Which 16x DVD writer should I buy? (NOV 2004 - OLD)

There seems to be a lot of threads asking this same question, or at least some variant of it (e.g., NEC 3500A vs. Pioneer 108?, LiteOn 1633S vs. NEC 3500A?, etc.). The old general threads about what drive to buy are outdated, as the market has changed with the arrival of 16x drives. Hence this new thread. In the interest of keeping things organized and not having everyone repeat what has been said over and over again, please use this thread instead of starting a new one. Thanks.

Also, to help you decide, it may be worthwhile to check out these links:
CD Freaks drive reviews: http://www.cdfreaks.com/article/search/B/
CDRLabs.com drive reviews: http://www.cdrlabs.com/reviews/
CD Freaks forums: BenQ, NEC, LiteOn, Pioneer, Plextor, LG

Also, please keep in mind that there is no single “ultimate” drive. Each drive has its strengths and weaknesses, and the best drive for you will depend on what your particular needs and priorities are.

Here’s a quick overview of the more popular drives… Once again, the best drive for YOU depends on your needs; weigh each category according to your own needs!! For example, if you don’t care about bitsetting or PI/PIF scanning, then weigh those categories accordingly.


  • DVD write quality: Good, with the latest firmware
  • Reading: Good, but there is a riplock (no hacked firmware to remove riplock exists yet)
  • Bitsetting: Yes
  • PI/PIF scanning: Yes
  • Misc: Good customer support/focus; official media overspeeding support (no need to use patched firmwares for overspeeding); the use of PCAV for 8x allows it to burn 8x discs very fast, good 12x and 16x speeds, too


  • DVD write quality: Good
  • Reading: Picky, though fast (because riplock can be removed with a hacked firmware)
  • Bitsetting: Yes (requires hacked firmware)
  • PI/PIF scanning: No
  • Misc: Very poor customer support/focus, though there is a strong die-hard community that makes up for it; media overspeeding is available through the use of hacked firmwares; the use of ZCLV for 8x makes it the slowest burner when burning at 8x (though its 12x and 16x speeds are up to par)


  • DVD write quality: Poor at 16x. Okay at 12x. Good at 8x or slower
  • Reading: Excellent and fast (if using a hacked firmware)
  • Bitsetting: Yes
  • PI/PIF scanning: Yes
  • Misc: One of the few DVD burners that excels at overcoming CD copy protections; strong community; hacked firmwares that allow for limited amounts of overspeeding; the use of PCAV for 8x allows it to burn 8x discs very fast, conservative 12x is a bit on the slow side, decent 16x speeds


  • DVD write quality: Good
  • Reading: Good and fast (if using a hacked firmware)
  • Bitsetting: No
  • PI/PIF scanning: Yes
  • Misc: Strong community support (at rpc1.org)… >NIL:'s hacked firmwares allow for overspeeding; the A08/108’s has gotten poor press about its ZCLV use (not just for 8x) and its 16x burn speed, which is slower than its 12x burn speed (effectively making the A08/108 more of a 12x burner than a 16x burner)


  • DVD write quality: Good (and fast, esp. with the latest model!)
  • Reading: Good, but there is a riplock (no hacked firmware to remove riplock exists yet)
  • Bitsetting: No
  • PI/PIF scanning: No
  • Misc: Good customer support; no hacked firmwares for media overspeeding; DVD write speed can be quite good, depending on which model it is; newer models seem to do quite nicely in the 8x/12x/16x speed department… supports DVD-RAM

(P.S.: My personal vote goes to BenQ (and Philips b/c Philips drives are just rebranded BenQs) because of BenQ’s unrivaled +R quality, esp. when overspeeding +R discs (BenQ in unique in that it officially supports burning many low-speed media at higher speeds). And if you live in an area of the world where +R costs about the same as -R–and thus there’s no reason to use the technically inferior -R format–there’s no need to worry about BenQ’s -R quality. Plus, BenQ has disc quality scanning and uses CAV/PCAV so it’s fast.)

We all know that NEC is the best. Benq lovers are a bunch of weenies. :stuck_out_tongue:

But seriously, NEC beats tha pants off Benq on -R, but does have issues with +/-RW media. The differences in burn quality between Benq and NEC on +R are not significant if speed is not a factor. Just use the right media and either will be flawless and fast.

LiteOn, unfortunately, is not even in the running. And Plextor has seriously declined in burn quality.


