Introduction

Prices of DVD Burners are now dropping dramatically and they are now more affordable than ever before. When they were new to the market some 2 years ago, DVD Burners were about $400 just for a 2x One Format Burner (DVD+R/RW). Now prices are dropping to as low as almost $100 (for a Dual Format DVD Burner). It is very common to find a person by the cheapest DVD Burner they can find, but that doesn't mean that it is as good as higher priced burners.

Today, we are doing a roundup of 3 Dual Format DVD Burners: the TDK IndiDVD Aid-440N, the Memorex Dual-X Dual Format DVD Recorder (Model 32023235), and the LG GSA-4040B Super Multi DVD Writer. The TDK IndiDVD drive is the highest priced and it is street priced around $160, the Memorex around $150, and the LG around $130.

  

We will be testing the capability of the write speeds of DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD+RW, and exclusively for the LG GSA-4040B, DVD-RAM burning as well as other aspects of these drives.

For those who don’t know a lot about the DVD Burnable formats (DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD-RAM), you can check out http://www.dvdrhelp.com/dvd. It tells you the basics about DVD (Re)writable Media and the differences between DVD+ discs and DVD- discs.

*Please note the firmware version we upgraded to/used for the review:

TDK IndiDVD 440N DVD Burner:

Firmware: 1.08

LG GSA-4040B

Firmware: A301

Memorex Dual-X

Firmware: 1.05

TDK IndiDVD 440N

Manufacturer: TDK

Provided by: FM Group

Price: ~$160

As most people know, TDK is one of the popular and famous manufacturers for optical drives and rewritable media. Most people have probably seen their Blue translucent VeloCD CD Burners and/or used the CD-R TDK has a history of mixing good looks with astounding performance, but at a somewhat high price, I may add.

The TDK IndiDVD 440N Burner is the most expensive of the drives, about $160. The drive is black and has a shiny black tray (so shiny that you can see your reflection if you tried hard enough). It has the capability of writing at 4x (DVD+/-R), 2.4x DVD+RW, 2x DVD-RW, and DVD Read speed of 12x. The drive, of course, writes CD Media: 16x CD-R, 10x CD-RW, 40x CD-ROM, but can only rip audio at 32x. Pretty standard stuff for a 4x Dual Format DVD Burner.

  

  

 

 

 

 

Minimum Requirements

Pentium III 1.0 GHz or higher
Windows XP (Service Pack 1), 2000 (Service Pack 2), ME and 98SE
256MB of RAM
Graphics cards and soundcards with Direct X 8 support
700MB of available hard drive space for software installation
20GB free on hard drive for DVD disc creation
7200 RPM hard drive

 

 

 

Recommended System Requirements for Optimal Performance

Pentium III 1.0 GHz or higher
Windows XP (Service Pack 1), 2000 (Service Pack 2), ME and 98SE
256MB of RAM
Graphics cards and soundcards with Direct X 8 support
700MB of available hard drive space for software installation
20GB free on hard drive for DVD disc creation
7200 RPM hard drive

DVD±RWrite Speed

4x (Both DVD+R and DVD-R)

DVD±RW Speeds

2.4x (DVD+RW), 2x (DVD-RW)

DVD Read Speeds

12x

CD Write Speed

16x

CD Rewrite Speed

10x

CD Read Speed

40x

Data Buffer

2 MB

Buffer Underrun Protection

Yes

Readable Formats

DVD-ROM, DVD+RW, DVD+R, DVD-RW, DVD-R, CD-DA, CD TEXT, CD-ROM, CD-ROM+CD-DA, CD-ROM XA, CD-I, Photo CD, CD EXTRA, CD+G

Writable Formats

CD-R, CD-RW, DVD+R, DVD-R, DVD+RW, DVD-RW

Writable Modes

Packet, TAO, DAO, SAO, RAW SAO, RAW SAO 96, RAW DAO 96

Package:

1 4x DVD±RW Drive

1 Bag of 4 screws and 1 pin

1 IDE Cable

1 TDK 4x DVD+R

1 TDK 4x DVD-R

2 Software Discs

1 Quick Installation Guide (for Hardware Installation)

1 Software Guide

  

Memorex Dual-X Dual Format DVD Recorder

Manufactured and Provided by: Memorex

Price: ~$150

Memorex is a somewhat new player in the optical drive business. They only started manufacturing drives a few years ago. However, Memorex is very well known for their Blank CD Media. They have a reputation of selling exceptional quality blank CD-R’s and CD-RW’s at low prices.

