In the Forums...
Posted: March 4, 2000
Written by: Chris Burek
With DVD-ROMs currently making their mark, it's only a matter of time until we see the demise of the CD-ROM, especially since DVD-ROM drives can also read CDs. With that said, many have expressed mixed reactions in regards to Kenwood's new 72X TrueX CD-ROM drive, believing a drive rated at 72X is simply unnecessary. We're here to disclose the actual performance abilities of this 72X CD-ROM and determine whether or not this drive is a worthwile addition to your PC.
Based around the ATAPI interface, the drive's advertised 72X rating works out to transfer rates of approximately 10.8 MB/second (72 multiplied by the original 1X CD-ROM speed of 150 Kb/s). These speeds, however, are not a result of faster disc rotation, but a technology developed by Zen Research called TrueX.
Normally, a CD-ROM drive reads a CD with a single-beam laser, whereas the 72X TrueX utilizes a seven-beam laser, which allows the drive to read and process a wider area of a CD at once, therefore minimizing the need for fast rotation, and providing lower vibration and noise.
The 72X TrueX comes packaged with EIDE and CD audio cables, a Quick Install sheet, an Installation & User's Guide, registration card, and mounting screws. The drive's faceplate hosts the standard headphone jack, volume control, eject button, and activity light. Installation is a snap, as in most cases you're only replacing your current drive. If not, the guides will help you through painlessly, either way. And, there's no software or drivers to install, minimizing the workload. Additionally, the unit can work in a vertical position as well, thanks to the clips on the drive tray, which hold the disc in place.
Getting down to our main deciding factor - performance - we compared the 72X TrueX drive against a 24X Toshiba drive, and an older 6X SCSI Ricoh drive. Our testbed system was equipped with a Celeron 300A CPU with 96MB SDRAM, and a 4.3GB hard drive.
Using Ziff-Davis' CD WinBench 99, Kenwood's 72X TrueX CD-ROM crunched out the following scores in comparison to the 24X and 6X drives:
While this 72X CD-ROM drive does boast impressive transfer rates compared to that of a 24X, and in general, you really have to decide whether or not it's worth the purchase. If you're content with your current CD-ROM drive performance, there's really no need to upgrade to this drive, unless you crave maximum speed from games or such run directly from the CD-ROM. Also, seeing how this drive is priced (around $125US) in the same range as most DVD-ROMs, it makes Kenwood's 72X TrueX drive look a little less attractive.
In conclusion, Kenwood's 72X CD-ROM drive does match its advertised 72X speed rating, although only when reading the outside of a disc, and it does have a much higher CPU utilization and a somewhat longer access time. But overall, the drive reads quickly and efficiently, with no problems reading a variety of CD media. The TrueX technology also makes the drive quieter because of the slower rotation speed.