Performance data for a cw Nd:BEL laser end pumped by two 500 mW laser diode arrays are presented and compared with the performance data for a Nd:YAG laser in a similar configuration. The phased arrays used as the pump source are cooled by a temperature-controlled heat sink to permit wavelength tunability. Although the absorption band-width for Nd:BEL is substantially broader than for Nd:YAG, the Nd:BEL was found to have a higher threshold for lasing. Both rods gave slope efficiencies of 42%. The dependence of the output power on output mirror reflectivity was measured, with Nd:BEL showing a greater sensitivity to reflectivity than Nd:YAG. The optimum reflectivities were found to be 0.98 for Nd:BEL and 0.97 for Nd:YAG. The maximum TEM00 cw power achieved for each rod at these reflectivities was 250 mW for Nd:BEL and 283 mW for Nd:YAG. The observed electrical-to-optical conversion efficiency was factored into a product of analytic component terms, and excellent agreement was found between observed and calculated efficiencies. It is concluded that under the conditions used in this work, both BEL and YAG hosts perform comparably. The conditions under which BEL might out-perform YAG as a host for diode-pumped Nd are discussed.