Adaptec – AVA-2904CD review

low-cost SCSI card for CD-R drives
Photo of Adaptec – AVA-2904CD
£30 + VAT

There are now plenty of low-cost ATAPI/EIDE and SCSI-based CD-R and CD-RW drives on the market, making it easy for home and business users to create their own CDs, including backups, music compilations (copyright permitting) and archives. ATAPI drives are generally the cheapest and the most convenient to install, since they can be plugged into a motherboard’s EIDE controller, but SCSI drives are superior. This is because they require far less of the host PC’s CPU bandwidth in order to operate. The end result is that CD creation is nearly always more reliable with a SCSI drive.

That’s all very well, of course, but what if you don’t have a SCSI controller in your PC? Obviously, you have to install one, but with prices for some cards over the £200 mark, such a move can be costly. Adaptec has responded with this cut-down PCI SCSI kit, which is specifically geared to CD-R and CD-RW users. The core of this kit is the 2904CD card, which is a Fast SCSI-2 device supporting bus-mastering and a peak data transfer rate of 10MB/sec. It’s a Plug-and-Play device, so there are no jumpers to fiddle with, and installation on our test system proceeded uneventfully. A cable is provided for internal drives, and the card has an external connector too. Although aimed at CD-R/RW users, it is possible to connect up to seven peripherals in a chain.

Then there’s the software, which is the ‘Standard Edition’ of Adaptec’s EasyCD Creator. This is quite a powerful piece of kit, since it allows you to duplicate CDs and create your own, featuring both music and data tracks. The interface is drag-and-drop, making the creation process relatively straightforward. The kit also includes driver support for DOS, Windows 3.1x, Windows 95/98 and Windows NT. You still need to be familiar with the use of a screwdriver, of course, but SCSI upgrades for CD creation don’t come much easier than this.

Company: Adaptec

Contact: 01276 854500


Verdict
If your PC doesn't already have a SCSI adapter built in, this is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to add it. It's ideally suited to CD-R/RW creation, since it comes with the necessary cables and software and should dramatically decrease CPU utilisation compared with an ATAPI-based CD-R/RW drive and controller.