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MSI X48 Won Best Buy Award from CDRLabs.com

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Micro-Star International is one of the most respected names in the computer industry. With a history that goes back almost 17 years, this Taiwanese company has grown into one of the world's leading manufacturers of computer components. While best known for their motherboards and video cards, MSI is no stranger to the optical storage industry. Within the last few years, they've expanded their product lineup to include a number of high performance CD and DVD writers.

This fall MSI announced their first combination CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive, the X48. The X48 reads and writes at 48x, rewrites at 24x and reads DVD's at speeds as high as 16x. This new combo drive includes features like MSI's SoftBurn and ABS technologies, SuperLink buffer underrun protection and support for the Mt. Rainier format. The X48 is also one of the first drives to feature MSI's new ActivePanel technology. With ActivePanel you can quickly and easily change the look of the drive using a set of interchangeable bezels.

To give you an idea of what to expect from the X48 we'll take a look at some of the drive's features and put it up against some of the combo drives from Samsung and LG. Does the X48 deliver the performance and features we've come to expect from MSI? Is it the best choice for those looking for a new combo drive? Stay with us as we take the MSI X48 for a spin.

What's in the box?:

  • MSI X48 (MS-8448M) 48/24/48/16 CD-RW/DVD-ROM Drive
  • Nero Burning Rom Software CD
  • Nero Instructional Manual
  • CyberLink PowerDVD Software CD
  • Quick Installation Guide
  • Blue ActivePanel
  • Black ActivePanel
  • Audio Cable
  • Mounting Screws

Physical Features:
The drive MSI sent us for this review was manufactured in February of 2003 and had firmware version 1.10. For this review the firmware has been updated to version 1.40.

 

 

The X48 is one of the first drives to feature MSI's new ActivePanel technology. With ActivePanel you can quickly and easily change the look of your drive using one of the interchangeable faceplates. MSI's new combo drive comes with two faceplates: blue and black. However, you can mix and match the pieces, giving you up to four different color combinations.

The X48 also uses MSI's new HyperGuard technology. Essentially, MSI has strengthened the drive's front bezel. If a disc would shatter or explode inside of the drive, the bezel would prevent the user from being injured.

MSI has also given their new combo drive a great looking LED. Doubling as the X48's eject button, this LED lights up blue or green, depending on the status of the drive.

DVD Reading CD Reading
Writing Disc Loaded
 
Full Speed  

The X48 also includes features like MSI's new SoftBurn and ABS (Anti-Bumping System) technologies. According to MSI, their SoftBurn mechanism can shield acoustic noise from the inside, lessening the amount of noise generated during operation. On the same note, the drive's ABS technology is used to absorb and reduce vibrations. After using the drive for a few weeks, I can say that both technologies worked quite well. No matter if the X48 was reading or writing, it was pretty quiet.

More Features:
By looking at the picture below, you can see that MSI's new writer is identified as an "ATAPI COMBO48XMAX".

The Nero screenshot also shows that the X48 has a maximum writing speed of 48x and a 2048KB buffer. This buffer is backed up by MediaTek's Super Link technology. According to Nero, MSI's new combo drive can also write CD-Text and overburn. When testing the drive's capacity I found that the drive had no problems overburning up to 99 minutes with our CompUSA media.

Thanks to its MediaTek chipset, the X48 can do EFM encoding correctly. Using CloneCD version 4.2.0.2 with AWS disabled, I was able to reproduce older SafeDisc 2 protected titles like Max Payne along with some protected by SafeDisc 2.51 like Serious Sam: The Second Encounter.

Here is a screen shot from Nero's InfoTool. This program queries the drive to see what its reading and writing capabilities are. InfoTool had no problems detecting the X48's maximum reading and writing speeds, recording modes, buffer underrun protection and 2MB buffer. Take note that MSI's new combo drive can read all DVD formats, including DVD-RAM.

InfoTool also shows that the X48 is a RPC-2 DVD drive. This means that the drive's region is stored in the firmware.?The drive's region can be changed five times and after that it cannot be changed anymore. A patched RPC-1 firmware can be downloaded here. Just keep in mind that it is not supported by MSI nor by CDRLabs. Use it at your own risk.

 

While InfoTool gives us a quick glance at the X48's features, DVDINFOpro provides a little more information on some of the drive's reading and writing capabilities.

