LG has always done very well in DVD writer group tests. This is because LG drives offer more functionality than any other device, without adding any cost. With the GSA-4160B LG has once again produced a drive with more functionality than any other device on test, but this time it is a fair bit more expensive than some of the competition. OK, the LG is still a lot cheaper than the Sony, but then Sony drives are never cheap.
For anyone that hasnâ€™t seen an LG DVD writer before, the main point that separates it from the rest of the competition, is that it can write to every DVD format available â€“ that means DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW and DVD-RAM. Now, although DVD-RAM isnâ€™t a widely used format, it is a decent medium for data storage. Being a random access medium, DVD-RAM can be used just like a removable hard disk, but really it comes down to whether you need a removable storage device like this in your PC.
Anyway, the LG reads and writes to DVD-RAM, but what are the rest of the specs like? Obviously the GSA-4160B will write to DVD+R media at 16x, but DVD-R discs can only be burned at 8x. DVD-RW and DVD+RW media can be written to at 4x, which is still pretty standard at the moment. As for CD performance, the LG will burn CD-R discs at 40x and CD-RW media at 24x. Finally the GSA-4160B will write to DVD-RAM media at 5x, even though youâ€™d be lucky to find any 3x blank discs, let alone 5x.
This drive looks much the same as the 12x unit before it and the 8x unit before that. Thereâ€™s a single eject button on the front fascia and a black strip that runs along the bottom and around the eject button. Thereâ€™s no CD controls or volume wheel, just an indicator light and a manual eject hole to supplement the eject button. In the box youâ€™ll find a set of mounting screws, an IDE cable and an audio cable. Burning duties are handled by the NeroExpress suite, which isnâ€™t as feature rich as the full version of Nero, but it is still a huge improvement over Bâ€™s Recorder Gold that LG used to ship with its drives.
Performance wise the LG isnâ€™t going to set the world on fire, but itâ€™s still quick enough to come out second overall. The DVD-R tests are probably the high-point for the LG, where it grabbed third place across the board, behind the MSI and NEC units. This shows that the LG is a fast 8x writer, since the MSI and NEC were both writing at 12x for these tests. The DVD+R tests also werenâ€™t bad and the LG managed to place third in two out of the three tests, and only dropped to fourth in the last one.
For both DVD+RW and DVD-RW the LG dropped to the lower half of the table for all the tests, although to be fair, all the drives were bunched pretty close when burning to both these media types.
CD-RW performance is very good, with the LG topping the chart for burning the 600MB of MP3 files, while taking third spot for the Format test. It drops down to second from bottom for both the CD-R tests, but this isnâ€™t surprising considering that the LG is only rated at 40x for CD-R while most of the other drives are rated at 48x.
At Â£60.60 the LG canâ€™t be described as cheap, but as already mentioned it does offer more functionality than any other drive on test, so if you need DVD-RAM support, or even think that you might need it, this is the drive to go for.
Once again LG has produced a decent DVD writer that can handle every form of DVD media out there. The performance is decent, especially on DVD+R and DVD-R media, and if you look at the overall time graph, the LG grabs second place after the NEC. Even though the price is a little higher than the competition, the LG offers solid performance and unrivalled functionality.