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Home DVD Writers ASUS DRW-1814BLT SATA 18x DVD±RW/RAM

ASUS DRW-1814BLT SATA 18x DVD±RW/RAM

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Model: ASUS DRW-1814BLT SATA 18x DVD±RW/RAM
Manufacturer: ASUSTeK Computer, Inc

The name ASUS has been a favorite among computer enthusiasts for as long as I can remember. Founded in 1989, this Taiwanese company has grown to become one of the world's leading manufacturers of computer components. While best known for their motherboards, video cards and notebook computers, ASUS has shown us that they're pretty serious about optical storage. They've introduced a wide range of products for the portable and desktop markets. With their innovative technologies and impressive performance, these drives have been popular right from the start.

With other drive manufacturers starting to push DVD writing speeds to 18x and beyond, ASUS has answered the challenge with the DRW-1814BLT. Designed in-house by their own team of engineers, this Serial ATA equipped "Super-Multi" drive takes DVD writing speeds to the next level. The DRW-1814BLT not only offers 18x DVD±R, 8x DVD+RW, 6x DVD-RW, and 8x DVD±R DL writing speeds, it's the first drive with the ability to write to DVD-RAM media at 14x. Of course, ASUS hasn't stopped there. Along with support for HP's LightScribe Direct Disc Labeling system, the DRW-1814BLT includes features like ASUS's own FlextraLink, FlextraSpeed and QuieTrack technologies.

With features and specs like this, it's hard not to be impressed by ASUS's new "Super-Multi" drive. To give you an idea of what to expect from the DRW-1814BLT we'll take a look at its features and then see how it compares to some of the 18x DVD±RW drives from the competition. Does ASUS's new drive have what it takes? More importantly, it the best bang for your buck? Keep reading to find out.



What's in the box?:

  • ASUS DRW-1814BLT 18x DVD±RW/RAM Drive
  • Quick Setup Guide
  • Nero Software CD
  • CD Case
  • 2 Verbatim LightScribe 52x CD-R Discs
  • Mounting Screws

Physical Features:

The drive we purchased for this review was manufactured in January of 2007 and had firmware 1.04.For this review we used firmware versions 1.04 and 1.10.

From the front, the DRW-1814BLT looks very similar to ASUS's previous 16x DVD±RW drive, the DRW-1612BL. The two drives not only share the same bezel design, but have many of the same logos. Along with the large "ASUS" logo, you can see a few showing support forthe DVD+ReWritable and DVD Multi specifications as well as technologies like QuieTrack and LightScribe.

Below the tray you can see the DRW-1814BLT's single LED. Off by default, this LED lights up green when the drive is reading or writing.

The rear of the DRW-1814BLT is fairly straight forward. By looking at the picture below you can see the drive's SATA interface and power connector.

Technical Specs:

Most of the specs below have been taken from ASUS's website and the box that the drive came in.

  ASUS DRW-1814BLT 18x DVD±RW/RAM
CD Write Speeds 48x, 40x (CAV)
32x, 24x (P-CAV)
16x, 8x (CLV)
CD Rewrite Speeds 32x, 24x (Z-CLV)
16x, 10x, 4x (CLV)
DVD+R Write Speeds 18x, 16x, 12x (CAV)
10x, 8x (P-CAV)
4x (CLV)
DVD+RW Write Speeds 8x (Z-CLV)
6x, 4x, 2.4x (CLV)
DVD-R Write Speeds 18x, 16x, 12x (CAV)
10x, 8x (P-CAV)
4x (CLV)
DVD-RW Write Speeds 6x (Z-CLV)
4x, 2x, 1x (CLV)
DVD+R DL Write Speeds 8x, 6x (Z-CLV)
4x, 2.4x (CLV)
DVD-R DL Write Speeds 8x, 6x (Z-CLV)
4x, 2x (CLV)
DVD-RAM Write Speeds 14x (CAV)
12x (P-CAV)
5x, 3x, 2x (CLV)
CD Read Speeds 48x Max (CD-ROM)
40x Max (CD-R/CD-RW)
DAE Speed 48x Max
DVD Read Speeds 16x Max (DVD-ROM Single Layer)
8x Max (DVD-ROM Dual Layer)
16x Max (DVD-Video)
12x Max (DVD±R)
8x Max (DVD±RW)
8x Max (DVD±R DL)
12x Max (DVD-RAM)
Buffer Size 2MB
Access Times
150 ms (CD-ROM)
140 ms (DVD-ROM)
CD Formats CD-ROM
CD-DA
CD-Extra
Photo CD
Video CD
CD-Text
CD-R
CD-RW
DVD Formats DVD-ROM
DVD+R/RW
DVD-R/RW
DVD+R DL
DVD-R DL
DVD-RAM
CD Recording Modes Disc At Once
Track At Once
Session At Once
Packet Writing
Multi-Session
DVD+R and DVD+R DL
Recording Modes
Sequential Recording
Multi-Session Recording
DVD+RW Recording Modes Random Recording
DVD-R and DVD-R DL
Recording Modes
Disc At Once
Incremental Recording
Multi-Border Recording
DVD-RW Recording Modes Restricted Overwriting
Disc At Once
Incremental Recording
Multi-Border Recording
DVD-RAM Recording Modes Random Write

The DRW-1814BLT also has many of the same features found on ASUS's other drives, including support for their FlextraLink, FlextraSpeed and QuieTrack technologies. More information on these features can be found in our reviews of the CRW-5224A and CRW-5232AS.

LightScribe:

Note: We took a much closer look at LightScribe technology in our review of the BenQ DW1625. In this review we'll just go over some of the basics and see how the DRW-1814BLT performs with the bundled software.

The DRW-1814BLT is one of the latest drives from ASUS to feature LightScribe technology. Developed by HP, LightScribe lets you burn durable, silk screen quality labels directly onto your CD's and DVD's using the same drive that burned the data. According to HP, it's as simple as burning the data, flipping the disc, and then burning the label.

Of course you can't do this with just any drive, media or software. While LightScribe capable drives use the same laser when burning both the data and label, they have to be able to accurately control the laser's focus and position as well as the spindle speed. They also must be able to recognize LightScribe media. These special discs have a thin dye coating on the label side that absorbs laser light. This triggers a chemical reaction that produces a color change, allowing the user to print text, artwork or graphics.

Even if you have a LightScribe capable drive and media, you will need software that supports it. Most major software companies have pledged support for the technology. However, at the time of this review, the list of compatible software is still relatively short. For the DRW-1814BLT, ASUS turned to Nero. Using the bundled software you can both create and burn LightScribe disc labels.

Once you've created your LightScribe label, you're ready to print it. Before you can do this though, you will need to choose the contrast. Keep in mind this option not only changes the level of detail, it affects the amount of time it takes to print the label. The higher the quality, the longer the process will take.

