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ASUS DRW-2014L1T DVD±/RW DRIVE with LightScribe Review

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Prof. Dr. Silver

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ASUS DRW-2014L1T DVD±/RW DRIVE with LightScribe Review



Manufacturer's Part Number: DRW-2014L1T
Manufacturer's Product Page: ASUSTeK Computer Inc.
Price: $40.00 CAD
Availability: Now
Warranty: 1 Year


ASUS. Rock Solid. Heart Touching. An intersting slogan for a great company. ASUS, one of the largest computer part manufacturers is a technology-oriented company blessed with one of the world's top R&D teams. They are well known for high-quality, innovative technology and have always been at the forefront of every enthusiast's mind. As a leading provider of 3C (computers, communications and consumer electronics) total solutions, ASUS offers a complete product portfolio ranging from motherboards to wireless solutions and from video cards to cell phones. They really cover the gamut of nearly every electronics product you could think of.

So do they make CD/DVD drives? Of course they do and today we will be looking at one in particular. The ASUS DRW-2014L1T is their new top-of-the-line CD/DVD±R/RW drive and it promises to be one heck of a product. Many of the top CD/DVD±R/RW drives retail for between $35 to $55 and this ASUS drive falls right into this area with an MSRP of about $40 here in Canada. This drive is also has an SATA interface which makes it much more appealing than the older E-IDE / PATA interface.

The one thing that should boost ASUS’ sales of this drive is the addition of the LightScribe technology. The great thing about LightScribe is that you won’t need to put stickers on your freshly-burned CD/DVD, now you just burn the picture or title directly onto the CD/DVD itself. However, this technology comes at the price of the increased cost of Lightscribe-compatible media.

With this drive, you will also get CD/DVD burning software developed by NERO, a German software developer. The testing session that we are going to run today is done by a small but very well known part of that program: Nero CD/DVD Speed. Let us go see how well the new ASUS DRW-2014L1T performs.


 
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SKYMTL

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A Closer Look at the ASUS DRW-2014L1T

A Closer Look at the ASUS DRW-2014L1T


Here is the front and back-end of our new ASUS DRW-2014L1T. On the front there are the requisite logos listing all of the different capabilities this drive has. The back-end of this drive shows you the SATA connection and the SATA power connector.


The left side of the drive has 4 screw-holes to secure it in your 5.25” drive bay of your case.

The top is also very interesting....well, not really. It has a white label, with a specially marked yellow section. This warning reads this: INVISIBLE LASER RADIATION, AVOID EYE EXPOSURE WHEN OPEN. So please...just listen to the label. Other than that warning, it sums up where the drive was made(China in this case), what voltages it runs on and the model and serial-number.


This Asus drive uses a standard tray loading mechanism instead of a slot-loading bay. There are some people out there who love slot-loading drives but they add to the cost of an otherwise inexpensive drive and are sometimes prone to problems. The disk tray of the DRW-2014L1T is the standard-sized 8/12cm CD/DVD tray. Also notice the blue warranty sticker? Needless to say, remove that sticker or damage it and you’ll lose your one year warranty.


Here we see the extra front bezel which Asus included with their drive which is finished in a white / grayish beige color. If you have a standard (and I don’t mean to say old-fashioned case) beige case, you shouldn't have much of a problem removing the black cover and installing the beige one on. Unless you like a black drive in your beige rig that is... Your installation manual describes exactly how to do this in easy-to-understand directions which are only mildly muddled by some odd English translations.


When we installed the DRW-2014L1T we noticed something a bit off. Do you see the color difference between Asus drive and our older BenQ model? The black from the ASUS Drive looks more like a dark blue to me and it doesn't go well with the color found on most black cases. The same goes for the white/beige/grey front cover which has a tone that is closer to white than beige.
 
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SKYMTL

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Packaging and Accessories

Packaging and Accessories

Our new ASUS DRW-2014L1T was sent to us from ASUS in a large box filled with Styrofoam popcorn in order to make sure our precious cargo would not be damaged during the long trip it made from the States to our doorstep.


The front and back of the box explain everything you need to know about the features present with this drive. It is a nice colorful layout which is not too busy for the eyes, it tells you what the drives' functions are and it does that in 17 different languages. That is pretty neat even though I can only read 4 of them...


The inside of the box rather amazed me. From all the hardware that has ever been sent to me this must be the most well packed device I’ve ever seen. I honestly believe you could run this over with a truck and it would still be okay (do not try this at home). The box is made of recycled carton and the foam is a type of PVC Styrofoam.


See how well packed this is? Within the box you get the ASUS DRW-2014L1T drive, a white/beige/grey drive-front-cover, a quick install guide (in 33 languages) and a copy of Nero 7 (OEM). Make sure, as always, that you update the software and firmware after you install it.
 