The Memorex Dual Format DVD Recorder basically has the same specifications as the TDK 440N. It can burn DVD+R/-R at 4x, DVD+RW at 2.4x, and DVD-RW at 2x. The CD speeds are 12x10x32x.

  

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Requirements

Pentium III 800MHz or equivalent

128MB RAM

Microsoft Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP

DirectX 8 Compatible Video and Sound Card

1.8GB Free Hard Drive space to install Roxio Hard Drive

10GB Free Hard Drive

One available 5.25" bay

DVD±R Speed

4x (Both DVD+R and DVD-R)

DVD±RW Speeds

2.4x DVD+RW, 2x DVD-RW

DVD Read Speed

12x

CD Write Speed

16x

CD ReWrite Speed

10x

CD Read Speed

32x

Data Buffer

2 MB

Buffer Underrun Protection

Yes

Readable Formats

CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD-RW, VCD, CD Text, C2 Errors, CD-ROM XA, CD-DA, CD-Extra, Ultra Speed Disc Media, Reads Photo CD, Reads CD-I

Writable Formats

CD-R, CD-RW, DVD+R, DVD-R, DVD+RW, DVD-RW, CD-ROM XA, CD-DA, CD-Extra

Writing Modes

Packet, TAO, DAO, SAW, RAW SAO, RAW DAO, RAW SAO 16, RAW SAO 96, RAW DAO 16, RAW DAO 96

Package:

1 4x DVD±RW Drive

4 Screws

1 Audio Cable

1 IDE Cable

1 Memorex 2.4x DVD+R

1 Software Disc (Roxio Burning Software)

1 Quick Installation Map

1 Full Installation Booklet (for Software and Hardware)

  

LG GSA-4040B Super Multi DVD Writer

Manufactured and Provided by: LG Electronics USA

Price: ~$130

LG was first established as Goldstar in 1958 in Korea. They are well known for producing Home appliances such as refrigerators, gas dryers, washers, microwaves, and much more.

The thing that makes the GSA-4040B different from the TDK 440N and the Memorex Dual Format Recorder is that the LG drive can burn and read DVD-RAM. DVD-RAM is supposedly the most convenient way to burn data, since it can be write on and erase quicker can regular DVD+RW/-RW discs. Think of DVD-RAM as a very high capacity floppy disc. The problem with using DVD-RAM is that most DVD-ROMs and players do not support reading them.

  

  

 

Minimum Requirements

Microsoft Windows 98, 2000Pro, ME, XP Home or Pro

Pentium III 700Mhz or higher with IBM PC or Compatible

128MB or Larger is recommended

5GB or More Free Space

5.25" Internal Drive Bay

DirectX 8.1 or Higher is needed

DVD±R Speed

4x (Both DVD+R and DVD-R)

DVD±RW Speeds

2.4x DVD+RW, 2x DVD-RW

DVD Read Speed

12x

CD Write Speed

24x

CD ReWrite Speed

16x

CD Read Speed

32x

Data Buffer

2 MB

Readable Formats

CD-R, CD-RW, DVD+R, DVD-R, DVD+RW, DVD-RW, DVD-RAM

Buffer Underrun Protection

Yes

Writable Formats

CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD+R, DVD-R, DVD+RW, DVD-RW, DVD-RAM

Writing Modes

Packet, TAO, DAO, SAW, RAW SAO, RAW DAO, RAW SAO 16, RAW SAO 96, RAW DAO 16, RAW DAO 96

The DVD burning speeds are standard (4x DVD+R/-R, 2.4x DVD+RW, 2x DVD-RW). However, instead of the conventional 16x speed for CD Burning, the LG GSA-4040B can burn CD’s at 24x and rewrite CD’s at 16x. The 24x CD Burning (as well as the 16x ReWrite speed), the DVD-RAM Burning, as well as the low price tag of $130 makes this seemingly the best choice out of all 3 drives, but we’ll have to wait for the benchmarks to draw that conclusion.

Package:

1 4x DVD±RW Drive

4 Screws

1 Audio Cable

1 IDE Cable

1 Quick Guide (on how to install software/drivers)

1 Owner’s Manual (Booklet)

1 PowerDVD DVD Player Software Disc

1 Burning and Editing Software Disc (B’s Clip, B’ Recorder, neoDVD, RAM Drivers)

Test Setup

 

Processor

AMD Athlon XP 2800+ Barton

 

Motherboard

Gigabyte GA-7N400 Pro2 nForce2 Ultra 400

 

Graphics Card

 

PNY GeForceFX 5200

Hard Drive

 

Western Digital 200GB w/ 8 MB Cache

RAM

 

1GB Corsair PC3200 TwinX1024-3200LLPRO Dual Channel RAM

 

Case

 

Cooling

CoolerMaster 80mm LED Fan (TLF-R82)

Colorful 120mm Fan

Enermax WS-8SLFS System Blower

 

Operating System

 

Windows XP Professional w/ Service Pack 1

Power Supply

 

Allied 400W PSU

*All the drivers were setup as Master Drives and were connected with the same ATA133 Rounded ATA Cable.

