Asus DRW-1608P review

22 Sep 2005

A good price and fast quoted speeds are let down a little by performance, but it has the potential to massively improve once faster discs arrive.

Price when reviewed: 
33(£38 inc VAT)
5

On paper, the Asus is a very impressive writer, offering 6x burning on both dual-layer formats. No other drive on test embraces dual-layer DVD-R writing to this extent, so it's to be commended, even though discs aren't widely available yet to make the theory a reality.

Unfortunately for Asus, this month's drives had to prove they could live up to their paper specs, and the DRW-1608P didn't quite match up to its hype. We found that, despite our best efforts, it simply didn't want to burn any of our dual-layer media at speeds greater than 2.4x. In fact, our Memorex disc was the only one it completed without error, even with the latest firmware installed. It also struggled in our CD-burning tests, finishing behind all but the two slim external drives.

But there are positives: a DVD-RW speed of 6x is fast, and it took less than six minutes to burn a DVD-R. This demonstrates a clear preference for that format, as its performance with DVD+ discs was less inspiring. A DVD+R time of more than seven minutes, coupled with a DVD+RW time exceeding 15 minutes, contribute to an overall performance score that's decent in parts but generally unexceptional.

Asus goes a long way to make up for this by providing every accessory you could possibly need to install the drive, and the bundled software selection is pretty good too. The common Nero Express, Vision Express and Media Player (the Nero Express Suite) are supplemented by Ulead DVD MovieFactory, a video-editing program designed with ease of use in mind rather than power. An Asus-branded version of CyberLink PowerDVD is also included, giving a welcome element of choice when playing DVDs. Data and audio cables are supplied, along with a screw set and a manual eject pin, which is useful even if it is just a glorified paper clip.

This adds up to a well-featured DVD writer that offers good value considering it costs less than £40 including VAT. It's just a shame that right here, right now, it simply can't match the big guns - particularly the Plextor - for overall speed.

Where it wins is for those who are looking to future-proof their PC, as the burning speeds will improve greatly when the available media catches up. What's more, those quoted speeds are some of the most impressive on show and, with the added impetus of Asus' firmware updates, this DVD writer certainly has the potential to be the best all-rounder of the group given time.