The Sony Optiarc AD-7240S (*Est. $30) is one of the fastest drives currently available, with a specified DVD write speed of 24x. CDRLabs.com gives the drive a Best Buy award, stating that the AD-7240S effectively balances price, performance and features. However, CDRLabs.com does note some media incompatibilities, especially at the DVD drive's maximum speeds.
Sony Optiarc's AD-7200S (*Est. $35), predecessor to the AD-7240S, is still available but is slower, maxing out DVD burn speeds at 20x. Reviewers at CDRInfo.com and CDRLabs.com give this drive high praise as well, though it is not immune from the occasional failed burn when recording at its higher speeds -- a problem that seems to be common with most drives. The AD-7200 DVD burner is available in silver, black and beige, while the AD-7240 only is available in black and beige.
The Samsung SH-S223Q (*Est. $30) is praised in reviews as a very good internal DVD burner. Katherine Stevenson at MaximumPC.com is very impressed, saying that it improves upon the Samsung SH-203 (our previous Best Reviewed model in this category). She found that the 22x DVD burner hit speeds of 20.7x in tests, and averaged 14.94x. Stevenson gives the SH-S223 a Kick Ass award, saying that it's "the drive to get if you're currently using anything less than an 18x model." CDRLabs.com is more sanguine about the Samsung DVD burner. The site likes Samsung's offering overall, but offers some caveats: Most importantly, burning at high speeds is not as reliable as its testers would like.
The Samsung SH-S223Q also gets a lot of praise from users. Hundreds of users post reviews at Newegg.com, and this DVD burner gets an aggregate rating of four out of five. The model is distinguished as a multiple-time winner of Newegg.com's Customer Choice Award for CD/DVD burners.
Samsung makes a very similar DVD burner, the SH-S223F (*Est. $30), whose main difference is that it does not have LightScribe capability (LightScribe lets users place information and even artwork right onto the surface of the CD, eliminating the need for paper labels). CDRInfo.com likes the speed of the SH-S223F, although the site notes that performance lags when burning dual-layer DVDs at the 16x maximum speed, though it is otherwise very good. About.com's Mark Kyrnin recommends the Samsung SH-S223F for burning dual-layer DVDs (since it accepts DVD-R DL as well as DVD+R DL), but doesn't give any other reason why this DVD burner is better than the SH-S223Q, which he recommends for all-around use. Since these two Samsung DVD burners currently sell for about the same, there seems to be little reason to buy the SH-S223F.
Another interesting choice in this class is the Pioneer DVR-2920Q (*Est. $55), the company's first DVD burner that is compatible with Sonic's Qflix technology. Consumers can download movies from CinemaNow and burn then directly onto DVD at speeds up to 20x. CDRLabs.com puts the DVR-2920Q through its paces and comes away generally impressed. The biggest negative is limited media compatibility at higher burn speeds. Qflix support is cited as the most noteworthy feature. It works flawlessly, though the editors question the viability of the system, citing limited title availability and the time it takes to download a film and burn it to disc.
While SATA DVD burners meet the needs of those with reasonably current computers, those with older systems will require an IDE (or ATA) DVD burner instead. Although choices are dwindling, some IDE DVD burners continue to be manufactured and some recently discontinued drives still have good availability in stores.
LG's GH22LP20 DVD burner (Discontinued) gets the broadest support among IDE internal DVD burners. Mark Kyrnin's list at About.com of the top IDE-compatible drives actually lists this DVD burner twice; Kyrnin names it as the best all-around IDE drive, as well as the best value for LightScribe. However, he notes that while the LG GH22LP20 is LightScribe-ready, it doesn't come with the software that would allow you to use it -- though this isn't a surprise, considering the unit's price. CDFreaks.com claims that this 22x model has some of the fastest write times of DVD drives they've tested. The only noted downside is that CD-RW writing quality is disappointing. CDRLabs.com particularly likes LG's SecurDisc technology, which prevents unauthorized access and copying, and helps prevent errors. Though the GH22LP20 is now discontinued -- LG has ceased making IDE DVD burners altogether -- we still see good availability in stores.
The Lite-On LH-20A1H (Discontinued) is a 20x burner with LightScribe technology and DVD-RAM burning capability. Computer Power User magazine is among those that give the Lite-On LH-20A1H a high rating. Since this DVD burner has been around for a few years it's no longer one of the faster choices. However, it is still available and is an otherwise good choice.
The Sony DRU-840A (*Est. $70) is not as fast as the LG GH22LP20 or Lite-On LH-20A1H, according to Computer Power User magazine. It is one of the few drives you can buy without a black faceplate -- instead, it includes an interchangeable bezel to give you a color choice. The Sony is expensive for a drive without LightScribe, but it is bundled with Nero software.
CDRLabs.com rates the 20x Sony drive highly, and CDFreaks.com's Kip R. says the Sony DRU-840A is very quiet and "burns most media with good quality." Computer Power User magazine gives the Sony a middling 3.5 rating; reviewer Marty Sems notes, "It couldn't handle my moderately scratched test disc." Although it's more expensive, the Sony drive could be a good choice if you want an especially quiet IDE drive.
The HP dvd1140i (*Est. $40) ranks second on About.com's current IDE drive list, but isn't fully reviewed anywhere. It's a 22x DVD burner with LightScribe, and also comes with Nero Essentials and mounting hardware. The few user reviews posted on Amazon.com are all positive.
Pioneer's older DVR-116DBK (*Est. $35) gets high praise at CDFreaks.com, who give it a Safe Buy designation. The site's reviewers laud the excellent writing quality of the DVR-116DBK across most media, though, strangely, CD writing is noticeably slow. The DVD drive is also rather noisy when burning at top speed, according to CDFreaks.com, which is odd, since CDRLabs.com points out the drive's noise-reducing mechanisms. CDRInfo.com likes the DVR-116DBK's Optimal Write Speed Technology, which automatically burns DVDs at only the highest speeds particular blank media can handle. However, the site's testers aren't crazy about speeds and burn reliability, and point out that the Optimal Write Speed function could get in the way for those who like to burn quickly.