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SKYMTL

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Technical Specifications / How It All Works

Technical Specifications


Some of the features in the new ASUS DRW-2014L1T are:

Over-Speed Burning
Burn 2.4X DVD±R (Double Layer) Disc at 8X Speed
FlextraLink™ Buffer Underrun Errors Prevention Technology
Built-in FlextraLink™ prevents users from buffer underrun problems and eliminates the creation of unusable disc's. Throughout the recording process, FlextraLink™ consistently monitors the data buffer status to ensure best recording quality under high-speed operation.
FlextraSpeed™ Optimal Writing Speed Adjustment Technology
Built-in FlextraSpeed™ and AI Auto Speed Adjustment Tech. enhance accuracy and reliability when reading / writing / re-writing across a broad range of certified media in different formats. FlextraSpeed™ continuously monitors the recording media and sets the optimal writing speeds to ensure best recording quality. The ASUS proprietary FlextraSpeed™ occupies minimal system resources so the PC remains full operational and available for other applications even during recording process.
Auto Vibration Reducing System (AVRS)
The AVRS technology is designed to minimize the vibration caused by the spindle motor and resonance between components as well as the drive and PC cases. AVRS is designed to reduce vibration and noise induced by unbalanced mass of rotating machinery. With AVRS, ASUS DRW-2014L1T provides high readability and playability.
Compatible with a Wide Range of Disc Formats
Operates on Horizontal or Vertical Mounting
ASUS Unique Live Firmware Update Tool
Windows XP/ NT/2000/VISTA Supported


Here are the different media specification numbers:




How It All Works


For those of us who were never brave enough to open our DVD drive, don’t be embarrassed, we weren't brave enough either. There are always other people crazy enough to demolish their hardware and that’s how we found this picture bumping around the internet (We are still searching for someone to give credit to for this image. Ed.). The laser emitting diode (in this picture, it is the blueish lens) is located just behind the spinning center of your drive (the aluminum wheel with black rubber lining). At the very top of the picture you will see a small little motor that drives the lens back and forth along the CD/DVD surface.

Now this is how "burning" a disk works: The optical disc's, CD/DVD/Blu-ray, usually have one very thin layer of aluminum on it that is being pitted by the laser beam (Of course two layers of aluminum for the DL disc's). The pits and bumps that are generated by the laser are used for storing data on your disc.

The laser wave length that was used is 780nm. The write spot on the CD itself is 2.11µm(1µm = Also called a micron, a unit of measurement of length, equal to one-millionth of a meter or approximately 0.00003937 inch) large which allows for a total of 700MB of storage space. A DVD laser is even smaller; at 650nm the laser read / write spot is only 1.32µm large and therefore you can pack an astonishing 4.7GB on one DVD. The new Blu-ray technology beats them all: It uses a blue-violet laser (instead of red) at a laser wave length of 405nm which makes for a write spot of 0.32 µm large which creates a massive 25GB of storage space on one disk. There is of course a whole lot more involved with this technology, but we don’t want it to get too boring right?
 
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SKYMTL

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Testing Methodology

Testing Methodology


Here is the system used for writing reviews such as this. The ASUS DRW-2014L1T DVD Writer is going to get some tough competition from our good old Benq DD DW1650 DVD Writer. The ASUS Drive is mounted under the BENQ Drive.....if it performs well, it moves up a spot since it will be the drive I use more often in my daily burning tasks.

The Benq Drive is connected via an IDE connector and the ASUS Drive via SATA port # 3 on our motherboard. The ASUS Drive is a few millimetres shorter than the BENQ drive due to its SATA connections that require less space than the IDE connections.

Test Platform:

• Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 @ 3.0GHz running 1.3500V (Stock)
• CPU Cooling: Noctua NH-U12F with Noctua NF-S12-1200 Fan
• Memory: 2GB Crucial Ballistix Tracer PC2-8500 DDR2 @ 1066MHz (5-5-5-15))
• Motherboard: Asus P5N32-E SLI (680i)
Disk Drive: ASUS DRW-2014L1T DVD Writer
• Disk Drive: Benq DD DW1650 DVD Writer
• Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 250GB SATA II
• OS: Windows Vista Ultimate x32
• Graphics Cards: BFG Tech 8800GTS 640Mb OC (550/1300/800MHz Stock OC)
• Drivers: Nvidia 169.25
• Monitor: Acer AL2216W (1680X1050)


Why you should AWAYS update software

The test program we are using today is the latest version of NERO CD-DVD Speed 4.7.7.15. The reason why we tell everyone to always update your software is because of the following. We installed Nero from the CD that is included in the package but the NERO CD-DVD Speed version on the CD is 4.7.6.0c. Of course being all excited about our new ASUS DRW-2014L1T DVD Writer, we blindly started running our tests, only to notice that we came up with quite a few error messages. We all know that means updating time right?

