So your DVD burner is getting a little long in the tooth and you’re ready for an upgrade, but you’re not all that keen on adopting next-gen tech. And who can blame you? Even the falling price of hardware doesn’t make up for the relatively slow burn times, costly media, and compatibility issues that plague Blu-ray burners (and the same would be true of HD DVD burners if you could even find them!). Trouble is, you’ve got a brand-new 27-inch LCD that’s just begging to display high-def movies. What’s a consumer to do? Well, you could buy a combo drive—one that lets you read next-gen discs and write data to fast, friendly CD and DVD, like the two models we review this month.

For just $20 more than Asus’s drive, LG’s GGC-H20L lets you read both HD DVD and Blu-ray discs—a luxury that’s well worth the extra cost of admission. The GGC-H20L also affords you slightly better DVD burning performance.

Rated at 16x for DVD+/-R writing, LG’s GGC-H20L bested Asus’s drive by filling a single-layer DVD+R in 5:51 (min:sec). And its random and full-access times were much lower when reading the disc (100/178ms versus 167/349ms), as was its CPU usage at 8x speed (24 percent versus 43 percent). But when it came time to write to double-layer and rewriteable DVD media, LG’s drive was just as ho-hum as Asus’s. The GGC-H20L took 27:28 to write 7.96GB to DVD-DL and 15:01 to write 4.38GB to DVD-RW.

Still, we’ll gladly take the HD DVD compatibility and faster DVD+/-R writes for a few extra bucks. Like the Asus drive, the GGC-H20L offers a SATA interface, a CyberLink bundle, and a simple, black face plate, so what’s there to lose?

Pay Dirt

Blu-ray and HD DVD disc reads, standard-DVD convenience.

Dirt Poor

Just slightly better than so-so DVD performance.


  Samsung SH-S203B
Asus BC 1205PT LG GGC H20L
DVD+R Write Speed Average 13.45x 9.45x
DVD+R Read Speed Average 12.13x 9.45x
Access Time (Random/Full) 116/198ms 167/349ms 100ms/178ms
DVD+DL Write Speed Average
Best scores are bolded. All tests were conducted using the latest version of Nero CD-DVD Speed and Verbatim media. Our test bed is a Windows XP SP2 machine using a 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6700, 2GB of Corsair DDR2/800 RAM on an EVGA 680 SLI motherboard, two EVGA GeForce 8800 GTX cards in SLI mode, a Western Digital 150GB Raptor and a 500GB Caviar hard drive, a Sound Blaster X-Fi soundcard, and a PC Power and Cooling Silencer 750 Quad PSU.


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