 

InfoTool also shows that the X48 is a RPC-2 DVD drive. This means that the drive's region is stored in the firmware.?The drive's region can be changed five times and after that it cannot be changed anymore. A patched RPC-1 firmware can be downloaded here. Just keep in mind that it is not supported by MSI nor by CDRLabs. Use it at your own risk.

 

While InfoTool gives us a quick glance at the X48's features, DVDINFOpro provides a little more information on some of the drive's reading and writing capabilities.

Software:
MSI's new combo drive comes with two software CD's. These discs contain bundled versions of Ahead Software's Nero Burning Rom and InCD along with a copy of CyberLink's PowerDVD.

The X48 is one of the most feature packed combo drives to come through the 'Labs. Along with some good looks, the drive reads and writes CD's at 48x, rewrites at 24x and reads DVD's at 16x. The X48's also includes features like MSI's SoftBurn and ABS technologies, SuperLink buffer underrun protection and support for the Mt. Rainier format. MSI has also included a great software bundle with their new drive.

Performance Revisited:
The X48 performed pretty well over all. With its speed control feature enabled, the drive was able to read pressed and CD-R discs at 48x and had some pretty good seek times. The X48 also did fairly well in our DAE tests, reaching a maximum speed of 41x. The X48 also did very well in our writing tests. The drive not only turned in some good writing times, it was able to do this with a variety of media.

When it came time to read DVD's, MSI's combo drive didn't disappoint. In our tests, the X48 read single layer DVD-ROM's at 16x and DVD videos at speeds as high as 12x. The drive also had no problems DVD-R/RW and DVD+R/RW media.

Conclusion (8 / 10)
MSI has obviously put a lot of effort into their new combination CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive. The X48 not only looks good, it offers a good blend of features, performance and value that many will appreciate. When reading CD's, MSI's new combo drive performed pretty well. With its speed control feature enabled, the X48 was able to read pressed and CD-R discs at 48x and CD-RW media at 40x. The drive also had some fairly low seek times, no matter what media was used. For a combo drive, the X48 also did pretty well when it came time to rip audio CD's, reaching DAE speeds as high as 41x.

 

MSI's new combo drive also performed very well in our writing tests. The X48 turned in some impressive writing times. Better yet, it was able to do this with most of our test media, while keeping the writing errors to a minimum. The X48 also did very well in our rewriting tests, thanks to its 24x rewriting speeds.

When it came time to read DVD's, the X48 did surprisingly well. In our tests the drive read single layer DVD-ROM's at 16x, single layer DVD videos at 12x and dual layer discs at 8x. Here too, its seek times were pretty good. Recordable media wasn't a problem for the X48 either. The drive was able to read DVD-R/RW and DVD+R/RW media at 8x and DVD-RAM discs at 4x. While 4x doesn't sound fast, this is one of the fastest DVD-RAM read speeds I've seen.

Last but definitely not least you have the features. The X48 is easily one of the most feature packed combo drives I've tested. With MSI's new ActivePanel technology, you quickly and easily change the look of the drive to match your case or your mood. To prevent buffer underruns, the X48 has a 2MB buffer that is backed up by Super Link technology. This system worked very well to prevent coasters. The features don't stop their either. MSI has also given their new combo drive features like their SoftBurn, MiniForm and ABS technologies as well as support for the Mt. Rainier format.

With all this, MSI could have charged an arm and a leg for the X48. Surprisingly, their new combo drive is very affordable. The X48 is less expensive than many of the drives from the competition.

Highs:

  • Features 40x CD-R and 24x CD-RW writing speeds
  • Reads DVD-ROM's at 16x
  • Supports DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW and DVD-RAM media
  • Good data transfer speeds with all types of media
  • Low seek times
  • Features Super Link buffer underrun protection
  • Supports MSI's SoftBurn, MiniForm, HyperGuard and ABS technologies
  • Supports the Mt. Rainier format
  • Good selection of writing and rewriting speeds
  • Includes software from Ahead Software and CyberLink
  • Features MSI's ActivePanel technology
  • Supports UDMA 66
  • Relatively quiet
  • Good writing quality
  • Supports 99 minute media
  • Affordably priced

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source from the CDRLabs.com
(http://www.cdrlabs.com/reviews/index.php?reviewid=216&page=Intro)

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