MSI DR-16B

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MSI has made some pretty good DVD writers in the past, so we were quite surprised when we fired up the DR16-B and it turned in DVD+R times slower than a 4x drive. After burning two discs we reached two conclusions – that there was something wrong with this drive, and that we’d just wasted two very hard to come by 16x blank discs.

After much communication with MSI we were supplied with a new firmware for the drive. After flashing the new firmware, the DR16-B started to behave the way it’s meant to and turned in some pretty good times.

Base specifications are pretty good, with the MSI able to write to both DVD+R and DVD-R at 16x. DVD+RW and DVD-RW are burned at the standard 4x, while Dual Layer media is written at 2.4x, so make sure you have something to occupy your time while you’re writing 8GB of data. CD specs are a little below par with only 40x CD-R performance, although the 24x CD-RW rating matches the rest of the drives.

Although the 16x DVD+R times were nothing special compared to the competition, the MSI was able to write to 8x DVD-R discs at 12x and as a result topped all the graphs with only the NEC coming close. Of course when 16x DVD-R rated media becomes available, these times should get even better. Unfortunately the MSI couldn’t carry the solid performance over to the DVD+RW tests where it came last in every graph. Things weren’t much better with the DVD-RW tests either, where the DR16-B stuck near the bottom of the table on all the tests.

The bottom table placing continued with the Dual Layer tests and the CD-R tests, but the MSI did manage to pick up its game for the CD-RW burns, where it grabbed second place in both tests.

The drive itself is pretty nondescript, with a single eject button, an indicator light and a manual eject hole. In the box you’ll find an audio cable, some fixing screws, the Nero software suite, WinDVD and WinDVD Creator. Conspicuous by its absence is an IDE cable, so you better hope that you have a spare when you come to fit the drive.

With the exception of the DVD-R tests, the MSI puts in a disappointing performance. The price of £49.70 is pretty reasonable, but you’ll have to factor in the cost of an IDE cable if you don’t have one. In isolation the DR16-B might look like a decent DVD writer, but when compared to its peers it’s clear that the extra £7 for the NEC would be money well spent.

Verdict

Besides the NEC, the MSI is the only drive on test that supports 16x writing to DVD-R media. The advantage of this is borne out by the superb times recorded using these discs. Unfortunately, the MSI fails to impress in the rest of the tests, making it a poor choice if you want to use multiple media types.

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