MSI DR16-B Review

From a price standpoint the DR16-B is a very inexpensive drive
From a price standpoint the DR16-B is a very inexpensive drive
From a price standpoint the DR16-B is a very inexpensive drive

Highs

  • Fast write times; complete software package; inexpensive to purchase

Lows

  • Fussy with DVD-R media; boring beige design; does not come with writeable media

DT Editors' Rating

Summary

The MSI DR16-B is a definite improvement in MSI’s DVD writer line and has a lot of promise, but the company still has a lot they need to work on. While the DR16-B proved to be fast at writing CD, DVD+R, and DVD+R DL media, it struggles when it comes to DVD-R media. We experienced random burn errors and slower-than-anticipated write times with DVD-R media. MSI also did not send us any writeable media for us to use, so we really have no idea which brand of media the DR16-B works best with.

In all other tests the DR16-B did an admirable job with fast write times and the ability to multitask while it is in the writing process. The software suite that comes with the DR16-B is better than what we have seen from other DVD writers on the market, so MSI has done a great job in that department. 

Features we would like to see on future drives from MSI include a black or grey front faceplate (preferably both), some included media for the user to get started and a more detailed instruction manual. We are hoping that the user reviews on the DR16-B will show favorable results in the DVD-R writing format, so make sure to read them as others provide their experience with the drive.

While the Sony DRU-700A is a faster drive than the DR16-B in most DVD writing tests, Sony’s drive also costs about $30 dollars more on average and is only faster in mosts test by a few seconds. Sony, however, does give you both a grey and black faceplate as well as a more feature-rich version of the Nero 6 software.

Introduction

 

Sony, TDK and Plextor are usually the first companies to introduce DVD writers based on the latest technology, but this time around MSI has quietly joined the others by introducing their DR16-B dual layer DVD writer. The last DVD writer we reviewed from MSI had incredible promise that included a feature rich software package and a low price, but it fell short when it came to write times – although an eventual firmware update fixed the reported problems. This time around MSI’s next generation DVD writer, the DR16-B, jumps to the front of the pack by offering an unprecedented 16X DVD-R write speeds and the capability of writing to the new DVD Dual Layer disc format. Priced $30 dollars less than Sony’s award winning DRU-710A Dual Layer drive, can the MSI DR16-B unseat the current speed king?

Features and Design

It’s somewhat humorous to see a large company spend millions in advertising on their products only to see someone like MSI come along and introduce a product boasting faster write speeds at a lower price. You got to love the under dog in occasions like this.

The DR16-B is not a particularly attractive unit to look at and seems to only come in your standard beige. But with most systems coming in either a grey or black chassis, beige is beyond outdated at this point. We liked that Sony is packaging both grey and black faceplates with their DVD writers so you are assured their drive will look good in your system. Hopefully we will see MSI include more colorful faceplate options in future drives. Located on the front of the drive is the eject button; there are no volume controls or headphone inputs which the DR4-A drive had.  

Feature-wise, the MSI DR16-B features a 2MB buffer and Seamless Link which is the technology used to help prevent buffer underruns and recording failures. The DR16-B also supports the ability to over-burn CD and DVD discs as well as the ability to burn to 99 or 90 minute CD-R’s. The 2MB buffer is actually a step down from the 8MB buffer which MSI included in their DR4-A DVD writer, so we will have to see how this impacts the performance of the drive later on in the review.

The DR16-B features 16X DVD+/-R, 4X DVD+RW and DVD-RW, 40X CD-R and 2.4X DL (Dual Layer DVD) write speeds. Sony’s latest DVD+DL writer only supports 8X DVD-R write speeds which means the DR16-B should technically be faster. Plextor just announced their new PX-716SA drive that supports 16X DVD-R write speeds and a serial ATA interface. But with an MSRP of $150, the Plextor costs 50% percent more than the MSI DR16-B drive. You have to ask yourself if the Serial ATA interface is really worth the extra money.

If you look at the software packages from Sony and MSI, they are very similar. Both feature Nero as the actual CD/DVD writing and authoring software, but MSI goes one step further and includes WinDVD software DVD player and WinDVD Creator which is a CD and DVD video authoring software suite. The MSI DR4-A DVD writer we previously reviewed came with Sonic MyDVD for CD and DVD authoring, which in our opinion is not the best software, so we are glad that MSI chose to use different software with the DR16-B. The DR16-B supports Microsoft Windows 98SE/ ME/ 2000/ and XP operating systems, but there is not official support for Mac users.

From a price standpoint the DR16-B is a very inexpensive drive. We were able to find it for as low as $79 dollars using our Shopping.com price comparison site – and this is for a retail drive. Other than the software that comes with the DR16-B, MSI also includes an audio cable in the package; they do not however give you any blank media, so make sure to pick some up if you decide to buy this unit.

