Monday, May 23, 2011

ASUS BW-12B1LT 12x Blu-ray Writer Review by Mike Fackrell

Ok first off let me just say it’s about time … for what you ask? Well an optical drive that looks a little different than what we have come to expect for the last 20+ years! ASUS has taken it to the next level with the BW-12B1LT, a sweet looking, well performing drive. The first thing you noticed when you pick up this drive is the very unique beveled front bezel and it’s sleek and angular appearance. It is the kind of look that makes you proud to be a PC owner and you get that “wow that’s cool … I want one” experience when you first see it. What you don’t miss is the lack of the unsightly “stamps” we typically see on our optical drives (DVD, RW, Compact Disk … etc) This one only had the ASUS logo and a Blu-ray indicator both tastefully done and not too obnoxious. The drive is well built and the tray is not weak or overly fragile. The drive activity light is very subtle and well placed although it can be hard to see at times, but after thinking about it, I realized I liked it much better than the bright obnoxious LED you would typically see on a drive.


First off this baby is fast! It clocks in at 12x and in fact it is ahead of it’s time because you can’t even find 12x rated blu-ray disks yet, however as you will see below the readily available 6x BD media will burn at 12x speeds. This drive will handle just about anything you throw at it. Many different optical formats are supported including your typical DVD formats as well as CD and DVD-RAM (some older camcorders used this format) in both read and write capabilities (for complete read/write list see chart below). Blu-Ray playback is excellent with the included Cyberlink PowerDVD 9 player. The drive is Blu-ray 3D capable and even has a feature that will convert your standard DVD disks to a psudo 3D movie. It is not true 3D but it does add “visual depth” to the picture and it does it in real time! The BW-12B1LT supports DVD up-scaling and enhancement so your DVD library will play better than ever. Audio quality is excellent and supports Dolby Digital EX and DT5 HD. (5.1 channels). Another nice feature is the Optimal Tuning Strategy (OTS) technology. This allows the drive to perform an actual mini burn test prior to disk creation allowing it to identify and compensate for current media and drive conditions as well as operating temperatures, which can effect the quality of the burn. When you start to get into the expensive Blu-ray media this feature will come in handy and will make sure everything is set up just right before you start a burn. To top it all off the BW-12B1LT is Lightscribe capable so with the appropriate media you can just flip the disk over and you can easily and quickly burn an image right onto the disks, no need for a label or those “hard to find when you need them” permanent markers (which aren’t good for your disks anyway!).


While it is probably the best looking optical drive out on the market today you must remember that most case designers have already dealt with the standard boring plane ol’ ROM, so they have designed cases with better looking drive doors that interface with the existing optical drive making our computers look better. Consequently if you are putting this in to an existing case you might opt to remove that door (as I did) and just let the ASUS drive stand on it’s own. If you are not be able to do that with your particular case configuration the unique angular protruding shape of the BW-12B1LT face plate may interfere with the mechanical operation of those case doors. You should be able to adjust how far the drive will stick out on your case but if you can’t the problem is easily remedied by removing the face plate on the drive. You will no longer have that great ASUS look but it will work with your case.

Software install went fairly easily with no major hang ups, the included software from Cyberlink works well and is very easy to use. Keep in mind that with Blu-ray playback certain hardware / software requirements must be met. For example Windows XP 64bit does not support Blu-ray playback and with 32bit XP you must be running SP3. You will also need a compatible video card and a digital display for playing back protected content. Most newer systems will meet these requirements and this would include most computers that can run Windows Vista and Windows 7. Cyberlink has a program (BD Advisor) that you can download that will let you know if your system is Blu-ray capable including detecting support for the newer 3D playback options.

Burn Tests:

The drive performed very well in all the different burns that I did and I did not produce a single coaster! Max burn speeds were as advertised even with slower rated media. The drive performed well with Cyberlink Power2Go, Adobe Encore, ProShow Producer, Nero, Roxio and Windows DVD maker. I am still amazed at how quiet the drive is during burns and at times I was wondering if it was even running. It performed well with all types of media from the 4x Kodak BD-R to the 6x Panasonic BD-R. It will also handle the newer dual layer Blu-ray disks (BD-R DL) that will hold almost 50GB of data (46.6GB) and it only took about 45 minutes to fill one of those up but at over $7.00 per disk you are very careful when you start one of those projects. On the included software from Cyberlink Power2Go, it will only let you burn at the disk rated speeds and there is also a check box for “enable defect management” that will also understandably slow the burn process down so be mindful of that if you end up using that software.

DVD and CD burning went flawlessly as well. I did notice that it does not support DVD-RW DL disks but no big deal here on a Blu-ray drive if you need that type of capability the Blu-ray RE disks would be the way to go.

Well for less than $120.00 you can have a great drive that performs very well and looks great to boot! It supports all of the popular formats as well as some of the not so popular ones and handles them all very well. This drive is great for watching Blu-ray movies in 2D and 3D and works very well with your DVD’s that you already have … in fact it makes them look even better. It’s data capabilities are just as strong and fast and will easily handle any type of backup or archiving project you may have. I really could not find much of anything wrong with this drive. Just make sure you have the hardware necessary to use all of the features this drive can offer and be prepared to make some slight modifications to the drive or case that you are putting it in to make it will fit and operate correctly.

Great job ASUS! Based on it's design, features, quality, and performance, it has earned our Editor's Choice Award. If you are looking for an optical drive, the Asus BW-12B1LT is a great choice. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at