DVD used for Backup Benchmark Purposes:

Valentine Widescreen DVD

Programs:

Nero CD-DVD Speed v2.01

Elby CloneDVD 1.3.10.1 – To create image file from Valentine DVD

Nero Burning ROM 6 (v6.0.0.19) – used to burn image file of Valentine DVD Backup

Media used for burning:

Maxell 3x DVD-RAM

Memorex 4x DVD+R

Memorex 4x DVD-R

TDK 2.4x DVD+RW

TDK 2x DVD-RW

Nero CD-DVD Speed

To take a closer look at the drive’s specification and performance, we used Nero CD-DVD Speed. For this benchmark, we used the Valentine DVD for DVD Reading Purposes.

  

 

Judging by the graph already, you can tell that the read speed of the Memorex is a bit lacking. Now, we go into details of the results….

Average Read Speeds:

The LG managed to read at the fastest rate. It started at 3.37x and ended at 8.01x, making it a faster DVD Reader than the TDK 440N and the Memorex Dual-X Drive. This was quite a surprise, since I expected much more performance from TDK, but I applaud the LG GSA-4040B for its superior performance.

Although it is apparent that the read rate of the Memorex Dual-X is about 2x, I tested it with DVD Video playback and there were no problems (no lag anything of the sort). The same goes for the TDK 440N and the LG GSA-4040B

Seek Times:

Again, the Memorex drive seems to be slowest in reading when seeking. The TDK and LG are pretty much evenly tied.

CPU Usage:

The Memorex Dual Format Drive’s results show that it uses 100% of the CPU when reading at 8x and 4x, which is quite draining for the CPU if you’re only reading at 4x. The Memorex Dual Format Drive does ok when reading at 1x and 2x, but the results from there on show a high CPU utilization.

The TDK 440N performed the best when reading at 1x, 2x, and 4x. Like the Memorex Dual Format Drive, the 440N uses 100% of the CPU when reading at 8x, which sets the scale of the average CPU usage when reading at 8x.

The LG came on top with only using 59% of the CPU when reading at 8x. However, the TDK 440N managed to beat the LG GSA-4040B when reading at speeds of 1x, 2x, and 4x. However, the GSA-4040B still managed to use less CPU when reading at 8x and 4x. The LG’s mediocre CPU Utilization is compensated for its lower CPU Utilization when reading at 8x.

DVD±R Burning

 

DVD+RW Burning:

The time it took to burn the Valentine 4.2GB image file was quite astonishing. The Memorex came in first with a burning time of 13 minutes 31 seconds. The TDK came in short of 15 seconds of the Memorex and finished burning at 13 minutes 46 seconds. The LG GSA-4040B lagged in last with 14 minutes 8 seconds. The TDK 440N was a little disappointing, since it was the most expensive of the drives and was beaten by the Memorex. The Memorex is king in 4x DVD+R Burning, but let’s see how it fair when burning 4x DVD-R….

DVD-R Burning:

Ok, so you’re probably perplexed as to why the chart only has 2 bars instead of 3 and why there is such a big difference between the LG Drive and the Memorex Drive. When testing the TDK 440N, it was not able to burn any DVD-R/RW disc we threw at it (it wouldn’t even accept their own name brand DVD-RW). The LG GSA-4040B’s problem was that it could only burn up to 2x when reading the Memorex 4x DVD-R. We decided to go on with the benchmarking and decided to burn at 2x.

The TDK 440N would be stuck on burning the Lead-In for about 45 minutes and finally arrive to an error message stating that it could not burn. We contacted TDK immediately for technical assistance. They replied saying:

"Have you tried using the Roxio software that came with the drive?

As Nero and CloneDVD did not come bundled with the drive we are unable

to support it. One thing to try is the firmware upgrade for the drive.

