How to install a DVD or CD burner?


(Below is an article from CNET Labs which i am sharing with you for information purposes only.)

Tune-up: How to install a DVD or CD burner

 

 

 

By Mitt Jones
(February 10, 2004)

 

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All you’ll need to spruce up your system with a new optical drive is a Phillips screwdriver and an open 5.25-inch external bay in your computer.

 

A disc burner easily qualifies as a must-have PC accessory these days, whether you’re interested in mixing your own audio CDs, sharing videos or slide shows, or using CDs or DVDs simply to move or archive data. If your system’s getting a little long in the tooth, chances are you have only a CD-ROM or CD-RW drive. Adding a second CD-RW drive or a DVD burner is a great way to get striking new capabilities without buying a new system. With multiple drives, your system will be able to burn directly from one disc to another, handy when copying CDs for safekeeping.

With most PCs, you should have no trouble adding a CD or DVD burner even if your system already contains an optical drive or two. As long as you have an open drive bay and an available drive connector, your new burner should coexist amicably with your other drives.

This Tune-up will walk you through the steps of adding a CD or DVD burner to your current system. Depending on your PC’s vintage, the steps may be slightly different. For our example, we added a Plextor PX-708A internal DVD burner to both a mature Dell Dimension 4500 and a brand-spanking-new iBuyPower Value Pro XP to cover both eventualities. Both already had CD-RW drives installed. The steps below pertain to Windows XP, but the procedure should be similar with other recent Windows versions.

 

 

 

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Step 1: Check your system requirements

 

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Step 2: Document cable connections

 

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Step 3: Set drive jumpers

 

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Step 4: Install the drive in a bay

 

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Step 5: Attach the interface cable

 

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Step 6: Attach the power cable

 

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Step 7: Attach the audio cable

 

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Step 8: Boot your system

 

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Step 9: Configure Windows’ settings

 

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Step 10: Install software

 

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The right connections

 

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Drive directions

 

Mitt Jones is a contributor to Computer Shopper magazine.

Tune-up is featured monthly in Computer Shopper magazine; this feature originally appeared in the February 2004 issue.

 

 

 

 

Step 1: Check your system requirements

 

Before you buy a drive, make sure your PC meets the minimum requirements, unless you’re willing to accept performance that’s slower than the drive’s rated speed. To reap the benefit of our Plextor’s 8X DVD+R speed, we needed at least an 800MHz Pentium III CPU, and Plextor suggests at least a 1.6GHz Pentium 4. Consider saving money by opting for a slower drive if your system doesn’t meet the recommended requirements.

 

 

Step 2: Document cable connections

 

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Make a note of your system’s current cable connections before unplugging anything. Snapping a photo or two for reference is a good idea.

 

Make sure to document your PC’s current IDE-cable connections. Power down your system and open the chassis. Most PCs can accommodate two optical drives on either of two ATA/IDE channels, with one drive acting as master and the other as slave. (The ATA/IDE channels are the hardware interfaces on a system’s motherboard for connecting CD, DVD, and hard drives.) Follow the ribbon cables that lead to your hard drive and your optical drive to determine how the drives are connected.

Your system’s boot drive probably occupies the master position on the primary ATA channel. Your optical drive may act as slave on the same channel or occupy the master position on the secondary ATA channel. If the hard drive and the optical drive share the primary channel, one ribbon cable will connect the two; otherwise you’ll see separate ribbon cables running to each, as with both our test systems.

Your new drive should work fine as the master or the slave on either channel. If your configuration allows, set the newer drive as master on the secondary ATA channel to ensure optimal performance.

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Snapping a photo or two of your PC’s interior with a digital camera provides a “before” shot that may serve as a useful reminder later.

 

 

Step 3: Set drive jumpers

 

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Resetting a drive’s jumper is a simple matter of removing a plastic tab and sliding it onto a different set of posts.

