by June 19, 2000 0 comments

This
time, we tested eight models out of which one was a CD-Writer, while the
rest were rewriters. Only the rewriters were included in the rankings. We
used our three-axis model of price, performance, and features to rank the
models. We assigned 100 points to each of these three parameters, making a
maximum total score of 300. The weights and scores were arrived at using the
Brown Gibson model.

Performance

Our test
suite was a collection of files of various sizes, both compressed and loose,
ranging from 9 kB to 114 MB. The total size of the suite was 652.6 MB. For
audio tests, we used 15 tracks of 59.5 minutes from a single audio CD. All
the tests for data CD-ROMs were done using the ISO 9660 standard, without
overriding any restrictions.

All the audio CDs were burnt
in Track-At-Once mode. This mode inserts a time gap of three seconds between
each track.

Our test suite consists of
eight tests. All of these were done on CD-ReWriters, but only five were done
for CD-Writers.

Data read/write tests

1. Maximum
capacity for direct write and time to do direct write:
We
used a 650 MB media to write the data to. However, the actual capacity
varies for different CD-Writers/ReWriters. That’s why we checked the
maximum capacity a CD-RW could store on the media. We then timed a burn of
the maximum capacity in direct write mode, with the writer set at its
maximum write speed.

2. Time taken to create
maximum capacity ISO image:
We
created a real time ISO image of the files for a 650 MB disk on each
CD-Writer/ReWriter, using the CD creation software that came with it. We
then noted the time it took to create this image.

3. Time taken to write the ISO image
created in the previous test

Audio CD tests

4. Time taken
to write given audio tracks:
The
CD-Writer software for audio CD was used to write 59.5 minutes of audio
tracks from a single CD-ROM. We didn’t buffer in the hard disk, unless
forced to by the software. Also, some SCSI CD-writers don’t burn audio CDs
unless the source is also a SCSI CD-ROM drive. In this case, the CD-Writer
was itself considered the source and the destination. We inserted the audio
CD in the CD-Writer and copied the tracks to the hard disk, and then
inserted a blank media in the writer and copied tracks from the hard disk.

5. Read speeds: CeQuadrat
CheckCD benchmark was used to test the reading abilities of the CD-Writers/ReWriters.
Here, we had to install generic DOS drivers for the CD-Writers, since
CheckCD is DOS based. The seek time and random transfer rate (average) for a
full 650 MB CD-ROM disk was checked. A lower seek time and a higher transfer
rate are better.

Rewrite tests

The following
parameters were measured for the CD-ReWriters:

1. Time taken to do a full
format of an RW disk and maximum formatted capacity

2. Maximum throughput
attained on RW media:
After a CD-RW
media is formatted, it becomes available for use, just like regular media,
such as floppies in a floppy drive. You can save or copy files on it
directly through Windows Explorer. We timed how long it took to copy a
single 102 MB compressed file using Windows Explorer. An average of three
iterations was taken.

3. Maximum usable capacity on
a formatted CD-RW disk:
The actual
formatted capacity on a CD-RW media might be different from the usable
formatted capacity. To test this, we copied files to the drive until it
indicated that it was full. Lots of 1 kB files were used for precision. This
capacity was then measured and compared to the actual formatted capacity.

Pricing

The cost and
warranty of the CD-Writers was taken into account. In case a CD-Writer didn’t
come with any software for CD creation, we used EasyCD Creator 4.0 Deluxe,
and the price of this software was added to the price of the drive. In case
a SCSI drive didn’t come with a SCSI card, we used an Adaptec AHA-2940AU
SCSI card, and the price of the same was added to the drive’s cost.

Features

Here we
looked at the rated Read, Write, and Re-Write speeds. Higher was, obviously,
better. The onboard buffer memory on each drive was also considered, and
more memory was considered better.

Ashish Sharma and
Sougata Das
at PCQ Labs

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