Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Conclusion

Three Generations Compared: Is Your DVD Burner Outdated?
By

A brand new 24x DVD burner doesn’t cost more than $40 and will probably be closer to $30. We decided to compare different DVD burner generations from NEC/Sony to find out whether or not it makes sense to replace an existing drive. In theory, there are significant advantages, such as much decreased recording times, new disc labeling technologies, slightly decreased power consumption, and SATA (rather than PATA) interfaces. However, the differences in real life require consideration.

It’s certainly possible to record single layer discs at 24x. Unfortunately, true 24x media is difficult to get; hence, we had to use 16x, hand-selected, high-quality recordable media from Verbatim (Taiyo Yuden) to run our tests at that speed. It worked well, but I wouldn’t put my life on its long-term durability.

The write speed issue was even more significant in the case of double-layer discs, where the recording time is much longer than with single-layer discs. Although the latest Sony Optiarc drive is capable of writing DL discs at 12x, we weren’t able to get the appropriate discs and had to stay at 8x recording speed. But since even the old 16x drive can record double-layer discs at 8x, there’s little real life value in the 12x recording specs of the latest DVD burner generation.

Finally, there are the labeling technologies called Labelflash or LightScribe. Both require compatible media, which you can turn over to have your DVD recording software burn images into the label side. This makes sense for important or valuable discs. But the technologies aren’t compatible, which means that you have to settle on one of them and purchase compatible media. Note that these discs typically aren’t available for top recording speeds.

The only case in which a new DVD drive makes a real difference is single-layer DVD recording. If you have to write DVDs multiple times a day, then it makes sense to spend $30 on a new drive. We’d also recommend recycling existing DVD burners when you plan to upgrade your PC. A $30 to $40 cost isn’t much when buried in the price of a new system, and the new drive will ensure maximum performance, lower power consumption, and come with the convenient SATA interface.

Ask a Category Expert

Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

Display all 65 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 21 Hide
    lashabane , October 30, 2009 7:44 AM
    Thanks for doing all the research on this. I've always figured that the DVD drives are good for at least a few upgrades but it's nice to have solid data.

    LightScribe, etc is nice and all that but not worth the $30-40 for just that feature; a sharpie works well enough for me.

    Shaving a couple minutes off a full DVD burn also doesn't justify the extra expenditure, at least for me.
  • 16 Hide
    JimmiG , October 30, 2009 7:23 AM
    I'm finding DVD writers less and less useful. The discs simply don't hold enough data. My backups (on a second hard drive) currently take over 450GB compressed. That would require over 100 DVD's which would cost almost as much as a hard drive of the same capacity. For file transfers using the network, usb drives or even online storage are more convenient... I'd need discs that hold 50-100GB for it to be useful...
Other Comments
  • 1 Hide
    apache_lives , October 30, 2009 6:38 AM
    Since i burn most of my stuff at a max of 8x (usually 4x anyhow) im still using two old faithfull LG H10N's which have never let me down - dont see a reason to upgrade unless i get a new rig, then ill buy SATA etc but untill then there fine - pointless upgrading.
  • -7 Hide
    johnbilicki , October 30, 2009 7:01 AM
    DVD burner + 50 pack of dual-layer DVD's: under $100.

    12X Blu-ray burner? $82,000
    http://img251.imageshack.us/img251/3752/sonysucks.png

    Sony suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks!
  • 16 Hide
    JimmiG , October 30, 2009 7:23 AM
    I'm finding DVD writers less and less useful. The discs simply don't hold enough data. My backups (on a second hard drive) currently take over 450GB compressed. That would require over 100 DVD's which would cost almost as much as a hard drive of the same capacity. For file transfers using the network, usb drives or even online storage are more convenient... I'd need discs that hold 50-100GB for it to be useful...
  • 21 Hide
    lashabane , October 30, 2009 7:44 AM
    Thanks for doing all the research on this. I've always figured that the DVD drives are good for at least a few upgrades but it's nice to have solid data.

    LightScribe, etc is nice and all that but not worth the $30-40 for just that feature; a sharpie works well enough for me.

    Shaving a couple minutes off a full DVD burn also doesn't justify the extra expenditure, at least for me.
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , October 30, 2009 7:48 AM
    I am considering such an upgrade - for yet another reason:

    The optical drive is the last drive in my system that uses the PATA interface, and on the mobo it's an option rom. Which blanks the screen during startup to display it's own message and pauses startup for a second.

    I will upgrade just for the quicker startup when I disable the PATA interface.

    - Bertus.
  • 0 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , October 30, 2009 8:07 AM
    Interesting to see such an article really. But honestly I never use my dvd drive! It isn't even connnected. Only do so when I need to reinstall windows, which is a rare thing.
  • 1 Hide
    abbadon_34 , October 30, 2009 9:01 AM
    As a movie buff I've burned over 2000 DVD5's over the last 5 years. DVD9's - 200 BUT DVD9's the WORKED 50. I wish rewriteable dual layer would come out, and RELIABLE double layer would come down in price.

    P.S. 90% of the DVD's are inkjet hub printable, and I'm only on my second Epson R200 but well over 200 generic ink cartridges.

