After running the ASUS DRW-1604P through a series of tests, comparing it to a popular, industry leading DVD drive, we walked away with a very good feeling. The drive performed exceptionally well overall, often completing each test with less CPU usage than the reference model. Certainly, the drive didn't win all of the tests, even falling short with DVD+R writing, hitting 16X but still losing to the 12X reference drive overall. But in the end, the drive performed well. Additionally, the one thing we can say, after running the drive through its paces, we found it to be the quietest drive we have worked with to date. There was no humming noise from the drive winding up and down, instead, there was hardly any noise at all, regardless of the task it was performing. In a day and age where case noise is getting more and more attention, this is a serious thing to note, whereas the Plextor reference drive was guilty of its share of humming.
In conclusion, we can say that most of us can afford to jump right into the Dual Layer DVD fray at a reasonable price. In fact, the ASUS DRW-1604P weighs in at a respectable price point of $75 for an OEM version and $86 for a retail package. This is an outstanding value in both cases, putting advanced feature well within reach of the everyday user, but there is one caveat.
While the DRW-1604P is exceptionally affordable, Dual Layer media is still hard to find and it's relatively pricey. Certainly, as is the case with any new product, these prices will settle down, but for now, you should be prepared to spend around $40 for 3 name-brand Dual Layer DVD disks. That is half the price of the drive itself. Nonetheless, while the drive is not perfect in every single category, it is a solid value overall, earning itself a solid 8.5 on the Hot Hardware Heat Meter.