AOpen 4048 CDRW

Today, I am going to take a look at AOpen's latest offering to the burner market: the AOpen 4048 Burner. Does this burner live up to the hype that 40x burning has generated? Is it worth your hard-earned $$$? How does it compare with previous AOpen burners? We will take a look at all these questions in a brief moment.

First things first though, lets take a look at the specs from AOpen's website. . .

- Interface: E-IDE/ATAPI (SFF8080 Rev 1.2&8020I Rev 2.6), ATA-33 (33MB/sec), DMA (16.7MB/sec), PIO Mode 2 (16.7MB/sec)
- Data Buffer Memory: 2MB
- Data Transfer Rate:
- CD-R Write: (CLV) 4X, 8X, 12X : (ZCLV) 16X, 20X, 24X, 32X, 40X =6MB/sec (CD-R);
- CD-RW Write: (CLV) 4X, 8X, 10X, 12X =1.8MB/sec (CD-RW)
- CD Read: Up to 48X (1X=150KB/s)
- Average Access Time: 120ms
- Mounting Orientation: Horizontal or vertical (eject button must be upside)
- Supported Formats: CD-Audio,CD-ROM (mode 1 and 2), CD-ROM XA (mode2, from 1 and from 2), CD-I, Photo-CD (single and multiple sessions), Video CD, CD Extra, I-Trax CD, CD Text, and High Density (80-min) CD.
*CD-I, Photo-CD requires special reader/player.
*Photo-CD writing requires Kodak's license.
*CD Text and High Density requires Nero.
Power Requirement: DC5V±5%, DC12V±10%
Logical Recording Format: UDF and ISO9660
Weight: 1.0 kg or less (accessories not include)

You might have noticed that this driver is rated as having a little slower Access time than either the 3248, or the 2440 by AOpen., as well as the 3248 has an 8Mb buffer, and the 4048 has a 2Mb buffer. For reference you can view the 3248 review here, and the 2440 review here.

Enough of that, here is the test system specs:

AMD Athlon 1.4GHz, Abit KT7A, 512MB PC133 cas2 ram, Maxtor Diamond Max+ 40GB ATA100 HD, Pioneer 116 ATA66 DVD, Windows 2000 Professional, Service Pack 2, Via 4.38's, and Nero

The CD-RW drive comes with - CRW4048 Drive - User's manual - Audio cable - Screws - 1 blank 40X CD-R disc - 1 blank 12X CD-RW disc - Nero Burning ROM - Nero InCD Packet Writing (in the same CD of Nero Burning ROM). As with the 2440 and up models from AOpen, the 4048 comes with JustSpeed (detects how fast the media can burn safely), and JustLink (buffer under run protection). Good and good.

Before I started testing I flashed to the latest firmware available. On to the tests!!!

For this first test, using Nero CD Speed, I stuck in a Data CD and ran all available tests. The CD I used is a CD-R of Mandrake 8.0 Disk #2. It is about 650Mb so it gives you an idea on 74min CD's. This CD is scratched up a bit, but the drive had no problems reading it. The only thing that concerns me is the Full Seek Time; at 229ms, that is a little high for my personal preference, but whether you would notice that during normal use . . . I doubt it. As you can see, this drive rated to read at 48x, has no problem hitting the mark on a 650Mb CD. Score 1 for AOpen

Next, I stuck in an Audio CD. This one is the same CD-R that I used in the AOpen 3248 review. This CD is a little bigger, weighing in at 681MB This time the 4048 reads at a speedy 49.81x! Pushing awfully close to 50x is always a good thing. Random, and 1/3 seek times are excellent. Full Seek Time is a little high still. The 4048's little brother, the 3248 scores an impressive 173ms seek time on this test. However, as you can see, this drive is an excellent Audio Extractor: it scores a perfect 10 with an accurate stream according to Nero CD Speed. This is excellent for all you MP3'ers out there, that need a fast drive to rip CD's to MP3. (For archival purposes of course. . .)

Now we get to see how this baby burns! That's what we pay the extra $$$ for ain't it? Oh yeah! Here's a little info for those of you that aren't familiar with new CD-RW drives. A 40x burner does not burn at 40x the whole way through the CD. It start's at a slower speed, and increases along the length of the CD. Eventually the burner will reach 40x. Here is how the AOpen 4048 works. It uses at technology called Z-CLV or Zoned-Constant Linear Velocity. Check it out.

Although the picture is a little blurry, this is how it breaks down. . . The CD starts at 16x, and burns at that speed for only about 2 minutes of CD length or about 17.5MB. The drive then stops writing, increases speed and burns at 20x for the next 8 minutes of CD time, another 70MB. Again the drive stops, increases up to 24x for the next 20 minutes or 175MB. Again stopping, increasing to 32x, and continues to burn at that speed for 22 minutes of CD time, 192.5MB. Finally, it hits it's rated 40x at the 52 minute mark and finishes off the CD. If you are burning small CD's you won't likely be burning them at 40x, or maybe not even 32x. That's the way most CD's are burned, however some are going to a P-CAV method, but we won't get into that here. A 29.20x average burn isn't too bad at all.

Let's see how this technology translates into performance shall we? For these next few burn simulations I used Nero, and 32x rated CD-R's from HyperMedia. Yes, they burn 40x no problem. In fact the 4048 recognizes them as 40x compatible. I do simulations for tests, as I don't need a pile of copied CD's laying around. I find that simulations are within a second of two of actual burn times anyway. . . This CD simulation is a single file DivX that is 700MB in size plus the LILO (lead in - lead out).

This file was burned in a smoking 3:13. AOpen's 3248 finished in 3:32 reviewed here, and AOpen's 2440 finished in 4:09 reviewed here. Definitely an impressive step up from the 2440, and a modest gain from the 3248.

Next, we look at CD copy. This test is done on-the-fly, with both drives on the same IDE cable. The source drive is a Pioneer 116 ATA66 DVD ROM that reads at 48x. This is how it shapes up. The 4048 finishes the Disk to Disk Copy in 3:34. That's not a lot of time to get a coffee. ; ) For comparison, the 3248 finished in 3:42, and the 2440 finished in 4:03.

Lastly, I burned the JKII ISO from the hard disk. I wanted to see if the 4048 was capable of a faster burn, if it didn't have to wait on the source CD. Yup it is. This time it burned it up in 3:09. That is including Lead In and Lead Out. That is one blazing fast burner!

In conclusion, this drive is an improvement from it's predecessors in several ways. Let's look at the Pros and Cons.

Pros: 1) It is fast, 2) It is quiet, 3) It has a good software bundle, 4) It is a good DAE, 5) It is very reasonably priced.

Cons: 1) Seek times are a little high, 2) Z-CLV should be a little more aggressive.

That's about it. This drive is definitely a recommended drive from Ben's Custom Cases, and I would give this a 9+/10. What does that mean? Go buy one!

Thanks to Dallmann Computers @ (403)485-2789 for sending me this drive to review.