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The AOpen CD-948E/AKU Pro 48X CD-ROM Drive
Last updated: 5/8/00

The AOpen 948E is a reliable, fast, quiet, and economical CD-ROM drive.  I have been using the 9XXE/AKU series of drives for upgrades and new computers for years and have found them to be quality products that hold-up over time.

IN THE BOX.  The 948E is well-packaged in attractive retail box which includes everything needed to install the drive except an IDE cable to connect it to the secondary IDE port on a motherboard, which is typical.  The package includes an audio cable with identical, unkeyed plugs at the ends which should accommodate most recent sound boards.   Also in the box is a driver disk, mounting screws, and a brief User's Manual in English, German, Spanish, French, Chinese, and one other language (Japanese, I would guess).  The manual is printed on good quality paper, includes diagrams of the front and back of the drive, hardware installation instructions, and emergency CD eject instructions.

INSTALLATION.  The diagram in the User's Manual of the rear of the drive is not correct.  The one to the right came from AOpen's web site and matches the drive.  There is a jumper (arrow) on the rear of the drive to disable or enable UDMA 33 operation.  The drive comes jumpered with UDMA disabled.  The EpoX MVP3G2 motherboard in my test computer detects the drive as PIO Mode 4 with the jumper in place and UDMA 33 with it removed.   You would remove the jumper for most recent motherboards and Windows 98.  You would leave the jumper in place for motherboards which don't support UDMA 33 and Windows 95.  The stock Windows 95 UDMA driver is not designed for CD-ROM drives and Windows may lock-up if used with the 948E set for UDMA 33.  Your motherboard may have come with a UDMA 33 driver for Windows 95 which will work with the drive.  See How to Install a CD-ROM Drive for detailed installation instructions.

OPERATION.  The CD door is very quite and opens and closes smoothly without the ill-fitting, cheap, plastic gear meshing sound heard from many other CD-ROM and DVD drives.  The large eject and  play buttons have a good tactile feel.  Earphone volume is controlled with two buttons labeled with up and down arrows just to the right of the earphone jack.

PERFORMANCE.  This drive is fast and quite.  Although, you can hear the drive spin-up, it is quiet compared to others I've seen (heard). You would think that one could work-out a proportionality between a 48X drive and a 36X drive and the 48X drive would be 33% faster.  Such is not the case.   Nor is a 36X drive 50% faster than a 24X drive.  These speeds are maximum speeds, not average data transfer speeds.  Actually, the 948E is about 10% faster than an AOpen CD-936E/AKU 36X UDMA 33 drive.  The 948E moves 104 MBytes to a Western Digital UDMA 33 drive in 34 seconds in a computer with a 500 Mhz K6-2 and 64 Mbytes of memory--that's fast.  The 36X Acer drive moves the same data in the same machine in 39 seconds--that's also fast.  So, all of these X's don't mean a whole lot once a CD-ROM has a UDMA interface and is 36X or greater.

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