This can be downloaded from our website at

http://www.tdk.com/support/dvdburners/indidvd4xmultisup.html#firmware"

All they said was that I should download the latest firmware. After upgrading from firmware 1.07 to 1.08, results were the same. I even used CloneDVD and Roxio to burn, but the results were the same: the 440N could not burn DVD-R/RW discs. This was another disappointment for the TDK 440N, since it had already been out-burned by the Memorex Dual-X when burning DVD+R at 4x. There might have been an a recent error in manufacturing the TDK Indi Drives, but nonetheless, it is unknown at the time whether or not a future firmware upgrade (or drive revisions) can address the DVD-R/RW burning issue. The 440N’s inability to burn DVD-R/RW discs makes it no better than a single format DVD+R/RW Drive.

As for the LG GSA-4040B, when detecting the speed it could burn the media at, it determined that it could only burn at 2x. We then contacted LG for technical assistance as well, and they replied with the following statement:

"Make sure you have the latest updates and patches for the burning software you are using. You will need to use Maxell or Pioneer DVD media. We have a firmware update for the drive available at www.lgservice.com. This addresses the issue of media compatability and burn speeds."

They basically implied that the GSA-4040B could only burn 4x DVD-R only with Pioneer or Maxell media. I also upgraded the firmware, but results were also the same: the GSA-4040B cannot burn at 4x speed on 4x Memorex DVD-R discs (and is possibly the same with all brands except Maxell and Pioneer). Whether or not if the issue can be fixed with another firmware is unknown at this time as well. However, this might explain why the price of the GSA-4040B is lower than that of Memorex.

DVD±RW and DVD-RAM Burning

2.4x DVD+RW Burning:

Memorex came in the lead again. It managed to finish burning 42 seconds faster than the TDK 440N and 43 seconds faster than the LG GSA-4040B. To my surprise, the LG and TDK are pretty much evenly matched when burning DVD+RWs at 2.4x.

2x DVD-RW and DVD-RAM Burning:

We decided to add in the DVD-RAM burn speed in with the 2x DVD-RW burn speed, since they are the most similar (due to the fact that both are supported by DVDForum).

When burning DVD-RWs at 2x, LG came ahead of the Memorex by 26 seconds. This was quite amazing, since Memorex had beaten the LG in burning 4x DVD+R and 2.4x DVD+RW. The GSA-4040B performed quite poorly, finishing at 39 minutes 10 seconds. Burning DVD-RAM is not fast at all and not widely supported, which makes it practically useless. Burning DVD+RWs or DVD-RWs seems to be a better alternative, since its is faster to burn, is erasable, and is very widely accepted.

Conclusion

After extensive burning benchmarking, it is pretty obvious which burner performed the best. Here is the recap: The Memorex was the fastest when burning at 4x DVD+R and 2.4x DVD+RW. It managed to burn at 4x DVD-R too, which happened to give it an advantage over the TDK 440N and the LG GSA-4040B. The reason for this was because the TDK 440N was unable to burn any DVD-R/RW (but DVD+R/RW was fine), which made the drive an equivalent of a Single Format 4x DVD+R/RW Drive instead of a 4x DVD±R/RW Drive (which is awkward, seeing as this drive cost the most of all 3 drives and performed arguably the poorest). The LG GSA-4040B’s performance was all in all mediocre; being able to burn all DVD formats, but unable to burn DVD-Rs at 4x (unless Pioneer or Maxell media is used to burn). However, it managed to burn DVD-RWs at 2x speed 26 seconds faster than the Memorex Dual Format Drive. The DVD-RAM burning feature of the GSA-4040B turned out to be rather useless, since it took roughly 40 minutes for it to burn a 4.2GB image file (while it only took roughly 25 minutes to burn the same thing on a DVD-RW or DVD+RW). All the DVD Backups that were created were excellent quality and did not contain any pixilation or anything of the sort (so DVD Backup quality should not be a problem with the drives, as far as Signl-Layer Copying goes). Here are my conclusions of the Roundup of the 3 Dual Format DVD Burners:

TDK IndiDVD 440N:

Pros:

Cons:

SLRating: ****** (6/10)

 

Memorex Dual Format DVD Recorder:

Pros:

Cons:

SLRating: ********* (9.5/10)

 

LG GSA-4040B DVD-RAM Drive:

Pros:

Cons:

SLRating: ******** (8/10)

Out of all 3 drives, the Memorex Dual Format DVD Recorder performed the best in most areas of burning. The only thing that keeps it from receiving a perfect score of 10 is the lack of speed in DVD reading (but shouldn’t be a major problem, since DVD playback is fine). It is my pleasure to give the Memorex 4x Dual Format DVD Recorder Editor’s Choice.

I would like to thank Franklin and Matt of FM Group for sending the TDK 440N Burner, Brad at LG Electronics for the GSA-4040B, and Mark at Memorex for the 4x Dual Format DVD Recorder.



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