How long does it take to print a label? For testing purposes, we created a few discs using Verbatim's LightScribe v1.2 DVD+R and color CD-R media. In both cases, the quality has been set to "best". The results are shown below.

Verbatim CD-R v1.2 - 22 minutes Verbatim DVD+R v1.2 - 21 minutes

More Features:

By looking at the picture below, you can see that ASUS's new DVD writer is identified as an "ASUS DRW-1814BLT".

 

The Nero screenshot also shows that the DRW-1814BLT has a maximum CD writing speed of 48x and a 2000KB buffer. This buffer is also backed up by ASUS's FlextraLink technology. According to Nero, the drive can write CD-Text and overburn. When testing the drive's capacity, it had no problems overburning up to 99 minutes with CompUSA's 99 minute CD-R media.


Using Alex Noe's Weak Sector Utility we were able to determine that the DRW-1814BLT is a "two sheep" burner. This means that ASUS's new drive is capable of backing up titles protected by SafeDisc 2, including version 2.51.

Here is a screen shot from Nero's InfoTool. This program queries the drive to see what its reading and writing capabilities are. InfoTool had no problems detecting the DRW-1814BLT's maximum reading and writing speeds, recording modes, buffer underrun protection and 2MB buffer.

InfoTool also shows that the DRW-1814BLT is an RPC-2 DVD drive. This means that the drive's region is stored in the firmware. The drive's region can be changed five times and after that it cannot be changed anymore. Unfortunately, a patched RPC-1 firmware is not available for this drive yet.

While InfoTool gives us a quick glance at the DRW-1814BLT's features, DVDINFOpro provides a little more information on some of the drive's reading and writing capabilities. By looking at the screenshot above you can see that while ASUS's new drive can read and write to DVD+R DL, DVD-R DL and DVD-RAM media, it does not support the Mt. Rainier format.

The DRW-1814BLT also supports a feature called "bitsetting." By default, the drive sets the book type of DVD+R, DVD+RW and DVD+R DL media to "DVD-ROM." This feature comes in handy if you have an older DVD player that has problems playing recordable media.

The DRW-1814BLT's software bundle is very similar to what ASUS included with the DRW-1612BL. The CD that comes with the drive contains a number of different applications from Nero including Nero Express 6, Nero Media Player, and InCD as well as ASUSTeK ASUSDVD 6.0. Unfortunately, it does not include any software to edit and burn videos.

Nero Express 6 - With Nero Express, Nero has taken the features and performance people have come to expect from Nero Burning Rom and combined them with a user friendly interface. While the interface has been simplified, Nero Express still supports more advanced features like VCD and DVD creation, CD/DVD duplication, overburning, CD-Text and realtime audio filters.

The version of Nero Express that ASUS included with their new DVD±RW drive is 6.6.1.6f. You can download the latest version of the software from Nero's website.

Nero Media Player - Nero Media Player features on-the-fly encoding of audio CD's to MP3, HE-AAC, TwinVQ, WMA, and WAV format.The MP3 encoder uses the latest audio codec technology from Fraunhofer.While most of the plugins are unrestricted, the MP3 encoder included with this version of the program is limited to only 30 audio tracks.If you need to encode more you will probably want to upgrade to Nero's NeroMIX.

InCD 4 - InCD is Nero's packet writing software. Like Roxio's Drag-to-Disc or Sonic's DLA, it allows a person to use their CD-RW drive as a big floppy disk. The person can then drag and drop files onto a CD-RW or DVD±RW disc. Many people consider InCD to be one of the best packet writing tools because of its simplicity and performance.

ASUSTeK ASUSDVD 6.0 - The DRW-1814BLT also comes with ASUS's own DVD playback software, ASUSDVD. Based on CyberLink's PowerDVD, ASUSDVD offers a complete set of navigation commands, including advanced features like multi-angle viewing, dual subtitle display, digital zoom and parental controls.


Along with DVD movies, ASUSDVD can be used to play back your VCD's, SVCD's or whatever video files you might have on your hard drive. Unfortunately, the version of ASUSDVD included with the DRW-1814BLT only supports 2 speaker output. If you want to take advantage of DVD's encoded with DTS or use Dolby Pro Logic II, you'll probably want to pick up a retail copy of PowerDVD or WinDVD.

With the DRW-1814BLT, ASUS has delivered one of their most feature packed DVD writers to date. While the drive's biggest feature is its Serial ATA interface, it also boasts some pretty impressive specs. The DRW-1814BLT is capable of 18x DVD±R, 8x DVD±R DL, 8x DVD+RW and 6x DVD-RW writing speeds and a maximum DVD read speed of 16x. On top of that, it's the first drive with the ability to write to DVD-RAM media at 14x. The DRW-1814BLT also supports LightScribe and includes many of the features we've come to expect from ASUS like their FlextraLink, FlextraSpeed and QuieTrack technologies. My only real complaint is that bundled version of Nero does not include the components needed to edit and burn videos. Even then, the ASUS DRW-1814BLT scores a solid 9 out of 10 for its features.

Along with smaller cable size, one of the biggest benefits of Serial ATA is its ease of installation. Because it uses a point to point connection, setting jumpers has become a thing of the past. In most cases, installation is as simple as plugging in the SATA and power cables and turning the computer on. Needless to say, it took only a couple of minutes to install the DRW-1814BLT in our test computer. After making sure that the drive was recognized by Windows, I was ready to start installing the software.

Software Installation:

As I mentioned earlier, the DRW-1814BLT comes with a CD full of software from Nero. If you have autorun enabled on your computer, the menu pictured below will automatically come up when you insert the disc.

By now most of you should be pretty familiar with this menu. From here you can choose to install Nero 6, Nero Media Player, or ASUS DVD. Simply click the name of the application you want to install, and its setup program will start up automatically. Once you reboot, you'll be ready to start burning your own discs.

The Documentation:

Like the DRW-1612BL, the DRW-1814BLT doesn't offer much in the way of documentation. The closest thing to a manual is the drive's "Quick Installation Guide". This small, fold out guide is broken up into 20 different languages with each language getting about a page worth of instructions. While these instructions take the user step by step through the installation process, the small size of the diagrams keeps them from being very useful. Also, if you're looking for things like the DRW-1814BLT's specs or system requirements, you'll have to check the back of the box or visit ASUS's website. You won't find that information in the guide.

For ease of installation, SATA drives like the DRW-1814BLT are hard to beat. If you can plug in a few cables, you probably won't have any problems. Nevertheless, I have to admit that I was a little disappointed by the documentation. The brief instructions probably won't phase more experienced users. However, they might leave others in the dark. With this in mind, I give the installation a 7 out of a possible 10.

While CPU, memory, OS and other variables don't often make a huge difference, there are some nonetheless. We have a computer that is used only for testing hardware. We do this so all tests can be compared reliably.

