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The Tests

The SCSI 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

This was 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.

Reading CD-RW's 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.

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.

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: 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 available... ;-)

William Yaple
06/25/00





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