Do the BenQ’s have bit setting?


Yes. In fact, IIRC, they were the first company to offer it.

If it isn’t painfully obvious.
I’m a DVD/RW n00b with most of my knowledge gleaned from the CDFreaks, Anand and Toms reviews.
Most of which was to technical for me.

I’m looking for the most stupid proof solution I can get.
To back up my DVD’s and store all the stuff I DL from the net.
Demo’s, trailers, patches, etc.
Pure data storage.
Speed isn’t much of an issue, neither is DL.

Media compatibality is.
I’d like to be able to use easily obtainable and not too expensive media.
Prolly of the + format.

Getting it to play in my stand alone player is.

The MFG says it will play +R/RW if burned at a constant bit rate.

And I want bit setting so it will be able to be read in my old Liteon 163 DVD drive.

Also this purchase will have to last me for 2 or more years.
Like my old and reliable liteon 16102B has :stuck_out_tongue:


The Benq just has the edge on +R, and its fast. But for me it was a real pain to get it working properly.
The NEC miles better with -R, add the good 3rd party support for the NEC with unofficial firmware.

Its tough to call :slight_smile: they are both excellent drives.
NEC gets my vote because i think its the best all round drive.

“We all” defined as “me, myself and I”. :stuck_out_tongue:

Weenies who get “fast and quality” burns… :cool:
Bitsetting out of the box.
Unparalleled “overspeed” media support.
Actual firmware updates by BenQ.

Pants are on and holding up nicely:slight_smile:

But speed is a factor not just a spec on the box…
That’s why we buy them, to go “fast”… :wink:

On this we can agree… :slight_smile:

WEENIE, WEENIE, WEENIE… :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue:

I smell voter fraud, those Benq guys are voting more than once. :frowning:

When you own a BenQ you always have NEC aiming at your back…
Dustsuckers… :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue:

How’s that new official firmware working for ya?
Oh, that’s right! You don’t have one yet… :eek:

How’s that new official firmware working for ya?

Um, well NEC gets it right the first time, doesn’t really need an update. :stuck_out_tongue:

Looks like we need a Benq vs NEC burn quality shootout thread. We’ll start with stock firnware and -R media. :wink: Ritek G04 at 30 paces. :iagree: I’d get a Benq just for fun, if I didn’t already have too many burners lying around. It could replace this POS Nu drive that is collecting dust.

But I agree that if one needs bitsetting right out of the box, Benq is the way to go.

Standard pablum when given no choice… :o

Since I have no G04 we will have to ante up with:
YUDEN000 T01 @ 12x :wink:

The truth comes out!
A crack in the armor? :stuck_out_tongue:


Although I voted for BenQ, as the LiteOn forum mod, I guess I should probably defend the Litey a bit. :wink: It does have its advantages; it’s a fine reader, an excellent +R burner when used at 8x, and it’s still one of the few DVD writers that can handle CD copy protection, which may be important for people who don’t have a separate CD drive that they use to handle game copy protections. And there is the hope that minor hardware revisions to both the chipset and the laser in the new 1653S would help (so far, the only 1653S tests have been drives overclocked to the 1653S using an early immature firmware, so I dunno if it’s okay to pass judgment so quickly). And of course, there are the peripheral advantages, like disc quality scanning (which the BenQ also has, but the NEC doesn’t) and the ability to make the drive region-free (which the NEC also has, but the BenQ doesn’t).

Back in the 8x days, the first generation of 8x writers were terrible (the 811S), but the second generation (812S/832S) redeemed themselves. I wonder if this is going to be the same with the LiteOn 16x burners.

pchilson, here’s a YUDEN000T01@12x (T02 strat) with the good ol’ BS01 firmware: link
(though the fact that the BenQ can do perform the same feat but without third-party tools like OmniPatcher is why my vote went there instead)

Ever hopefull, the die hard LiteOn fan murmers the well-worn mantra: “Wait till the next model comes out.” But they keep getting lamer and lamer with each new model. Actually, my 1213@1633 gets more use than any of the others, but ONLY as a ripper and scanner.

Having multiple drives for different uses is the only sane way to approach this dilemma. And it’s WAY more fun. :wink:

Ahem, if I was so die-hard, I would’ve voted for LiteOn instead of BenQ. :stuck_out_tongue:

And I don’t think that they get “lamer and lamer” with each new model. The pattern is actually kinda wave-like. The 1S was bad. The 2S was actually quite good. The 12x 3S was horrible. The 16x 3S is much better compared to the 12x, but still somewhat disappointing.