Test System:

 

CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 4600+ 2.4GHz
Motherboard: ASUS M2N-SLI Deluxe with BIOS 0304
Memory: Corsair TWIN2X2048-6400
Video Card: MSI NX7900GT-T2D256E - ForceWare v93.71
Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 SATA 3.0Gb/s 320GB
Operating System: Windows XP SP2 - NVIDIA nForce v9.16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For DVD writers the performance tests are broken down into four sections: CD read, CD write, DVD read and DVD write tests. Each benchmark test has been run three times. The score given is an average of the three. DMA has been enabled in device manager for all IDE devices supporting it.

CD Read Tests: For the read performance section of the CD-ROM benchmarks, CD WinBench 99 v3.0 and CD Speed v4.7.5 are used to test read speeds, seek times and CPU usage. For DAE testing both CD Speed and CD DAE are used. CD Speed is used to give an overall DAE speed rating and CD DAE is used to give the track by track extraction speeds and to check the extracted tracks for errors the drive may have created.

CD Write Tests: To test the write speeds, Nero Burning Rom is used to write 700MB to our test media. Times are recorded. To test rewrite scores, Nero is used again to time how long it takes to write 400MB of random files and directories. Then Sonic's DLA is used to test packet writing speeds. The same files are copied and pasted in Windows Explorer and timed.

DVD Read Tests: For the read performance section of the DVD benchmarks CD Speed v4.7.5 is used to test read speeds, seek times, and CPU usage.

DVD Write Tests: To test the DVD write speeds, Nero Burning Rom is used to write 4GB to our test media. Times are recorded. Then Sonic's DLA is used to test packet writing speeds. The same files are copied and pasted in Windows Explorer and timed.

CD Winbench 99 Scores:

   ASUS DRW-1814BLT
CD Winbench 99 2140 KB/sec
Transfer Rate: Inside 3240 KB/sec
Transfer Rate: Outside 6470 KB/sec
Random Access Time 89ms
CPU Utilization 0%


The CD Winbench test is as close as we can get to testing every day usage. It fires off eight different applications using scripts. This tries to mimic the activities of a person loading these programs onto their own computer.

ASUS's new DVD writer performed very well in our CD Winbench tests. In the transfer rate tests, the DRW-1814BLT started reading at 21.6x (3240 / 150) on the inside and reached a maximum speed of about 43.1x (6470 / 150) on the outside. This resulted in a very good overall CD Winbench score.

CD Speed v4.7.5 - Pressed CD:

For this test I used a pressed CD containing one Mode 1 data track. The disc is 74:38 in size and is full of data and directories.


   ASUS
DRW-1814BLT
LG
GSA-H22N
Samsung
SH-S182D
Plextor
PX-760A
Transfer Speed
Average:
Start:
End:

36.07x
20.73x
47.69x

35.78x
20.57x
47.32x

36.54x
20.89x
48.30x

36.76x
21.27x
48.63x
Seek Times
Random:
1/3:
Full:

92ms
106ms
178ms

107ms
110ms
178ms

105ms
114ms
178ms

96ms
113ms
172ms
CPU Usage
1x:
2x:
4x:
8x:

0%
0%
1%
2%

1%
1%
3%
7%

0%
1%
3%
6%

0%
1%
2%
4%

When reading pressed CD's, the DRW-1814BLT is rated at 48x. Unfortunately, like the GSA-H22N, it came up short of this mark. In our tests, the drive started reading at a respectable 20.73x but reached a maximum transfer speed of only 47.69x. On a more positive note, the DRW-1814BLT's seek times and CPU usage were pretty good.

CD Speed v4.7.5 - CD-R Media:

For this test I made a copy of our pressed test CD. I used 12x rated ASUS Gold 74 minute media for the tests.

   ASUS
DRW-1814BLT
LG
GSA-H22N
Samsung
SH-S182D
Plextor
PX-760A
Transfer Speed
Average:
Start:
End:

30.81x
17.60x
40.83x

36.56x
20.88x
48.40x

31.43x
17.83x
41.64x

36.64x
20.99x
48.56x
Seek Times
Random:
1/3:
Full:

97ms
110ms
176ms

111ms
119ms
183ms

103ms
110ms
180ms

96ms
115ms
177ms
CPU Usage
1x:
2x:
4x:
8x:

0%
0%
1%
3%

1%
1%
3%
7%

1%
1%
3%
6%

0%
1%
2%
4%

The DRW-1814BLT wasn't nearly as fast when reading CD-R media. Looking at the scores above, you can see that the drive reached a maximum transfer speed of only 40x.

ASUS's new DVD writer had no problems recognizing our 99 minute CompUSA media. While the drive was able to read the disc from start to finish, it reached a maximum transfer rate of only 26x.

CD Speed v4.7.5 - CD-RW Media:

For this test I made a copy of a pressed test CD. I used some PNY 80 minute CD-RW media for the tests.

   ASUS
DRW-1814BLT
LG
GSA-H22N
Samsung
SH-S182D
Plextor
PX-760A
Transfer Speed
Average:
Start:
End:

30.26x
17.53x
39.97x

31.43x
18.19x
41.50x

30.87x
17.67x
40.75x

31.57x
18.36x
41.70x
Seek Times
Random:
1/3:
Full:

97ms
109ms
181ms

109ms
120ms
181ms

102ms
109ms
178ms

95ms
111ms
170ms
CPU Usage
1x:
2x:
4x:
8x:

0%
0%
1%
3%

1%
1%
3%
7%

1%
1%
3%
6%

0%
1%
2%
4%

Like the other drives, the DRW-1814BLT reads CD-RW media at only 40x. As you can see, the drive came very close to reaching this speed in our tests.

CD DAE and CD Speed v4.7.5 - Pressed CD:

For this test I used Pure Funk. The CD is almost exactly 74 minutes. This helps to squeeze the maximum performance out of the CD.

 

 

Exact Audio Copy can tell us a lot about a drive's capabilities. You can see from the screen shot that while the ASUS DRW-1814BLTsupports accurate stream and has the ability to retrieve C2 error information from the CD, it does not cache audio data.


CD Speed ASUS
DRW-1814BLT
LG
GSA-H22N
Samsung
SH-S182D
Plextor
PX-760A
Average:
Start:
End:
DAE Quality:
Accurate Stream:
36.41x
20.97x
48.12x
10
Yes
31.61x
18.25x
41.75x
10
Yes
31.09x
17.78x
41.08x
10
Yes
31.35x
17.97x
41.48x
10
Yes

The DRW-1814BLT did very well in our DAE tests. With a maximum speed of 48.12x, it had no problems beating out the other drives for the top spot.

