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My Plextor Premium Review

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My Plextor Premium Review

Postby aviationwiz on Tue Jul 08, 2003 12:51 am

The newest drive from Plextor, the Premium, is aimed at business users seeking the best quality burns and the most features. This drive reads and writes at 52x and re-writes at 32x, the fastest I have ever seen a drive rewrite at. The new drive also sports some more features such as PoweRec and GigaRec. Read on, for our review of this amazing drive.

In The Box Comes:
The Drive (52x32x52)
A Manual
A Quick Reference Guide
A Software CD
A Verbatim Super Azo Data Life Plus 52x CD-R
An IDE Cable
A bag of screws, jumpers, and an emergency eject tool


My drive was manufactured in April 2003. For this review, I will be using the firmware version 1.0; there is a 1.1 available now.

This drive has an 8MB Buffer and can write at the following speeds in the following modes.

52x (CAV)
40x (P-CAV)
32x (P-CAV)
24x (P-CAV)
20x (CLV)
16x (CLV)
8x (CLV)
4x (CLV)

It can re-write at the following speeds.

32x (P-CAV)
24x (P-CAV)
10x (CLV)
4x (CLV)

Now for the features it offers.

PoweRec= Plextor Optimized Writing Error Reduction Control

This allows for you to burn at the highest speed while retaining the highest quality burn. This is enabled by default. It can be disabled in the PlexTools Pro Software.


VariRec=Variable Recording

This allows you to reduce jitter when burning Audio and Data. This would come in handy mostly when burning Audio. You can chose either 8x or 4x recording speeds when using this feature. There is even an option on there for what type of dye your disk has.

Image

GigaRec

The new GigaRec feature allows you to put up to one gigabyte on a standard 700MB disk. When you use GigaRec, you must use 4x, it also disables buffer under-run protection. The below screenshot of the GigaRec settings area is with a 700MB Fuji (Taiyo Yuden) 48x disk in the drive.

Image

SecuRec

This is Secure Recording. It makes it so that before you can see the contents of the disk, you must type in your password. This feature is definetly aimed at the business user who is burning sensitive data.

Image

SilentMode

If you have ultra quiet fans in your computer and you don’t want the drive to add any noise. Use this feature. It allows you to limit the reading and writing speeds so that it produces less noise. You can also change the tray loading and ejecting speeds as well as the access time. I will not be able to test this feature as I have three 48.8 dBA fans in my test system.

PlexTools Pro Software

I consider the PlexTools Pro Software a huge feature! The biggest one is Q-Check, you will see more of this later in the review.





Installation as always is simple. Just follow the instructions in the manual and you will be fine. The software installation is simple, just select the software you want to install after the auto-run feature comes up. Then install the software.

Now on to the part of the review you have wanted to see! Performance!

For my tests, I will be using Nero CD Speed and the PlexTools Pro Program.

First, I will be doing Read Tests, I will do tests with Speed Read on and off.

The Test Disk I will be using is the software disk that came with the drive.

Speed Read Off
Image

Speed Read On
Image

As you can see, with speed read off, the drive performs just as it should. With speed read on however, the disk only gets to 47x, it should get to 52x.

Now for the write tests, I will be using Fuji 48x CD-R’s for this test. They are manufactured by Taiyo Yuden.

Image

As you can see, this drive is no problems at all reaching the 52x write speed.

Next I will tell you the actual writing times it takes to write 650MB of data for each type of media that I have. These times will be actual burning times, including Lead-In and Lead-Out.

Image



This drive is a little picky when it comes to media. Now, to show you the quality of the burns that this drive gives, which is what it was burned for, here are the results from the Q-Check C1/C2 Checker.

Image


These are all very good results. No C2 Errors at all is great. I received the best results on the Verbatim 48x and the TDK 48x. The Verbatim disks are real good with this drive. The TDK disks are only good because it was burned at a slow speed, 32x.










Now I’ll test out VariRec, and we’ll see if it actually makes a difference. I will burn Paul McCartney Back in the World CD1 for my test. The CD is 70 minutes long. I will burn it at 40x with VariRec disabled, and 4x with VariRec Enabled.


