External Optical Drives

External Optical DrivesJanuary 2018(Last Updated 16 January 2018)

The best optical disc drives designed to be plugged into computers via USB
Compare top brands including LG, Asus and HP
Every week we rank the best optical disc drives based on features, reviews and price
We compare: 182 Optical Disc Drive Models 1,280 Optical Disc Drive Reviews 243 Optical Disc Drive Prices
We compare:
182 Optical Disc Drive Models
1,280 Optical Disc Drive Reviews
243 Optical Disc Drive Prices
Table List
Sort by
Scroll up to see results
Rank
Overall Score
Reviews
Price
Disc Loading Type
Internal
Optical Drive Type
Release Date

No matching products found.

 More  Loading…

Today's Best Optical Disc Drive Deals

Trending Optical Disc Drive Comparisons

Asus BW-16D1HT
Asus
BW-16D1HT
$80.99
Better brand
Faster CD read
speed
VS
LG WP50NB40
LG
WP50NB40
$82.90
More popular
Asus BW-16D1HT
Asus
BW-16D1HT
$80.99
$119 cheaper
24x faster CD
read speed
VS
Samsung SE-506CB
Samsung
SE-506CB
$199.95
More popular
Asus SDRW-08U5S-U
Asus
SDRW-08U5S-U
$24.49
$35 cheaper
Better brand
VS
LG GP70NS50
LG
GP70NS50
$59.14
One more awards
Asus SBC-06D2X-U
Asus
SBC-06D2X-U
$84.95
More popular
VS
LG UH12NS40
LG
UH12NS40
$46.89
$38 cheaper
Better brand
Asus SBC-06D2X-U
Asus
SBC-06D2X-U
$84.95
Better brand
VS
LG UH12NS40
LG
UH12NS40
$46.89
$38 cheaper
More popular
Buffalo DVSM-PT58U2VB
Buffalo
DVSM-PT58U2VB
$49.99
More popular
VS
LG GH24NSC0
LG
GH24NSC0
$23.99
$26 cheaper
24x faster CD
read speed

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

QWhat are the difference between the different disc loading types?
AThere are 3 main types of disc drive. Tray is the most common - a tray pops out, the disc is placed in and the tray recedes into the machine again. Slot disc drives just have a slot in the side to take the disc, whereas on top-loading disc drives the whole top of the device is hinged, allowing you to place the disc directly into the device.
QWhy does read-write speed matter?
AThe larger the read-write speed of the disc drive, the faster it will write data to the discs, and the quicker data can be read, meaning data access will be faster and smoother (less waiting for buffering video, for instance)
QWhat does 'internal' mean?
AInternal means the disc drive is meant to be mounted inside a computer, whereas external means it can be plugged in via USB and used there.

class="c2-anchor p2-h2" id="guide"

External Optical Disc Drive Buying Guide

Optical disk drives cover a wide range of internal and external devices meant to both read and write a variety of removable media. This means they can be used to both read data from discs (i.e - playing a movie DVD or Blu Ray) and also writing or ‘burning’ data (i.e - creating a music CD from individual mp3s, or permanently writing files to a disk for distribution).

While most computers used to house CD and DVD drives as standard, drastically smaller devices and a move towards cloud-based streaming mean that disc drives are being used less and less. Indeed many modern laptops and desktops no longer contain a disc drive at all.

This means that even though it is legacy tech, it’s still worth keeping a drive handy for those times you want to read the data from an old DVD, burn a disc for a friend, or watch a movie when you don’t have access to Netflix. There are two main types of optical disc drive - internal and external. This guide will explain the major points of consideration when choosing an external optical disk drive.

Resource ID 177

External Drives

This type of drive is meant to be plugged into a computer (usually via USB) to serve as a temporary drive when one is needed. These drives tend to be more expensive than internal drives, but can be used with any computer. They are especially useful for laptops, since the current trend in ultra-thin laptops mean that most modern models don’t have a drive built in. Because external drives are removable, they can be easily stowed away until needed, making them helpful if you only need to read a CD/DVD occasionally. They are also very portable, making them good for watching movies or accessing data on journeys where you may not have access to a stable net connection.

Media Support

There are 3 main types of optical media supported by the disc drives on our site - CD, DVD and Blu Ray:

CD: Traditionally used for music, and while rather a legacy format, there are so many CDs in circulation that you are bound to need to access one at some point. All disc drives will read and write CDs, but the downside is they hold the least information of the 3 types.

DVD: DVDs are generally used for movies, since they are higher density, so can hold far more data than CDs. DVDs are still widely used for movies and video games, and can also hold a large amount of information, making them useful for backing up lots of files. Nearly all of our drives support both CD and DVD read writing.

Blu-Ray: The newest and highest density of optical media on the market, Blu-Ray discs can hold an enormous amount of data in a single disc. They are primarily used for very high-quality movies. However because they are a new format, Blu-Ray writers are far more expensive than CD or DVD-compatible models. Moreover, not all drives support Blu-Ray reading or writing, meaning that you may find other users are not able to read the data on the disc.

Resource ID 176

Read/Write Speedas

Finally, read & write speeds measure how quickly data can be written from & to the disc. This is measures in bytes per second - the higher the speed, the faster large files (such as movies) will be burnt to the disc, or read from the drive. The read-write speeds are also affected by the USB version supported - USB 3.0 supported drives allow far higher transfer rates than USB 2 drives, so it is worth seeking out the newest drive you can for the fastest data transfer speeds.