Affordable; capable of exceeding 16x DVD+R performance.
Brand-specific 24x performance; slow DL writes.
Lite-On’s iHAS424 is the first 24x DVD burner we’ve tested so far, and sadly, the experience doesn’t sell us on the speed bump. Currently, DVD+R media is capped at 16x speeds, but drive makers will nevertheless tweak their hardware to exceed that limit. Often such “over-speeding” techniques are restricted to higher-quality, name-brand media to ensure reliability—in Lite-On’s case that means DVD+R discs bearing the Taiyo Yuden brand. With anything else, you’re stuck at regular-ol’ 16x.
This was the caliber of performance we experienced in our tests, since we always use Verbatim media (manufactured by Mitsubishi) to evaluate optical drives. The iHAS424 filled a single-layer DVD+R disc in 5:53 (min:sec), with an average write speed of 11.66x. That’s more than a minute slower than Samsung’s SH-S223 22x drive (4:46), which happens to be tuned for Verbatim media, but not necessarily other brands (the upshot is that speed claims above 16x only apply to specific types of media). In DVD+R reads, the Lite-On and Samsung drives were more simpatico, with times of 4:56 and 4:55, respectively.
The iHAS424 doesn’t make any highfalutin claims about its dual-layer performance. It’s rated at a fairly typical 8x. We were surprised, however, by how much longer this drive took to fill a DVD+R DL disc compared with its similarly spec’d peers, including the iHAS424’s predecessor, the
(reviewed May 2009). Lite-On’s older 22x drive wrote 7.96GB of data to a DL disc in 16:36, while the new iHAS424 turned in a slacker’s time of 23:36. Samsung’s SH-S223, also rated at 8x for DL, still holds the record at this task with a time of 13:13. Again, the iHAS424 put in a better showing with its read times. This was particularly evident in our disc-ripping benchmark. The iHAS424 copied the contents of a dual-layer movie disc to the hard drive in a brisk 10:24.
That alone can’t earn this drive our highest recommendation, though. To begin with, unless you’re wedded to Taiyo Yuden media, you’re no better off in terms of write speeds than with a drive that’s two or three generations old. So, if your 16x or 18x burner is still functional, stick with it. If you truly are in need of a new burner, however, by all means, go for a fast one—with many priced below $50, there’s no reason to leave even nominal performance gains on the table. But given the iHAS424’s slow dual-layer writes, this isn’t the drive we’d move up to.