40x VariRec Disabled
Image

4x VariRec Enabled
Image


As you can see, the Jitter Levels are much lower when using VariRec, the Beta line is also more even. This is good; it means that none of it is over or under pronounced making for great quality throughout the disk.


Performance Summary:


Well to sum it up, this drive is excellent. It has trouble reaching its rated read speed with Speed Read On. The writing speed and quality is excellent. The VariRec feature is amazing. I used the GigaRec feature to burn a CD and it was excellent. While the speed was limited to 4x, the drive did indeed write the 1 Gigabyte it is told to write. I also tested that disk in my Lite-On LTD-163D DVD-ROM drive and the disk read perfectly. It just took a little while than longer to detect the CD.

Conclusion:

This is an excellent drive. It comes with great features and it writes at a high speed. Lately with CD Writers, all we have seen is speed increases, with this drive; Plextor includes excellent features to keep you using this drive for a long time. The Premium performed just as I expected it to. While its reading is not too good, and I took off half a banana for that, the writing part of it is excellent. I just recommend you get another Reader, perhaps a DVD-ROM Drive. The drive costs 130 United States Dollars and this drive is well worth that price tag.

Product Pros:

High Speed 52x Writer
First Drive to write at 32x Rewritable
Comes with excellent features like, PoweRec, GigaRec, VariRec, SecuRec, Silent Mode and Q-Check
Sports an 8MB Buffer

Product Cons:

Reading only goes to 48x
Last edited by aviationwiz on Tue May 25, 2004 10:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby tazdevl on Tue Jul 08, 2003 1:34 am

Nice job.

Don't forget that the compressed discs can't be read by other burners.
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Postby aviationwiz on Tue Jul 08, 2003 1:51 am

The GigaRec disks I burned were readable in all my DVD Drives. It could not be read in my old LTR-48125W though.
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Postby tlotz on Tue Jul 08, 2003 1:54 am

Aviationwiz: additional disadvantages to the Plextor Premium:

No 48X CD-R write speed
Not enough CD-RW write speeds--No 12X and 16X CD-RW write speeds
Media pickyness--you mention it in your post, but don't emphasize it
Annoying SpeedRead--some people like it, I don't. At least with Plextools Pro, you can easily enable it in that software program and keep it enabled for multiple discs, so it's not as annoying. Someone needs to write a Plextor Premium firmware hack to permanently enable SpeedRead and thus remove this annoying feature.

As for the lack of CD-RW write speeds, this problem, like the SpeedRead annoyance, also affected the Plextor 48/24/48A. The lack of adequate CD-RW write speeds is what annoys me most about this drive. One example of this problem is with the US CD-RW discs--a Liteon 52246S and the Yamaha F1 will rewrite at 10X, 16X, or 24X to a US CD-RW disc, while the Plextor will only write at 24X. With the Plextor drive, if you have a problem with the way it writes at 24X, then you can't lower the speed, which, for me, is a big problem. As for the media pickyness, the lowering of the PowerRec speed to 40X for Fuji 48X TY media is ridiculous, given how good the TY media is. This just shows how terribly picky the drive is with media, and how the drive's firmware is optimized for Verbatim/Mitsubishi CD-Rs. The drive should do that well (as well as it does with Verbatim/Mitsubishi 48X and 52X CD-Rs) with all high quality CD-Rs, not *just* the Verbatim/Mitsubishi CD-Rs. There are a couple of things I like about the Premium, but Aviationwiz has done a good job of emphasizing the positive aspects of this drive.
Last edited by tlotz on Tue Jul 08, 2003 2:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby eliminator on Tue Jul 08, 2003 1:56 am

another disadvantage : costs too much ! :o
Wake up ATI :-)
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Postby aviationwiz on Tue Jul 08, 2003 2:01 am

No 48x CD-R write speed is not a bid deal, considering when PoweRec clocks a disk down to 40x, it normally gets to at least 48x first, before clocking down.

As far as CD-RW write speeds, that is not a problem for most people. I know that I and about half a dozen of my friends never re-write.

As for media pickyness, you are right, Lite-On is more media friendly, however, heres the difference:

If a Lite-On drive, or anything else, finds a disk it does not like, it will still write at a high speed (say 52x) and there will simply be an unbearable amount of C1 Errors and possibly C2 Errors on the disk.