…Actually, now that I think about it… compared to the old 2S series, the 3S series is actually better at 8x. It’s only the new stuff (12x/16x speeds) where the drive has some issues. So I guess if you look at it that way, you could say that the Liteys are indeed getting better with each revision.

You are factual in all your statements.
I have a loyalty to my 812s (sometimes 832s - CGB*) as this has been a very good and consistent drive for burning +R media for me. It hasn’t excelled on -R but I don’t get caught up in the +/- wars. Burn what works for your drive…

My disenchantment with LiteOn came with the purchase of the TDK 1280. :eek:
The 3s drives have yet to bring high quality to DVD burning at higher speeds than 8x.

Nice burn on the TY01!

Loyal Lite-On user here, voted for NEC. I’m getting good service out of my 812S@832S, using the CG3E FW, but media availability here is limited, so I’m forced to use crappy CMC.MAG 2X -R discs right now. Can’t overspeed them to 4X, and all my RicohJPNR01 supplies have run out :cry: So, these crappy discs give me ~110PI avg, and I have to wait 30 minutes for a complete burn :eek:
But I burned these on an NEC3500, beautifully low error rates, worked just fine. I’m impressed… now only if NEC releases those drives here…

I voted for the BenQ. I purchased the 1620 today. Before buying it, I spent about a week or two reading over reviews and the posts here at CDFreaks. I had it down to the Pioneer 108 and the NEC 3500. Then, I read a post by OC-Freak and read his review of the BenQ 1620, and I decided to take it instead. I bought it for 84 CDN (NEC and Pioneer are 100).

Thanks to everyone for the answers to my questions (especially OC-Freak).


don’t buy the lite-on sohw 802S; it is a piece of crap. Mine records fine until the end of the movie, and then it acts up. So, I have to check every disk and fast forward the last 20 or 30 minutes to see if itworked. It is not even burning 1 good disk out of 2. I use sonic and nero; same result with either of them.

Okay. What does this have to do with 16x writers?

I’m the only who voted for LG, but either 4120@4160 or 4163, not 4160. :slight_smile:

Right now, Toshiba SD-R5372 (TS-H552A) is the fastest. LG GSA-4163B the next. The third is Plextor PX-716A with 1.01 firmware. BenQ and NEC are probably the slowest §CAV DVD writers. Even slower is Pioneer DVR-A08, thanks to its Z-CLV burning. I didn’t vote for Toshiba though because I haven’t seen Toshiba or Samsung seriously updating firmware to match more media for higher speeds that result in better writing quality. They don’t even support bitsetting. Both could change soon but that’s what they are for now. Fastest DL burner is also Toshiba SD-R5372 and TS-H552A, but there will soon be 6x DVD+R DL burner and then 8x DVD+R DL will become mainstream. Two models offer 8x DVD+RW, LG and Plextor.

Plextor is the most expensive. The only one perhaps that costs over US$100 per unit. Lite-On and BenQ are cheapest. Samsung and LG, usually somewhere between Chinese-Taiwanese and Japanese. NEC drives are cheap these days but not all markets sell NEC drives at competitive prices and even in the US, only NEC OEM drives were available before. I’m sure NEC will do even better with their HD-DVD drives.

Pioneer has A09 almost ready but I have no idea whether it will perform better than 716A or 4163B or 552A. Since everyone else is introducing faster DL and faster +RW, NEC will probably also introduce something after ND-3500A this time. Though NEC was satisfied with 1100/1300 for 4x market and 2100/2500 for 8x market, there’s nothing after 16x so most consumers will look at the numbers for DL, +RW, -RAM, CD-R, CD-RW, and so on.

The best thing I can recommend is to have one for each purpose. Get PX-716A for 17x and PlexTools. Get GSA-4163B for 5x DVD-RAM and P-CAV at 16x. Get Pioneer DVR-A09 for DVD-R DL. Get Lite-On SOHW-1653S (or something after 1653S) for K-Probe and OmniPatcher. Get TS-H552A for 5x DVD+R DL and the shortest writing time for 4.7GB. Get ND-3500A for Herrie. Get DW1620 for maximum flexibility. Get DRU-710A to match other SonyStyle products you have.