We did not expect to use the W0404A from Gigabyte for this test, because the other big manufacturers from Taiwan, Asus and MSI, are still taking their time. But the early bird catches the worm, as the saying goes.
The W0404A is a multi-mode burner that is based on +R technology but has also learned how to handle minus discs.
The technical data sound like those of the competitors: Writing of DVD+R and DVD-R at 4x, +RW and -RW at 2x. Although the information on the Gigabyte website is confusing - DVD+RW is listed at 4x and DVD-RW is not even mentioned - it does support both formats in 2x.
At 28 minutes, the write process onto a DVD+RW lasted about five minutes longer than with its competitors, because a 2.4x is rather more usual than a 2.0x with DVD+RW.
The Gigabyte burner took less than 21 minutes to rip the scratched 5th Element DVD, making it the second fastest after the device from LG. This good result was repeated with the Cast Away DVD with two layers. Only in the case of the Pink Panther did most of the competitors rip marginally faster. Last but not least, the Gigabyte burner also handled reading our home-burned test discs at a high speed and without error.
In CD speeds, however, Gigabyte was well to the fore: All burners support 40x CD speed during the read process, but the W0404A also writes at this high speed. It took less than three minutes in the test for our 646 MB test image - a very good rate that ultimately renders a separate CD burner unnecessary, because even CD-RWs can be burned at 24x. The CD performance got high marks in all respects. The benchmark section offers more information. The competitors make do with 10x or 16x (LG).
When it comes to extracting digital audio data, Gigabyte is only average. With less than four minutes, Gigabyte cut a better figure when ripping an SVCD, where it was one of the top three. The Gigabyte burner was about average with respect to the detection time of regular DVDs. It detects CDs considerably faster, even if not as quickly as a good CD-ROM drive.
However, Gigabyte still seems to have a few compatibility problems with video DVDs, because the DVD+R that we burned ourselves was not detected in the DVD players from Cyberhome, Redstar, Toshiba and Yamakawa. Things look better with DVD-R, although the player from NorthQ refused to play it back.