Movies are now on digital files instead of physical discs, so new laptops don’t come with DVD drives that can read physical discs. Even though there are a lot of things you can stream online, and it’s a lot cooler and more convenient to carry around a whole library of movies on your laptop’s hard drive, there are still a lot of people who have a lot of home videos or movies on discs and would rather use an external DVD drive to play them on their laptop. If you are one of them and you get a laptop that doesn’t have a built-in DVD drive anymore, you can use an external DVD drive for laptops.
External DVD drives work just like the ones that come with laptops. They are a great way to watch movies on your laptop and are also portable, so you can take them with you when you need to. What is the best DVD drive for a laptop that is not built in? How should I choose an external DVD drive for my old laptop? Below is a list of the best external DVD drives for laptops, along with reviews and opinions about each one.
How to choose the best DVD drive for your Laptop
The speed of the drive you choose will determine how quickly you can read and write data to and from it. The speeds range from 1x (the slowest) to 24x (the fastest), with 1x speeds equaling 1.385 MB/s. At this speed, it will take about an hour to fill up a single-layer DVD and 103 minutes to fill up a dual-layer DVD.
Drive speeds that are higher show how much faster your drive will work. This means that if a drive says its speed is x20, it is twenty times as fast as the base x1 speed (1.385 MB/s * 20 = 27.7 MB/s). Most external DVD drives can read and write at x8, which gives them a data rate of about 11.08 MB/s. At this speed, it only takes seven minutes to fill up a single-layer DVD, and thirteen minutes to fill up a double-layer DVD.
Most external DVD drives work well right out of the box with both Windows and macOS (as long as the Mac in question is a post-2008 model with no internal drive originally fitted). But there isn’t the same level of support for other operating systems like Linux, Android, and Fire OS. Before you buy, make sure the manufacturer lists Linux or Android as a compatible operating system if you want to use an external DVD player with a device that runs on either of those.
When choosing an external DVD drive, it’s important to think about what kind of connection it has. As laptops continue to get thinner and lighter, older ports like USB Type-A are being replaced by USB Type-C ports, which are smaller and faster. But most external DVD drives still use Type-A connections because even the fastest DVD drives (24x) only transfer data at a rate of 33.2 MB/s or 266 Mbps, which is well within the 60 MB/s or 480 Mbps bandwidth of a typical USB 2.0 Type-A connection.
Some modern external DVD drives have Type-C connections, but most don’t. If your device doesn’t have a legacy port, you may need a USB-A to USB-C adapter to connect the drive to it, especially if it’s a tablet or smartphone.
M-Disc DVDs are the way to go if you want to store data for a long time. Regular recordable DVDs are great for storing data as you move it from one device to the next. All data on regular recordable DVDs are burned into an organic dye layer, which starts to break down as soon as the data is written to it. Because of this, most standard recordable DVDs have a short life, which some people say is between two and five years. Even though making a new copy of your data within that window isn’t too hard, it can take a long time and be tedious.
The M-Disc DVD is a write-once optical disc that doesn’t use organic dyes to store data. Instead, it uses a more powerful laser found in M-Disc compatible DVD drives to engrave data onto its glassy-carbon surface. Normal recordable DVDs only last a few years, but the material used in M-Disc DVDs is supposed to last for 1,000 years. This makes drives that support M-Disc a great choice for people who want to make long-term backups of sensitive information or sentimental media without having to worry about their data getting lost or messed up.
You may also like: How Do I Play a DVD on My Laptop? Any Operating System
Best External DVD Drives for Laptop in 2022
Apple USB SuperDrive: Best external DVD drive for Apple devices
Since Apple’s USB SuperDrive came out at the same time as the first MacBook Air in 2008, it may seem a little old-fashioned. But it’s still the go-to device for many Mac users who aren’t quite as ready to give up on physical media as Apple. Since 2016, the Apple USB SuperDrive has been the only way for newer Mac owners to use optical media without using third-party hardware. The fact that it’s still up to the task almost 15 years later is a real testament to its quality.
The Apple USB SuperDrive can still read and write DVDs at up to 8x, which is fast enough to compete with most of what’s on the market. However, there are a few ways in which it shows its age. The SuperDrive doesn’t work with M-Discs, which is one of the best ways to store data on optical media, and its legacy USB Type-A connection is almost a relic from the past now that Apple has made USB-C ports the standard.
The USB SuperDrive is still a good DVD drive, even with these problems. Apple is known for making devices that look good and work well. The SuperDrive is a great thing to have in your laptop bag. It weighs less than 0.74 pounds. Apple products usually cost a lot, and SuperDrive is no exception. But Apple’s great build quality and eye-catching minimalist design help to make up for the high price of $79 a bit. 4. Apple SuperDrive USB
Lite-On 24x Ultra-Slim EB1: Best Ultra-HD Ready
- TODAY’S BEST DEALS: View at Amazon
If you want to buy 4K movies on Blu-Ray, your older Blu-Ray player might not be able to read the newer discs. This is where a drive that is ready for Ultra HD Blu-Ray can help. A cheap drive from Lite-On has specs that are similar to many of the best drives on our list. It also works with the new Ultra HD Blu-Ray media. The Lite-On EB1 is easy to use with all types of media and can read and write 24x for CDs, 8x for DVDs, and 6x for BD-ROM. If you want to make long-term backups, you can also use M-Disc with the drive.
