Testing Optical Drives

Testing Optical Drives

At Maximum PC we try to eliminate as many variables as possible when comparing hardware. That’s why we conduct our tests in the controlled environment of a lab, using built-to-spec test beds. That’s also why whenever possible we use the same application to test an entire category parts.

For optical drive tests, that application is Nero CD-DVD Speed. It comes as part of the Nero ToolKit Utility Suite, but it can also be downloaded for free at www.cdspeed2000.com. It’s updated on a regular basis to keep apace with new hardware and it supports all types of CD, DVD, Blu-ray, and HD DVD media.
cd-speed
In the course of evaluating a drive, I’ll first use Nero CD-DVD Speed to create a data disc. As the utility goes about filling the disc, a graph displays the drive’s progress—what percentage of the disc has been filled, at what speed the data is being written, and even the write speed in relation to the disc’s rotation speed. Once the write is complete, I conduct a read test, and following that Nero generates a report that provides everything from average read/write speeds, to seek times, to spin times, to CPU usage. In other words, a very thorough picture of a drive’s abilities.

I’ve found that often the software that comes bundled with a drive yields slightly better performance than Nero’s app does—a Blu-ray drive might, for instance, write to BD-R at +/- 46 minutes using CD-DVD Speed and +/- 44 using Cyberlink’s software. But my verdicts are based on the relative performance of the hardware itself, and I can only determine that by using the same application across the board. Plus, those other apps don’t offer the same granular detail.

Try the utility for yourself. It’ll give you a whole new appreciation for your optical drive—or convince you that it's time to upgrade.

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statewd

Generally speaking, do the brand name drives work better vs. when testing generic off-brand drives? Come to think of it, that would be a neato article in the magazine. Because the reviews are always based on name-brand equipment, why not see if generic off-brands do just as good? I would think they would be worse considering they are cheaper priced.

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dcrail

Anybody know if this utility can detect a failing drive?

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dedgar

It isn't like S.M.A.R.T. for hard drives. But if you run through the software and the figures are not close to what they should be, i.e. a 52X CD is operating at 40X, I would think about a replacement.

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dcrail

thanks

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