External optical drives are a rare sight these days. It can be difficult to find a model that isn’t used or refurbished.
The tricky part:
If you are not discerning when buying an optical drive for your laptop, you can end up with a seriously outdated model.
The list below includes the best external DVD drives you can purchase today, that are guaranteed to work with newer operating systems:
Top 5 Best External DVD Drives – 2020
This has been the best external DVD drive for years for thanks to its superior design and affordable price.
Here’s what most fans notice about this optical drive:
It’s encased in a sleek and gorgeous covering. The surface of the external optical drive is highly stylized so it will never look out of place in a home setting.
The drive is slim and very portable as well.
This optical drive works with both PCs and Macs. It works with all Windows operating systems XP and up without an issue.
This drive requires a standard USB port to connect. Be aware:
The LG drive isn’t shipped with its own power cord. You will have to source your own USB power cord if you buy this.
This optical drive can read and write on all standard DVD. The writing speed goes up to 8x.
It has built-in M-DISC support. It’s a way of protecting the surface of the DVDs so it doesn’t get damaged and lose data.
One more thing:
This DVD drive can connect to TVs in addition to computers. It can work noiselessly because the drive automatically controls disc speed to reduce irritating sounds.
Important to note:
LG may no longer support this external DVD drive because the model is old. Therefore, clarify support if a warranty is provided with the purchase.
- Attractive design
- Reads and writes on standard DVDs
- Works with PCs Macs
- Disc protection available
- Noise reduction feature
- Doesn’t come with its own USB cord
- May no longer be supported by the manufacturer
External optical drives are widely available, as long as you have a PC. The Sea Tech drive is for users of Apple products.
This optical drive is compatible with Windows PCs as well. But it works best with:
MacBooks Pros, MacBook Air, iMacs, and Mini computers.
Essentially, if you have had trouble finding an external optical drive for your Mac, this is it.
Does it actually work?
This is a super drive but it’s designed a lot like an external DVD drive for PCs.
Discs have to be inserted manually. There’s a button on the unit to push to insert or remove discs.
This optical drive can read and write on both CDs and DVDs. Write speeds are not specified by the brand.
This optical drive also works with Linux operating systems. However, you will have to locate DVD drive software that will work with your version and is compatible with this unit.
Note about the build:
The external drive is encased in a unibody aluminum enclosure. It’s white, like almost all Apple products.
The unit supports M-Disc DVDs with data protection features.
One more thing:
This external drive requires two USB inputs. One for power and the other for transferring data.
- Designed just for Macs
- Works with Linux and PCs as well
- Can read and write on discs
- Works with both CDs and DVDs
- Requires two USB outputs
- Discs have to be inserted manually
This deceptively simple-looking Dell optical drive has a few surprises up its sleeve. This plug-and-play gadget promises two things:
Elegance and high functionality.
This disc drive has DVD read speeds up to 8x, which is the industry standard. The CD read rate is 24x.
There’s no installation required with it. It works as soon as you connect the USB cord.
This external optical drive is pre-loaded Cyber Link Media Suite. It will allow you to play discs without the necessity to download any third-party software.
With the software suite, users can not only easily read discs but also write on CDs and DVDs.
The drive is designed with a low profile only about 24mm thick. The whole thing weighs only about 200g.
It’s highly portable as a result. Overall, the drive is extremely convenient.
It was initially designed for Dell’s Ultrabook line but now it works with just about any PC.
This drive may not work with certain Macs, especially the latest models.
The drive can be quite noisy. It can vibrate like a washing machine when in use.
The optical drive may not last long. There are some durability issues not covered by the warranty.
- Slim profile
- Highly portable
- Software included
- Works as soon as connected
- Durability is problematic
- Noisy product
- May not work with the latest operating systems
The best part about this external optical drive:
It’s designed for Macs. You can use this unit with the latest MacBook Pro and Air computers without a problem.
Compatibility, however, is quite wide:
It works with PCs from Windows 98 upwards to Windows 10. All MacOS versions are compatible with this unit.
The unit works best with:
Apple, Samsung, HP, Asus, Dell, and Sony laptops. It works with Ultrabooks and Netbooks as well.
This unit is beautifully designed, inspired by the signature Apple look. The case is sleek, smooth, and has a silver-white tinge that looks stunning.
The unit is powered by a single USB cord. The drive is a plug-and-play device so all you need to do is connect it in.
Some physical buttons do not exist, like:
The eject button. Discs are auto sucked in or ejected when the unit is connected to the laptop.
