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Maximum PC Staff

Apr 10, 2009

Plextor PX-850SA

At A Glance

Oreos

Good DVD+R writes, competitive rips, SATA interface, good looks.

Hydrox

Adheres to 16x DVD+R media speed despite 22x write rating.

Last month we reviewed our first 22x DVD burner, Samsung’s SH-S223; this month, Plextor presents us with a challenger in the form of the PX-850SA—a similarly spec’d drive that rises to the occasion in some respects, but falls short in others.

Like Samsung’s new burner, the PX-850SA boasts an industry-leading 22x speed rating for DVD+/-R media. It lacks, however, the Samsung’s over-speed feature, which helped that drive eke out a 4:46 (min:sec) Lab record when writing 4.38GB of data to a single-layer DVD+R disc. By comparison, the Plextor took 5:36, never breaching the 16x speed limit imposed by our Verbatim media.

The difference between the two drives’ performance with double-layer media was more expected. After all, Plextor’s PX-850SA is rated at just 8x when writing to DVD+/- DL, compared to the Samsung drive’s rating of 16x. In practical terms, this means Plextor’s drive took 16:33 to fill an 8GB disc versus the Samsung drive’s time of 13:13.

But the Plextor PX-850SA did have its triumphs. As a new addition to our optical drive benchmarks, we test a drive’s ability to rip the contents of a double-layer DVD to a hard drive. The PX-850SA had an average rip time of 10:43, while Samsung’s drive was about 50 percent slower, with an average rip time of 15:26. We must note that Samsung’s drive redeemed its ripping reputation—and then some—with a firmware hack, but Plextor’s PX-850SA gets props for being the faster drive out of the box and for being competitive at rips against a host of other drives.

The Plexy also gets props for its good looks. The drive’s stylish, shiny faceplate stands out against the generic facades of its peers. The PX-850SA further differentiates itself by coming bundled with Roxio Creator 10 CE as opposed to Nero’s package of DVD playing and burning apps, although the two suites are pretty comparable.

In the end, we’re talking about a solid-performing drive, but the PX-850SA still takes a backseat to Samsung’s SH-S223.

Benchmarks

Plextor PX-850SA
Samsung SH-S223
DVD+R Write Speed Average
11.81x 14.94X
DVD+R Read Speed Average
12.16x
12.16X
Access Times (random/full) 113/175ms 117/204MS
DVD+DL Write Speed Average 6.99x
9.12x
DVD Ripping (min:sec) 10:43
15:26

Best scores are bolded. 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. All tests were conducted using Verbatim media and Nero CD DVD Speed, except the ripping test, whereby we time how long it takes to copy the contents of a double-layer DVD to a Velociraptor hard drive.

THE VERDICT

Plextor PX-850SA

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