 

Before you set your new drive’s master/slave jumper, check the setting on the drive that’s already in your system to see whether it’s set to “cable select” (CSEL or CS). With cable select, the ATA ribbon-cable connector determines whether the drive operates as master or slave. This makes it possible to install and rearrange drives without having to change master/slave settings, but there’s a catch: You have to set the jumper on both drives on the channel to CSEL for cable select to work, and the ribbon cable must support CSEL. You may need to check your PC’s documentation to determine if its cables support cable select.

The other, more reliable, alternative is to set one drive’s jumper to master and the other’s to slave. You’ll have to remove the existing drive to check, and possibly change, its jumper setting, but the master/slave arrangement is a foolproof approach. The drive in our Dell system was set to cable select, while our iBuyPower system used master/slave settings. In both cases, we set the jumpers to master/slave.

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Most drives provide an explanation of their jumper settings on the drive itself, either on a label or on the metal chassis.

 

 

Step 4: Install the drive in a bay

 

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In most systems, you can slide your new drive through the front panel. If you’ve never used the bay, you’ll have to remove the panel covering it.

 

Take a few moments to consider drive placement before installation. Moving the old drive down a bay may make it easier to attach the correct connectors to the two drives.

Refer to your system’s documentation if you have any doubt about how to install the new drive into a bay. If you’ll be using a drive bay for the first time, you may have to remove panels on and behind the case’s front face (the level of difficulty of this task depends on your case design). Most drives secure into a bay using four screws. In some PCs, the drive fits into a cage that you can slide out of the bay by pressing in tabs. In both of our test systems, the drives attached to metal cages via four screws. If possible, use the screws provided with your drive. You may have to remove both side panels to attach all of the screws.

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If your PC’s chassis makes it difficult to connect cables once a drive is secured in a bay, perform step 5 through step 7 before installing the drive or with the drive only partially inserted into the bay.

 

Step 5: Attach the interface cable

 

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Attach the cable to both the master and slave drives on the same channel.

 

The connector on the cable you use depends on your system and drive configuration. If you are using the master/slave configuration, it doesn’t matter whether the cable’s center or end connectors are connected to the master or slave drives. It is recommended, however, that you use the end connector to install a lone master drive on a channel.

Most ATA interface cables have a red stripe along one edge. Connect the cables so that this stripe aligns with pin 1 on the drive’s connector, the side closest to the four-pin power connector. Most systems and ribbon cables are keyed to allow connection in only this orientation.

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Use the ribbon cable provided with your PC unless there’s a good reason not to. Some drives, including ours, come with 40-conductor cables that don’t support cable select if you choose that option. (See “The right connections.”)

 

 

Step 6: Attach the power cable

 

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Power connectors are keyed to insert only one way. Don’t be afraid to use a little force when installing or removing them.

 

Now attach one of the power leads with the large white connectors to your drive. The four-pin connectors are keyed to allow insertion only in the correct orientation. In the unlikely event you have no unused power connectors in your system, you can pick up an inexpensive Y splitter cable at a local computer store.

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Don’t be afraid to use force when installing and removing power connectors–they fit quite tightly.

 

Step 7: Attach the audio cable

 

Many older systems require an audio cable to connect your optical drive’s four-pin analog output to an output on your sound card so that you can play audio CDs on your PC. This approach yields fine audio quality for most of us, but it’s not ideal: PC optical drives typically don’t contain hi-fi-quality digital-to-analog converters. Some sound cards and most current optical drives allow a digital connection between the two devices, but this connection is seldom used.

Many newer systems do away with the audio cable altogether. Recent versions of Windows support audio-CD playback using digital audio extraction, which lets the PC read digital data directly from the drive and perform the necessary digital-to-analog conversion. The biggest drawback of digital audio-CD playback: If there’s a headphone jack on the front of the optical drive, it won’t work when you play a CD.

On both of our test systems, which already used digital CD playback with no problems, we installed the new drive without an audio cable. If your current optical drive uses an analog cable and you want to add your new drive with the same type of connection, you may need to buy a Y connector; most sound cards allow only one analog input.

