Is a 12X FireWire CD-RW really
50% faster than an 8X CD-RW?

Posted 12/15/2000; updated 1/20/2000 with new cost analysis.
2000 Rob Art Morgan, chief test pilot of BARE FEATS
rob-art@barefeats.com

The QPS Que! Fire 12X CD-RW external drive is shipping for Macintosh. Is it worth paying $350 for a 12X when you can get an 8X for $240? Is it really that much faster?

PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS
If you are burning regular CD blanks, the 12X drive is 42% faster than the 8X drive (counting burn and verify time). Not exactly 50% but close.

If you are burning rewritable media, the 12X drive burns and verifies 77% faster than the 8X. (Actually, the 12X drive burns the erasable media at 10X and the 8X drive burns the erasable at 4X.)

Although the performance gap widens, I don't know why anyone would use rewritable media. I buy "one time" blanks for 30 cents each. I burn them and either store them, use them or toss them. Why would I want to spend $2 for each rewritable CD blank just so I could fill up my spare time erasing it for reuse?

Besides, if you are using CD's for backup media, you do NOT want to overwrite the previous backup. As a former supervisor of a computer center, I learned the hard way that overwriting previous backups is a sure fire way to perpetuate a corrupted file with no recourse.

COST ANALYSIS

Is the 12X worth the extra cost? Based on the latest prices, I say YES!

The latest prices have it at $269 after rebate, only $40 more than the lowest price for the 8X.

If that doesn't convince you, there's one feature that may justify the extra cost of the 12X. It's called "Burn-Proof" technology. It eliminates buffer underrun errors in fast write modes. (I hate when that happens.)

MacGurus specializes in the highest quality, highest performance upgrades for Macintosh

TEST CONFIGURATION AND PROCEDURES

The TEST machine: An Apple G4/400 Sawtooth and 512MB of "222" PC-100 memory. Mac OS 9.04, VM off, ATALK off, clock display off, minimal extensions.

CD-RW drives tested:
QPS Que! FIRE 12X/10X/32X FireWire external drive.
QPS Que! FIRE 8X/4X/32X FireWire external drive.
(Both drives use the Plextor mechanism. Both drives include an OEM version of Toast software and one free rewritable CD. Click
HERE for Acrobat brochure.)

BURN TEST
I take a 30MB file and drop it into the Toast window. Then I do a "Session" burn. I time it with a stopwatch until it finishes writing, housekeeping, and says, "Wanna verify?"

VERIFY TEST
I say "Yes" to "Wanna verify?" and time it with a stopwatch until it says, "You can eject now."

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2000 Rob Art Morgan, publisher of BARE FEATS
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