Investing in the best external optical drive is a great way to enjoy your favorite movies or music without taking up space on your PC. They’re usually very slim and compact, so they fit very well with your smaller PCs, and they’re easy to take with you when you travel. They’re also one of the more cost-effective things you can buy to enhance your PC.
With the multitude of brands and styles available, this can make it seem very hard to pick out a good external optical drive, but we did the research for you. Our 10 best optical drive reviews let you quickly compare various options and brands side-by-side, and our buying guide will give you criteria you want to keep in mind when you’re shopping.
Best External Optical Drive Buyer’s Guide
Although it can seem overwhelming at first, you can really narrow your choices down quickly when you realize that there are only three main formats and two connectivity options for these external optical drives. Knowing this helps you cut out a lot of research because you’ll only have to focus on the external drives that fit your selected categories.
Three Major External Optical Drive Formats
- Blu-Ray. Blu-Ray is slightly newer than the other two formats, but people are switching to them because of the crystal-clear graphics and sound quality. They can hold up to 128Gb and more per disk, and they’re popular for HD movies, games, and storage.
- CD-ROM. This is one of the older external optical drives available, and it’s suitable for smaller data transfers and audio formats. Generally, they go up to sizes around 700MB and no higher.
- DVD ROM. The DVD-ROM external optical drives are one of the most popular choices to work with PCs today. They typically have anywhere from 4.7GB to 8.5GB of storage space, and this is usually more than enough for applications and games to run seamlessly. The movie industry favors dual-layer DVDs or DVDs with 8.5GB of storage.
Important External Optical Drive Considerations
Now that you know about the three different optical drive formats you can choose from, we’ll outline some important specifications that you want to keep in mind when you’re shopping.
You have to take your external optical drive’s capacity into consideration. This means that you’ll have to think about what you want to store and how much of it you have. Pictures take up less space than videos, and audio files take up even less space. If you plan to store games, you want something with more space capacity.
Does your device come with a USB cord and adapter included or do you have to buy one? Does it connect with one USB cable or two? If it connects with two, do you have two side-by-side on your PC? These are all good questions to ask when you’re shopping for the best external optical drive for you. It’ll help you determine if you can connect the device or not to your preferred PC.
Your PC’s operating speed and your external optical drive’s speed will determine how fast you can load, transfer, and save your files from one device to the other. USB 3.0 is now standard on several brands of external optical drives, and this offers a more stable connectivity and faster speeds than the USB 2.0.
Finally, you want to pick out a device that is simple to use. Many external optical drives now have plug-and-play technology that automatically syncs up to your computer when you plug it in. This can reduce the time you spend setting it up, and you can get on to enjoying your DVDs or CDs quicker.
10 Best External Optical Drive Reviews
This external optical drive features plug and play technology, and you can just plug it into your tablet or PC’s USB port. It is compatible with a variety of operating systems including Windows XP, 2003, Vista, 7, 8.1, 10, Linux, and Mac 10.10.4.
The high-speed USB 3.0 drive is very sleek and powerful, so you can use it without worrying about it interfering with your computer’s speed. It comes with a one-year warranty against damage or defects. You also get a very slim and compact design that makes this device easy to carry and take with you.
- Features user-friendly plug and play technology
- Very sleek and compact design
- May start to develop problems within a few months
- Eject button is difficult to push in
This drive gives you universal connectivity, and it works with PC, laptops, tablets, and more. You can use it with several operating systems from Windows Vista up to Windows 10, and all of the Mac systems without a problem.
It has a 3.0 USB transfer speed for a smooth and continuous playback, and it comes with durable copper mesh technology. It’s designed to run very quietly, and the outer shell is resistant to damage. It’s lightweight and slim, and this makes it a good choice to slip into your bag and take with you.
- Comes with fast 3.0 USB capabilities
- Very sleek and slim design
- Eject button may stick
- Could display an error message with certain DVDs
You can buy just the device or you can choose to have expert installation for an additional fee. It is compatible with both Windows and Mac systems, and you can use it on several different devices for a fast and clear playback.
The outer casing is made out of lightweight but durable aluminum, and this ensures that your drive lasts through repeated use without a problem. You can use it to write both DVDs and CDs, and it plays both as well. It also comes with a one-year warranty against defects or damage.
