If you've ever wanted to completely rid your PC enclosure of flat ribbon cables, take a look at ASUS' new DRW-1814BLT. It's the first Serial ATA-based (SATA) burner that we've tested and it worked like a charm.
The DRW-1814BLT supports the latest writing speeds, can write to all DVD formats (except DVD-RAM discs that are in a cartridge) and features LightScribe. It also has the latest technologies for reduced vibration and noise and is a short-length drive, which, coupled with a SATA interface, makes it perfect for use in small PC enclosures and media centres.
The SATA interface is definitely the biggest talking point on this drive and it has been released at a time when motherboard manufacturers are reducing the amount of IDE ports. It is difficult to find a new release motherboard with more than one IDE port, but SATA ports are abundant on new boards.
We tested the DRW-1814BLT on a recently released Gigabyte motherboard that uses an Intel P965 chipset. This board recognised the drive and we were able to boot our Windows disc from it without any problems. We also tested it on two older Gigabyte motherboards, which are based on NVIDIA's nForce4 chipset, and had similar success.
For our writing and reading tests, we used Verbatim media and burnt using the supplied Nero 6 burning software. For single-layer DVD burning, our DVD+R discs, which are rated at 16x, were detected and burnt to swiftly at 16x, even if 18x is the maximum speed of the drive. The 4GB burn was completed in 5min 22secs, which is 36secs faster than what ASUS' previous fastest burner (the IDE-based DRW-1612BL Lightscribe) could accomplish at its maximum rate of 16x.
Our Verbatim DVD-R discs were detected and burnt to at 16x, even though the burner has a maximum speed of 18x for DVD-R media. The DRW-1814BLT's time of 6min 02secs for this media was identical to the time that the DRW-1612BL Lightscribe recorded, also at 16x.
For double-layer burning, the DRW-1614BLT supports maximum burn rates of 8x for both DVD+R DL and DVD-R DL discs. In our tests, our Verbatim DVD+R DL discs, which are rated at 6x, were identified and burnt at a rate of 8x. This means that it can burn 8GB of data to a DVD+R DL disc in 18mins 08secs, only an an improvement of 14secs over the DRW-1612BL Lightscribe.
For DVD-R DL discs, the maximum supported is speed is also 8x, but our 4x Verbatim media was only rated at 4x. Nevertheless, it produced a solid time of 28mins 04secs at this rate, which is a few seconds quicker than what the DRW-1612BL Lightscribe could muster in the same tests.
We had no problems reading back any of the DVDs that we burnt, but the read performance of the DRW-1814BLT is not faster than the DRW-1612BL Lightscribe. This is understandable, as both drives support the same read speeds. Unfortunately, this drive has two small issues. The first is that DVD+R DL discs were not readable in our older Pioneer DVR-106 single-layer DVD burner and the second is that ASUS does not supply a bit-setting utility with this drive, which would allow you to change the burn type from DVD+R DL to DVD-ROM for DVD+R DL discs.
CDs can be burnt in under three minutes on this drive, at a rate of 48x. A typical audio CD can be ripped to wave files in under two and a half minutes. If you're fussy about the way your discs look, you can use Light-Scribe-capable discs and burn labels directly onto your discs. LightScribe does take a while to complete, depending on the intricacy of the design and the contrast setting you use, so it may not be the best way to label your discs if you're in a hurry.