The fact that the Lite-On EB1 is only 0.53 by 5.9 by 5.5 inches and weighs only 0.66 pounds makes it even more impressive. That makes it a good choice for an Ultra HD Blu-Ray reader you can take with you. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that depending on your PC, you may still need special software to use Ultra HD Blu-Ray.
ASUS ZenDrive Ultra Slim: Runner-Up, Most Compact
- TODAY’S BEST DEALS: View at Amazon
ASUS’s ultra-slim ZenDrive is a good choice when a small footprint is important. This is a simple CD/DVD combo drive that doesn’t work with Blu-Ray, but because of that, it costs a lot less. And it’s only 0.55 inches long, 5.33 inches wide, and 5.61 inches tall, and it only needs one USB port to work.
The ZenDrive has great performance for how small it is. It can read and write CDs at up to 24x and DVDs at up to 8x. This performance is helped by the fact that the Asus ZenDrive can get to CD and DVD content in just 160ms. For long-term data storage, the ZenDrive can also burn to M-Discs. This is useful for people who want to keep their data for a long time.
The Asus ZenDrive works with both Windows and Mac, and it comes with CyberLink software to help you get started with storing content on physical media. ASUS also gives you six months of free cloud storage with the drive, so you can rip your CDs and DVDs and move the files there when you need to.
LG Electronics GP65NB60: Best Budget
- TODAY’S BEST DEALS: View at Amazon
If you don’t need the Blu-ray capabilities of some of the more expensive external optical drives, you can get a great deal on a basic CD/DVD drive. LG’s GP65NB60 is an inexpensive combo drive that can read and write to both CDs and DVDs. It has a low profile and is easy to install. With dimensions of 0.6 by 5.4 by 5.6 inches and a weight of only 0.4 pounds, it is even smaller and lighter than our top pick for a compact.
Even though it’s cheap, the LG GP65NB60 can read CD-ROMs at 24x and DVD-ROMs at 8x, so it’s not too far behind most of the competition. There are also good write speeds, with up to 24x on CD-R and up to 8x on DVD-R. And the LG GP65NB60 only needs one USB connection to get power and send and receive data. The LG GP65NB60 also works with both Windows and Mac, can burn M-Discs with archival quality, and comes in a variety of colors, including black, gold, white, and silver.
Dell USB DVD Drive-DW316: Performance
- TODAY’S BEST DEALS: View at Amazon
The Dell DW316 is both cheap and small, with dimensions of 0.55 by 5.41 by 5.67 inches. The device is thin and weighs only 0.44 pounds, so you won’t even notice it in your laptop bag. The Dell DW316 doesn’t need much to get up and running. It gets its power and data from a single USB connection. Windows support has been confirmed, but reviewers have said that the Dell DW316 can also be used with Mac computers.
In terms of performance, the Dell DW316 does well, about the same as most of its competitors. It can read CDs as fast as 24x and DVDs as fast as 8x. It can write at the same speeds as it reads.
Which external DVD drives are the best?
The Hitachi LG GP96Y is the best external DVD drive on the market right now because it strikes a good balance between price, performance, and portability. Even though it works with all of the major desktop operating systems, the Hitachi LG GP96Y is even better because it can play DVDs and back up data on Android tablets, smartphones, smart TVs, and set-top boxes. You can use Hitachi’s great external drive on almost any device, no matter where you go.
If you want the fastest external DVD drive on the market, the OWC Mercury Pro is what you need. The Mercury Pro is all about performance. It can write 24x DVDs at speeds of up to 33.2MB/s and can fill a dual-layer DVD to its full capacity in less than four minutes. It may be too much for a casual user, but the Mercury Pro is a great choice for people with large DVD and CD collections who want to digitize them as quickly as possible.
The HLDS Universal Data Station is a great combination of a multi-hub and an external DVD drive. You get the best parts of both devices and only have to worry about the slightly higher price. The hub turns a single USB-C port into multiple USB Type-A SuperSpeed ports, a Micro SD card reader, and even an HDMI 1.4 port. Not only that, but the Universal Data Station is also as compatible as the Hitachi LG GP96Y. This makes it a great companion for any device that runs Windows, macOS, Android OS, FireOS, or Linux.
Questions and Answers about External DVD Drives for Laptop
How do I connect a DVD drive from the outside to my laptop?
In order to make laptops smaller and lighter, they no longer have a place to put CDs or DVDs. Because of this, many new laptops don’t have DVD drives built in. So getting an external DVD drive for your laptop is a good idea, especially if you have a lot of physical media like DVDs. Here’s how to use an external DVD drive with a laptop, in case you were wondering. To connect an external DVD drive to a laptop, just plug the USB cable into the external DVD drive and then connect the other end to your laptop. You can now watch movies.
Can movies be played on external DVD drives?
YES. Blu-ray drives can usually only play CDs and DVDs, but if you have a Blu-ray Drive, you can play CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays. When your DVD is locked to a certain region, you should either use a DVD player to unlock it or use DVD ripping software to turn it into a digital file that can be played in any region.
What does a DVD drive on the outside do?
A computer part called an external DVD drive lets you read data from a laptop or computer and write it to CDs, DVDs, or Blu-ray discs. It is often used to back up computer data or to watch movies on a laptop or an HDTV.
Can a DVD be played on a Blu-Ray player?
Yes, Blu-Ray drives can work with both CDs and DVDs. There are also drives that can burn all three types of discs. Blu-Ray media, on the other hand, cannot be read by DVD drives.