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10 Best External CD/DVD Drives for Storage Reviewed for 2020 (US & UK)

By Tom,
30th March 2018 | Updated: 30th April 2020

The best external CD/DVD drives for storage have been reviewed by the Only Reviews team. Find the best one for you here.

10 Best External CD/DVD Drives for Storage Reviewed for 2020 (US & UK)

The best external CD/DVD drives for storage have been reviewed by the Only Reviews team. Find the best one for you here.

Last updated on 30th March 2018 by Tom

Quick Comparison

We tested more than 20 external optical drives to determine which among them were the best in terms of functionality and pricing were. After sitting down with an experienced hardware technician, we focused on ten of the best ones currently available in the UK market.

In terms of overall functionality such as media read/write capabilities, size and OS compatibility, the Pioneer BDR-XD05B comes up on top. For those who do not need to access or burn data on Blu-ray, it’s a between the Asus SDRW-08U7M-U/BLK/G/AS and the Dell DW316 external drives.

Check out the list of the best external optical drives in the UK below for comparison. A review follows the table; read on to get a better idea on each device listed. That way, it will be easier to find out which is best suited for your laptop or other on-the-go optical media reader needs.

  1. 1
    90%
    90%

    LG GP65NB60 External Slim DVD-RW, Black Reviews

    This one’s a very inexpensive buy, but it works to the normal industry standards as far as data burning is concerned and operates quietly. However, it works on USB 2.0 technology, making transfer rates slower than other models.

    Unlike most other external USB CD/DVD drives in our list, it has four other varieties that users can choose from – definitely a plus for those who are picky when it comes to aesthetics.

     

    The Good
    • Very affordable, compact and durable
    • Quiet operation
    • DVD-R dual layer compatibility
    The Bad
    • Some compatibility issues with older Mac models and Linux
    • Blu-ray incompatibility
    Check price on amazon

    We earn commission fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.
    However, this will not increase the prices you pay for products.

  2. 2
    90%
    90%

    DELL DW316 DVD-RW Reviews

    While it may not be as flashy as some models, the Dell DW316’s main selling point is its functionality. Its native drivers make it recognizable on both PC and Mac, although it wouldn’t mount on the latter unless there’s media inserted in it when connected, and its preloaded media suite makes it very easy to use, even for novice users.

    The Good
    • Very compact and durable
    • Quiet operation
    The Bad
    • May have issues working on Linux
    • Not compatible with Blu-ray
    Check price on amazon

    We earn commission fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.
    However, this will not increase the prices you pay for products.

  3. 3
    88%
    88%

    Pioneer BDR-XD05 6x Slim Portable BD/DVD/CD Burner

    It’s one of the smallest and lightest Blu-ray burners available in the market today. It comes with its own USB-Y connector cable, which saves the hassle of finding a cable to make it work with older computers working on non-USB 3.0 ports. On the DVD burning side of things, this clamshell model works very fast compared to other burners.

    The Good
    • Very compact and lightweight
    • Fast DVD burning capability
    • Compatibility with all optical media currently available
    The Bad
    • Some compatibility issues with older Mac models and Linux
    • Doesn’t burn as fast when using Blu-ray
    • Can become noisy during operation
    Check price on amazon

    We earn commission fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.
    However, this will not increase the prices you pay for products.

  4. 4
    88%
    88%

    Portable Slim 8 x DVD+RW - White Reviews

    If the LG GP65NB60 is out-of-stock, this is model from the same manufacturer is a good alternative. It practically works the same way, except it mainly uses the USB 3.0 technology.

     

    The Good
    • Very compact and durable
    • Quiet operation
    The Bad
    • Some compatibility issues with older Mac models and Linux
    • Blu-ray incompatibility
    Check price on amazon

    We earn commission fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.
    However, this will not increase the prices you pay for products.

  5. 5
    88%
    88%

    JOKDEER External Drive LG GP57EW40

    This model is designed specifically for Linux users, although it also works on Windows (except Windows 10) and Mac. In case there is a need for additional power source when working with USB 2.0 ports, the unit comes with a USB to DC connector. It is a little bit bulkier than previous models, but its general ease of use and functionality makes up for it. It’s available in blue and silver.

