Despite their decline in popularity, CDs and DVDs are still very much in use today. The problem is, many laptops do not have drives to play them. In comes an external drive which can playback and or burn (copy) CD and DVDs. Below, you can compare our top 7 best CD and DVD drives and burners.
For external Blu-Ray drives that can play and burn/write CDs, DVDs and Blu-Ray discs, check out our Top 5 Best External Blu-Ray Drives.Scroll across at the bottom of the table / mobile and tablet users just swipe...
|Our Rating||Our Rating|
|Operating System||Latest Windows and Mac OS||Latest Windows and Mac OS||Latest Windows and Mac OS||Latest Windows and Mac OS||Latest Windows and Mac OS||Latest Windows and Mac OS||Latest Windows and Mac OS||Operating System|
|Avail. Colours||Black / White||Black||Black||Black / White||Silver / Black||Avail. Colors|
|Loading Type||Tray||Tray||Tray||Tray||Tray||Tray||Tray||Loading Type|
|Connectivity||USB 2.0||USB 2.0||USB 2.0||USB 2.0||USB 2.0||USB 2.0||USB 2.0||Connectivity|
|DVD Write Speed||8X Max.||8X Max.||8X Max.||8X Max.||8X Max.||8X Max.||8X Max.||DVD Write Speed|
|CD Write Speed||24X Max.||24X Max.||24X Max.||24X Max.||24X Max.||24X Max.||24X Max.||CD Write Speed|
|Special Features||• Silent Play|
• Jamless Play
• TV Connectivity
|• Double Security Disc Encryption|
• Energy Saving E-Green Engine
|Ultra Slim Design||• SMART-X Technology|
• SMART Burn Technology
• Link2TV - Extensive TV Compatibility
• World's Thinnest at 13.2mm
|• Buffer Underrun Free Technology|
• AV Mode For TV Connectivity
|• Tilt A.C.T For Writing Twisted Discs|
• Buffer Underrun Free Technology
• Double OPC (Optimum Power Control) Technology
• Automatic Firmware Updates
|• Silent Play|
• Jamless Play
• TV Connectivity
|Product Dimensions||14.4 x 13.6 x 1.8 cm||N/A||14.2 x 14.7 x 1.39 cm||1.32 cm||14.6 x 14.4 x 2 cm||14.9 x 14.6 x 1.4 cm||14.4 x 13.7 x 1.4 cm||Product Dimensions|
|Price||**CHECK PRICE**||**CHECK PRICE**||**CHECK PRICE**||**CHECK PRICE**||**CHECK PRICE**||**CHECK PRICE**||**CHECK PRICE**||Price|
Top Features | Best External DVD Drives
- Our Rating – This is based on our own research in product testing and user feedback. Clicking on each product takes you to the product page where you can read customer reviews on the product you’re interested in.
- Best Value / Top Rated / Top Specs / Best Choice – Products that we consider to excel in a certain area such as value for money, reputation or technology have been given one of our aforementioned labels of recognition.
- Operating System – Any computer/laptop that can automatically detect USB devices should have no issues with the above external DVD drives.
- Connectivity – All the above external DVD drives are plug n play, meaning that you can simply plug in the device via the USB cable, and it will start working without any additional software or cables. Certain models are also capable of TV USB link up, which allows media files to be played on a TV.
- DVD / CD Write Speed – The speed at which the external DVD drive can write data onto a DVD or CD. As a general guidance, 1X = 11.08 MB/s (DVD) and 1.23 MB/s (CD).
- Region Free – All the above external DVD drives are able to play Region 2 DVDs (which includes Europe), but if you want to play other Region DVDs, then you need a model that has a multi-region feature. Read more about DVD regions here.
- Price – If you want to know the price of any of the models, just click on the Buy Now button or Check Price and you’ll be redirected to the product page. The reason we don’t put prices is because they constantly change and there are so many sellers offering different prices.
For external Blu-Ray drives that can play and burn/write CDs, DVDs and Blu-Ray discs, check out our Top 5 Best External Blu-Ray Drives.
Best Buyers Guide For External DVD Drives
With the move towards digital forms of media, the humble CD/DVD drive has found its role diminished lately. Popular online streaming services like Netflix and Spotify mean that CD and DVD sales are nosediving and many new laptops and computers have started to remove a physical disk drive altogether.
