IBM Multi-Burner Plus review: IBM Multi-Burner Plus

IBM Multi-Burner Plus

Don Labriola

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5 min read

Physically installing the IBM Multi-Burner Plus was uneventful in our tests. Like most other DVD rewriters we've tested, we simply inserted the drive into an external bay and attached the ribbon and power cables.


IBM Multi-Burner Plus

The Good

Supports DVD-RAM in addition to DVD-R/RW and DVD+R/RW; competitive performance; includes strong software package.

The Bad

Doesn't accept DVD-RAM discs in protective cartridges; minimal printed documentation.

The Bottom Line

The IBM Multi-Burner Plus's superior software package and solid performance are well worth its relatively high price.
Delivering superior performance in every major CD- and DVD-recording format, IBM's Multi-Burner Plus offers an outstanding combination of flexibility, value, and performance. It also represents a major upgrade to IBM's original Multi-Burner DVD rewriter, which could burn only "minus" media: DVD-R, DVD-RW, and DVD-RAM. In addition to adding support for DVD+R and DVD+RW, the Multi-Burner Plus boosts DVD-RAM performance by 50 percent and doubles its predecessor's CD-R and CD-RW burning speeds. The Multi-Burner Plus also ships with a generous bundle of video-editing, data-backup, packet-writing, media-player, CD-mastering, and DVD-authoring applications. And although it doesn't support the new 4X DVD+RW and 8X DVD+R recording speeds, it turned in solid results when benchmarked against other drives in its class.

Installing IBM's software was just as straightforward, although more tedious. The Multi-Burner Plus's setup utility, while easy to use, requires you to load each major application one at a time, a process that can take nearly half an hour and that involves rebooting the system six times if you install the entire bundle.

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IBM's setup utility gives you total control over which modules you want to install, but it's cumbersome, forcing you to install each application separately.

The Multi-Burner Plus ships with no blank media and virtually no printed documentation, and the 22-page quick-install manual on the drive's software CD contains mostly warranty, safety, copyright, and emissions data. The CD also includes, however, a 56-page user guide that covers basic installation and configuration chores, as well as troubleshooting, configuration, and support information. Luckily, our installation went smoothly, and we had little need for additional documentation.

The Multi-Burner Plus's biggest selling point is its support for all variations of the five major DVD-recording and DVD-rewriting formats. It doesn't support cartridge-encased DVD-RAM media, however--you must remove the cartridge to use it--nor does it support the recently released 4X DVD+RW or 8X DVD+R media. The other five-format drives we've reviewed suffer the same limitations.

IBM has done an impressive job leveraging the Multi-Burner Plus's functionality with a terrific software bundle. Most of the Multi-Burner Plus's bundled applications are IBM-branded versions of Sonic Solutions programs: the RecordNow CD-mastering package, the Simple Backup automated system-backup software, and the DLA packet-writing and UDF disc-reading utilities. The package also includes InterVideo's WinDVD media player and WinDVD Creator Plus, a full-featured DVD-creation application that lets you capture and edit video clips, create disc menus, and burn content to various types of DVD and CD. DVD professionals may prefer to use their favorite high-end authoring and mastering programs, and many users will want to add a DVD-copying utility, such as InterVideo DVD Copy or 321 Studios' DVD X Copy Xpress, but IBM's integrated software package rivals most consumer DVD-burning applications.

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The Multi-Burner Plus's large software bundle includes InterVideo's powerful WinDVD Creator package for capturing, editing, and authoring video.

Overall, the Multi-Burner Plus's performance, while uneven, was more or less in line with our expectations. It writes "minus" media at the maximum 2X DVD-RW, 4X DVD-R, and 3X DVD-RAM speeds currently defined by the "--="">&siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Edvdforum%2Eorg%2Fforum%2Eshtml" target="_blank">DVD Forum. It can read single-layer replicated DVDs at a sizzling 16.2X, but it reads dual-layer discs, which include most commercial DVD titles, and recordable and rewritable media at a maximum of only 8X. Its 24X CD-R and 16X CD-RW specs are competitive for a DVD/CD combo drive, but like most other five-format drives, its 2.4X DVD+RW and 4X DVD+R speeds are a generation behind the state-of-the-art.

