Plextor PX-750A - Plextors Super Multi

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Product: PX-750A DVDRW
Provided By: Plextor America
Price: ~ $100CDN @ Pricegrabber.ca

Introduction:

The last few Plextor drives I've reviewed have left me feeling a little flat so when Plextor asked me if I wanted to review their somewhat older PX-750A drive I wasn't super excited at first.  Then I got looking at this drives specifications and realized that this was the drive that also could read and write DVD-RAM at 5x.  This picked my interest up a bit as I have used a DVD Recorder that uses DVD-RAM disks, and while DVD-RAM is not the fastest format around, the technology behind it is really incredible.

PX-750A - Box

I say that this is an older drive, but in reality it was officially launched in March of this year.  It is now late July, that is old in terms of today's technology.  Since launch, this drive has only seen a couple of firmware upgrades which means one of two things.  1) Either Plextor has ignored this drive largely and hasn't fixed issues with it.  2) This drive is pretty solid and hasn't needed a lot of attention.

Today we're going to take a look at this multi-format drive and see if it's a good choice for those that want a Plextor drive and want DVD-RAM functions as well.  Can this drive bring back our faith in Plextor?  We'll soon see.

Bundle & First Look:

As we open up the box we are met with a typical Plextor ODD bundle.  We get an 80-pin IDE cable for this ATA-66 drive, a quick install guide, a software DVD, an interchangeable beige faceplate, and a bag with some screws and an emergency eject tool.  Pretty much standard fare.

PX-750A - Bundle
 PX-750A - Bundle

Included Software
 Included Software

Plextor has included the "DVD Writing Software" CD Rev.14.0.  This disk contains Roxio Easy CD & DVD Creator 7, CinePlayer, PlexTools Pro, a demo of Retrospect Backup, Adobe Reader, and a full user guide and manual in PDF format.  While this particular unit included PlexTools Pro, according to Plextor's Box Contents, PlexTools shouldn't be included as this is not a "Premium" drive.  Oh well, free PlexTools is not a bad thing.  ;-)

The PX-750A is a standard tray load DVDRW drive that has quite a few logos to decorate the front of the unit.  It has a single button and a single LED that flashes when the drive reads or writes CDs or DVDs.  Some new drives have ventilation, and I've seen a few upcoming BluRay and HD-DVD drives even have a fan located on the back.  The PX-750A has neither.  The back is as plain as an IDE Optical drive gets.  There is the standard Digital Audio Out, Analog Audio Out, Jumper Block, IDE Connector and finally the power connector.  Plextor engineers have determined that this drive will not get warm enough during operation to require ventilation.  We'll see as we burn through a stack of media later on.

PX-750A - Black Front
 PX-750A - Black Front

PX-750A - Back View
 PX-750A - Back View

PX-750A - Label
 PX-750A - Label

Although Plextor's official North America launch for this drive was March 20, 2006 this drive was actually manufactured back in December of 2005.  The TLA is 0001 so this is a very early revision of the drive.  The drive shipped with the 1.01 firmware, and we updated it to the latest which is 1.02 at the time of writing.


Specs & Drive Info:

Below is a list of specs and information about this drive. 

Performance
Data Transfer Rate CAV, CLV, PCAV, ZCAV, ZCAV write / CAV, CLV read
Sustained Read/Write Speeds DVD 16X (read/write) 22.16 MB/sec
  12X (read/write) 16.62 MB/sec
  8X (read/write) 11.08 MB/sec
  6X (read/write) 8.31 MB/sec
  5X(write only) 6.93 MB/sec
  4X (read/write) 5.54 MB/sec
  3X(write only) 4.16 MB/sec
  2.4X (write only) 3.32 MB/sec
  2X(write only) 2.77 MB/sec
  1X(write only) 1.39 MB/sec
Sustained Read/Write Speeds CD 40X (read/write) 6.0 MB/sec
  32X (read/write) 4.8 MB/sec
  24X (read/write) 3.6 MB/sec
  16X (read/write) 2.4 MB/sec
  12X (read/write) 1.8 MB/sec
  10X (read/write) 1.5 MB/sec
  4X (read only) 600 KB/sec
Burst Read/Write 16.6 MB/sec (PIO Mode-4/DMA Mode-2); 66 MB/sec (Ultra DMA Mode-4)
Typical CD/DVD Random Access <150 MS Typical DVD Ramdom Acces> 140ms
Buffer 2 MB
Error Rate CD-ROM Mode 1: 1 block/10^12 bits
CD-ROM Mode 2: 1 block/10^9 bits
DVD-ROM: 1 block/10^12 bits