If the Premium finds a disk that it does not like, it will simply clock down the burning speed, and even with low-quality media (CMC) it still gets a very nice burn done.

As for SpeedRead, it is a pain, and even with it enabled, read speed is still a bit lacking. My fix for this? Get a nice DVD-ROM drive that is say 16x DVD and 48x CD, there, good reading drive.
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Postby aviationwiz on Tue Jul 08, 2003 2:02 am

eliminator wrote:another disadvantage : costs too much ! :o


Not if your after quality, and you don't care if it costs a little bit more.
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Postby Halc on Tue Jul 08, 2003 2:39 am

An interesting addition imho is also that Plex Premium seems to be more conservative in its C1/C2 measurements. That is, it reports more of them than LiteOn 6S -series.

I think this is useful if one wants to try and use the Plex C1/C2 results as a rough indicator of how the tested media might read in other drives as well.

I'm doing lots of C1/C2 measurements with Premium+PlexTools and LiteOn48246S (52246S firmware) + Kprobe. Some discs that show C2 errors on Plextor pass the test with flying colours on LiteOn.

It is possible that Plextor is the worse reader of the two, but even if so, the results are more conservative and probably a better indicator of wider range readability of the tested discs.

Other than that, I'm not too convinced that either results (especially LiteOn+Kprobe) can be used to accurately estimate how well the burned disc will read in other drives.

If anybody else has both LiteOn and Premium, it would be interesting to see your test results for the same disc (both at 24x as Plextor can't test faster).

regards,
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Postby aviationwiz on Tue Jul 08, 2003 3:03 am

I have an LTR-48125W in a different system, want me to burn a disk on the Premium, test it on both drives, and come back with information?
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Postby dodecahedron on Tue Jul 08, 2003 4:39 am

aviationwiz wrote:The GigaRec disks I burned were readable in all my DVD Drives. It could not be read in my old LTR-48125W though.

i'm guessing your'e talking about discs written with GigaRec set at 1.2x. this gives a capacity of 843MB for a 80min CD. just a little less than 99min CDs.
if you do GigaRec at 1.3x or 1.4x the compatibility is much worse, it at all existent (according to Ian's review).
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Postby dodecahedron on Tue Jul 08, 2003 4:44 am

aviationwiz wrote:As far as CD-RW write speeds, that is not a problem for most people. I know that I and about half a dozen of my friends never re-write.

still, that's a minus for the drive. maybe not for you personally, but for others. so it should be mentioned.

aviationwiz wrote:If a Lite-On drive, or anything else, finds a disk it does not like, it will still write at a high speed (say 52x) and there will simply be an unbearable amount of C1 Errors and possibly C2 Errors on the disk.

If the Premium finds a disk that it does not like, it will simply clock down the burning speed, and even with low-quality media (CMC) it still gets a very nice burn done.

you're wrong.
all modern drives do this.
Plextor has PoweRec.
Lite-On has SMART-Burn. does exactly the same thing.
others have JustSpeed, FlextraSpeed, AEGIS-write, etc. etc. they all do the same thing (more or less).
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Postby dolphinius_rex on Tue Jul 08, 2003 6:01 am

It should also be mentioned that the jitter testing between different Plextor Premium drives has been found to be inconsistant, however the C1/C2 error checking is quite accurate.
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Postby CDRecorder on Tue Jul 08, 2003 1:17 pm

aviationwiz wrote:I have an LTR-48125W in a different system, want me to burn a disk on the Premium, test it on both drives, and come back with information?


I would appreciate this info, especially since I use a LTR-48125W for error detecting.
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Postby aviationwiz on Tue Jul 08, 2003 2:00 pm

This is the Fuji 48x TY disk from my Review. The disk was burned on the Premium with firmware 1.0 and it is being tested on the Plextor Premium with firmware 1.02 and the LTR-48125W with firmware VS0D. Testing is being done at 24x.

Premium:
Image

LTR-48125W:
Image
Last edited by aviationwiz on Tue May 25, 2004 10:27 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby dolphinius_rex on Tue Jul 08, 2003 2:13 pm

Aviationwiz, you need to deselct the "max" button when attempting to test at 24x, otherwise you end up testing at the maximum abilities of the drive, in this case 48x. And the Series 5 mediatek chipset has a bug that causes that single spike of C2 errors that you saw there, but it only appears at 48x, and RARELY at 40x.

