In the world of optical drives, there is one name that stands head and shoulders above the competition when it comes to performance and quality, and that name is Plextor. Plextor has been at the cutting edge of optical technology for as long as I can remember – I even connected an external SCSI Plextor CD-ROM drive to a Silicon Graphics Indigo 2 Extreme workstation way back in the early nineties. Pretty much every PC that I’ve built has had a Plextor optical drive sitting in one of the 5.25in bays, and even now there’s a Plextor DVD writer in my current PC.
As always though, you get what you pay for, and Plextor drives tend to carry a price premium over their competitors. Now, there was a time when it was worth swallowing that extra cost since Plextor units were so much faster than other drives, but the competition has been nipping at Plextor’s heels for a while now and the performance gap is definitely closing. That said, the PX-716A is still the fastest DVD writer that I’ve ever tested.
Looking at the basic specs the PX-716A doesn’t look anything special – 16x DVD+/-R, 4x DVD+R DL, 8x DVD+RW, 4x DVD-RW, 48x CD-R and 24x CD-RW. However, a quick firmware flash boosted DVD+R DL speed up to 6x and DVD-RW up to 6x, while also enabling DVD-R DL support. Of course there’s still no DVD+R 8x, DVD-R 6x or DVD-R DL media, so despite having the ability, the drive couldn’t prove itself in these areas. That said, like all the drives I’ve looked at recently, the PX-716A did manage to over-burn to 2.4x DVD+R DL media, turning in some blistering times.
Looking at the tests, the Plextor managed to burn 7.9GB of data to a DVD+R DL disc in only 17 minutes 51 seconds – that’s over a minute faster than the previous record holder, the Asus DRW-1608P. Like many of the drives I’ve seen recently, the PX-716A had a few issues burning to DVD+R media, turning in some alarmingly high times, but then managing to produce more acceptable results when I reran the test a couple of times. It seems that most of the drives around at the moment have intermittent issues with the 16x DVD+R media, so it’s not something that I can hold against the Plextor in particular.