A bit of kit talk ... :-)
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about how the new Intel P965 chipset (codenamed Broadwater) is signaling the end of parallel ATA (PATA) support by only supporting serial ATA (SATA). This post caused me to get a number of emails from people worried about what this is going to mean for CD and DVD drives which almost exclusively need PATA. At the time, the only SATA DVD burner drive that seemed to be widely available was the Plextor PX-716SA/SW. Since then I've come across a drive from SATA Samsung that is both cheaper and better than the PX-716SA/SW - the Samsung SH-W163 SATA DVD +/- RW which has dual-layer support for burning 8.4GB discs.
This drive has a pretty impressive spec:
- Access time: 160ms (DVD) / 140ms (CD)
- Read speed: 48x (CD) / 16x (DVD)
- Write speed: 48x (CD) / 16x (DVD+/-R) / 8x (DVD+R DL) / 4x (DVD-R DL)
- CD / DVD rewrite speed: 32x (CD) / 6x (DVD-RW) / 8x (DVD+RW)
- Buffer: 2MB
- CD support: CD Text, CD Extra, CD-DA (audio), CD-I, CD-ROM XA, Photo CD, Video CD, CD-ROM, DVD-Video
- Supported recording modes: Multisession, disc-at-once, track-at-once, packet writing, session-at-once, restricted overwrite, incremental recording, sequential write
- Supported media types: CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-ROM, DVD-R, DVD-RAM, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, DVD+R, DVD+R DL, DVD-R DL
While the spec might be impressive, the drive is even more impressive in real life. Having used the drive for a few days now there are a number of things that stood out:
- The tray operation is nice and smooth. I'd rank it as the smoothest drive I've owned (and I've owned a lot of optical drives!)
- This drive is amazingly quiet. Even when installing massive apps like games, the drive remains whisper quiet, so much so that it's hard to believe that it's spinning a disc
- The drive is seriously fast when it comes to burning DVDs. It burns 4.5GB of mixed files to a disc in just over 6 minutes (DVD+R) and 8.0GB of mixed files in under 20 minutes.
- Cabling inside the PC is much cleaner - this gives me better airflow through the case
- The drive is compatible with all the old discs I have (at least all the old ones I've tried)
(If you want to see images of the Samsung SH-W163 drive, click here)
If you're looking for a SATA DVD burner, look no further!
New ATI Catalyst and NVIDIA ForceWare drivers
Just a quick note to all you ATI and NVIDIA users out there (which is probably pretty much all of you!). Both companies have released updated drivers.
The highlights are as follows:
- Bug fixes
- Improved performance
However, read the release notes carefully as there are some new issues raised by these drivers. Also, note that the Radeon 7000, 7200, 7500, 8500, 9000, 9200 and 9250 aren't supported by Catalyst 6.6.
- WHQL certified
- Support for GeForce 7950 GX2
- NVIDIA PureVideo enhancements
- New Control Panel applet