    The Good
    • Very affordable and durable
    • Quiet operation
    • 2-year warranty
    The Bad
    • Does not have the brand-recognition unlike others
    • Windows 10 compatibility issues (although JOKDEER mentions this)
    • Blu-ray incompatibility
    Check price on amazon

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    However, this will not increase the prices you pay for products.

  6. 6
    84%
    84%

    ZenDrive External Ultra-Slim DVD Rewriter Reviews

    Asus is known for its elegant finishes and designs, and this Zen-inspired external optical drive is no exception. Aside from the functions being at par with industry standards, this product comes bundled with a back-up software that allows its users to easier access to file storage. To further emphasize the importance of data storage, this unit also supports M-Disc media, which is designed to last. It is also the slimmest external optical drive on this list.

     

    The Good
    • Very affordable, compact and durable
    • Quiet operation
    • M-Disc support
    • Comes with 2 M-Discs
    The Bad
    • May have issues working on Linux
    • Blu-ray incompatibility
    Check price on amazon

    We earn commission fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.
    However, this will not increase the prices you pay for products.

  7. 7
    82%
    82%

    BDR-XD05TB Portable USB 3.0 DVD/CD Burner Reviews

    The Pioneer is one of the smallest and lightest Blu-ray burners available in the market today. It comes with its own USB-Y connector cable, which saves the hassle of finding a cable to make it work with older computers working on non-USB 3.0 ports. On the DVD burning side of things, this clamshell model works very fast compared to other burners, but it doesn’t work quite as fast with Blu-ray. It’s also a little on the noisier side compared to other options!

    The Good
    • Very compact and lightweight
    • Fast DVD burning capability
    • Compatibility with all optical media currently available
    The Bad
    • Some compatibility issues with older Mac models and Linux
    • Doesn’t burn as fast when using Blu-ray
    • Can become noisy during operation
    Check price on amazon

    We earn commission fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.
    However, this will not increase the prices you pay for products.

  8. 8
    82%
    82%

    USB 3.0 CD/DVD RW for Apple and Other PC Reviews

    One of the more affordable options available in the market, this model from Cocopa boasts an elegantly-designed finish as well as compatibility with almost any operating system (the exception being Chrome OS). Another great selling point is its price, which offers great value for money considering how well this drive performs.

    The Good
    • Very affordable, compact and durable
    • Quiet operation
    • Works on Windows, Mac and Linux
    The Bad
    • Doesn’t have the brand-recognition other models do - but we feel it’s worth taking a chance on!
    • Not compatible with Blu-ray
    Check price on amazon

    We earn commission fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.
    However, this will not increase the prices you pay for products.

  9. 9
    80%
    80%

    Sea Tech External Drive for Mac Reviews

    This Sea Tech external drive is marketed as an inexpensive alternative to Apple’s SuperDrive. Its aluminum design definitely helps it blend in with Mac products, although it makes it large and heavy compared to other options. Functionality-wise, it works mostly on the same grounds as the others on this list so is well worth considering.

    The Good
    • Very durable
    • Quiet operation
    • Surprisingly, it works on Windows, too
    • Has a burn button
    The Bad
    • Had some issues working on Linux
    • Blu-ray incompatibility
    • Almost twice as large and heavy compared to the others
    Check price on amazon

    We earn commission fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.
    However, this will not increase the prices you pay for products.

  10. 10
    78%
    78%

    Novapolt USB 3.0 External DVD and CD Drive Reviews

    For those who aren’t really particular when it comes to the drive’s brand name, but who want the external optical drive to be functional, then the Novapolt is a great choice. It works on any OS aside from Chrome, and can read or write on any CD or DVD media format. It works just as fast and as quietly as the others we tested as well, and has no issues working with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 technology.

    The Good
    • Very affordable, compact and durable
    • Compatible with USB 3.0 and 2.0 technology
    • Works on Windows, Mac and Linux
    The Bad
    • The brand isn’t as reputable as other models, but for most people we feel this wouldn’t be an issue
    • Blu-ray incompatibility
    • Doesn’t work with a TV
    Check price on amazon

    We earn commission fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.
    However, this will not increase the prices you pay for products.

