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BenQ 5224P 52X CD-RW review: BenQ 5224P 52X CD-RW

MSRP: $79.99

The Good Smooth and quiet performance; includes easy-to-use burning software.

The Bad Inadequate setup instructions; average performance; no Mac support.

The Bottom Line If you're comfortable installing an internal CD-RW on your own, the BenQ offers solid performance at a very low price.

Visit for details.

6.8 Overall
  • Setup 6
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7
  • Support 7

As with Olympic sprinters, the performance difference between most 52X drives is almost insignificant. For example, although not the fastest drive available, the BenQ 5224P 52X CD-RW still offers enough speed for users looking to back up files, compile digital photo albums, or burn music CDs. It also comes with Ahead Software's easy-to-use CD-mastering program. So what's the catch? BenQ's setup instructions are scant and insufficient. But if you can overlook the poor installation instructions and don't need bleeding-edge speed, the BenQ's smooth, reliable performance and very competitive price will make up for its flaws. If you're a beginner and hope to rely solely on the documentation included with the BenQ 5224P 52X CD-RW, you're in for an unpleasant surprise. The aptly titled "Quick Installation Guide" is about the size of a checkbook and contains barely two pages of instructive information and troubleshooting tips. The same criticism holds true for the second booklet, the incorrectly titled "Operating Guidelines for Nero Burning ROM." (The drive actually ships with Nero Express.) Like the bare-bones installation guide, the Nero guide contains precious little information on how to burn your first CD.

If, however, you possess a basic know-how of IDE devices and have a Phillips-head screwdriver, it should take only about 10 minutes to get the drive up and running. In addition to the drive, the box includes an audio cable, a data cable, one blank CD-R, one blank CD-RW, and four mounting screws. The drive works with PCs running Windows 95 or later but not with Macs.

On the outside, the BenQ resembles almost every other CD-RW drive. The front panel features the usual headphone jack, volume-control wheel, emergency-eject hole, play/skip button, and eject button. The back of the drive houses the power and cable connectors, along with the master, slave, and cable-select jumper settings.

Nero Express makes burning discs easy.

Hiding inside the drive, however, are many useful features. For example, to prevent buffer underrun errors, the BenQ uses Seamless Link technology, which automatically adjusts the writing speed to match the amount of data in the buffer. The drive also features an antivibration system for smoother and quieter performance and SmartSpeed technology, which automatically determines the optimum writing speed based on the type of media you're using.

The burner ships with Ahead Software's Nero Express for CD-R mastering and the same company's InCD--one of the best packages available for packet-writing chores. Nero Express features a user-friendly wizard and a well-designed interface that simplifies CD recording and lets you burn all kinds of CDs (audio, data, or video) with just a few mouse clicks. Advanced users, however, may want to upgrade to Nero Burning ROM 5.5.9, a more sophisticated application.

In CNET Labs' tests, the BenQ's performance fell right into the middle of the herd. But like the difference in scores among Olympic athletes, the gap between the BenQ and other 52X drives is almost insignificant.

In audio-burning tests, the drive took 1 minute, 49 seconds to copy a 43-minute audio CD; that's about 9 seconds slower than the TDK VeloCD and 8 seconds slower than the LiteOn CD-rewritable. When it came to packet writing, the BenQ again scored in the middle of the group, taking 4 minutes, 41 seconds to copy 400MB to a CD-RW.

In the final two tests, the BenQ extracted or ripped a 27-minute audio track in 49 seconds and took 1 minute, 18 seconds to install Microsoft Office 2000 Small Business Edition, placing squarely in the middle of our charts.

Overall, BenQ met our expectations and proved itself a solid and smooth burner.

Write tests
Time in minutes (Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Packet writing from hard drive to CD-RW (400MB directory)  
Audio burn to CD-R from image on hard drive (from 43 min., 11 sec. audio CD)  
CenDyne Lightning V 52X/24X/52X
Memorex internal CD-rewritable (52X/24X/52X)
BenQ 5224P 52X CD-RW
TDK VeloCD 52X/24X/48X
I/OMagic I522452 internal CD-RW (52X/24X/52X)
Time to install Microsoft Office 2000 Small Business Edition  (Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time, in minutes, to install MS Office SBE   
CenDyne Lightning V 52X/24X/52X
TDK VeloCD 52X/24X/48X
BenQ 5224P 52X CD-RW
Memorex internal CD-rewritable (52X/24X/52X)
I/OMagic I522452 internal CD-RW (52X/24X/52X)
DAE (digital audio extraction; 26-minute, 58-second track)  (Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time, in minutes, to extract a 26-minute, 58-second audio track  
CenDyne Lightning V 52X/24X/52X
Memorex internal CD-rewritable (52X/24X/52X)
BenQ 5224P 52X CD-RW
I/OMagic I522452 internal CD-RW (52X/24X/52X)
TDK VeloCD 52X/24X/48X
All write tests are run with both the drive's recommended media (submitted by the manufacturer) and with Verbatim media, rated at the drive's maximum speed. For more details on how we test CD-recordable drives, see the CNET Labs site.

The BenQ 5224 comes with a standard, one-year limited warranty. Toll-free tech support is available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. PT. The company's Web site contains lots of information, but the layout makes navigation unnecessarily burdensome. Instead of putting all of the drive's downloads, manuals, and FAQs on one product-support page, the site require you to jump from section to section. Also, the Downloads section lists firmware updates by model number only (not product name), so make sure you have that information handy. Finally, the FAQs section has info on general setup and burning questions, but it doesn't address issues that are specific to each drive.

BenQ's support page can be hard to navigate.

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