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Plextor PlexWriter 52/24/52A PX-W5224TA Review

Highs

  • Solid and reliable performance
  • excellent digital audio extraction

Rating

Our Score 7
User Score 5

Lows

  • Does not live up to its 52X claim
  • no audio cable or software for Mac users
The PlexWriter 52/24/52 is a good drive for those that want Plextor

Summary

The PlexWriter 52/24/52 is a good drive for those that want Plextor’s reliability and quality. If you do not need the features and tweaking capabilities present in the PlexWriter Premium drive, the PlexWriter 52/24/52 is probably your best alternative in the Plextor CD-R/RW line-up. We also recommend getting the PlexWriter 52/24/52 over Plextor’s 48/24/48A drive since they can both be found at around the same price on the net. We would have liked to have seen CD writing software for Mac users as well as a couple of CD-R/RW media included with the drive to really make it feel like a bargain, but as it stands you are still getting a solid drive by a reputable company.

Introduction

 

With the introduction of 8X DVD writers currently entering the market, there are a number of recordable media options available in just about every price range. From DVD+/- recorders, DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drives and stand-alone CD-R/RW writers, competition in the recording media realm is probably at its best. Plextor is targeting the bottom end of the price scale with the introduction of their PlexWriter 52/24/52 drive and while it might not live up to its 52X writing claim, the PlexWriter 52/24/52 still proves to be a solid performer at a very tempting price.  A quick look on Pricegrabber will reveal that the PlexWriter 52/24/52 can be found for around $75 dollars, nearly $20 cheaper than drives from other high profile companies such as TDK and Sony.

Features

The first thing probably going through your head is “what do I get for $75 dollars”.  The short and sweet answer is: a reliable and solid performing drive.  Plextor is currently offering 3 CD writers based on the ATAPI interface. They are the PlexWriter 48/24/48A, PlexWriter Premium 52/32/52, and the PlexWriter 52/24/52A. The first noticeable difference is the speeds between the regular 48x and 52x PlexWriter drives. The second main difference between the drives is that the PlexWriter Premium offers many more features above the other two drives. The first being a larger 8MB buffer over the others 2MB buffers, as well as GigaRec which allows you to store up to 1 GB of information on a normal 700 MB CD. The second being a number of recording performance features to ensure an even more accurate and error free burn.

While the PlexWriter 52/24/52 is lacking in those pleasantries, the main important features are still present to ensure a solid and error free burn. Present in the PlexWriter 52/24/52 is Plextor’s PowerRec which is designed to provide a quality and stable burn at high speeds, and SpeedRead which is designed to read data running at the high velocity of 52X. The PlexWriter 52/24/52 supports Disc-at-Once, Session-at-Once, Multi-session, Variable & Fixed packet writing modes and Mt. Rainier. The PlexWriter 52/24/52 is available with either beige or black faceplates.

Included with the PlexWriter 52/24/52 is Roxio’s Easy CD Creator standard, PhotoSuite, Direct CD, a trial version of Dantz’s Retrospect backup software, and Plextor’s very own PlexTools utility software. Missing from the package are front audio/volume controls on the drive itself, an audio cable, and any sort of writeable media; however mounting screws are present. Apple users are out of luck as there is no Mac compatible CD writing software available with the PlexWriter 52/24/52 although Plextor has assured us the drive is compatible with Mac compatible systems, you will just need to provide your own software.

Plextor provides a one year full warranty with unlimited toll-free tech support for their CD-R/RW drives.

Performance

In our Nero CD Speed tests using TDK 32X and Verbatim 32X media, the PlexWriter 52/24/52 got pretty close to its 65ms seek time claim with results reaching 66ms. We had no problems or issues running the Nero CD Speed tests with either the TDK or Verbatim media. In our read tests the PlexWriter 52/24/52 trailed the VeloCD 52/24/48 drive by about 3 to 6 seconds depending on the file size, hardly noticeable by anyone’s standards. In our write tests the PlexWriter 52/24/52 edged out the TDK VeloCD drive by 14 to 30 seconds proving that the SpeedRead system present in the PlexWriter could actually mean better performance than a drive without this feature.

Software Benchmarks:

Nero CD Speed

Easy CD Creator Standard

Real One Player

SiSoftware Sandra

  

Plextor writing tests Plextor Read Tests CD Seek Tests

During out Digital Audio Extraction tests, the PlexWriter 52/24/52 was nothing short of amazing, extracting a 45:26 minute album in just under 2 minutes. This is twice as fast as Plextor’s PlexWriter 40/40/12 drive and also twice as fast as the Plextor 504A DVD+R drive. TDK’s VeloCD 52/24/48 drive took almost a minute longer to extract audio from the same album.