- Outer casing is made with aluminum
- Compatible with several Windows and Mac devices
- Connector cable may short out and switch the device off
- Difficult to get up and running for the first use
You get the choice of the ZenDrive Ultra or the ZenDrive Ultra + Type C. It will work with Windows and Mac devices, and it has an ultra slim and lightweight design that perfectly compliments your lightweight laptop.
It is designed to protect your memories for years, and it comes with Nero Backup to backup Android devices as well. You get bundled software included that makes burning discs a quick and easy process. It also comes with a secure online backup feature for all of your photographs.
- Comes with bundled software and storage capabilities
- Protects your pictures for years
- Need two USB ports close together to use it
- Connection cord is very short and difficult to connect to two USB ports
This drive is very user-friendly, and you simply plug it into your computer or device’s 3.0 USB port and the device will recognize it. This 3.0 USB port gives you a more stable and high-speed performance each time you use this drive.
You get error-correcting technology, anti-shock technology, and noise reduction technology for a safe and quick run. This device is compatible with several Windows operating systems, along with Mac and Linux. It also comes with a year-long hassle-free warranty so you can return it if it fails or if it gets damaged.
- Compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux devices
- Comes with error-correcting technology and noise reduction technology
- Might take a while to get set up
- Slightly larger design than other options
This device will work with desktops, laptops, and Mac devices. You don’t need any additional adapters, and it plugs straight into your device’s USB port. It lets your burn CDs and DVDs as well as listen to music and watch videos.
The Tengerstang External Drive features a very lightweight and slim design that makes it quick and easy to pack up and slip into your bag to take with you. It also comes with a USB adapter included so you won’t have to worry about buying or finding an adapter cord. The outer case is solid to protect the hardware.
- Device has a very sturdy and solid feel
- Comes with a USB adapter cord included
- Might take a while for the computer to recognize the device
- Can be difficult to eject discs once they’re in
This ultra slim and lightweight drive comes with shock resistance, and this means that you’ll get a smooth playback experience even when you’re on the go. It’s very easy to slip into your bag and take with you. This drive also features a sleek and modern design.
It comes equipped with a high-speed interface that makes this a powerful device that offers a stable connection. The Gipow External CD Drive has universal compatibility so that you can use it with Linux, Windows, and Mac systems. It consumes a very small amount of power with every use, so it’s energy efficient.
- Very compact and energy-efficient design
- Comes with anti-shock and error correcting technology
- May have problems recognizing blank disks
- Can run slower and slow down your PC’s performance time
You can use this drive to quickly burn CDs and DVDs, install software, backup your files, listen to music, or watch a movie. It features a very slim and compact design that makes it easy to pop into your carrying case and take with you or set on a desk.
It connects to your Apple devices quickly and easy. The MacBook Pro connects with Retina display, MacBook Air, iMac, or Mac mini connect with a single USB cable. It also doesn’t use a separate power adapter, and it can run when your Mac is plugged in or running on its batteries.
- Connects through a single built-in USB cable
- Can work with the Mac plugged in or running on its battery
- May not get a true Apple product when you order
- May get stuck in a loop with blank CDs or DVDs
This user-friendly device features plug and play technology that is very fast and easy to use. Your device will automatically recognize the drive and prompt you to open it when you plug it in. The Pemenol External DVD Drive has universal compatibility with Windows, Mac, and Linux devices.
It has buffer run protection technology built-in, and the 3.0 USB runs up to 10 times faster than a 2.0 USB connection. It comes with a soft storage bag that can help protect your device from damage. The drive uses copper mesh technology for a durable and long-lasting drive.
- Comes with a soft-sided and padded storage case
- Uses copper mesh technology for added durability
- May take a while to read discs
- Might skip and show error messages with older discs
This drive allows you to quickly and easily burn single layer or double layer DVDs and DVD-RAMs. It features a very straightforward and user-friendly design, and it connects to your PC quickly and easily for automatic startup and run time.
The drive is very slim and lightweight, and this makes it fast and easy to take with you when you travel. It has read and write speeds up to eight times faster for DVDs, and up to 24 times faster for CDs. It doesn’t require any additional software installation to run.
- Has a very user-friendly interface
- Can read and write CDs and DVDs quickly and easily
- Eject button is prone to sticking
- USB cable is very short are hardwired into the device
Choosing an external optical drive doesn’t have to be a difficult process. We outlined the important criteria in our buyer’s guide, and our roundup of the top 10 best external optical drives let you compare several brands and styles side-by-side. You should be able to find one that suits your needs quickly and without any problems.