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Lifewire / Scott Gercken
Fast read speeds
Useful software included
Slower write speeds
Problems with ejecting discs
Included software doesn’t work on Macs
The stylish Asus BW-16D1X-U Blu-ray Drive performs well and looks fantastic on a desk, but a few quirky problems hold it back from greatness.
There are a lot of reasons why one might use a Blu-ray disc burner, like the Asus BW-16D1X-U Powerful Blu-ray Drive, to back up their files or preserve their data in physical media rather than online. It’s why there’s still a market for desktop Blu-ray burners while most people are moving to cloud storage. We tested the Asus BW-16D1X-U Powerful Blu-ray Drive to see if it’s a worthy alternative to digital solutions, and how it stacks up against other comparable drives.
Check out our buyers guide for more information on what you should look for in an optical drive.
The first thing you notice about this Asus drive is its fun design. It looks like the kind of drive that they would put in a movie where the characters are super-cool hackers, taking down nefarious corporations. There’s a combination of matte and glossy black on the top, which comes together into a triangle that glows blue when the drive is on. It looks really good...as long as you don’t touch it. Both black finishes pick up smudges instantly.
It’s a big drive, 9.5” x 6.5” x 2.2”, definitely not designed to be portable. The loading tray hides behind a shiny black plate, with the Asus logo in the center. The eject button is a thin vertical line to the right of it. Even the rubber feet are cool looking, elongated pyramids similar in design to the pattern on the top of the device.
The drive is powered by a DC power supply, which is one of the reasons why these bigger drives are faster than the many slim versions on the market. The backside of the Asus drive has that DC power supply port and a USB-B 3.0 B port (the kind of USB connection you’ll often find on a printer).
It looks like the kind of drive that they would put in a movie where the characters are super-cool hackers, taking down nefarious corporations.
Like most Blu-ray burners, the BW-16D1X-U is plug and play—we just popped the USB cord into both the computer and the drive, turned it on, and it worked.
The drive includes an install disk, but the software doesn’t work on Mac. If you’re going to include software, you should include something that works on both the major operating systems, Mac and Windows. The drive works just fine without the software, but it would be nice to have something for both.
The BW-16D1X-U supports just about any Blu-ray, DVD, and CD format except for Ultra Blu-ray discs. It also supports M-Discs, which are designed for long-term archiving (the company claims that they can last for 1,000 years). If you need long-term backups or archival storage, a drive like this one is the best option.
To test the read capability of the BW-16D1X-U we used MakeMKV to rip a 50GB Blu-ray movie, which took just over 36 minutes. That’s a huge speed advantage over most slim Blu-ray designs, ripping a 50 GB Blu-ray movie faster than they can do a 37 GB one in our testing.
We tested the write speeds by making a copy of a 14 GB photo file, which took slightly over 33 minutes, comparable to what you’d get from a slim drive.
There were some problems with inserting and ejecting discs. After we ejected the Blu-ray we ripped, we put a blank BD-R in but the drive wouldn’t recognize it. Then, we couldn’t get the drive to eject the disc. We tried turning it off and then on again, but that didn’t solve the problem. Next, we unplugged the USB and plugged it back in again, and that finally worked. We had similar problems with another Blu-ray movie not long after.
Another weird bug: If you press the eject button the disc won’t come out. When you then press eject on the Mac, the disc will come out and automatically go right back in. Reliable disc recognition is an important part of the basic function of a drive, and this drive didn’t always deliver that.
We downloaded the software necessary to make a Mac play a Blu-ray movie, and it looked pretty good on the computer. The image was a little noisy, but only noticeable when you looked closely. When we connected the computer to an HDTV via HDMI port, the noise level went up a few notches. It was better than SD, but not much. The TV told us that it was playing at 768p, but it didn’t look anywhere close to the level of detail we’d expect from HD. If you want a great-looking picture, you’ll need a dedicated Blu-ray player, but the BW-16D1X-U isn’t as good as other optical drives for playing Blu-ray video.
One of the best features that Blu-ray delivers is sound. The high-end and low-end of HD sound can really enhance the viewing experience, and Blu-ray delivers them like no other format. When we played Blu-rays on the Mac via the BW-16D1X-U, the sound was better than when we play MP3’s or stream music, but it suffered due to the Mac’s tiny speakers. When we used the HDMI cable to connect to the HD TV and surround sound system, the sound was almost as good as through a dedicated Blu-ray player.
When we used the HDMI cable to connect to the HD TV and surround sound system, the sound was almost as good as through a dedicated Blu-ray player.
The Windows-only software is designed to amp up the Asus drive’s ability to write data discs and back up your devices. Power2Go is a data disc writing app that makes burning easier, and Power Backup backs up your data automatically on the drive. There’s also NeroBackItUp, software to back up an Android device to Blu-ray. While the native Windows software can burn a Blu-ray, the advantage of these programs is that they can break up large files and large backups into separate discs. The software also has an encryption function if you want to make your data discs more secure.
Additionally, Asus provides a free six-month subscription to their cloud storage system with the BW-16D1X-U. After the subscription is over, the 200 GB plan, their cheapest plan, goes for $30 per year.
The MSRP for the Asus BW-16D1X-U Powerful Blu-ray Drive is $120, but you can usually find it for about $100 on various online retailers. That’s around the price range for most Blu-ray burners, including the slim ones that have worse performance. That makes this drive a great value as long as you don’t need portability. Bonus if you want something that looks nerdy-cool.
OWC Mercury Pro External USB 3.1 Gen 1 Optical Drive: The Mercury Pro is a little more expensive than the Asus BW-16D1X-U with an MSRP at $149, and it has a lot of the same features, similar read/write stats, and the same supported formats. It also supports M-Discs, too. In our usage tests, the OWC Mercury Pro burned a copy of the photo library much faster, in just under 20 minutes,13 minutes faster than the Asus drive. The Mercury Pro costs about $30 more than the Asus drive, so you pay a premium for the extra speed.
Buffalo MediaStation 16x Desktop BDXL Blu-ray Writer (BRXL-16U3): The Buffalo MediaStation 16x Desktop BDXL Blu-ray Writer is another desktop model, shaped like both the Mercury Pro and the Asus Blu-ray burner, and too big to be portable. It has similar read/write speeds for Blu-ray, DVD, and CD formats. It doesn’t mention M-Disc support, which makes it less useful if you want archival discs. The least appealing feature, though, is the price at MSRP $169. While we haven’t done a hands-on test to compare, that extra price should come with a much broader feature set.
Sleek and powerful.
The Asus BW-16D1X-U Powerful Blu-ray Drive is a great drive. It’s got a computer geek-cool look with an elegant tray design, but the writing speed lags behind other similarly priced drives. It’s a solid value for the price and drops blazingly-fast read speeds, but you’ll need some patience for write ops.