipped over (something that I’d do only as a last resort).

I’ve paid top money and spent many days setting up and fine-tuning a fast, up-to-date rig, so I’d be ironic if the quality of my cables impairs the performance of my system or the quality of my burns. Right now I’m tempted to go to my local computer superstore and buy the best quality Belkin cables available. Anyone tested those? Please post your views on the subjest. Thanks in advance for any replies.

Hi :slight_smile:
I wonder if there’s an answer to this. I’ve experiemented with flat & round.
In short a cheap round is worse than a cheap flat. However when looking at good flat v good round it’s not so clear. With flat I’ve been able to lay them flat against the back of my tower, even had them run under motherboard. This means virtually no obstruction to airflow. Round in confined spaces can be a pain & end up in a central position that does reduce airflow albeit marginal. In terms of performance it’s not that clear either. When upgrading or system building for friends. Sometimes a top performer in the past in the round format is beaten by cable supplied (flat) by motherboard manufacturer, again this will be minimal. More often than not though supplied cables are easily upgraded by almost any alternative. My conclusion is that any really good round cable will cost significantly more than a good flat one. About 9 times out of 10 the round will out perform flat, but in small cases where round cable are having to be forced into confined spaces there can be problems. Because of demand by the consumer, manufacturers are making throw away flat cables & the round quite often are all show, with little go. So trial & error I believe at the end of the day.

In terms of what is physically possible and no possible, the type of cable you use can have no impact on burn quality. Likewise, it can have no impact on error scans directly. Further more, there’s nothing in the way of system hardware, or software for that matter, that has any direct impact on burn quality at all. Burn quality, and error scanning, are things that take place in the optical drive itself. Short of something like horrendously high RFI or EMI in the computer, there’s nothing that can impact this, and no evidence of such things ever having occurred.

It is possible for an IDE cable to introduce erronious information in the datastream from a drive which could result in a weird looking error scan, but again this is erroneous data and does not reflect “actual errors” resulting from the reading of the disc. Usually such a scan would be expected to look like a “comb” type graph of regularly occurring error spikes.

I’ve used round cables for years, mainly because they come with the lengths and connector spread I usually need. A good quality cable of either type should be trouble free and cannot “impair performance” .

There is nothing wrong with flat cables, other than appearance and potential air circulation impairment. The 80 wire flat cable, (40 + interspersed grounds) sets the standard for capacitance and crosstalk.

Tightly bunching a flat cable (the cheap way to do a round) may increase capacitance and crosstalk, though it would have to be very tightly packed before causing significant degradation.

I have four systems some running flat cables and some running round cables. and have never noticed a difference between them. BUT… I dont use cheapo round cables either, I use sheilded vantec cables. a friend of mine who buys the 1.99 colored round cables has had all kinds of problems with them. so my 2 cents is round are fine as long as you stick with quality cables.

oh yeah, also I only use standard length cables ( 18" maximum)

I’ve used before round cables and hadn’t any problems at all. But for now i use the flat ones. Quality is personally for me here the most important point.

IDE bus signaling includes CRC-32 error detection and retransmission of data, as necessary, similar to error detection in Ethernet protocols. What it means in practical terms, is:

  1. It’s very, very unlikely that errors introduced in a bad cable will ever get through; they’ll just slow things down a little (or a lot, in extreme cases).
  2. If errors do get through, you will experience file corruption, filesystem corruption, program crashes, and other nasty effects that will interfere with your general enjoyment of hardware long, long before you ever get to see additional PIEs in quality scans.
  3. If you do have a bum cable, you will notice slow data transfer rates when you do simple benchmarks, such as burst rate tests.

Here’s a decent article from 2001 that talks about IDE cables and their limitations: Fancy IDE leads - The Terrible Truth

I have purchase a few cables from and they were not expensive; all have worked just fine.

Good post. :wink:
I think it was OCFreak once showed me some scans he got on a bad IDE cable. They looked like saw-toothed nonsense. There weren’t any other symptoms on the system at the time, but the bizarre look of the scans prompted him to replace the cable and it “fixed” it. I was probably some kind of wierd EMI.

Thank you all for the great feedback. Although I have no indication that the bundled DFI cables are problematic or slow things down, I still think it’s worth it to shop around for a couple of decent shielded cables. The DFI ones look corny too, I don’t like all this light-reactive gimmicky stuff…

Tomorrow I’ll be getting my brand new 1650, can’t wait to run some overburning tests :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

Sorry for the major bumpage (search function, eh?), but reading through the ‘Fancy IDE leads - The Terrible Truth’ link, is the conclusion that 18" round cables are OK or that you’re better off with 18" flats?

I’m finding it hard to determine that if you’re at 18", whether there is a difference between rounded and flat.