In the red corner, defending the traditional ways, is one of the best PATA DVD burner you can buy: the Pioneer DVR-110A. The specification is pretty standard for this class of drive: 16x (21.6MB/sec) for both DVD-R and DVD+R, dropping to a still-impressive 8x (10.8MB/sec) for Dual Layer (DL) DVD-R and DL DVD+R. If you use rewritable media, DVD+RW is the better option at 8x (10.8MB/sec) while DVD-RW is 6x (8.1MB/sec).
The drive itself isn't going to win any design awards. The ubiqutous beige bezel is slightly darker than normal, though arguably anyone concerned about matching shades of beige on their case should be shot. Spend the extra 85 pence on the black version
and be done with it.
Moving around the back, the scene will be familiar to anyone who has installed a CD or DVD drive in the past decade. From left to right: audio connector; audio connector; Master / Slave jumpers; 40-pin PATA socket; molex power. Nothing out of the ordinary, but a tried & tested design with clear economies of scale to produce a high-spec drive at such a bargain-basement price.
In the blue corner, representing Belgium, the Plextor PX-716SA. It too is a 16x drive, meaning 16x (21.6MB/sec) burns on DVD-R and DVD+R media. Rewriting speeds are 8x DVD+RW and a relatively poor 4x DVD-RW. The on-paper specification continues to trail Pioneer as writing to Dual Layer media is limited to 6x (8.1MB/sec) versus the Pioneer's 8x (10.8MB/sec). You can view the full specification here
The bezel design is rather stylish, as DVD drives go. Our sample, again, was "beige" though this drive was closer to white than the tanned Pioneer. Thankfully, Plextor also make a black-bezeled model so go with that if it suits you better. The most eye-catching feature of the PX-716SA is the black stripe on the tray door - it serves no purpose other than to break up the otherwise beige front, but at least lifts it above the plain-Jane Pioneer.
If your case features "stealth" drivebays, which have eject buttons that pass through to push the button on the drive, you might want to pay particular attention to the eject buttons on these two drives. Pioneer have used a protruding, rectangular design which shouldn't cause anyone any problems. On the other hand, Plextor have adopted a more eye-pleasing, curved button. This is pretty flush with the rest of the bezel, and doesn't have much travel, so might prove a little troublesome for anyone with one of these cases.
Viewed from behind, things are dramatically different: just a single, slim SATA power socket and data port. SATA doesn't need jumpers and the legacy CD Audio connectors are dropped too - we have been able to rip audio down the IDE channel for quite some time now.
To test these drives following system:
- AMD Athlon 64 FX53 processor
- 1GB memory
- MSI KT8 Neo2-FIR motherboard
- Western Digital 250GB Special Edition SATA hard drive
We used Windows XP Professional 64-bit Edition and Nero 6.6 to perform the test burns. Verbatim media was used for all tests and all Test disks were verified for errors to ensure consistent burns and to test read speeds of the differing media.