card I've been using for the last 9 months was still the card of choice: the
Tekram DC-315/U. With a 20MB/s bandwidth, this gem can be had in a full retail
box for as little as $25 shipping to your door. If you decide to have this
drive as your sole CD-ROM, the BIOS-less Tekram can be made bootable with
a little proggy I whipped up by clicking here.
Data Ripping Speed
At an average
transfer rate of 24X, 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. CPU utilization was low not only due to the nature of a PCI SCSI
card but also that the chip was a C2 533A running at 840MHz.
Audio Ripping Speed
a minor disappointment. The 8 to 20X rated speed mimicked the PX-820's, even
though I was happy about testing at a slightly higher than spec 21.78X. I
had hoped Plextor would have had audio ripping speeds equal to that data ripping
speeds, but it appears that the 124Tsi is only a hot rodded 820.
was a surprise too. I'm not posting the graphs as they waste too much bandwidth
and tell a slow story. The 8-4-32 managed an average read speed of 5.3X and
the Kenwood 72X hung in there for a lousy 3.3X. Sorry, but CD-RW doesn't make
much sense to me.
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.
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%.
Plextor's used to cost an arm and a leg and now they are very competitively
priced. The only other 12X drives I could locate were a Sanyo and a Smart
& Friendly. The Sanyo was $25 less and the Smart & Friendly was at
least $25 more than the 124Tsi. Considering the legendary Plextor quality
and service (if the drive dies), the choice is clear--Plextor 12-4-32 all
the way! Editor's choice? Of course. Now, I wonder when the 16X'er will be