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The Plextor 12-4-32 SCSI CD-RW

I must confess that I love to upgrade. When a newer, faster technology arrives, I instinctively begin weighing the pros and cons of replacing that particular piece of obsolete hardware. After 9 months of bliss with the Plextor Combo, I couldn't resist the calling of "twelve x" CD-R speed. Double digit writing speeds--mmmm, good. The PX-W124Tsi also boasts 4X re-writable speed, but that can't hold a candle to 1.8MB/s data backup. And, just like technology goes, a few weeks after I get my grubby hands on this wonderfully crafted piece, Plextor announces their newer CD-RW, a 12-10-32 IDE unit. Sheesh, this insanity can get expensive.

Factory Specifications
The Plextor
  • CD-R Speeds: 2x, 4x, 8x, 12x
  • CD-RW Speeds: 2x, 4x
  • Data Read Speed: 14x-32x
  • Audio Rip Speed: 9X-20x
  • 4MB Buffer
  • Ultra SCSI Interface
  • Model PX-W124Tsi
  • One year warranty
  • Web price: $300

9/10 Rating

How Fast Is 12X Anyway?

Twelve X refers to the multiplier from which a normal digital audio disc would transfer data at: 150KB/s. Now, 1.8MB/s may not seem much of a threat to today's 10,000 RPM hard drives, which can blast through 37MB/s with ease, but a standard 74 minute (650MB) CD-R fills up in just over 6 minutes.

I've been burning CD's since the very beginning which was a whopping 1X...and it came from a gray market Philips component (stand alone hardware) CD-R. TDK 63 minute blanks cost $30 a pop in 1994. Then I did time with a Ricoh 2X'er, which cut my labor in half to under ½ an hour per disc. In the summer of 1998, my brand new Panasonic 4X arrived and it was IDE to boot. Now, a 74 minute CD was filled in just over 17 minutes. Where I live, that equated to 1 lap around the block in walking mode. The Combo's 8X speed, lowered my precious time to about 8 minutes, which meant that I stopped walking and started boiling water for hot tea. I think I've gained a few pounds too. But now we're near the 2MB/s mark.

Why Bother With Re-Writing?

Since this is my first CD-RW, I was eager to put the Plextor through it's paces, so I ran out a bought a couple Maxell re-writables. And I learned the hard way that re-writables only come in specific speed ratings, which can't be hacked as far as I know. Re-writing at 2X was a chore. Formatting (every RW needs formatting before initial use) took an hour. I prepared my normal 640MB of monthly backup data and did the CD-R impossible--a copy and paste. After another hour, Adaptec's DirectCD flashed a message to the effect of "out of disc space." Arrrgh! I checked the actual usable RW space and it was a disappointing 531MB out of 650MB. This is no error, that's all you get. Strike two for CD-RW.

The final blow as I see it, was the eye opening copying rate. Good luck achieving the rated 2X or 4X speed, because anything other than large files (over 1MB) move from the HD to the media at varying rates from as low as 50KB/s. The 2X or 4X speed refers to peak transfer rate, not constant transfer rate as in regular CD-R's. To recap: time to re-write one 531MB media--2 hours. That same two hours could have seen the 12X'er spit out over 17 CD's! Yeah, re-writing is neat, but since time is money, I won't be spending much on the re-writing feature.



The rear of the Plextor is well thought out and does include a digital output. The farthest jumper to the right is the digital out, just check the pinout by clicking on the label pic. Most CD-R's come with a shipping lock, a very handy device that physically prohibits any movement of the delicate laser head assembly. Manufacturers should put these devices inside all CD-ROM's as many would be saved from shipping damage. Of particular note on the label is the power requirements. While not excessive, a total peak draw of 17 watts could strain an already weak power supply. If your computer suddenly acts up after installing the 124Tsi, you may want to invest in a more capable unit.

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