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The Tests

Data transfer has always been good with Plextors; however, a little known fact is that many CD readers (writers or not) have problems with media over 72 minutes (about 630MB). When these larger capacity (or more full) CD's are used, most readers "limit" out at some obnoxiously slow speed, say 8X.


Data Ripping Speed

At an average transfer rate of nearly 25X, this drive could be your only unit as mentioned above. The seek times are OK for CD-R's but rather low compared to 40-56X dedicated CD-ROM's. The burst rate is the best for any IDE drive I've tested and is testimony to Plextor's excellent design. CPU utilization was very low in spite of being an IDE unit. SCSI units don't do much better. The test system used a C2 533MHz at 840MHz.

Audio Ripping Speed

This was a major surprise. The 15 to 24X rated speed mimicked the 40X max's, and I was happy about testing at a slightly higher than spec 24.47X. Even large audio CD's (over 72 minutes) showed no signs of minuscule ripping speeds, a problem with nearly all CD-ROM's, even other Plextor's. It's possible though not very likely that the 1210 may be able to rip at it's 32X max data speed with a newer BIOS flash in the future, but for now the 22.49X average speed places it above most 40-50X standard CD-ROM's. Kudos to the engineers at Plextor.

Reading CD-RW's was a slight disappointment. I'm not posting the graphs as they waste too much bandwidth; however, the 12-10-32 managed an average read speed of 6.8X with the very same RW that it burned at 8.33X. I hope that this "glitch" can be fixed with an upcoming BIOS.

In Use Impressions

Plextor's are known for at least two things: reliability and usefulness when copying "uncopy-able" CD's. In standard Plextor style, UT and my only copy coded audio CD copied just fine with Adaptec's EZ CD Creator 4.02c. I could not copy them at 12X speed though as the 12X'er decoded the audio and data discs at about 300KB/s. Then I thought, "Why not pair the fastest writer up with the fastest reader?" The Kenwood 72X IDE CD-ROM was installed and flashed up to the latest 221 BIOS (222 BIOS has now been released).

I usually recommend for on the fly copying a reader capable of transfer rates at least double the writing speed. For a 12X unit, this meant that the Kenwood would have to supply audio and/or data at a rate no lower than 3.6MB/s or 24X. Not even the Plextor 40X max reader can match that feat as it's minimum rip speed is only 18X. The Kenwood and Plextor made an ideal high speed pair. Copying all three CD types (audio, data, mixed mode) proved no sweat and the average CPU utilization was a minuscule 10%.

Conclusions

Funny thing: this 1210 unit cost less than the SCSI 124Tsi model. Does this indicate impending doom for the SCSI lineup? Since there are far more IDE based boxes out there in computer land, manufacturers must consider the profits from a dying market. While I have nothing personally against SCSI technology, I'm beginning to wonder if it has much of a future where ATA100 is included for free on i815 MB's.

I had the time of my life with this 12-10-32 IDE drive. It did everything well and the burn-proof technology prevents wasted time and an overabundance of blown CD burns otherwise known as "coasters." I couldn't force the 1210 to make a coaster. Once again, Plextor has produced a top notch product at a reasonable price. The only reason it didn't score a perfect 10 out of 10 was due to the slightly out of spec 10X re-writable speed. This is the very best there is--Plextor has raised the bar once again.

William Yaple
08/10/00





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