MSI DR4-A

MSI is probably better known for its motherboards and graphics cards, but it has been producing optical drives for some time now. That said, this is the first DVD writer that MSI has built so we were keen to see how it stood up to the more experienced competition.

The specification of the MSI is pretty much par for the course. The DR4-A will write DVD+R at four-speed, DVD+RW at 2.4-speed, DVD-R at four speed, DVD-RW at two-speed, CD-R at 24-speed and CD-RW at 10-speed. With that kind of spec the MSI was never going to win any prizes for performance, but it can still hold its own with most of the other drives around at the moment.

Looking at the performance graphs you’ll see that the MSI doesn’t really excel in any of the tests, but it also isn’t lagging behind in anything either. What you have here is a pretty solid performance considering the specification, and you’re getting the kind of results you’d expect.

It’s strange that in the last DVD writer roundup only one drive had hardware CD playback controls, but in this one three out of five drives were so equipped. So, like the BenQ and the Gigabyte, the MSI drive has play/skip and stop/eject buttons. There’s also a headphone socket, a volume wheel, an indicator light and a manual eject hole. Whether or not there is a great call for having CD controls on the front of optical drives anymore is debatable, but it’s still an additional feature over those drives that don’t.

The DR4-A ships in a large, bright green box that looks like it’s stuffed with goodies. The reality isn’t far from this initial impression, and the supplied bundle is commendable. In the box is the drive, an audio cable and four mounting screws. Conspicuous by its absence is an IDE cable. Although most PC owners will have a spare IDE cable, for those that don’t, the omission of a cable can be frustrating.

The software bundle is first rate with a copy of Nero 5.5 for burning media, PowerDVD for watching DVD movies, Sonic MyDVD for authoring DVD or CD movies and ShowBiz for video editing. MSI is obviously aiming this drive at people who want to create video and burn it do disc for distribution and viewing. It’s no bad thing trying to target your market by supplying specific software, but this doesn’t limit the uses that the DR4-A can be put to.

Price is very reasonable and we found the DR4-A on the street for £88.13, making it quite an attractive proposition.

All in all, this isn’t a bad first effort from MSI. It’s not special or cutting edge enough to raise it above the competition, but it’s a decent enough DVD writing solution. That said, at the time of writing MSI told us that its new drive would be available any day. The new model will sport eight-speed DVD+R and four-speed DVD+RW. We’ll have a review of this new MSI drive as soon as it appears.

Verdict

A solid DVD writer with a good software bundle aimed at the digital video creator. The DR4-A doesn’t excel in any particular area, but it holds its own against the current crop of competing products. The new drive, when it arrives, should give MSI a bit of an edge if the price is kept low enough.

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