Plextor Digital Audio Extraction Tests Plextor SiSoftware Sandra Benchmark

System Configurations:

 

Windows XP Pro; AMD Athlon 1700+; Abit AT7 Max 2 motherboard; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; Leadtek Geforce 4 MX video adapter.

Setup and installation

The PlexWriter 52/24/52 requires no special instructions or precautions for installing the drive in your computer. For optimal performance we recommend installing the drive on its own IDE channel to ensure the most reliable burn you can get.

Once the drive was mounted we fired up our system and installed the software which came with the drive. If you have Windows XP and feel comfortable using the packet writing software integrated into the operating system itself, then you might want to pass on the Direct CD software included with the PlexWriter 52/24/52.

We had no problems writing audio or data CD’s with Roxio’s Easy CD Creator. As expected Roxio’s software immediately recognized our drive as well as the Plextor 504A DVD+R writer which we had installed on the same system. Plextor’s PlexTools utility program is a great utility tool for those that want to tweak their drive settings to perform to their specifications. If you spend a lot of time backing-up your software including console games and music CD’s then you will like what the PlexTools program has to offer.

Plextors PlexTools Utility Program

We first encountered Dantz’s Retrospect software back in our Maxtor 5000DV FireWire hard drive review back in May of this year. While the Retrospect software is powerful, we would like to have seen Plextor include a full version instead of a 30 day trial. But if that would mean increasing the price of the drive altogether, we would rather stick with the 30 day trial. If you are purchasing this drive to backup your computer, use the money you save on the drive itself and spend it on the backup software of your choice.

Plextor unfortunately left Mac users out in the cold again and failed to include a version of TOAST for Mac compatible systems. On the upside, the PlexWriter 52/24/52 is still compatible with Mac systems. Our guess is that if you have an Apple system, you might want an external drive or at least a drive which would match your systems aesthetics anyways.

The drive tray ejects a lot faster than previous Plextor brand drives and easily closes with a push of the face plate. While Plextor drives are notorious for being the top of their class, they have always had slow and frail drive trays; this was not the case in the PlexWriter 52/24/52.

Performance

The first thing we want to point out is that nowhere in our tests did the PlexWriter 52/24/52 come close to a 52X write speed Plextor claims. Using Easy CD Creator we saw the drive reach a 43X burn speed a couple times and even in Nero CD Speed we maxed out at a 40X write speed. So while we were upset with the drive not living up to its speed claim, there is an upside to all of this. First of all, from all the investigating we have done on the net including benchmarks, and tests we have yet to see a drive from any manufacturer actually reach the 52X speed. Secondly our tests showed that the TDK VeloCD 52/24/48 did not reach the speeds which were labeled on the box either. Talk about a case of marketing exaggeration…

In our Nero CD Speed tests using TDK 32X and Verbatim 32X media, the PlexWriter 52/24/52 got pretty close to its 65ms seek time claim with results reaching 66ms. We had no problems or issues running the Nero CD Speed tests with either the TDK or Verbatim media. In our read tests the PlexWriter 52/24/52 trailed the VeloCD 52/24/48 drive by about 3 to 6 seconds depending on the file size, hardly noticeable by anyone’s standards. In our write tests the PlexWriter 52/24/52 edged out the TDK VeloCD drive by 14 to 30 seconds proving that the SpeedRead system present in the PlexWriter could actually mean better performance than a drive without this feature.

During our Digital Audio Extraction tests, the PlexWriter 52/24/52 was nothing short of amazing, extracting a 45:26 minute album in just under 2 minutes. This is twice as fast as Plextor’s PlexWriter 40/40/12 drive and also twice as fast as the Plextor 504A DVD+R drive. TDK’s VeloCD 52/24/48 drive took almost a minute longer to extract audio from the same album.

Overall, we were happy with the PlexWriter’s performance. Every burn was fast and reliable and we did not produce a single bad disc. The PlexWriter 52/24/52 easily read all of the scratched media we threw at it without any hitches although the read and transfer speeds were slowed signifigantly as expected. For graphs and more detailed testing information, please click on the performance tab and link located above and below this review.

Conclusion

 

The PlexWriter 52/24/52 is a good drive for those that want Plextor’s reliability and quality. If you do not need the features and tweaking capabilities present in the PlexWriter Premium drive, the PlexWriter 52/24/52 is probably your best alternative in the Plextor CD-R/RW line-up. We also recommend getting the PlexWriter 52/24/52 over Plextor’s 48/24/48A drive since they can both be found at around the same price on the net. We would have liked to have seen CD writing software for Mac users as well as a couple of CD-R/RW media included with the drive to really make it feel like a bargain, but as it stands you are still getting a solid drive by a reputable company.

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