I have the Plextor 16x burner here at my job... and it never really burns at 16x. With the way the new Plextor "burn-proof" technology works... it will just slow down the burn speed at any instance of PC slowdown or instability in order to prevent destroying the disc. True 16x speed would mean I could burn an entire 700/80min CD in under 5 minues, and thats never the case.
In order to get 24x, i couldnt even imagine how the PC could allocate enough resources and such to burn that quickly.
Plus.... if you are like me, that burns a lot more audio CDs compared to data ones... the burns will be even slower because the PC has to work twice as hard to maintain an audio buffer compared to a data one.
Also.... if you tend to do a lot of CD copies... CD to CD... you have to make sure the CD drive you are reading from is REALLY top quality.... especially again if you are doing audio CDs. Even if the CD reader is rated 48x(max)... it may only extract audio at 8x which is quite common. The best CD players you can get for reading would be the Kenwood trueX drives... but they are quite pricey.
I have a 16x Plextor here at work... and the 8x Plextor at home, and im pleased enough with my 10 minute burns the 8x gives me. I don't really see the need to go up to 16x or even 24x when i cant even guarantee ill get that speed.
dude something is really sucky with your computer. I got a 16 speed yamaha and when i burn my buffer never drops below 98% at all. No matter how much stuff I'm running or is open, honest to god. You might wanna check your DMA settings or something for real.
Im not saying that you will see the buffer drop.... I dont see the buffer drop either... but there is no way im getting 16x speed. Maybe I am wrong. Ill try to burn a CD either later today or tomorrow and see what happens. I was watching the block increments when it was burning... and it didnt look like it was doing 16x.
Oh and on my 8x burner... i never saw the buffer drop below 95% either....