To get a better look at the quality of the extracted audio we use CD DAE. CD DAE is actually designed to be an audio ripping program. It converts the CD-DA on the CD to .wav files. We use it in our testing because it can also be used as a quick and easy way to test the quality. Where CD Speed tests the DAE as one large session, CD DAE extracts each CD track individually. It actually extracts each track twice and then compares them to check for any errors. Every error a drive creates could be a hiss or pop you would hear later in the audio tracks.

CD DAE ASUS
DRW-1814BLT
LG
GSA-H22N
Samsung
SH-S182D
Plextor
PX-760A
Average:
Min:
Max:
34.5x
21.9x
47.1x
29.0x
19.0x
40.6x
29.1x
18.7x
40.2x
29.6x
18.5x
40.6x
Errors 0 0 0 0

While the DRW-1814BLT started out a little faster when extracting our test CD with CD DAE, its average and maximum speeds were slower than what we saw with CD Speed.

CD DAE and CD Speed v4.7.5 - CD-R Media:

For this test I used a copy of the Pure Funk CD. It's burned onto the same ASUS Gold 74 minute media I used in the CD Speed tests.

CD Speed ASUS
DRW-1814BLT
LG
GSA-H22N
Samsung
SH-S182D
Plextor
PX-760A
Average:
Start:
End:
DAE Quality:
Accurate Stream:
30.16x
17.53x
39.77x
10
Yes
31.32x
18.23x
41.29x
10
Yes
30.80x
17.67x
40.62x
10
Yes
31.52x
18.28x
41.56x
10
Yes

Unfortunately, the DRW-1814BLT wasn't nearly as fast when ripping audio CD-R discs. This time around, the drive reached a maximum DAE speed of only 39.77x. So how did it do in CD Speed's advanced DAE tests? Take a look below.

 

ASUS's new DVD writer completed CD Speed's advanced DAE tests with an average score of 28.68x. The drive had no problems passing all of the on-the-fly tests and did not create any errors. If you look at the advanced features, you can see that the DRW-1814BLT was able to read the CD-Text, subchannel data and lead in but failed to read the lead out section of the CD.

CD DAE ASUS
DRW-1814BLT
LG
GSA-H22N
Samsung
SH-S182D
Plextor
PX-760A
Average:
Min:
Max:
28.6x
18.3x
39.1x
28.4x
19.0x
40.2x
29.0x
18.7x
40.0x
29.9x
19.0x
40.6x
Errors 0 0 0 0

To see how well ASUS's DVD writer can read scratched and dirty discs, I used CD Speed's ScanDisc utility to see how many sectors were damaged or unreadable. This is a very rough, but good way to test the drive's error correcting abilities.

 


CD Speed - ScanDisc

The DRW-1814BLT handled scratched discs relatively well. By looking at the screenshot, you can see that the drive considered only 55.8% of the CD to be "damaged". More importantly, none of the sectors on the disc were unreadable.

You can also get an idea of how well the drive can read scratched and dirty discs by using CD DAE. CD DAE will extract the audio tracks twice and then compare them. From this information we can see what the drive's average speed was and how many errors it generated.

CD DAE Avg. Speed Errors % of Disc

ASUS DRW-1814BLT

5.1x 3498681 0.45%

LG GSA-H22N

14.4x 111630297 14.25%

Samsung SH-S182D

28.9x 2099160 0.27%

Plextor PX-760A

23.2x 73854517 9.60%

The DRW-1814BLT gave us some mixed results in this test. While the number of errors was very low, the scratches on the disc caused it to slow down considerably.

CD Write and ReWrite Tests - Nero Burning Rom 6.6.1.4 andDLA 5.20:

For this test I randomly generated 700MB of files and directories to test the time it takes the drive to write and close a CD. All of the files are between 1MB and 25MB in size and no more than 10 directories deep. All of the times below include not only the actual writing time, but the lead in and out times too. This gives a more realistic idea of how long it takes to write a CD.

 

The DRW-1814BLT has a maximum CD writing speed of 48x. To reach this speed, it uses CAV, or Constant Angular Velocity. With Fuji's 48x media, the drive started writing at about 20.88x and reached a maximum speed of 47.08x at the end of the session. This gave ASUS's new DVD±RW an average writing speed of about 35.65x.

To test the drive's writing times, I wrote our test data to some Taiyo Yuden manufactured Fuji media rated at 48x. The results are below.

Size in MB Size in Time ASUS
DRW-1814BLT
LG
GSA-H22N
Samsung
SH-S182D
Plextor
PX-760A
701MB 79:44:21 2:50 2:49 2:47 2:43

The DRW-1814BLT did fairly well in our CD writing tests. While not as fast as the drive from Plextor, it was able to write an entire 650MB CD in 2:50.

To test the drive's writing quality I used Lite-On IT's KProbe2. Written by Karr Wang, this utility can be used to test the number of C1 and C2 errors on a disc. For these tests I used a Lite-On LTR-52246S (firmware 6S0F) and read the discs at 32x.


Fuji 48x (Taiyo Yuden)


Memorex 52x (CMC)


Verbatim 52x

The DRW-1814BLT's writing quality was very good. By looking at the KProbe screenshots, you can see that the discs burned by the drive had a low number of C1 errors and there were no C2 errors at all.

For the rewriting tests I created 400MB of files on the hard drive and wrote them in DAO mode using Nero. To test the packet writing speeds I copied and pasted the same files off the hard drive onto a CD-RW disc using DLA from Sonic. Verbatim's 32x Ultra Speed CD-RW media was used for these tests.

The DRW-1814BLT uses CAV when writing to CD-R discs, it uses Z-CLV, or Zone CLV, when rewriting at 32x. By looking at the screenshot above, you can see that it uses a total of three "zones" to reach its maximum speed. The drive starts writing at 16x and jumps to 24x at about the 19 minute mark.The DRW-1814BLT writes at this speed until about the 54 minute mark. When it reaches this point, its writing speed increases to 32x and stays there until the end of the session.

Software ASUS
DRW-1814BLT
LG
GSA-H22N
Samsung
SH-S182D
Plextor
PX-760A
Nero 2:47 2:55 2:20 2:24
DLA Write 2:45 2:31 3:26 2:28
DLA Read 1:21 2:39 1:36 1:41

ASUS's new DVD writer didn't do as well as some of the other drives in our rewriting tests. Due to its Z-CLV writing method, the DRW-1814BLT took 2:47 to write 400MB with Nero and 2:45 to do the same with DLA.

   ASUS
DRW-1814BLT
LG
GSA-H22N
Samsung
SH-S182D
Plextor
PX-760A
Quick Erase 20 seconds 14 seconds 22 seconds 27 seconds
Full Erase 3:48 4:57 3:18 4:29

The DRW-1814BLT also erases at 32x. While it didn't have the fastest full erase time out of the four drives here, it was able to do a quick erase in only 20 seconds.

