Maximum PC Staff Sep 17, 2009

Pioneer BDR-2203

At A Glance

Mad Men

Fastest BD-R writes; fast DVD rips; competitive price.

Mystery Men

It's not the fastest at BD-RE writes.

8x Blu-ray burner redeems itself

In our July issue, we reviewed OWC’s Mercury Pro 8x Blu-ray External and found the drive’s performance puzzling. In short, the Mercury Pro’s BD-R write speeds belied its 8x rating, with the drive taking nearly an hour to fill a 25GB disc with data, compared with the 22-plus minutes it took LG’s 6x GBW-H20L. It got us wondering whether the issues were more the fault of OWC’s external enclosure or the Pioneer 8x Blu-ray drive at its heart.

This month we were able to answer that question as we tested Pioneer’s BDR-2203, the same drive used in the Mercury Pro. We immediately cut to the chase, testing the BDR-2203’s BD-R write performance. While the Mercury Pro was incompatible with the Nero DiscSpeed app we use for our optical drive tests—forcing us to use Nero 8’s Burn Express instead—the BDR-2203 had no such problems. Using DiscSpeed along with 4x Verbatim media, the drive wrote 22.5GB of data to a BD-R disc in 14:56 (min:sec)—a Lab record!—maintaining 8x speeds through much of the job. With rewriteable media, the drive’s performance wasn’t quite as impressive. The BDR-2203 held a steady 2x speed when filling a 25GB BD-RE disc, for a time of 45:35, much like the Mercury Pro—and 15 percent slower than the LG GBW-H20L’s BD-RE write time.

It doesn't look like much, but the BDR-2203 blows away the competition when writing to Blu-ray discs.

With standard DVD media, the BDR-2203’s performance was pretty much in line with the Mercury Pro’s—and that’s not a bad thing. While neither drive toppled the GBW-H20L in DVD+R speeds, all three were virtually tied: Pioneer’s internal drive wrote 4.38GB of data to a single-layer disc in 6:06 compared with the external drive’s time of 6:16 and the LG drive’s time of 5:43. On the other hand, both the Mercury Pro and the BDR-2203 surpassed the GBW-H20L in our DVD-ripping benchmark, with scores that were 50 percent faster than the LG drive’s.

In the end, not only did Pioneer’s BDR-2203 prove that it wasn’t to blame for the Mercury Pro’s BD-R issues, it succeeded in unseating LG’s GBW-H20L as our Blu-ray burner of choice. After all, who wouldn’t want BD-R write times that are 30 percent faster for a comparable price, along with solid performance in all other areas?

Pioneer BDR-2203
OWC Mercury LG GBW-H20L
DVD Write Speed Average
11.64x 11.52x 12.07x
DVD Read Speed Average
11.93x 11.96x
Access Time (Random/Full) 173/365ms
DVD Ripping
10:06 10:49 15:19
Time to Burn 22.5GB to BD-R (min:sec)
52:17* 22:16
Time to Burn 22.5GB to BD-RE (min:sec)
45:35 45:19* 39:35
Best scores are bolded. All tests were conducted using Nero DiscSpeed, *except when we used Nero Burn Express to test the BD performance of the OWC Mercury Pro. Our test bed is a Windows XP SP2 machine using a 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6700, 2GB of Corsair DDR2/800 RAM on an EVGA 680 SLI motherboard, one EVGA GeForce 8800 GTS card, a Western Digital 500GB Caviar hard drive, and a PC Power and Cooling Turbo Cool PSU.

Pioneer BDR-2203

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