As you can see by this chart above, the PX-750A is not the fastest at writing CDs or DL DVDs.  Other DVD Writers can manage 10x DVD+R DL, and 48x CD-R writing, but the PX-750A is limited to 8x DVD+R DL and 40x CD-R speeds.  That being said, I would far rather have a drive that writes a little slow but does it with god quality, than have a drive that writes blazing fast with poor quality.

Before we head on to our test system specs and start testing, we'll take a quick look at Nero Info Tool and DVDInfoPro to determine more of this drives capability.

Nero Info Tool
Nero Info Tool

DVD Info Pro
DVDInfoPro (click for full-size)


Test Setup:

 

We used the Samsung TS-H552U set as "Master" on the same IDE channel as the PX-750A which was set as "Slave".

We primarily use Nero CD / DVD Speed for our benchmarking as it generates 100% full data disks.  These disks include a full lead in and lead out where simulated disks do not.  We run each test at least once, and if we discover any issues, we rerun the test until we have figured out what was causing the problem.  With this drive, we had absolutely no issues reading and writing any disks that we chose to use.  The drives performance is how you see it below.

CD Tests:

Instead of going into super technical detail in this review, our focus is to see how well it works - straight up.  This is a Super Multi drive that is made for everyone.  We are testing it to see if everyone can use it and how well it lives up to it's claims.  First off are the CD Read tests.

This drive is rated to read and write CD-R's and to read pressed CDs at 40x.  This drive performs as expected in this area and reads our test CDs at a 39.99x maximum speed - pretty darn close to 40x.  I wouldn't dock it for missing by 0.01x.

PX-750A - CD-R Read
 PX-750A - CD-R Read

PX-750A - CD-RW Read
 PX-750A - CD-RW Read

Many drives read CD-RW disks slower that pressed CDs or CD-Rs, but the PX-750A claims to be able to read these disks at 40x also.  We used a 650MB Verbatim 32x CD-RW disk and it read the 650MB disk at a maximum of 39.74x.  If the disk was a full 700MB it would have hit 40x.  You will notice that the seek times on the CD-RW disk are a little higher than on the CD-R.

Next, we stuck in some blank CDs and ran through the write tests.  The drive doesn't show as smooth a curve when writing a CD-R as it does reading it, but it performed fast and with good quality.  We were able to read the disk back in other drives just fine.  Even though it is only a 40x CD Writer, it is still fast at 3:22 to write a full 700MB CD-R.

PX-750A - CD-R Write
 PX-750A - CD-R Write

PX-750A - CD-RW Write
 PX-750A - CD-RW Write

The PX-750A boasts 24x CD-RW speeds and it delivers.  However, Plextor has chosen to use the CAV strategy and this drive only hits 24x at the end of the disk.  Other 24x CDRW drives use P-CAV where the drive hits 24x about the 40 minute mark and continues at 24x through the end of the disk.  This makes for a slower 24x write speed, but the PX-750A leaves us with a high-quality disk and as I said before, I would rather have good quality and finish a few seconds slower.  (Ed. Note: CD/DVD Speed incorrectly identifies the CD-RW write as P-CAV, when it is actually CAV).

As far as copy protected CDs go, we used the Sheep Test to determine how good this drive really is.  Many drives available today are 1 Sheep or no Sheep drives, which means that they can't even copy SafeDisk 2 games.  The PX-750A is a 2 Sheep drive according to our tests.  This drive can copy SafeDisk 2.9x games, but cannot get by newer versions.  I applaud this drive as a 2 Sheep drive as many other drives I've used fail the test entirely.

On the next page we'll wrap things up with some DVD tests.


