In the past we've tended to associate BenQ with good-value products designed to sell quickly, rather than to produce top performance. The DW1655 suggests that the manufacturer now has loftier aims.

The first pointer is the price tag. This drive is available from Komplett.co.uk in two different forms. The basic OEM (original equipment manufacturer) version costs £35 and contains only the drive – cables and software aren't included. If you don't have the necessary components, pay an extra £6 and get the Retail pack, which bundles Ahead Nero and five spare LightScribe discs. Always check these details before buying.

But while the DW1655 is hardly expensive, you should consider that you can get a decent OEM drive for £33, or a model with a Sata (serial ATA) interface for just £40.

So it's good that the BenQ has some excellent features. Six- and eight-speed for DVD-RW and DVD+RW – and eight-speed for DVD+R DL (double-layer) – are burning speeds beaten only by the expensive Plextor drives. Quad-speed DVD-R DL capabilities are not as impressive, but +R is the more popular DL 8.5GB format, so it's hardly a problem.

When it comes to real-world performance, this drive is a speed-freak. Hitting times that matched the Samsung SH-W163's and the top LGs', it has as much zip as any – with the exception of those finely honed Plextors. And it has one extra feature that those drives don't: LightScribe. For printing polished labels on to DVDs, this technology works well.

And this is the fastest drive we've tested yet for LightScribe. You should still set aside 25 minutes for a complex label, but these times are beginning to fall.

BenQ DW1655: Specs

  • 16x/16x/16x/4x/8x/6x/8x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW), 48x/48x/32x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW)
  • EIDE interface
  • max DVD storage capacity 8.5GB
  • 2MB drive buffer
  • average access time (DVD) 120ms
  • software bundle
  • 1-year warranty
  • 16x/16x/16x/4x/8x/6x/8x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW), 48x/48x/32x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW)
  • EIDE interface
  • max DVD storage capacity 8.5GB
  • 2MB drive buffer
  • average access time (DVD) 120ms
  • software bundle
  • 1-year warranty

OUR VERDICT

We couldn't find much not to like about the BenQ. It's fast, its specifications are mostly very strong, and real-world performance is excellent. Add the increasingly accomplished LightScribe support and this is a very good drive for the money.

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