bare feats real world speed tests

How Fast Is The New 16X Que! Fire CD-RW?

First Full Results Posting: March 19th, 2001
rob ART morgan, mad Mac scientist

It seems every time QPS announces a new CD burner, two weeks later they offer a rebate and announce a faster one. Well, not exactly. The latest 16X model should be of interest to many of you for several reasons:

  1. If you are considering a Build-To-Order G4 Power Mac, you're going to have to choose between the DVD-ROM and CD-RW internal drives. If you choose the DVD-ROM, you're going to want an external CD-RW.
  2. Apple's internal CD-RW is only rated at 8X so a 16X burner gets my attention. Plus it has the versatility of external FireWire.
  3. If you already have an older 8X or slower CD burner, you're going to be wondering if speed of the new drive justifies the $400+ cost.
  4. If you buy the 16X Que! Fire instead of Apple's built-in CD-RW, you may want to use it with Apple's iTunes and Disk Burner software... if it is compatible.

In the charts below, the following LEGEND will help you make sense of them:

Que16X = QPS Que! Fire 16X10X40X FireWire CD-RW
Que12X = QPS Que! Fire 12X10X32X FireWire CD-RW
Que8X = QPS Que! Fire 8X4X32X FireWire CD-RW
iCDRW = Apple's new internal CD-RW (G4 Power Mac)
DVD = Apple's internal DVD-ROM drive (G4 Power Mac)

Toast = Roxio's
Toast 4.1.2 software
ReWrite = Toast used to write to "rewrite" CD's
= Apple's OS 9.1
Disk Burner 1.01 software that burns "Files and Folders" for backup of data. (See details in the TEST NOTES section.)
iTunes = Apple's free
iTunes 1.1 software that imports music from CD's or the Internet, does format conversion, and burns audio CD's.


As expected, the 16X Que! Fire leads the pack. What was unexpected was the slowness of Apple's Disk Burner software. It seems that Apple's software copies the files to some staging area on the hard drive before starting the burn whereas Toast just burns.


This time, I added the verify time to the burn time. (Verify is advised for backing up critical data.) Apple's CD-RW took as long to verify as it did to burn. What a pain! For some reason, Toast got into some kind of infinite loop when I tried to verify the Que! 8X. It happened six times straight on two different computers so I gave up. I'm sure this isn't normal behavior. ;-)



This a useful thing to do when you want to extract a song from a CD in the highest quality (AIFF, 16 bit, Stereo, 44kHz). If you have the G4 tower with the DVD-ROM drive, you are going to find that it extracts/imports audio CD's more quickly than Apple's CD-RW even though they are both rated at 32X read speed.


Lets say you have your favorite tunes stored on the hard drive in AIFF. The graph above shows how long it takes to burn an Audio CD from your hard drive. If you have Toast and two CD drives, you can duplicate CD's direct from CD to CD. This is always faster than Extracting and then Burning, unless you are burning more than one copy. In fact, I found when I used the DVD-ROM drive as the Source drive, I could copy from CD to CD faster than I could burn from hard drive to CD!



The 16X Que! Fire has impressive speed (faster than anything Apple offers) and the Toast software is a delight to use (and faster than anything Apple offers). But speed comes at a price: The 16X sells for $259 at

*HOT DEALS TIP: If you are among those who prefer to burn rewritable CD's the Que! Fire 16X drive REwrites at 10X. Did you know that the 12X model REwrites at the same speed and is $90 cheaper?

Toast backs up "Files and Folders" faster Apple's Finder mode Disk Burner software. Reason? Apple's software insists on physically copying the file & folders to some staging area on the hard drive before starting the CD burn. In fact there was a two stage setup (Copy Files and Save Image). Those steps added 200 seconds to the total time to make a CD. Toast stores pointers to the disk files and just burns them.

One other big advantage to Toast: it supports multiple burns to CD's that aren't filled. Disk Burner only allows one burn per disk even if it's one tiny file!

