Samsung SE-W164 review

Price when reviewed

The speed gap between internal and external drives is fast disappearing, and no drive shows this more than the Samsung SE-W164. This hulking beast is faster on average than every internal burner in the test for single-layer performance. Only the Plextor’s frighteningly quick double-layer time steals the sprint gold medal from under the Samsung’s nose.

Samsung SE-W164 review

Well balanced between CD and DVD burning, it was the only drive to beat two-and-a-half minutes in the CD-R test and made the top five in every other test category. It successfully burned a DVD-RW at almost 6x, taking just over ten minutes to do so, and has an 8x quoted speed for DVD+RW (testing isn’t possible until discs become available).

The company’s claims of 5x dual-layer burning are impressive, but it managed an average of only 2.4x with our Memorex discs. To our surprise, when we tried a 2.4x Verbatim disc it raced to 6x while burning the first layer and settled at 4x on the second. Averaging 4.6x, it completed burning in just over 25 minutes. To emphasise its power, the Samsung finished burning ahead of the other externals in every test bar one, and even that defeat – in writing to DVD+RW – was by a mere 12 seconds out of 14 minutes.

Built around Samsung’s own SE-W162 internal drive, the SE-W164’s casing feels solid and, while not in the same design league as Sony’s supermodel, it certainly has a degree of style. Taking into account its impressive results, it has what can only be described as go-faster stripes down the sides, and the off switch at the rear is always a welcome addition. It also comes with a stand for added stability when stored vertically.

Nero Express is provided for burning DVDs, and Nero VisionExpress and ShowTime take care of editing and playing video respectively. This Nero suite has the edge on many of the others this month, as it also includes the useful Nero BackItUp and Recode utilities. The latter makes it easy to ‘recode’ (compress) large video files from non-copy protected double-layer discs into a format suitable for a single-layer disc, which is a great tool given the high price of double-layer media.

The price is comparable with the Sony, as are the quality of its features, but for raw power the Samsung takes the winner’s trophy. It may not take pride of place on your mantelpiece like its beautiful rival, but for those not so concerned with what the neighbours think we can’t recommend this drive enough.

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