Go with the Pioner 108XL series. They've got some nice firmware's out there for RPC Free and unlocking the rip and burning speeds across all media. It's also easy to move back and forth between firmware's if one of a cracked one doesn't cooperate. The latest 1.14 that unlocks Xall for all media didn't work well with some cheapo 4X cakes I was testing, so I just flashed it back to the OEM 1.14 and it burns them at 4X no problem now.
I've always stood by Pioneer. They may be slower to market with the newer technology, but you can trust that they've taken more time to get the bugs out during that time. Not too mention the longevity factor. My 3+ year old whiteboxed 104 still burns flawlessly at 2X on just about any decent media. The only reason I got the 108XLA is I got tired of taking half the day to back up my system across 3 DVD-R's, and I didn't want to invest in a tape drive when I can make the DVD's bootable for bare metal restores.
If it ain't broke don't try to fix it! But, hell if you can tweak that bastard just a little bit more....hehehe.