We updated the program to version 4.7.7.4 by clicking on the auto update button in the program. Thinking everything was fine now, we ran a new batch of tests, only to find out there were even more errors/drive failures. After doing some research, we could not find the issue, nor a solution for it. We happened to find ANOTHER updated version of the NERO CD-DVD Speed, namely the version we finally used: NERO CD-DVD Speed 4.7.7.15. After spinning all of our different CD's and DVD's in all our tests TWICE, we realized that we finally had the right version with correct results.

The Competition


The opponent of the day! This good old Benq DD DW1650 DVD Writer has been a hard worker now for almost two years now.

Media Types Used

Maxell CD-R
Memorex CD-R
Memorex DVD+R (LightScribe)
Memorex DVD-R, Sony DVD+R
Sony DVD+RW(1.4Gb).

There is however a few more things to know before we go on. Ever heard of terms as CAV, CLV, P-CAV, ZCLV or OPC? These are names for the different types of drives and/or methods of writing, mainly concerning the speeds that they use. Let us explain:

Devices that always spin at the same rate are called CAV (Constant Angular Velocity) drives.

Devices that maintain a fixed linear velocity are called CLV (Constant Linear Velocity) drives.

Devices that switch from CAV to CLV when the maximum speed is reached are called P-CAV (Partial Constant Angular Velocity) drives.

Devices that are CLV, but use different speeds on different parts ("zones") of the disc, are called ZCLV.

As you will see, some of the graphs will have a number of dips in them and this is where the Active OPC (Active Optimized Power Control) kicks in. Active OPC monitors writing power and reflection of the media in use with this Asus drive. It calculates the optimum laser power and adjusts it in real-time. Theoretically this should result in better quality burning.

For people that want to know more about these technologies please feel free to visit DVD Recordable :: DVD writing reviews news and advice .
 
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SKYMTL

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Data-CD Testing

Data-CD Testing

We will be deriving quite a few result from the tests that we are about to conduct. The important numbers we are going to look at are spinning speeds, access times, CPU usages, and burst rates. We ran the same test on both drives and we will compare the result afterwards. Lets first see how CD's are behaving in our ASUS DRW-2014L1T DVD Writer while testing.





The people with really good eyes are able to see from the first two pictures what we translated into the graphs. The graphs will show you that while using a data CD, the ASUS Drive has slower start-up speeds, by sometimes as much as 18%. The fact that ASUS is an average of 14ms faster could somewhat makes up for this. The best thing we see here is the difference in CPU usage. We want the usage to be as low as possible and the ASUS drive does a great job keeping it lower than its competition by as much as 60%. Also good to mention: The burst rate on the ASUS drive is almost double that from the BENQ drive.
 
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SKYMTL

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Audio-CD Testing

Audio CD Tests





These graphs here show you that while using an audio CD, the ASUS Drive is a only a hair faster than the BenQ drive when it comes to spinning speed. We do actually see the BENQ coming out as a winner on the millisecond race. Once again we see the difference in CPU usage where ASUS does again a great job keeping it more than 75% lower than the BENQ drive. Burts rate difference is absolutely in favor of the ASUS drive: two-and-a-half times FASTER.
 
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SKYMTL

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DVD+R Testing

DVD+R Testing





Our first DVD tests are with DVD+R disks. The BENQ drive is on average a whopping 20% faster! The ASUS access times are an average of 20 ms. lower which means that your data will be found faster which is great. What is amazing to see is that the ASUS CPU usage is so much lower than the BENQ drive....we're looking at almost 60% less here. The burst rate on the ASUS was 59 MB/s compared to a measily 24 MB/s on the BENQ. Did you notice how the BENQ drive switched it's writing type over to P-CAV? We are still researching as to why that happened but it also happened while running a test on the blank DVD-R.
 
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SKYMTL

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DVD+RW Testing

DVD+RW Testing





Using a little (1.4Gb) Sony DVD+RW disk we ran the next test and came to the same conclusions as the test previously. Once again the BENQ is about 33% faster in actual speed tests while the ASUS wins in other areas. An average of 20 ms. less for the access times on the ASUS drive and CPU usage of about 50% less will win this drive many fans. The 8x bar displays 0 due to the fact the ASUS drive was never able to make it up to those speeds. Burst rate? ASUS = 59 MB/s and BENQ = 24 MB/s. Big difference!
 
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SKYMTL

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DVD-R Testing

DVD-R Testing





This time we see the ASUS drive only falling about 23% behind in the speed race but if we look at the access times, we see that the ASUS drive actually gains performance on the BENQ, now by an average of 50ms. CPU usage numbers are here also 50% less on the ASUS drive. Burst rate? ASUS = 59 MB/s and BENQ = 24 MB/s which is the same difference as when we saw with the DVD+RW tests.
 
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