Try again with the max button de-selected :wink:
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Postby aviationwiz on Tue Jul 08, 2003 2:28 pm

Thanks for the info dolphinius,

I'm going to go re-scan it now and just update that original photo.
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Postby aviationwiz on Tue Jul 08, 2003 3:07 pm

I updated the photo.
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Postby cfitz on Tue Jul 08, 2003 3:08 pm

Sorry to step in late here, but KProbe 1.1.14 has a bug in the speed setting, so to approximate the 10-24x CAV testing of the Plextor Premium you really need to set the read speed for the LiteOn in KProbe 1.1.14 to 32x:

http://www.cdrlabs.com/phpBB/viewtopic. ... 1407#71407

Still, it is a surprisingly good match between the two graphs, averages and maximums.

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Postby cfitz on Tue Jul 08, 2003 3:24 pm

I've got a couple of other points/questions as well.

1. Your table of burning speeds seems to have some mistakes:

Image

It only took 2:37 to burn at 24x? That can't be right. Either it wasn't burning at 24x, or you made a mistake typing up the table. The 32x burn times look suspiciously low as well, although they don't stick out as blatantly as the 24x time.

2. What settings did you use for your VariRec test? You just said you enabled VariRec but didn't specify the settings you used.

3. You can't gauge the effects of VariRec by comparing a 40x burn with VariRec disabled to a 4x burn with VariRec enabled. Since you changed the speed of the burn as well as the VariRec setting, you can't distinguish between the effects of VariRec and the burning speed. To have any hope of a meaningful VariRec comparison you must keep all other variables controlled. Burn the same discs in the same drive at the same speeds using the same source.

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Postby aviationwiz on Tue Jul 08, 2003 3:50 pm

When PoweRec works, it usually goes higher than the PoweRec burn speed and then back down again. That explains #1.


for #2, I used the Cyanine Write Mode at 4x.
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Postby KCK on Tue Jul 08, 2003 3:55 pm

aviationwiz:

As cfitz mentioned, the reading speed of KProbe v1.1.14 may differ from the set speed. Similarly, it's not clear what 10-24X CAV means for Q-Check.

To clarify these issues, could you use a stopwatch to measure how long it takes for KProbe and Q-Check to read a given disc? For KProbe, the timining should start when you see the "Testing ..." message at the bottom; similarly for Q-Check you should try to skip the spinup.

It would be best to use discs without C2 errors, and to tell us their MSF-s from Q-Check.
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Postby dolphinius_rex on Tue Jul 08, 2003 5:01 pm

Okay, the similarities between the two drives is somewhat FREAKY in my opinion. Although it makes me happy to see my drive is testing roughly close to the official hardware :D
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Postby aviationwiz on Tue Jul 08, 2003 5:26 pm

OK, here's what I got:

Plextor Premium: 4 minutes and 15 seconds (10-24X CAV)

Lite-On LTR-48125W: 4 minutes and 36 seconds (24X selected in KProbe)

MSF from KProbe: 74:02:00

MSF from Q-Check: 73:40:55
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Postby cfitz on Tue Jul 08, 2003 5:41 pm

aviationwiz wrote:When PoweRec works, it usually goes higher than the PoweRec burn speed and then back down again. That explains #1.

So the PoweRec speed you are quoting is the speed at the end of the burn after the drive drops the speed, not the nominal speed used throughout the burn?

aviationwiz wrote:for #2, I used the Cyanine Write Mode at 4x.

What was the power adjustment slider set at?

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Postby aviationwiz on Tue Jul 08, 2003 6:17 pm

There is no speed throughout the burn, as it keeps adjusting.

Example: When a disk has a PoweRec speed of 40x, it keeps going up like it were going to 52x, then at around 44-48x it decides that the speed is to fast so it drops it down to the next level, which is 40x.

It's hard to explain and I don't understand it 100%, but it does what it is supposed to do well, and that is to conserve quality.

Sorry, I forgot to mention what the power adjustment was at, it was at 0.
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