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PC Hardware in a Nutshell, Second Edition by Barbara Fritchman Thompson, Robert Bruce Thompson

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Choosing a CD-ROM Drive

Ordinarily, you will purchase a CD-ROM drive only when building a new system. CD-ROM drives seldom fail, and replacing your current CD-ROM drive seldom makes sense unless it is an elderly 1X or 2X unit. Even a 4X drive is adequate for most purposes, including all but the most CD-intensive games and multimedia applications, many of which are still optimized for least-common-denominator 4X drives. Consider the following issues when choosing a CD-ROM drive:

Data transfer rate

For most applications, DTR is the most important performance characteristic of a CD-ROM drive. DTR is most important if you use the drive mainly for sequential data transfer, such as playing games or loading software. Unless you have very special needs, any name-brand $30 ATAPI 32X or 40X drive is more than sufficient for anything you need to do. Purchase a more expensive drive only if you play games directly from CD or use other applications that really benefit from the higher DTR. Such applications are few and far between.

Average access time

Average access time is important if you use the drive mainly for random access, such as searching databases. Although access time and DTR are not inextricably related—it is possible to build a drive with a fast actuator and a slow motor or vice versa—there is a fair degree of correlation. Typical inexpensive ATAPI drives may provide true 100 to 200 ms average access (although they are often marketed with inflated average access performance numbers), ...

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