Apple's iTunes and Disk Burner have the advantage of burning in background. It may take longer to burn data but you don't have to sit around twiddling your thumbs or brewing coffee while you wait.

Apple's iTunes and Disk Burner software is supposed to work with the 16X Que! Fire but when I tried to test this scenario on the Dual 533, the software "insisted" on using the internal CD-RW. So I switched over to the G4/500 with only a DVD-ROM internal. It seemed to "see" the drive, but when I tried to burn a data CD using Disk Burner, it went into another "endless loop." I did manage to burn a music CD using iTunes but it froze up the G4 at completion. I've been assured by QPS that version 1.1 of Disk Burner and 1.1 version of iTunes are compatible with all models of Que! Fire. I guess I was holding my mouth wrong.

The fastest way to Extract AIFF files from a CD is by using iTunes and a DVD-ROM drive. Seems to me the ideal setup for the Power User is a DVD-ROM internal (read/playback) and a DVD-R FireWire external (for burning CD's and DVD's). Contact FWDepot for more info on the NEW external FireWire DVD-R drive.



Apple Lust also tested the 16X Que! Fire


I hope to add results from burning regular CD's with Apple's internal SuperDrive on the G4/733 to add to this sometime later this week. My guess-timate is that it will be slower to extract/import but about the same speed as the CD-RW to burn regular CD's since it's rated as 8X4X24X for normal CD's. I'll also be burning the same data and music files on a DVD-R medium (using
Toast 5.0).



Apple Dual G4/533 Power Mac (256M of RAM, CD-RW, Mac OS 9.1)
Apple G4/500 Power Mac (256M of RAM, DVD-ROM, Mac OS 9.1)

QPS Que! Fire 16X10X40X FireWire CD-RW
QPS Que! Fire 12X10X32X FireWire CD-RW
QPS Que! Fire 8X4X32X FireWire CD-RW

Apple's (Sony) internal 8X4X32X IDE CD-RW (standard equipment on most G4 Power Macs currently shipping)

Roxio's Toast 4.1.2 and Toast Audio Extractor (NOTE: if you are planning to buy Toast, you might want to get the soon to be released Version 5 Toast Titanium which includes the ability to burn data CD's on the SuperDrive.) Roxio has a comparison chart showing the features of version 4 versus version 5.

Apple's iTunes 1.1 (for audio) and Disk Burner 1.01 (for regular data)

To create DATA CD's with Apple's Disk Burner software, you insert a blank disc in the CD drive. In the dialog box that appears, enter a name for the disc and select the format you want to create (Standard, Audio, MP3). An icon for the CD will appear on the desktop. Drag files and folders to the icon (or open window). When you're finished, select the disc and choose Burn CD from the Special menu. You can also throw the disk in the Trash Can at which point it will ask, "Discard or Burn?"

For my "Backup Files and Folders" test, I took a folder full of Napster downloads (511MB, 71 items) and dropped it in the Disk Burner window. Ditto for when I used Toast.

For my "Extracting AIFF" test, extracted 10 tunes from an audio CD from various CD readers using both iTunes (import) and Toast Audio Extractor. Preferences were set to AIFF, 16bit, 44kHz, Stereo. The 10 tunes totaled 42 min 52 sec or 429 megabytes.

For my "Burn Audio CD" test, I burned a CD on various burners. The tunes were stored on the internal hard drive either in a regular folder (in the case of Toast) or in the iTunes music folder.



The 16X10X40X Que! Fire is selling at for $259.
The 12X10X32X Que! Fire is selling at for $169. has the CDCyclone 24x10x40x FireWire for $349.

(See my HOT DEALS page for bargain sources of similar products.)

PSSSST! At the End of April, FWDepot will start shipping an external FireWire "SuperDrive" (DVD-R). It will run about $1100 with free copy of Toast 5 Titanium software with it so you can use it to back up data (not just burn movies) on 6GB DVD-R media.



LINKS to SPEED tests on other web sites


DOWNLOADS that add more SPEED




© 2001 Rob Art Morgan.
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