A drive burning DVDs at 18x would surely explode into a million pieces - or so we thought. Plextor's PX-760A certainly generates the sort of noise that would suggest such a catastrophe, but it's admirably shy of vibration.

If the whirring gets a bit much, Plextor has included a silent mode, which basically caps your read and write speeds to limit the noise from the motor. It's a nice touch, but it doesn't get anywhere near silent until you creep towards the 1x mark.

Unfortunately, despite assurances that our Plextor branded media could handle the pressure, we never managed to get more than a peak of 16.4x writing speed out of a single-layer disc. Not that that's a bad rate: the average across the disc was 12.05x, which is a respectable score by all accounts.

Dual-layer burning hovers around the 6x mark and we don't doubt Plextor's claims that it can produce CDs even faster than the usual 58x maximum: our test batch was burned extremely quickly.

And there's more

What you get for your money is more than just an attempt at 18x, though. Plextor's second biggest selling point for the PX-760A is its built-in AutoStrategy technology, which should ensure that you're always using the fastest possible method of writing your disk. If it doesn't find one in its database, it creates it.

Our test burns outshone a 16x drive by only a few seconds, but if that's what counts for you then you'll be happy with this drive. It certainly seems reliable, and if you're unsure of its credentials then Plextor handily includes Plextools. This is a valuable multifunction package that includes some stringent tests for your potential media.

The one inescapable problem is that you've probably already got a DVD drive that works perfectly already. For all the advanced features Plextor crams in, this is essentially nothing new.

The jump in speed is admittedly significant between older 4x burners and this young contender, even if it doesn't quite go as fast as it says on the tin. Yet you'd have to really need this to justify spending £20 more than you would on a 16x drive. Alex Cox