Katherine Stevenson Sep 21, 2011

Plextor PX-LB950SA

At A Glance


Fast BD-R writes with Sony discs; strong DVD performance.


Limited media options for 12x writes.

'Upgrade' would be an overstatement

We’ve been recommending Plextor’s B940SA 12x drive on our Best of the Best list for more than a year now, so we were delighted to receive a challenger that could shake things up—even if it was another Plextor drive. Hey, why not build on that good track record?

Our excitement waned, however, when the drive we received—Plextor’s PX-LB950SA—bore the exact same specs as its predecessor. Granted, a BD-R write speed of anything greater than 12x is somewhat pointless given that BD-R media is currently capped at 6x, but still, throw us a bone here. Plextor says improvements come in the form of upgraded mechanics that make the drive quieter and cooler. That’s all well and good, but we hadn’t actually noticed the predecessor being particularly noisy or hot. Presumably, though, these mechanical tweaks will add to the drive’s lifespan. Plextor also touts this drive’s support for Blu-ray 3D, but that only means that the bundled CyberLink PowerDVD 9 offers such support—any Blu-ray drive faster than 2x is capable of supporting 3D on the hardware side.

The PX-LB950SA looks slicker than its predecessor, but its BD performance is actually a bit worse.

Such improvements were of little consolation to us when we discovered that the PX-LB950SA’s Blu-ray burning performance was actually a bit weaker than the drive it’s replacing. As many optical drive owners know, manufacturers are able to push a drive’s write capabilities beyond the media’s rating by tuning the hardware to hit top speeds with a particular brand of discs. For the PX-LB950SA drive, that brand is Sony. And sure enough, the drive hit speeds of 12.07x during the course of filling a 25GB Sony BD-R with data, resulting in a completion time of 11:48 (min:sec). That’s brisk, but it’s almost a full minute slower than the earlier B940SA took to fill a Sony disc. What’s more, the older drive could also hit 12x speeds with Panasonic discs, and even 10x speeds with Verbatim discs, the media we typically use to test burners. Plextor says that over time the drive may be tuned for media other than Sony’s, but for now, that’s it.

To be fair, these are still decent Blu-ray burn times, and Sony media is easy enough to come by. We also can’t complain about the drive’s 16x DVD+R writes or its capable DVD ripping performance—11 minutes to rip the contents of a double-layer movie disc. But the sad fact is, after waiting so long for a new product, this just feels like too little, too late.

$180, www.plextor.com


Plextor LB-950SA
Plextor B940SA
DVD Write Speed Average
11.81x 11.73x
DVD Read Speed Average
Access Time (Random/Full)
DVD Ripping (min:sec)
11:02 10:09
Time to burn 22.5GB to BD-R (min:sec)
Time to burn 22.5GB to BD-RE (min:sec)
45:03 43:00

Best scores are bolded. All tests were conducted using Nero DiscSpeed. Our test bed is a Windows 7 machine using a 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 930, 6GB of Corsair DDR3/1600 RAM on an Asus P6X58D Premium motherboard, a Radeon HD 5860 videocard, a Western Digital 500GB Caviar hard drive, and an Antec 850W PSU.


Plextor PX-LB950SA

Around the web