Performance


























DAE Transfer Rate (average speed) DAE Quality Data Errors Sync Errors
Sony  DRU-700A 25.70X 100 13 0
MSI DR16-B

28.52

100 0 0
 

 

 

System Configuration:

Designtechnica Test System

Windows XP Professional; Intel LGA 775 3GHz CPU; 1GB Crucial Ballistix DDR2 533MHz RAM; MSI ATI X800 XT video card; Western Digital 7200RPM SATA 80GB hard drive

Installation and Setup

Installing the DR16-B is no different than any other CD or DVD drives out there.  But, if you have any questions, MSI includes an easy to read diagram that will help you out. Optimally, it is a wise idea to put any DVD writer on its own IDE channel to improve burn reliability. MSI includes an IDE cable for you in case you do not have one to use.

MSI includes Nero 6 OEM edition with the DR16-B. This is a pretty full featured software suite, but does not include Nero DVD authoring and DVD playback software, but that’s ok. As we mentioned before, MSI has decided to ditch the Sonic DVD and CD authoring software that came with the DR4-A in favor of Intervideo’s excellent WinDVD Creator software for the DR16-B. MSI’s DR4-A also came with Cyberlink’s DVD player software which is replaced by the Intervideo’s WinDVD software player. We think both Cyberlink’s and Intervideo’s software are equally good; we are not bothered by the change. If you want to experience true 5.1 sound output from the WinDVD player then you will need to register and pay for the full version of it. This is pretty standard and what you can expect in regards to the included software from all DVD writers, regardless of the manufacturer.

The documentation that comes with the DR16-B is very minimal when compared to drives from TDK and HP. Do-It-yourselfers and hardcore computer users would probably find this to be more acceptable than those with little computer experience. TDK on the other hand goes a little overboard by including a VHS instructional video with their drives.

Testing and Use

In our DR4-A review, we were upset to see MSI include an older version of Ahead’s Nero CD burning software. With the DR16-B they are using the latest OEM version of Nero 6. Ahead’s Nero 6 software is probably the best CD/DVD writing software currently available other than Roxio’s Easy CD and DVD creator which is equally as good depending on who you ask. With the Nero 6 OEM edition you have the basic CD and DVD writing features available, but it does not including the DVD authoring tools which the full version comes with. For DVD authoring you have to use the included WinDVD Creator which works fairly well for having limited features. If you do decide to pay for WinDVD Creator, we would like to recommend that you check out Pinnacle 8 which we feel is a better program.

In our DVD+/- tests, the DR16-B proved to be a worthy competitor to the Sony DRU-700A trailing in most tests by only a few seconds in most instances. The Plextor PX-708 followed the DR16-B by about 15 seconds on average, but the PX-708 is an older drive and certainly not one of Plextor’s fastest as of the time of this review.

In our CD and DVD+RW packet writing the tests, the DR16-B shined best by beating both the Sony and Plextor drives by consider times. The DR16-B also did an excellent job at audio extraction, so if you are a multimedia buff and do a lot of CD ripping, the DR16-B would meet your needs.

In our Dual Layer write tests the DR16-B trailed the Sonly DRU-700 by about a minute, completing a 7.16GB burn in just 41 minutes. Our discs were also compatible in DVD players manufactured by Sony and Pioneer, and we suspect they should be compatible with other home DVD players.

On the reliability side the DR16-B performed fairly well, but we did have problems with it writing in DVD-R mode on TDK branded discs. It would give us write errors about 5% into the writing process about 25% of the time. When we tried the Verbatim discs, the burns were more reliable. We were unable to pinpoint the exact cause of the failed burns, so you may want to check out our reader reviews before buying this drive to see if others had similiar issues. When it came to multitasking with the DR16-B, we found that we were able to browse the web, check our e-mail, and run Adobe Photoshop without our systems CPU being bogged down.

One of the cool features we liked about the MSI DR4-A drive was that you could play music CDs directly with the drive’s front plate control panels, thus eliminating CPU cycles otherwise dedicated to this task. This is something that most people will not use, so it is not a big deal that this is missing from the DR16-B, but it is worth pointing out.

For complete test results, please click on the performance tab and link located above and below this review.

Conclusion

 

The MSI DR16-B is a definite improvement in MSI’s DVD writer line and has a lot of promise, but the company still has a lot they need to work on. While the DR16-B proved to be fast at writing CD, DVD+R and DVD+R DL media, it struggles when it comes to writing DVD-R media. We experienced random burn errors and slower-than-anticipated write times with DVD-R media. MSI also did not send us any writeable media for us to use, so we really have no idea which brand of media the DR16-B works best with.

In all other tests the DR16-B did an admirable job with fast write times and the ability to multitask while it is in the writing process. The software suite that comes with the DR16-B is better than what we have seen from other DVD writers on the market, so MSI has done a great job in that department.

Features we would like to see on future drives from MSI include a black or grey front faceplate (preferably both), some included media for the user to get started, and a more detailed instruction manual. We are hoping that the user reviews on the DR16-B will show favorable results in the DVD-R writing format, so make sure to read them as others provide their experience with the drive.

While the Sony DRU-700A is a faster drive than the DR16-B in most DVD writing tests, Sony’s drive also costs about $30 dollars more on average and is only faster by a few seconds in most tests. Sony however does give you both a grey and black faceplate as well as a more feature-rich version of the Nero 6 software.