Pioneer DVR-111

Despite Pioneer being one of the biggest players in DVD technology, I haven’t reviewed too many optical drives from this particular Japanese manufacturer. That’s not through lack of trying, but thankfully now Pioneer has got its act together as far as PR goes, and you can expect a lot more coverage in the future.

As timing goes, Pioneer’s is impeccable. The company couldn’t have picked a better moment to get new hardware into the TrustedReviews lab, because the DVR-111 is the fastest DVD writer that I’ve tested to date. It almost feels strange labelling a drive that isn’t manufactured by NEC as the fastest around, because NEC has had such a strong grip on the DVD writer market. But there’s no denying that this Pioneer sets new performance standards.

Before I get into the performance results though, let’s take a look at the drive itself. The unit is pretty nondescript, with a beige fascia, single eject button, indicator light and a manual eject hole. It’s slightly longer than the Sony, so it won’t be quite as easy to fit into a small form factor box, but it will still slide into any such chassis just fine. You’ll notice on the top surface of the drive that there are several divots – Pioneer told me that these improve stability when the disc is spinning and given that this is one of the quietest drives I’ve tested, it seems that Pioneer is right on the money here.

When it comes to specifications, this Pioneer is pretty much at the cutting edge. The DVR-111 will burn both DVD-R and DVD+R dual layer media at 8x, while single layer DVD-R and DVD+R get 16x treatment. DVD+RW discs are burned at 8x, while DVD-RW media can be written at 6x. Of course even though the rated speed of DVD-RW is lower, the fact that 6x rated DVD-RW media is actually available (while only 4x DVD+RW can be had with any ease), means that DVD-RW performance is actually faster. The DVR-111 will also write to DVD-RAM discs at 5x, CD-R media at 40x and CD-RW discs at 32x.

It was the dual layer performance that really impressed with the Pioneer. Performing the 7.9GB burn of a large MPEG and ISO file, the DVR-111 completed the test in an amazing eight minutes and five seconds. Although the 8.1GB of mixed image files took around double that time, it’s still a pretty good result. The same two tests using DVD-R DL media took 17 minutes 37 seconds and 17 minutes 24 seconds respectively – very good results for this media.

DVD-R and DVD+R results were par for the course, as were the DVD+RW scores. However, the DVD-RW results were very good, with every single test completed in under 10 and a half minutes. CD-R performance wasn’t the best around, but the CD-RW results were above average. Finally, DVD-RAM performance was average, but considering the outstanding results seen elsewhere, this is easily forgiven.

The only thing really missing from the DVR-111 is some kind of disc labelling support in the form of LightScribe or LabelFlash, but unless you are desperate for “in drive” labelling, you shouldn’t let this put you off an otherwise excellent drive.

The DVR-111 only comes as a bare drive, but to be honest I don’t think that this will bother too many users – most of the time you’re replacing an older drive anyway, so all the supporting kit will already be there. The price of £26.42 is pretty amazing considering how fast this writer is and is unlikely break the bank as far as upgrades go.


Pioneer has snatched the DVD writer performance crown from NEC – and I was starting to think that no one would ever build a faster drive than NEC, judging by the past few models. As well as being very fast indeed, the DVR-111 is also very quiet, and with a price that’s lower than most DVD games that you’ll be putting in it, you just can’t go wrong.

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