DVD Tests:

These DVD Read tests are more interesting than the CD Read tests.  DVDRW drives always list their maximum DVD Read speed on the box.  The truth is, different types of DVDs are read at different speeds.  DVD+R and DVD-R disks are always read slower than the maximum drive speed, and DVD+RW and DVD-RWs are read slower yet.  Generally speaking, Single Layer DVD Video and DVD-ROM disks are the only disks that can be read at the drives rated maximum speed.  Keep that in mind as we look at DVD-ROM, DVD+R, DVD-RAM and DVD+R DL tests below.

PX-750A - DVD-ROM Read
 PX-750A - DVD-ROM Read

PX-750A - DVD+R Read
 PX-750A - DVD+R Read

   

PX-750A - DVD-RAM Read
 PX-750A - DVD-RAM Read

PX-750A - DVD+R DL Read
 PX-750A - DVD+R DL Read

All of the tests above follow along with how Plextor rates this drive for performance.  The DVD-ROM that was read in the first test is the Oblivion DVD and it drops off a bit at the end of the disk, but finishes in good time.  DVD+R and DVD-R disks are rated to be read at 10x, and the drive pretty much nails it at 9.98x.  DVD-RAM disks on the other hand can only be read and written at 5x.  These seem a bit slow in this day and age of blistering fast drives, but 5x DVD-RAM is quite respectable and the PX-750A does a fine job and has no trouble reading our DVD-RAM media.  Dual Layer writing has come a long way since its initial 2.4x, and this drive claims speeds up to 8x.  Thanks to Howdy, we were able to test this drive on some Verbatim 8x DVD+R DL media.


The PX-750A has proven itself to be more than an adequate CD/DVD Reader and now we'll take a look and see how it does in the writing department.

PX-750A - DVD+R Write
 PX-750A - DVD+R Write

PX-750A - DVD-R Write
 PX-750A - DVD-R Write

   

PX-750A - DVD-RAM Write
 PX-750A - DVD-RAM Write

PX-750A - DVD+R DL Write
 PX-750A - DVD+R DL Write

The PX-750A has a much smoother writing curve than the PX-760A that we reviewed a few months back.  It has only a couple of drop-offs on our DVD+R 16x test media, and a few more on the DVD-R test media.  This helps the drive finish the disk faster - which is a good thing as long as the quality is preserved.  The test media read back fine in every other drive we tested so we are confident about the quality.

As I mentioned previously, this drive is rated at 5x for DVD-RAM media when both reading and writing.  The DVD-RAM disk was completed in just over 11 minutes which is consistent for 5x writing.  In our final screen shot we have a look at some DVD+R DL Writing.  Although Nero CD/DVD Speed states that the drive can write the sample media at 8x, the drive stays at a solid 4x throughout writing.  When I ran this test, the drive took a long time to start writing and just before it started to write, I could hear it slow down.  This is both a good and bad thing.  The drive is made to determine the maximum speed that it can safely write on a disk with quality, and the PX-750A determines the 8x media is only safe to write at 4x.  The quality of the disk is excellent, and that makes it worth the extra time it takes to write.  Perhaps in newer firmware and as fast media matures, the drive will indeed write DVD+R DL disks at 8x.  For now we settle for a 4x write with good quality.

Conclusion:

Overall, I'm extremely impressed with this drive from Plextor.  While it may not be the fastest unit on the plant, in testing it has been rock solid.  If this is the drive that begins to bring Plextor back to the forefront of the "King of Quality", this is a good start.  We had absolutely no issues with this drive during testing and the benchmarks above reflect our experience.  It's not 100% perfect in our tests as it does have some slowdowns when reading disks, but it bounces back up and finishes in top form.

Pros:

  • DVD-RAM from Plextor.
  • Solid Drive performs as rated with no issues in our tests.
  • Plextor Quality once again back on top.
  • Smooth, quiet operation.

Cons:

  • 8x DVD+R DL media was written at 4x.

It's been a while since we've been so impressed with a Plextor drive.  The breakdown below should say it all.

 

 

BCCHardware.com Rating
Quality:
10/10
Performance:
9/10
Software Pack:
9/10
Stability:
10/10
Features:
10/10
Value:
9/10
Total Score 9.5

 

I'd like to thank Plextor for firing this drive over to us for a review and also Howdy for providing me with some fast DVD+R DL media.

If you have any comments or questions regarding this review, please feel free to head on over and post them in the forum at the Comments link below.  Sweet.