In December, we reviewed Plextor’s PX-B320SA combination Blu-ray reader/DVD burner and found it a worthy product for the dual purpose of writing DVD discs and watching Blu-ray movies. But that internal drive does little good for folks who do all their computing on a laptop. For them, Asus’s SBC-04D1S-U combo drive could be the answer.
The SBC-04D1S-U external drive is not only slim and stylish, but also very portable, measuring approximately 5.5x6x1 inches and weighing less than 1.5 pounds, and it takes up little room on a desktop when perched vertically in its included stand.
A starburst design on the SBC-04D1S-U lights up blue when the drive is in operation.
Unfortunately, despite its conveniences, the SBC-04D1S-U doesn’t sport quite the same performance muscle as its internal counterparts. The SBC-04D1S-U, which connects to a PC using a dual-head USB 2.0 cable (included with the drive), is capable of writing to DVD+/-R at 8x—the internal combo drives we’ve tested, Plextor’s included, are rated at 16x. Put into real-world terms, Asus’s drive wrote 4.38GB of data to a DVD+R in 10:46 (min:sec) compared with the Plextor’s time of 5:20. With double-layer media, the Asus drive is rated at 4x while the Plextor drive is rated at 8x—the Asus took 29:36 to write 7.96GB of data to a DL disc, while the Plextor took just 16:58.
In our DVD ripping test, the gap between the two combo drives only widened. Asus’s external drive took 30:42 to copy a movie DVD to the hard drive; Plextor’s internal drive took 10:47. Interestingly, the two drives found parity in the task of Blu-ray ripping. In fact, the Asus SBC-04D1S-U did slightly better, ripping the contents of a BD movie disc in 45 minutes, compared with the Plextor’s 47 minutes. Admittedly, this is probably the test of least value since most people are apt to use a transcoding program to make archival copies of Blu-ray, which introduces other variables besides drive speed.
So we’ve established that Asus’s SBC-04D1S-U won’t get you the same level of performance you’d get with a good-quality internal combo drive such as Plextor’s PX-B320SA. But if an internal drive is not an option, the Asus SBC-04D1S-U will perform its DVD and BD functions adequately while providing a space-saving, portable formfactor—certainly, its most valuable asset.
Inferior performance to an internal drive; high price.
DVD+R Write Speed Average
DVD+R Read Speed Average
Access Times (random/full)
DVD+DL Write Speed Average
DVD Ripping (min:sec)
BD Ripping (min:sec)
Best scores are bolded. Our test bed is a Windows XP SP3 machine using a 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6700, 2GB of Corsair DDR2/800 RAM on an EVGA 680 SLI motherboard, one EVGA GeForce 8800 GTS card, a Western Digital 500GB Caviar hard drive, and a PC Power and Cooling Turbo Cool PSU. All tests were conducted using Verbatim media and nero DiscSpeed, except the ripping test, whereby we time how long it takes to copy the contents of a dual-layer DVD/BD to a VelociRaptor hard drive.