The ultimate downside:
If the computer loses power when this is connected, the disc will be stuck inside. Without a manual eject button, there’s a higher chance of DVDs getting stuck inside.
This unit can read and write discs. Some additional perks:
The VersionTech is shockproof and minimizes noise.
- Plug-and-play device
- Works with one power cord
- Compatible with all MacOS versions
- Compatible with older Windows OS from 98 upwards
- No physical eject buttons
- Discs may get stuck inside when there’s no power
The Blingco external optical drive is surprisingly cheap. It costs around twenty bucks and offers the same perks as a more expensive unit.
The reason it’s worth every penny:
This optical drive is near-universally compatible with any operating system. That means you can use this with PC, Mac, or Linux laptops.
Note that this unit is not compatible with Windows 10 computers. It works with other Windows OS versions.
The drive reads and writes on CDs or DVDs. The speeds are industry standard.
This unit is compatible with USB 2.0 ports. However, it’s also backwards compatible with older USB 1.0 units.
The design isn’t bad either. The unit is adequately compact and portable for travel needs.
This unit requires two USB cords to function. When using with a desktop, the power cable must be connected to the computer’s motherboard.
This unit is very useful but be mindful of durability issues. It may not last more than a year without proper handling.
The optical drive must always be directly connected to a USB port to work. That means it won’t work with USB hubs or similar charging ports.
- Almost universally compatible
- Reads and writes on any CD or DVD
- Highly affordable
- Travel-friendly design
- Not compatible with Windows 10
- Doesn’t work with USB hubs
- Not particularly durable
Things to Know When Buying an [External DVD Drive]
Buying an external optical drive may sound easy. It’s not.
Read ahead to familiarise yourself with external DVD drives so you don’t make a mistake during the purchasing process:
Different Types of [External DVD Drives]
External optical drives are all designed similarly. They can vary depending on the specs.
Some optical drives are compatible with PCs, some with Macs, and some are universally compatible.
Buyers should, however, be aware of the following feature:
Some external optical drives have a manual ejection button. That means you can manually insert a disc and remove it even when the drive is not plugged in.
Other DVD drives do not have an eject button. Users place the disc at the opening slot and the drive automatically draws it in.
Disc eject is also automatic and requires a command from the computer.
Such optical drives can be disadvantageous because when the drive is not connected, there’s no way to eject the disc inside.
The Main Features of an [External DVD Drive]
Here are the main features you need to look for when browsing external DVD drives:
The optical drive must be compatible with the type of computer you have. For example:
If you have a PC, then you will have to find a unit that works with the version of the Windows operating system that you have.
Most external drives are universally compatible. But know that some may not work with newer versions of operating systems.
Always look for compatibility specs before buying for this reason.
External DVD drives do not need to be plugged into a wall outlet. Instead, these units draw power from your computer.
Some units have an extra cable just for power. That means you will need two USB ports on your computer to connect the device.
If you don’t have many USB ports, an optical drive with two cables can be problematic. There are units with only one cable you can consider.
Disc Read/Write Features
Nearly all external DVD drives can read DVDs and CDs, and also write on rewritable discs. But not all.
If you want to burn a backup disc or a music CD, then make sure the optical drive can support disc burning. This means the ability to write on RW discs.
Keep in mind that you will need to install separate burner software to actually write on discs.
DVD Playback Software
You may not be able to watch a movie with just an optical drive. You will need a media player installed to play the DVDs.
Some optical drive units may come with pre-loaded media players. But you can download free media players like VLC if this is not the case.
Size and Design
Want to take the optical drive on travels with your laptop?
Then buy a compact and slim external DVD drive. Most of the latest models are slim to support portability.
Things to Look for When Buying an [External DVD Drive]
Just some buying tips to keep in mind:
- Don’t confuse external DVD drives with DVD players. The latter is for TVs, and the former is exclusively for computers.
- You can only connect the external DVD player to a TV if it has a USB port. Some units may not work with TV sets.
- External DVD players cannot play Blu Ray discs. The unit can only play the types of discs specified by the brand.
- External optical drives require a direct source of power. So the unit may not work with USB hubs you have at home.
- Check the warranty on units. If you want to repair or return a unit, a warranty would be required.
External DVD players are highly affordable and widely available these days. But if you want a good unit, look for compatibility, design, and disc reading or writing specs.
There aren’t many features to worry about when buying an external optical drive. But make sure you consider the most important as listed above.