Nero CD Speed v4.7.5 - DVD-ROM:

A little editorial note here. Like a CD-ROM, you will get different benchmark results depending on what kind of discs you are using. You are probably going to get varying results from a full data disc to a single layer movie disc. You're also going to get different results for single and dual layer discs.

The CD Speed website recommends using a single layer DVD-ROM disc with a capacity of at least 4GB. If you use a dual layer disc you probably won't get the best results because most DVD-ROM drives slow down to read them. Some even slow down to read single layer DVD-Video discs. To make a long story short, I am using a 4.37GB single layer, single sided disc for this test.

   ASUS
DRW-1814BLT
LG
GSA-H22N
Samsung
SH-S182D
Plextor
PX-760A
Transfer Speed
Average:
Start:
End:

12.15x
6.70x
16.24x

12.00x
6.53x
16.05x

12.21x
6.75x
16.31x

12.06x
6.63x
16.13x
Seek Times
Random:
1/3:
Full:

98ms
112ms
188ms

142ms
175ms
237ms

96ms
113ms
184ms

102ms
113ms
189ms
CPU Usage
1x:
2x:
4x:
8x:

3%
5%
10%
20%

8%
14%
26%
49%

13%
12%
22%
41%

5%
9%
17%
32%

The DRW-1814BLT performed very well when reading single layer DVD-ROM's. In our tests it started reading at 6.70x and reached a maximum transfer speed of about 16.24x. Looking at the other scores, you can see that the drive's seek times and CPU usage were also quite good.

Nero CD Speed v4.7.5 - DVD-R, DVD-RW and DVD-RAM:

First, we'll look at the drive's DVD-R and DVD-RW reading performance. For this I made copies of our DVD-ROM test disc using some general use 4x DVD-R and 2x DVD-RW media from Verbatim and then ran our usual DVD read tests with CD Speed. For the DVD-RAM tests, media from Maxell was used. The results are below.


Verbatim DVD-R

   ASUS
DRW-1814BLT
LG
GSA-H22N
Samsung
SH-S182D
Plextor
PX-760A
Transfer Speed
Average:
Start:
End:

9.09x
5.03x
12.15x

12.04x
6.57x
16.09x

9.14x
5.04x
12.21x

9.05x
4.98x
12.10x
Seek Times
Random:
1/3:
Full:

114ms
131ms
201ms

133ms
173ms
247ms

107ms
117ms
190ms

103ms
119ms
180ms
CPU Usage
1x:
2x:
4x:
8x:

3%
6%
14%
29%

8%
15%
28%
50%

9%
13%
28%
52%

6%
11%
20%
39%


Verbatim DVD-RW

   ASUS
DRW-1814BLT
LG
GSA-H22N
Samsung
SH-S182D
Plextor
PX-760A
Transfer Speed
Average:
Start:
End:

6.21x
3.44x
8.31x

9.17x
5.04x
12.25x

6.24x
3.45x
8.35x

9.06x
4.97x
12.11x
Seek Times
Random:
1/3:
Full:

122ms
136ms
215ms

143ms
181ms
302ms

105ms
124ms
193ms

101ms
119ms
203ms
CPU Usage
1x:
2x:
4x:
8x:

3%
6%
12%
24%

8%
16%
30%
59%

6%
13%
26%
47%

5%
9%
16%
31%


Verbatim DVD-R DL

   ASUS
DRW-1814BLT
LG
GSA-H22N
Samsung
SH-S182D
Plextor
PX-760A
Transfer Speed
Average:
Start:
End:

6.13x
3.41x
8.17x

9.12x
5.05x
12.15x

6.26x
3.48x
8.34x

6.05x
3.35x
8.08x
Seek Times
Random:
1/3:
Full:

127ms
140ms
209ms

153ms
182ms
271ms

115ms
117ms
195ms

109ms
121ms
219ms
CPU Usage
1x:
2x:
4x:

3%
6%
n/a

8%
16%
29%

10%
12%
n/a

4%
7%
n/a

The DRW-1814BLT had no problems reading DVD-R, DVD-RW and DVD-R DL media. In our tests, the drive was able to read DVD-R discs at a respectable 12x, but slowed to about 8x when reading DVD-RW and DVD-R DL media.


Maxell 12x DVD-RAM

   ASUS
DRW-1814BLT
LG
GSA-H22N
Samsung
SH-S182D
Transfer Speed
Average:
Start:
End:

10.23x
5.89x
11.99x

10.27x
5.95x
12.07x

10.27x
5.99x
12.06x
Seek Times
Random:
1/3:
Full:

133ms
172ms
256ms

172ms
182ms
296ms

128ms
130ms
222ms
CPU Usage
1x:
2x:
4x:
8x:

3%
5%
11%
22%

8%
15%
30%
60%

14%
12%
23%
44%

ASUS's new drive has a maximum transfer speed of 12x when reading DVD-RAM discs. By looking at the screenshot you can see that it starts reading at 5.94x and accelerates, reaching 12x at the 2.7GB mark.

Nero CD Speed v4.7.5 - DVD+R and DVD+RW:

Next we'll look at the drive's DVD+R and DVD+RW reading performance. For this I made a copy of our DVD-ROM test disc using some 4x DVD+R and 2.4x DVD+RW media from Verbatim. I then ran our usual DVD read tests with CD Speed. The results are below.


Verbatim DVD+R

   ASUS
DRW-1814BLT
LG
GSA-H22N
Samsung
SH-S182D
Plextor
PX-760A
Transfer Speed
Average:
Start:
End:

9.07x
5.03x
11.59x

12.02x
6.57x
16.07x

9.12x
5.03x
12.20x

9.04x
4.97x
12.11x
Seek Times
Random:
1/3:
Full:

120ms
129ms
215ms

136ms
175ms
251ms

105ms
113ms
189ms

104ms
114ms
199ms
CPU Usage
1x:
2x:
4x:
8x:

3%
6%
12%
30%

8%
15%
28%
50%

10%
13%
32%
52%

5%
9%
16%
31%


Verbatim DVD+RW

   ASUS
DRW-1814BLT
LG
GSA-H22N
Samsung
SH-S182D
Plextor
PX-760A
Transfer Speed
Average:
Start:
End:

6.21x
3.44x
8.30x

9.16x
5.06x
12.26x

6.24x
3.45x
8.34x

9.06x
4.98x
12.09x
Seek Times
Random:
1/3:
Full:

122ms
138ms
208ms

150ms
185ms
293ms

104ms
119ms
194ms

104ms
113ms
199ms
CPU Usage
1x:
2x:
4x:
8x:

3%
6%
12%
23%

8%
16%
30%
58%

6%
13%
28%
46%

5%
9%
17%
31%

The DRW-1814BLT's performance with DVD+R and DVD+RW media was very similar to what we saw with DVD-R and DVD-RW media. The drive read DVD+R discs at speeds near 12x and DVD+RW media at 8x.