    After all that , I still find myself burning 8x single layer DVD-R Verbatim for cost and quality. Gone through 8 or 9 dvd burners, 5 pioneers, one each nec , benq, liteon, LG, and sony.
  • 2 Hide
    jitpublisher , October 30, 2009 9:11 AM
    DVD burner? Not exactly my top priority. You need the drive, but I have actually only burnt about 10 DVD's in my life. Some people I guess will go nuts over burning movie DVDs. I know people who used to do the same thing with VHS tapes. In the end, you have a thousand DVDS, Tapes or whatever that you will never watch. I have a closet full of them that I have bought over the years. All they do is take up room, I can't remember the last time I actually took 1 out and watched it. It has literally been years.
  • 0 Hide
    elasticman , October 30, 2009 9:29 AM
    in any case burners usually have a life span of 2 years.
    sometimes 3,so you have to replace them all the time anyways (they usually only have 2 years of warranty)
  • 0 Hide
    radnor , October 30, 2009 9:34 AM
    well, i rarely use my ODD anyway. I rarely read anything or write anything. Unfortunely due to price, lack of versatility and slow/little improvements they are now in the way of the dodo.

    Blue ray has more space, but the price is just too big. Flash is here to stay, and has evolved fast enough to overpace them. Good article none the less.
  • -2 Hide
    Ryun , October 30, 2009 9:42 AM
    Any reason why you'd want a SATA drive over a PATA? The only benefit I can see with the former is that PATA will probably die eventually making a SATA drive potentially longer lasting. In my eyes that doesn't seem like it's coming very quickly; even high end motherboards still come with IDE ports. Personally, I'd rather my DVD drive be IDE just because I'd rather save my SATA ports for things that actually need the bandwidth. I guess it's all just about preference then?

    Anyway interesting article, you guys at toms have been on your game in the past couple months.
  • 1 Hide
    kikireeki , October 30, 2009 9:48 AM
    The real problem is whether the DVD disk will stand this speed or fail.
    I found it quite hard to maintain quality burns above 12x even using Sony dvds, thats why I stick with the reliable 8x
  • -7 Hide
    anamaniac , October 30, 2009 10:26 AM
    I only bought a new drive because I wanted SATA only cables in my system... that big ass piece of wiring was too messy for me...

    Though, if you don't have too, reuse your old drives. Having multiple drives is very convenient.
    If I didn't hate the old ribbon so much (makes cable management a pain), I'd have 3 drives in my system right now...

    Wish SATA cables were also powered... having 5 HDDs and 1 DVD drive is a lot of cables, a single cable setup would remove 5 cables, making shit so much easier...

    Fuck Blu-Ray.
    I wanted HD-DVD...
  • 0 Hide
    cookoy , October 30, 2009 12:07 PM
    i usually burn at one or two steps below the maximum speed (40x for CDs and 12x for DVDs) - for added reliability. Just from experience, no real scientific basis. So i'm not particularly interested in faster write speeds. And i always set the verify disk after disk creation option on. So to write a DVD it may take me around 10 minutes. Don't mind though as i multitask and do other things instead of just sitting idly waiting, waiting, and cursing, and waiting...
  • 1 Hide
    ytoledano , October 30, 2009 12:17 PM
    Why underclock your test machine?
  • -1 Hide
    thackstonns , October 30, 2009 1:37 PM
    I bought an external usb dvd drive. That way I never have to reach down and touch my pc, unless I am tearing it apart.
  • -1 Hide
    JonathanDeane , October 30, 2009 2:20 PM
    I have a Sata DVD Burner and I use it often but as of late I find myself burning more CD's then DVD's. Most Linux ISO's are CD based and thats what I do (I could put multiple ISO's on a DVD but thats more pain then its worth)

    I think mine is one of those 24X models but this article is correct about media speeds. I still have some 4X disks that I am trying to use up lol The fastest DVD disks I have are 12X.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , October 30, 2009 2:22 PM
    I wonder why DVD drives break so easily after recording about 100DVD's...
    I remember the first Audio CD players released in home stereo systems still function fine today!
  • 0 Hide
    RADIO_ACTIVE , October 30, 2009 2:25 PM
    JimmiGI'm finding DVD writers less and less useful. The discs simply don't hold enough data. My backups (on a second hard drive) currently take over 450GB compressed. That would require over 100 DVD's which would cost almost as much as a hard drive of the same capacity. For file transfers using the network, usb drives or even online storage are more convenient... I'd need discs that hold 50-100GB for it to be useful...
    I totally agree, I can't even remember the last time I used mine LOL. I buy all of my games through steam and music/movies online.
  • -2 Hide
    intelliclint , October 30, 2009 2:26 PM
    One thing to keep in mind with any removable media drive is that they are ATA-PI (Packet Inferface) meaning that the commands for the drive are sent in a packet. The packet needs two reads/writes instead of the one that a ATA device would need. So a drive plugged into a IDE-33 only gets half that for a ATA-PI device. SATA is all packets and the commands can be sent using the few extra bytes that are needed instead of effective reducing the bandwisth in half for commands.
Display more comments