Asus has really pushed the boat out with the DRW-1608B. Reading the specifications listed on the box makes this drive look like the fastest DVD writer on the market. Luckily for Asus, in many respects the DRW-1608B lives up to its specifications, and overall it did in fact prove to be the fastest drive Iâ€™ve ever tested. However, it wasnâ€™t all plain sailing for this drive during testing, and if anything Asus needs to improve its media support, but more on that later.
Iâ€™m not really impressed by 16x DVD+R drives anymore, since pretty much everyone and their dog has one of these on the market. But as I already mentioned, the specs for this Asus drive are a bit more interesting than most. The DRW-1608B will burn DVD+/-R media at 16x, DVD+RW at 8x and DVD-RW at 6x. Of course I wasnâ€™t able to test the DVD+RW and DVD-RW performance properly since the respective 8x and 6x media isnâ€™t available yet. The CD-R specification is a little disappointing at 40x, while the 24x CD-RW speed is pretty much par for the course. But itâ€™s the DVD+R DL specification that really impresses with the Asus drive â€“ at 6x, this drive promised to be considerably faster than the 4x drives already on the market. Also, the DRW-1608P is rated at 6x for DVD-R DL as well, although it will need a firmware flash when the media becomes available.
When I first tried to test the Asus drive, I found that it refused to write to the Verbatim 16x DVD+R media that I had in the lab. I contacted Asus and was told that I should try using the â€œapproved mediaâ€ on its list, but I pointed out that there wasnâ€™t any 16x rated media on that list at all. A few days later I received a firmware update from Asus, which enabled the drive to recognise 16x media correctly.
Unfortunately, even with the firmware flash, the DRW-1608P still had a few problems with media. Although the drive was correctly identifying the 16x DVD+R media, when I burned the 4.3GB MPEG2 file it took over eight minutes. Running the same test a second time turned in a much more respectable time of five minutes 55 seconds, with a third run also coming in just under six minutes. Burning 4.5GB of mixed files also took just under six minutes, but when it came to writing 4.3GB of digital images, the time climbed back up to almost eight and a half minutes. I reran the digital image burn two more times, but the DRW-1608B consistently turned in times close to eight and a half minutes.