While a large amount of modern data is stored digitally or in the cloud, there are still a ton of reasons to own an external DVD drive.
External disc drives let you play CDs, DVDs, and sometimes Blu-ray discs via your computer. A disc drive can also be used to burn content onto various discs, allowing for easy sharing and storage of information in a physical format. Disc drives can even be used to burn your data onto archival discs for long-term storage.
Not all external disc drives are built equally. Some drives support Blu-ray disc reading or writing, while some only support CD and DVD media. The ones that support Blu-ray are on the more expensive end. However, Blu-ray compatibility has some big advantages, especially for anyone interested in cataloging or storing data long-term on Blu-ray discs. If you don’t need Blu-ray functionality, you can save a decent chunk of money by buying a disc drive without it.
Some disc drives on this list are not compatible with both Windows and Mac OS. While some drives should run on both, others will only run on one of those systems. Make sure you purchase one that will be compatible with your system.
These are the best external DVD drives on the market.
The Pioneer BDR-XD05B Blu-ray burner is a top-of-the-line product that boasts some of the best features available on external disc drives. This DVD drive is only compatible with Windows devices, so do not buy this for a Mac.
You can read and write CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs on this device. It is also compatible with Blu-ray 3D playback when using a 3.0 USB input, but this product will not playback 4K content.
This drive runs on a USB 3.0 input, which enables it to write Blu-ray very quickly. While USB 2.0 works reasonably well for most disc drives, when you are writing Blu-ray, USB 2.0 only takes advantage of a portion of the possible speed. With USB 3.0, burning Blu-ray discs should take less time than a competing USB 2.0 device.
You can also connect this device to your PC using USB 2.0 inputs in a pinch, but you will have to plug it into two USB 2.0 connectors using the included splitter, due to power limitations on USB 2.0 ports. This drive operates mostly the same on USB 2.0, though it does not support Blu-ray 3D playback when in the USB 2.0 configuration.
This device features a clamshell design, with a manual release to remove your disk from the device when it is powered off.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this burner is its reliability. There are a lot of drives that can write Blu-ray, but very few of them do it reliably. Anyone who has worked with a cheaper burner will know the pain of a corrupted disc. If you are looking to burn a lot of discs, the Pioneer BDR-XD05B Blu-ray burner might be a good option to consider for Windows users.
The Asus BW-16D1X-U BDXL drive is a disc drive for Windows and Mac that accommodates a comprehensive set of formats for both playback and writing. This drive comes with the most features of any product on this list, but it is also the most expensive option.
This DVD drive will read and write CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs, just like the Pioneer BDR-XD05B disc drive. The device uses a 3.0 SuperSpeed input, making it capable of burning discs at the fastest speeds in its class. This drive can read 4K and 3D Blu-ray discs using the included CyberLink Power2Go 9 software.
The device can read and write BDXL discs and M-discs, both of which are used for archival storage. BDXL discs can store up to 128GB on a single disc, making it one of the most desirable backup options available. M-disc is also an archival storage disc designed to protect data for up to 1,000 years. So if you are looking for a long-term backup solution, this drive offers some great format options.
Buyers get access to Nero BackItUp, CyberLink Power2Go9, and a 12-month subscription to ASUS Webstorage Cloud Service. These various programs will help you read, write, and backup all of your data on your PC and phone.
Asus built this unit for desktop use. It is pretty beefy compared to the rest of this list, so you probably won’t be taking this on the road with you.
If you are looking for an archiving solution that can write BDXL and M-Disc, or just an all-around great Blu-ray disc burner, this device is one of the best on the market.
The MthsTec external Blu-ray DVD drive sports a similar set of features to the Pioneers disc drive, but at a slightly lower price point. This device is compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac OS.
The MthsTec external DVD drive can read and write Blu-ray discs, CDs, and DVDs. It is able to playback both 3D and 4K content using a 3.0 USB connection, which is an upgrade over the Pioneer drive, which lacks 4K compatibility. The 3.0 USB connector is backward compatible with USB 2.0 and 1.0, but it will be less reliable when burning discs while connected to these slower inputs. This device also comes with a Type-C interface.
This compact drive features a slide-out tray, and the cable conveniently tucks away into a small slot on the bottom of the drive. The build quality on this drive isn’t quite as good as the last two options on this list, but MthsTec offers a decent warranty.
This device is fully featured when it comes to media playback. If you are looking for a portable, reliable Blu-ray drive to watch content on, this is a great option. If you are looking for a device to burn content on, this DVD drive will work, but not with the same reliability or format options of the Asus BW-16D1X-U.
ASUS ZenDrive Ultra Slim USB 2.0 DVD drive
The Asus ZenDrive Ultra Slim DVD drive is a Windows and Mac compatible drive that does not support Blu-ray. This device is for those who are looking to read or write CDs and DVDs for a reasonable price.
This USB 2.0 device can read and write CDs and DVDs. Asus also boasts that the ZenDrive supports M-DISC, the long term storage option included in the Asus BW-16D1X-U. This is a nice feature to have in a drive that costs so little.
Asus built this drive with portability in mind. It is very slim and features a slide-out tray, making it perfect for travel. As a result of its very extremely compact build, it is also somewhat fragile, so keep that in mind if you travel with this device.
Like the Asus-BW-16D1X-U, the Asus ZenDrive comes with Cyberlink Power2go 8 software, Nero BackItUp software, and a 12-month subscription to ASUS Webstorage Cloud service.
If you are looking for a disc drive that can read CD and DVD media or need to read and write archival M-Disc, this drive is decent and comes at a very reasonable price. If you need Blu-ray compatibility, consider any of the other products on this list.
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