Verbatim DVD+R DL

   ASUS
DRW-1814BLT
LG
GSA-H22N
Samsung
SH-S182D
Plextor
PX-760A
Transfer Speed
Average:
Start:
End:

6.23x
3.47x
8.30x

9.13x
5.04x
12.16x

6.26x
3.48x
8.34x

6.04x
3.34x
8.07x
Seek Times
Random:
1/3:
Full:

126ms
134ms
208ms

153ms
195ms
273ms

119ms
129ms
202ms

104ms
115ms
193ms
CPU Usage
1x:
2x:
4x:

3%
6%
n/a

8%
15%
29%

10%
12%
n/a

4%
7%
n/a

Reading Verbatim'sdouble layer DVD+R media wasn't a problem for the DRW-1814BLT either. While not as fast as the GSA-H22N, it reached a maximum transfer speed of 8.30x.

Nero CD Speed v4.7.5 - DVD-Video:

For these tests I am using the US version of Transformers: The Movie on DVD. The disc is over 4GB and single sided.

   ASUS
DRW-1814BLT
LG
GSA-H22N
Samsung
SH-S182D
Plextor
PX-760A
Transfer Speed
Average:
Start:
End:

12.02x
6.63x
16.08x

6.07x
3.35x
8.12x

12.08x
6.65x
16.15x

12.06x
6.63x
16.13x
Seek Times
Random:
1/3:
Full:

96ms
110ms
188ms

137ms
164ms
235ms

95ms
109ms
183ms

102ms
112ms
182ms
CPU Usage
1x:
2x:
4x:
8x:

3%
5%
9%
20%

8%
15%
28%
55%

12%
12%
21%
41%

5%
9%
17%
33%

The DRW-1814BLT didn't slow down very much when reading single layer DVD videos. It started out at about 6.63x and reached a maximum read speed of 16.08x. ASUS's new drive was also fairly quick when reading dual layer discs. By looking at the screenshot below, you can see that the drive's transfer speeds peaked at about 8.25x.

To see how well the DRW-1814BLT worked as a DVD player, I watched a few scenes from Transformers: The Movie and Star Wars: The Phantom Menace using WinDVD 4 and PowerDVD 5. The drive had no problems playing back these movies with either program and was fairly quiet.

DVD Write and ReWrite Tests - Nero Burning Rom 6.6.1.4 andDLA 5.20:

To test the DVD writing performance of ASUS's new drive I used Verbatim 16x DVD+R, Staples 16x DVD-R, Verbatim 8x DVD+RW and Verbatim 6x DVD-RW media. To get the writing times, a 4.38GB image was burned to our test discs using Nero.


Verbatim 16x DVD+R


Staples 16x DVD-R

When writing to DVD+R and DVD-R media at 18x, the DRW-1814BLT uses CAV. By looking at the screenshots above, you can see that ASUS's new drive starts writing at about 7.5x and accelerates, reaching its maximum speed at the end of the disc.


Verbatim 8x DVD+RW


Verbatim 6x DVD-RW

ASUS's new drive also features 8x DVD+RW and 6x DVD-RW writing speeds. In both cases it uses Z-CLV to reach its maximum writing speed.


Maxell 12x DVD-RAM

The DRW-1814BLT is the first drive to feature 14x DVD-RAM writing speeds. As you can see, it uses CAV to reach this speed.

   ASUS
DRW-1814BLT
LG
GSA-H22N
Samsung
SH-S182D
Plextor
PX-760A
DVD+R 5:32 5:23 5:38 5:45
DVD-R 5:52 5:12 5:30 5:47
DVD+RW 7:55 8:17 8:48 7:19
DVD-RW 10:22 11:09 10:50 10:03

The DRW-1814BLT performed fairly well in our DVD writing tests.. While not as fast as some of the other drives when writing to DVD-R discs at 18x, it turned in some pretty good times with DVD+R, DVD+RW and DVD-RW media.

To check the media compatibility of the DRW-1814BLT, I ran a few tests using some of the media available in my area. The media types, along with the average time it took the drive to write our 4.38GB image, are listed below.

   Manufacturer ID Max
Write Speed
Average
Write Time
Daxon 16x DVD+R DAXONAZ3 16x 6:01
Memorex 16x DVD+R RICOHJPN R03 16x 6:04
RiDATA 16x DVD+R RITEKR04 16x 5:59
Sony 16x DVD+R SONYD21 16x 6:00
Taiyo Yuden 16x DVD+R YUDEN000T03 18x 5:46
Verbatim 16x DVD+R MCC-004 18x 5:32
Memorex 16x DVD-R CMC MAG.AM3 16x 7:06
RiDATA 16x DVD-R RITEKF1 16x 8:25
Sony 16x DVD-R SONY16D1 16x 6:18
Staples 16x DVD-R MBI 01RG40 18x 5:52
Taiyo Yuden 16x DVD-R TYG03 16x 6:18
Verbatim 16x DVD-R MCC 03RG20 16x 6:26

The DRW-1814BLT's media compatibility was a mixed bag. While the drive tried to write to all of our test media at its rated speed or better, only three types worked at 18x.

So what about writing quality? Testing a drive's DVD writing quality isn't easy. Until now, there were very few options, unless you wanted to shell out thousands of dollars for a certified test machine. Thanks to KProbe, we can test a disc's PI (Parity Inner) and PIF (Parity Inner Fail) rates.For these tests I used a Lite-On SHM-165H6S (firmware HS0E) and read the discs at 4x with the PI and PIF ECC sums set to 8 and 1 respectively. For comparison, I also tested the discs on a BenQ DW1640 (firmware BSLB). When combined with Nero CD Speed, the DW1640 is able to report PI Errors, PI Failures, Parity Outer Failures and even jitter levels. For this test, the discs are read at 8x with both the PI and PIF ECC sums set to 8.

So what are "good" results supposed to look like? With KProbe, the PI errors should not exceed 280 and the number of PIF errors should stay below 4. When testing with CD Speed, the number of PI errors should stay below 280 as well. However, because it scans with an ECC sum of 8, a higher number of PIF errors is acceptable, as long as they do not exceed 32. Since POF errors are uncorrectable, we really don't want to see any of them at all.

I also put these discs through a "stress test" by reading them back at 16x with the DW1640. By reading these discs back at this speed, we can see if there are any readability issues caused by the number of errors or high levels of jitter.