 

 

 

Step 8: Boot your system

 

After checking the cable connections one last time, power up your system. To verify that Windows recognizes the drive, go to My Computer and look for an icon for the new drive. If the icon doesn’t appear, reboot and enter your PC’s CMOS setup program, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure both ATA channels are enabled in the setup routine and that the master and slave positions are correct.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 9: Configure Windows’ settings

 

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Open the Device Manager to verify that Windows is set to use digital CD playback.

 

Windows XP will probably set your drive to use digital CD playback as a default. To verify or change the setting, right-click My Computer, and select Properties > Hardware > Device Manager. Click the plus sign next to DVD/CD-ROM Drives, right-click the new drive, and choose Properties. Then select the Properties tab and make sure “Enable digital CD audio for this CD-ROM device” is checked.

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If you want to disable digital CD playback, you’ll need to do it within Windows Media Player as well as within Device Manager.

 

Step 10: Install software

 

Windows XP includes a “lite” version of Roxio’s Easy CD Creator that makes it easy to write files to disc, but most drives provide one or more software titles with larger feature sets, such as Roxio’s Easy CD & DVD Creator 6.0. To install your drive’s software, insert the disc into any optical drive on your system. If the setup routine doesn’t start automatically, browse the disc and run setup.exe.

 

The right connections

 

CD and DVD writers typically come with ATA ribbon cables, but you may be better off using the cable that’s already installed in your system. Some drives, including the Plextor PX-708A that we used for this article, come with a 40-conductor cable that doesn’t support cable select, instead of the slightly more expensive 80-conductor cable that does.

Both 40-conductor and 80-conductor ATA cables use the same 40-pin connectors. The additional 40 wires in the 80-conductor cables, which alternate with the signal-carrying conductors, simply connect to ground. This significantly improves signal quality across the cable, which in turn allows ATA signaling to occur reliably at faster rates than with conventional 40-conductor cables.

How do you spot an 80-conductor ATA cable? One sure way is to count the ridges on the cable. You may also identify a standard 80-conductor ATA cable by its color coding. The master-drive connector at one end of the cable is black, the slave-drive connector between the two ends is gray, and the blue connector attaches to the motherboard. One catch: When the connectors are in use, the visible portion of each is typically black, so you’ll have to unplug a connector or two to see if an installed cable is color-coded.

CD and DVD writers don’t operate fast enough to require 80-conductor cables, but an 80-conductor cable may improve performance somewhat, and it certainly won’t hurt. The 80-conductor cables are mandatory for hard drives using Ultra DMA modes 3 through 6, but optical drives typically use Ultra DMA mode 2 (33.3MB per second), at best. (A higher Ultra DMA mode means that a drive supports a faster transfer rate. The vast majority of hard drives sold today support mode 6.) If you wanted to attach a hard drive and your CD/DVD burner to the same channel, which isn’t completely unlikely, you’d need an 80-conductor cable for the hard drive to operate faster than 33.3MB per second.

The bottom line: If you’re attaching only optical drives to the cable, don’t waste time and money buying an 80-conductor cable. If your PC or new disc burner provides an 80-conductor cable, however, go ahead and use it.

 

Drive directions

 

The Web abounds with information about installing and using CD and DVD burners. For more about ATA cables, connections, and cable select, click here; you’ll find an excellent series of articles on these and other topics. FAQs worth checking out include Andy McFadden’s CD-Recordable FAQ and Jim Taylor’s DVD FAQ, which cover their topics with “everything you wanted to know” breadth. The DVD-R help site includes a wealth of resources, such as a well-trafficked forum and how-to guides on several aspects of creating DVDs. And for the official spin on the competing DVD media formats, check out the official sites of the DVD Forum and the DVD+RW Alliance. To learn more about Windows’ digital audio extraction feature, take a look at this Microsoft knowledge base article. You’ll also find an article on how to get the most from your CD burner here.

 

 

 

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