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Asus DRW-1608B

There were also problems with CD-R media. The drive again refused to write to the Verbatim discs that I always use, but did manage to burn some unbranded, bulk media. With a 40x CD-R write speed I wasn’t expecting the best results, but the DRW-1608B actually managed to write to CD-RW faster than CD-R. But the most amazing thing about this drive is that despite its issues with the test media, it’s still the fastest DVD writer that I’ve ever reviewed!

It’s the DVD+R DL performance that really makes this drive from Asus special. The 6x specification definitely rang true in the testing, even though I was only using 2.4x media. The DRW-1608B burned 8.1GB of digital images in under 20 minutes, which is over seven minutes faster than both the award winning NEC ND-3520A and the LG GSA-4163B. It’s also worth remembering that Asus is likely to improve the media compatibility with future firmware updates, so the performance of the DRW-1608B is only going to get better.
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Asus sent over the retail box, which is about as fully featured as you get with an optical drive. Besides the DVD writer itself, you also get an IDE cable, an audio cable, a set of mounting screws, a manual eject pin, a paper installation manual, a copy of Nero OEM suite and Ulead DVD MovieFactory 3 Suite SE. So you’ve got pretty much everything you need to install and use your new DVD writer at point of purchase.

I generally advise people to go for a bare drive when looking for a DVD writer, since they’re usually far cheaper than a retail box and the retail bundles are usually pretty weak anyway. In this case however, Asus has put together a pretty strong bundle and still managed to hit a price point of only £44.21 – quite a staggering achievement.

Verdict

The Asus DRW-1608B is a little picky when it comes to media, but its' still a lightning fast drive. If you’re planning on burning a lot of dual layer discs, this drive will save you masses of time, while it’s just a firmware flash away from DVD-R DL too, like the NEC ND-3520. Factor in the low retail price and you really are getting cutting edge performance and features at a bargain price. If it wasn't for the media problems, the Asus would be walking away with an Editor's Choice award, but even as it stands it deserves to be Recommended.

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