Daxon 16x DVD+R @ 16x
(DAXONAZ3
)

Max Ave Total
PI 11 0.79 14303
PIF 2 0.05 864
BenQ DW1640 - CD Speed
Transfer Rate


Memorex 16x DVD+R @ 16x
(RICOHJPN R03
)

Max Ave Total
PI 11 0.92 16599
PIF 4 0.04 781
BenQ DW1640 - CD Speed
Transfer Rate


RiDATA 16x DVD+R @ 16x
(RITEKR04
)

Max Ave Total
PI 65 33.71 611144
PIF 2 0.01 257
BenQ DW1640 - CD Speed
Transfer Rate


Sony 16x DVD+R @ 16x
(SONYD21
)

Max Ave Total
PI 14 1.42 25678
PIF 2 0.03 484
BenQ DW1640 - CD Speed
Transfer Rate


Taiyo Yuden 16x DVD+R @ 18x
(YUDEN000T03)

Max Ave Total
PI 42 9.77 177018
PIF 3 0.12 2240
BenQ DW1640 - CD Speed
Transfer Rate


Verbatim 16x DVD+R @ 18x
(
MCC-004)

Max Ave Total
PI 9 1.33 24175
PIF 2 0.00 70
BenQ DW1640 - CD Speed
Transfer Rate

The DRW-1814BLT's writing quality was pretty good with most of the DVD+R media we tested. Aside from a few small spikes, the PI/PIF rates stayed well within acceptable limits.


Memorex 16x DVD-R @ 16x
(CMC MAG.AM3)

Max Ave Total
PI 19 2.75 49864
PIF 3 0.05 980
BenQ DW1640 - CD Speed
Transfer Rate


RiDATA
16x DVD-R @ 16x
(RITEKF1)

Max Ave Total
PI 37 10.04 181684
PIF 3 0.07 1306
BenQ DW1640 - CD Speed
Transfer Rate


Sony
16x DVD-R @ 16x
(SONY16D1)

Max Ave Total
PI 60 7.28 131720
PIF 3 0.08 1424
BenQ DW1640 - CD Speed
Transfer Rate


Staples 16x DVD-R @ 18x
(
MBI 01RG40)

Max Ave Total
PI 50 7.82 141743
PIF 3 0.11 1908
BenQ DW1640 - CD Speed
Transfer Rate


Taiyo Yuden 16x DVD-R @ 18x
(TYG03)

Max Ave Total
PI 22 3.76 68206
PIF 2 0.03 571
BenQ DW1640 - CD Speed
Transfer Rate


Verbatim 16x DVD-R @ 16x
(
MCC 03RG20)

Max Ave Total
PI 26 1.14 20642
PIF 2 0.02 293
BenQ DW1640 - CD Speed
Transfer Rate

Lastly, here are some results from our DVD-R test media. While the writing quality varied from one manufacturer to another, the results were pretty good for the most part.

   ASUS
DRW-1814BLT
LG
GSA-H22N
Samsung
SH-S182D
Plextor
PX-760A
DVD+RW Quick 5 seconds 4 seconds 3 seconds 10 seconds
DVD+RW Full 7:47 8:09 8:38 7:24
DVD-RW Quick 29 seconds 29 seconds 27 seconds 41 seconds
DVD-RW Full 10:10 11:16 10:50 10:04

To test the DRW-1814BLT's packet writing performance I used DLA 5.20. Verbatim 8x DVD+RW, Verbatim 6x DVD-RW and Maxell 12x DVD-RAM media were used once again.

   ASUS
DRW-1814BLT
LG
GSA-H22N
Samsung
SH-S182D
Plextor
PX-760A
DVD+RW Write 6:56 7:39 7:53 6:30
DVD+RW Read 8:57 6:38 8:57 6:15
DVD-RW Write 8:36 9:28 9:15 8:24
DVD-RW Read 9:02 6:24 8:59 6:17
DVD-RAM Write failed 13:43 13:50 n/a
DVD-RAM Read failed 5:31 5:26 n/a

While not the fastest drive here, the DRW-1814BLT turned in some fairly good writing times with DVD-RW and DVD+RW media. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to test the drive's performance with Maxell's 12x DVD-RAM media. When I tried writing data to the disc, it would fail about a third of the way through. More often than not, the end result was a corrupted disc. I tried this with DLA and the bundled version of InCD and the results were the same.

I was able to burn a disc using CD Speed's "Create Data Disc" function. Unfortunately, the results were not very good. When tested with KProbe, the writing quality was very poor with high PI/PIF rates throughout the entire disc. As you can see, this caused some severe readability issues.

Double Layer DVD Write Tests - Nero Burning Rom 6.6.1.4:

To test the double layer DVD writing performance of the DRW-1814BLT, I used DVD+R DL and DVD-R DL media from Verbatim, RiDATA and Memorex. I created about 8GB of random files and directories on my hard drive and then burned them to our test discs with Nero.

ASUS's new drive had no problems writing to Verbatim's 8x and 2.4x DVD+R DL media at 8x. With Memorex's Ritek manufactured discs, the maximum writing speed was set to 4x.

   ASUS
DRW-1814BLT
LG
GSA-H22N
Samsung
SH-S182D
Plextor
PX-760A
DVD+R DL Write 18:33 19:17 18:34 15:02

While no match for the drive from Plextor, the DRW-1814BLT took a respectable 18:33 to write 8001MB of data. So what about writing quality? Take a look below.


Verbatim 8x DVD+R DL @ 8x
(MKM 003)

Max Ave Total
PI 57 2.07 67163
PIF 4 0.06 1955
BenQ DW1640 - CD Speed
Transfer Rate - BenQ DW1640


Verbatim 2.4x DVD+R DL @ 8x
(MKM 001)

Max Ave Total
PI 86 12.69 409973
PIF 4 0.06 1963
BenQ DW1640 - CD Speed
Transfer Rate - BenQ DW1640


Memorex 2.4x DVD+R DL @ 4x
(RITEK D01)

Max Ave Total
PI 211 69.09 2235625
PIF 10 3.44 111419
BenQ DW1640 - CD Speed
Transfer Rate - BenQ DW1640

The writing quality was fairly good with Verbatim's 8x and 2.4x DVD+R DL media. Aside from a few isolated spikes, the PI/PIF rates stayed well within acceptable limits. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for Memorex's 2.4x DVD+R DL media. When scanned with the DW1640, the jitter and error rates were very high throughout the entire disc. Oddly enough, this had little effect on readability.

The DRW-1814BLT also features 8x DVD-R DL writing speeds. To test the drive's writing times, DVD-R DL media from Verbatim was used. I also tried RiDATA's 4x DVD-R DL media but the burn process failed during the lead in.

   ASUS
DRW-1814BLT
LG
GSA-H22N
Samsung
SH-S182D
Plextor
PX-760A
DVD-R DL Write 23:33 19:15 18:43 18:44

The DRW-1814BLT wasn't as fast as I had expected when writing to DVD-R DL media at 8x. With Nero, it took the drive a whopping 23 minutes to write 8001MB of data. So what about writing quality? Take a look below.