While the average PC user today will hardly notice if they don’t have one, it can be a good idea to think about getting an external DVD drive for certain occasions. You may need an external DVD writer (also known as a external DVD burner) if you:
- You need to copy files from your computer onto a disc (music, movies, software, work files etc.)
- Own a laptop that currently can not play CDs or DVDs
If you do find yourself in one of these situations, having a portable external DVD drive that can play, copy and burn CDs and DVDs seems like a pretty solid investment.
What to Choose
The first thing to consider is whether to choose a DVD or a combination DVD/Blu-Ray drive. If you are never likely to rip or burn a Blu-Ray then it probably isn’t worth the extra expense.
Similarly, if you only want a drive to play DVDs or CDs, then a cheaper model will be fine. While external DVD burners are still very reasonable at a starting price of around £20, deciding on what you will be using the drive for is the best starting point.
Powering Your Drive
The great advantage of an external DVD writer is how easy set-up is. Simply plug it into your USB slot and let your computer do the work.
Of course, there are some pitfalls to watch out for. When plugged in, the external DVD burner draws power from the USB slot. This means that some older laptops, such as the 2010 Macbook Air, won’t have the zip needed to run the drive.
If that’s your problem, there are two solutions. A Y-cable can be bought to plug the drive into two USB slots and so draw more power that way, or a drive can be bought that has its own power supply. Drives that need to be plugged into a socket do negate some of the portability advantages, but are often faster.
Connecting Your Drive
There are currently two versions of USB slots around. USB 2.0 is the standard variety that nearly all computers have while USB 3.0 is the faster version that is the future. USB 3.0 offers transfer rates that are ten times faster and will become the norm in the future, but at the moment the two versions can cause issues.
This is as devices that are connected with a 3.0 cable won’t work in a computer with 2.0 USB ports. If you are unsure about which USB ports you have on your PC, check the specifications of your laptop.
Many newer laptops will have at least one USB 3.0 port, which is usually blue. Some of the best external DVD drives will be powered by USB 3.0 and will often clearly advertise the fact.
Write speed is the time it takes for a drive to create a new disk. Copying movies or music onto a disk is one of the most useful features of a disk drive and the write speed determines how long that process will take.
It is usually described as something like 24X or 8X, meaning that it copies at 24 times or 8 times faster than the file’s length. With this system, a movie lasting 90 minutes could be written onto a DVD in around 4 minutes or 11 minutes separatly.
Choosing a write speed is all about what the drive will be used for. If you just want to watch movies on the go, a low speed is fine but if you plan on copying a large amount of files, then go for one of the best external DVD drives with something above 20X.
An external DVD drive and writer is the only way to play and burn files onto CDs and DVDs if you do not have a built-in disc writer on your laptop.
A Bit About Multi-Region Disc Playback
Region formats are a little more difficult to get around. Only a few of the best external DVD drives are hardcoded to play discs from any region of the world.
Technically speaking, all DVD drives (and players, for that matter) are region-free. This means that they can play DVDs from any world region. However, to enforce copyright, manufactures are required to install software that limits this ability.
External DVD drives, therefore, are perfectly capable of playing all DVDs. Certain software and “hacking” codes will allow you to change region several times, at which point your computer will lock the change.
If you have a large amount of foreign DVDs you wish to play or copy, therefore, then software is your answer. Certain media players, such as the free VLC media player will play any format DVDs while others will allow unrestricted copying. Varieties differ between mac and windows systems, so investigate the options available to you.
Some of the best external DVD drivers and writers have specialised technology that you won’t find out lesser models. Manufacturers such as Samsung, LG and LiteOn integrates a range of features that basically consists of:
- Silent Play – Reduces noise when playing or writing discs.
- Buffer Underrun Free – Prevents common errors when burning discs.
- TV Link – Connects to any TV that supports flash drives and allows you to access files on the disc drive.
- Slim and Lightweight Design – Will be of importance to you if you plan on taking the device travelling.
Generally, manufacturers term the above features differently for their own branding but they pretty much do the same thing.
If you want to rip and create CDs and DVDs, look for external DVD writers (known as DVDRW). There are basically two types of discs available to burn files onto:
- Writiable discs known as CD or DVD-R (can burn files onto a disc once)
- Rewritable discs known as CD or DVD-RW (can burn files onto a disc multiple times by deleting and rewriting the disc).
Bear in mind that though blank CDs are cheaper, they have a lot less storage space and are best suited for creating audio CDs.