Side-by-side

LG GP65NB60 External Slim DVD-RW, Black Reviews

  • Very affordable, compact and durable
  • Quiet operation
  • DVD-R dual layer compatibility
Check price  on amazon

DELL DW316 DVD-RW Reviews

  • Very compact and durable
  • Quiet operation
Check price  on amazon

Pioneer BDR-XD05 6x Slim Portable BD/DVD/CD Burner

  • Very compact and lightweight
  • Fast DVD burning capability
  • Compatibility with all optical media currently available
Check price  on amazon

JOKDEER External Drive LG GP57EW40

  • Very affordable and durable
  • Quiet operation
  • 2-year warranty
Check price  on amazon

ZenDrive External Ultra-Slim DVD Rewriter Reviews

  • Very affordable, compact and durable
  • Quiet operation
  • M-Disc support
  • Comes with 2 M-Discs
Check price  on amazon

BDR-XD05TB Portable USB 3.0 DVD/CD Burner Reviews

  • Very compact and lightweight
  • Fast DVD burning capability
  • Compatibility with all optical media currently available
Check price  on amazon

USB 3.0 CD/DVD RW for Apple and Other PC Reviews

  • Very affordable, compact and durable
  • Quiet operation
  • Works on Windows, Mac and Linux
Check price  on amazon

Sea Tech External Drive for Mac Reviews

  • Very durable
  • Quiet operation
  • Surprisingly, it works on Windows, too
  • Has a burn button
Check price  on amazon

Novapolt USB 3.0 External DVD and CD Drive Reviews

  • Very affordable, compact and durable
  • Compatible with USB 3.0 and 2.0 technology
  • Works on Windows, Mac and Linux
Check price  on amazon

Frequently asked questions

What is an external CD/DVD drive?

More and more laptop manufacturers are designing products that are slimmer and smaller, and to do this, some do away with the built-in or internal optical drive so they could allocate the space to other internal parts, or do away with the space altogether.

However, many users still rely on optical media such as CDs, DVDs and Blu-Ray discs for data storage or transfer. Manufacturers recognized the need to still have the means to access optical storage, hence they created external optical drives to address this need.

An external CD/DVD drive is a device that connects to a laptop or computer via a cable fitted to a USB port. This then allows a user to burn data from the laptop or computer on to a disc.

How do external CD/DVD drives work?

External optical drives work via a wired connection to a computer USB port. The USB port provides both the power and the data link to the device. Once connected, the device and the computer recognize each other with the appropriate hardware driver – which are normally native within the external optical drive itself.

Nowadays, these devices are USB 3.0 compliant, which means they can work on both the latest and older computer models. However, when newer external optical drives are connected to older laptop models using USB technology below USB 3.0, they may require two USB ports (via a USB Y-cord) to operate or function.

What sort of price range is there for a CD/DVD drive?

External optical drive prices depend on the brand and functionality, among others. The device may cost anywhere from £15 – 100.

Can you connect an external CD/DVD drive to an iPad?

Unless Apple decides to roll out a feature that allows its connector to provide both power and data compatibility to USB storage devices, this won’t be possible. Such external devices require adequate read/write/transfer capabilities and power output, something which most phones or tablets currently don’t offer support for.

What's the best external CD/DVD Drive writer?

This all depends on your own priorities and preferences. Some prefer the device to be compact and slim; others want it to transfer data quickly; others want one that operates quietly. Feel free to check out the reviews included in this article to see the pros and cons of all the ones we tested.

How do you connect an external drive to your PC or MAC?

Most external optical drives come with their own USB connector cable, and you can simply connect it to any of the available USB ports on the computer.

Newer external optical drives require a USB 3.0 connection. If it is to be connected to an older computer model, it may require the use of a USB-Y connector which uses up two USB computer ports for its operation.

Most models have light indicators on them so that users are able to see if a connection is established between the device and the computer. On the computer’s side, there should be a message informing the user that a new device has been connected and recognized. The external optical drive should then be listed under the available drives on the computer’s main panel window. For Mac users, normally there should be a disc inside the external drive before the operating system will show it under the list of available drives.

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