Plextor PX-504A Review

Highs

  • Affordable
  • reliable

Rating

Our Score 7
User Score 8

Lows

  • Slow
  • lacks audio cable and DVD RW disc
The overall performance of the PX-504A is average, but the mediocre speed and buffer underruns disappointed us.

Summary

The Plextor PX-504A is a relatively solid performing drive provided that you minimize multitasking while the drive is writing data. The overall performance of the PX-504A is average to below average in most of our tests. We would have liked to have seen better performance out of this drive as well as the inclusion of an audio cable and a DVD+RW disc in the overall package. We hope that the PX-504A is just a minor blip and that future drives continue to follow in the high standard which Plextor has set. The Plextor PX-504A is not a bad DVD writer by any means, but there are better options available on the market today.

Introduction:

Those familiar with Plextor as a company are usually not surprised when Plextor introduces a product to market later than their competitors all in the name of better quality. Plextor’s name and reputation has traditionally been synonymous with performance and quality. This time however, Plextor’s new PX-504A DVD+R/RW drive is lacking their usual refinement with mediocre dirve performance and the lack of an included DVD+RW disc or audio cable.

Plextor chose to support the new DVD+R/RW format with their PX-504A drive as opposed to the older –R/RW format. We think this is a good thing because the DVD+R/RW format allows you to copy and/or create a table of contents and other special features found on most DVD movies allowing for perfect DVD movie copying. Around 70%-85% of stand alone DVD players entering the market support the DVD+R/RW format promising some longevity to your purchase. Unfortunately disc size is still limited to 4.7 GB of storage space with the +R/RW format; identical to the –R/RW formats.

Features:

The Plextor PX-504A supports 4X DVD+R and 2.4X DVD+RW writing speeds as well as a 16X CD-R and 10X CD-RW writing speeds. Plextor packages the PX-504A with a minimal software package including Roxio’s Easy CD Creator 5 DVD Edition and Photo Suite 5SE. Dantz Retrospect is also included as a backup and restoration solution. Also included with the PX-504A is an IDE cable, mounting screws and a DVD+R recordable disk. What Plextor failed to include is a DVD+RW disc or an audio cable bumping your purchase price up a little more if you decide you need the missing items. If you have a black colored computer and would like to find a matching DVD writer, the Plextor PX-504A is also available with a black faceplate.

The Plextor PX-504A features Buffer Under Run Proof technology to prevent buffer underrun errors as well as Plextor’s PoweRec writing error reduction control which is designed for stable recording at maximum speed. For complete drive specifications please click on the specifications links above and below the review.

Performance

Our buffer underrun tests were unfortunately able to stump the PX-504A multiple times producing unusable discs. Our testing provides a typical work environment with multiple applications open and surfing the internet while writing a CD/DVD. Some may argue that this is not ideal for testing but we have found that most people do multitask while recording a disc.

In our test we found the Plextor PX-504A to perform at or below average in the majority of our tests. Traditionally Plextor has performed at or above most competing products in the same category, the PX-504A performed differently.

In our Nero CD Speed tests the PX-504A met or exceeded its 40X CD-ROM rating topping out at 40.24 on Nero’s rating system. CPU utilization was a very efficient 4-6% percent; well below any previous Plextor drives.

Nero CD Speed Test CPU Utilization Chart

In our Nero DVD Speed tests the PX-504A actually topped out at about 8X speeds even though the drive is supposed to be rated at 12X. This was very disconcerting because this drive is supposed to promote the latest technology.

Nero DVD Speed Test

In our Digital Audio Extraction tests it took the PX-504A 4:52 minutes to extraction a 50:12 minute audio CD. This is about 35 seconds slower than the Plextor PlexWriter 40x40x12x drive we reviewed last year. We would like to have seen Plextor match or improve the Digital Audio Extraction times with each new drive introduced.

Digital Audio Extraction Test

Our SiSoftware Sandra tests surprised us as we expected the PX-504A to show us an average performance. According to our tests though, the PX-504A outperformed the reference 5X DVD Writer used in this test.

SiSoftware Sandra CD/DVD Test

Use and Testing:

Installation of the PX-504A drive is as basic as any other CD-ROM or CD-Writer drive. For best performance we recommend installing the PX-504A on its own IDE cable if available or as the master drive if there is more than one drive sharing the same IDE cable. We also recommend downloading any updates to the included Easy CD Creator software to help improve stability and performance. If you are unfamiliar with Plextor products, the slow shutting drive bay door may throw you off. Rest assured the drive is operating normally as all Plextor drives feature the same slow moving drive bay.

Our buffer underrun tests were unfortunately able to stump the PX-504A a couple times producing unusable discs. Our testing provides a typical work environment with multiple applications open and surfing the internet while writing a CD/DVD. Some may argue that this is not ideal for testing but we have found that most people do multitask while recording a disc. In our test we found the Plextor PX-504A to perform at or below average in the majority of our tests. Traditionally Plextor has performed at or above most competing products in the same category, the PX-504A performed differently. Click on the performance tab above and below this review to see test results and graphs.

*Edit 7/25/03 – We have had a few complaints about the PX-504A having trouble reading older 2X and 4X CD-R/RW media as well as some regular retail CD media. Please check Plextor’s site for any firware updates which may fix this issue. As of this writing, there has been a new firmware update. – IanBell

Conclusion:

The Plextor PX-504A is a relatively solid performing drive provided that you minimize multitasking while the drive is writing data. The overall performance of the PX-504A is average to below average in most of our tests. We would have liked to have seen better performance out of this drive as well as the inclusion of an audio cable and a DVD+RW disc in the overall package. We hope that the PX-504A is just a minor blip and that future drives continue to follow in the high standard which Plextor has set. The Plextor PX-504A is not a bad DVD writer by any means, but there are better options available on the market today.

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