Nonetheless, the Multi-Burner Plus held its own when compared against Iomega's Super DVD Writer and LG Electronics's GSA-4040B, the two other five-format drives that CNET has tested. The IBM unit beat both competitors in every data-writing test, using identical Verbatim media. (Keep in mind that the Iomega unit supports 4X DVD+RW media and would have undoubtedly surpassed the IBM model if we had tested it with higher-speed media.)

Our other benchmarks produced less-definitive results. The Multi-Burner Plus tied for first place when reading a 383MB file from DVD-RAM media and easily outpaced the competition when copying a 500MB folder from DVD-RAM to a hard drive. But it produced middling-to-fair results when reading DVD-RW and DVD+RW discs. In our anecdotal video-recording testing, it ranked last--albeit by a margin of only 5 to 13 percent--except when writing 4X DVD+R media, where it beat out the third-place LG Electronics drive by more than 40 percent.

Movie-write test (megabytes per second)  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Write a movie to write-once media  
LG Electronics GSA-4040B (4X DVD-R)
Iomega Super DVD Writer (4X DVD+R)
Iomega Super DVD Writer (4X DVD-R)
IBM Multi-Burner Plus (4X DVD+R)
IBM Multi-Burner Plus (4X DVD-R)
LG Electronics GSA-4040B (4X DVD+R)
Note: Compression rates vary depending on the drives' bundled software.

Data-write tests (megabytes per second)  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Write a 383MB file to rewritable media  
Write a 500MB directory to rewritable media  
IBM Multi-Burner Plus (2.4X DVD+RW)
Iomega Super DVD Writer (4X DVD+RW) *
LG Electronics GSA-4040B (2.4X DVD+RW)
IBM Multi-Burner Plus (2X DVD-RW)
Iomega Super DVD Writer (4X DVD-RW) *
LG Electronics GSA-4040B (2X DVD-RW)
IBM Multi-Burner Plus (3X DVD-RAM)
LG Electronics GSA-4040B (3X DVD-RAM)
Iomega Super DVD Writer (3X DVD-RAM)
* Note: Iomega drive tested with 2.4X DVD+RW and 2X DVD-RW media.

Data-read tests (megabytes per second)  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Copy a 383MB file from rewritable media to the hard drive  
Copy a 500MB directory from rewritable media to the hard drive  
LG Electronics GSA-4040B (2X DVD-RW)
Iomega Super DVD Writer (4X DVD-RW) *
IBM Multi-Burner Plus (3X DVD-RAM)
Iomega Super DVD Writer (3X DVD-RAM)
Iomega Super DVD Writer (4X DVD+RW) *
IBM Multi-Burner Plus (2.4X DVD+RW)
LG Electronics GSA-4040B (2.4X DVD+RW)
IBM Multi-Burner Plus (2X DVD-RW)
LG Electronics GSA-4040B (3X DVD-RAM)
* Note: Iomega drive tested with 2.4X DVD+RW and 2X DVD-RW media.

Unless otherwise mentioned, all write tests are run with "--="">&siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Everbatim%2Ecom">Verbatim media, rated at the drive's maximum speed. Find out more about how we test optical drives.

IBM's solid selection of support options should help you quickly solve most common installation problems and system conflicts.

The company backs the Multi-Burner Plus with a standard one-year warranty on parts and labor, as well as unlimited toll-free, 24/7 telephone support for the life of the warranty. The IBM "--="">&siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eibm%2Ecom%2Fsupport%2Fus%2F" target="_blank">Web site offers a comprehensive range of support options that includes a knowledge base of problem-resolution information, plus e-mail tech support, software downloads and upgrades, and a variety of online publications, product briefs, and spec sheets.

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IBM's Web site provides a well-organized selection of support options and reference material.


IBM Multi-Burner Plus

Score Breakdown

Setup 6Features 9Performance 7Support 8