Verbatim 8x DVD-R DL @ 8x
(
MKM 03RD30)

Max Ave Total
PI 323 32.58 1052586
PIF 3 0.03 1012
BenQ DW1640 - CD Speed
Transfer Rate


Verbatim 4x DVD-R DL @ 4x
(
MKM 01RD30)

Max Ave Total
PI 39 7.05 227751
PIF 2 0.03 1005
BenQ DW1640 - CD Speed
Transfer Rate

The DRW-1814BLT's writing quality could have been better with Verbatim's 8x and 4x DVD-R DL media. When scanned with the BenQ DW1640, the jitter and error rates were very high throughout some sections of the discs. Once again, this seemed to have little effect on readability.

Performance Revisited:

I should also point out that, like other SATA optical drives, the DRW-1814BLT does not work with all motherboard chipsets. While the drive worked perfectly when connected to newer Intel and Nvidia based motherboards, its performance took a serious hit when connected to an older VIA K8T800 based motherboard (ASUS K8V SE Deluxe). Looking at the screenshots below, you can see that the DRW-1814BLT's reading and writing speeds averaged out at only 2.3x.

When it comes down to it, the performance of ASUS's new "Super-Multi" drive was hit and miss. While the DRW-1814BLT had no problems holding its own when writing to DVD+R and DVD±RW media, it wasn't as fast as some of the other drives when writing to DVD-R and DVD±R DL discs. The drive also had some serious problems writing to DVD-RAM media at 14x which prevented it from completing our tests. On the other hand, the DRW-1814BLT was fairly quick when reading DVD's. In our tests, it was able to read single layer data and video DVD's at 16x and DVD±R media at a respectable 12x.

Unfortunately, the DRW-1814BLT didn't perform quite as well when reading CD's. The drive had a hard time reaching its rated speeds when reading pressed media and its CD-R read speed was limited to only 40x. The DRW-1814BLT also gave us some mixed results when writing CD's. While the drive turned in some fairly decent times when writing to CD-R media, its Z-CLV writing method put it at a slight disadvantage in our rewriting tests. With all things considered, the DRW-1814BLT gets a 6 out of 10 for the performance section of this review.

ASUS has shown us again that their engineering expertise isn't limited to just motherboards and video cards. With the DRW-1814BLT, they've incorporated features like LightScribe and Serial ATA, and have boosted the drive's DVD-RAM writing speed to a previously unheard of 14x. As impressive as these features are, its hard to ignore the fact that ASUS neglected to fix many of the performance issues that plagued their previous drive, the DRW-1612BL.

The DRW-1814BLT is the first drive from ASUS with the ability to write to both DVD-R and DVD+R media at 18x. At this speed, it took the drive as little as five and a half minutes to write an entire 4.7GB DVD. The DRW-1814BLT also did pretty well in our rewriting tests, turning in some respectable times with DVD-RW and DVD+RW media. Unfortunately, it lagged behind the other drives when writing to DVD±R DL media, taking as much as 23 minutes to write 8GB of data.

Sadly, writing to DVD-RAM media at 14x with DRW-1814BLT was a total bust. While I had the media required to write at this speed, the drive failed to complete our tests. I tried various packet writing software, including the bundled version of InCD, and the end result was, more often than not, a corrupted disc. Using CD Speed's "Create Data Disc" function, I finally succeeded in burning a disc. However, it was pretty much unreadable due to high PI/PIF rates. Needless to say, ASUS has some work to do in this area.

With a drive like the DRW-1814BLT, writing quality and media compatibility are just as important as speed. Unfortunately, finding DVD±R media that would work at 18x was not an easy task, even with the latest firmware. As you saw in our tests, only three types worked at this speed. On the other hand, the DRW-1814BLT's writing quality was pretty good, at least with single layer DVD±R media. With DVD±R DL media though, there were a number of cases where the PI/PIF rates were very high.

ASUS's "Super-Multi" drive performed pretty well in our DVD read tests. It was able to read both single layer DVD-ROM's and DVD-Videos at 16x and had some relatively good seek times. Reading recordable media wasn't a problem for the DRW-1814BLT either. In our tests, it read DVD±R and DVD-RAM discs at speeds near 12x and DVD±RW and DVD±R DL media at a respectable 8x.

When it came to reading CD's, the DRW-1814BLT's performance was a mixed bag. While the drive read pressed media at speeds near 48x, its CD-R and CD-RW read speeds were limited to only 40x. This was a little disappointing considering most drives can read pressed and CD-R media at the same speed. As a writer, the DRW-1814BLT performed as expected. The drive had no problems holding its own when writing to CD-R media. However, itsZ-CLV writing method put it at a slight disadvantage in our rewriting tests.

While most people will be attracted to the DRW-1814BLT's Serial ATA interface, it's not the drive's only notable feature. Along with a 2MB buffer, the drive features things like ASUS's FlextraLink, FlextraSpeed and QuieTrack technologies. The DRW-1814BLT also has a good number of writing and rewriting speeds to choose from and has the ability to set the book type of DVD+R/RW and DVD+R DL media. Last but not least, the DRW-1814BLT supports HP's LightScribe Direct Disc Labeling system. An alternative to markers and stick on labels, LightScribe lets you burn graphics and text onto the tops of specially coated discs.

One thing the DRW-1814BLT definitely has going for it is its price. Available in your choice of black, silver or beige, the retail version of the drive can be picked up for less than $50 through some of the online vendors found on Pricegrabber.

ASUS DRW-1814BLT
18x
DVD±RW/RAM
Features:
Installation:
Performance:
9
7
6
Overall: 7

Highs:

  • Writes to DVD-R and DVD+R media at 18x
  • Writes to DVD+RW media at 8x
  • Writes to DVD-RW media at 6x
  • Writes to DVD+R DL and DVD-R DL media at 8x
  • Writes to DVD-RAM media at 14x
  • Reads single layer DVD-ROM's at 16x
  • Reads DVD±R and DVD-RAM media at 12x
  • Reads DVD±RW and DVD±R DL media at 8x
  • Features 48x CD-R and 32x CD-RW writing speeds
  • Supports ASUS's FlextraLink, FlextraSpeed and QuieTrack technologies
  • Good selection of writing and rewriting speeds
  • Supports bitsetting for DVD+R/RW and DVD+R DL media
  • Includes software from Nero and ASUS
  • Supports 99 minute media
  • Serial ATA interface
  • Affordably priced

Lows:

  • Problems writing to DVD-RAM media at 14x
  • Questionable quality with some DVD±R DL media
  • Slower than other drives when writing to DVD±R DL and CD-RW media
  • Had a hard time reaching its rated speeds when reading pressed CD's
  • Reads CD-R media at only 40x
  • Does not come with software to burn or edit videos
  • Documentation could be better
  • Only a 2048KB buffer



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