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5 Best External USB CD/DVD Drives for PC in 2018

It’s no secret that optical media are on their way to obsolescence. Many modern computer cases don’t come with a tray for an internal CD/DVD drive, and mid-range and high-end laptops often don’t even include an SD card reader—let alone a CD/DVD drive. So, if you have a sizable collection of movies and albums that you would like to transfer and convert for posterity’s sake, a reliable external CD/DVD drive that plugs to any computer via USB and supports all common and not-so-common CD and DVD formats.

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LG GP65NB60

The LG GP65NB60 is one of the most popular CD/DVD drives on the market because it offers excellent value at a very attractive price.

When transferring data from a CD, the drive can sustain a transfer speed of 3.6 MB/s (24x). When transferring data from a DVD, the maximum sustainable transfer speed is 11.08 MB/s (8x). All operating systems are supported, and the LG GP65NB60 even features TV connectivity, which makes it possible to connect the drive to any modern TV to play movies and display images directly from it.

Thanks to LG’s Silent Play feature, the LG GP65NB60 doesn’t get unreasonably loud even when reading or writing data at a very high speed. The presence of a 0.75 MB buffer helps the drive cope with any temporary reading or writing difficulties, ensuring smooth playback and error-free burning.

We appreciate the support for the M-Disc optical disc technology, which uses a single inorganic recording layer to prolong the lifespan of M-Disc media up to 1,000 years. M-Disc media are slightly difficult to come by these days, but they are fantastic for archiving vital data.

Pioneer BDR-XD05B

If you also need to transfer data from Blu-ray discs, the Pioneer BDR-XD05B is a great choice. It comes with CyberLink PowerProducer, which is world’s first BDXL-certified authoring software. CyberLink PowerProducer makes it possible to create videos and slideshows of up to 4 layers of data totaling 128 GB on a single Blu-ray Disc.

The Pioneer BDR-XD05B connects to a computer with a USB 3.0 cable, and included with the drive is a long USB 3.0 Y-cable. With this cable, you can connect the Pioneer BDR-XD05B even to older computers without a USB port capable of supplying enough current to power the drive.

Unlike other drives on this list, the Pioneer BDR-XD05B has a clamshell design, reminding us of the Discman from Sony. The support for Blu-ray discs makes this versatile external optical drive a lot more expensive than drives that support only CDs and DVDs, but Pioneer did everything right to make the product worth the price.

LG WP50NB40

Compared to the Pioneer Blu-ray drive, the LG WP50NB40 is faster when it comes to transferring data from Blu-ray disks, but it falls short of the Pioneer’s CD/DVD reading and writing capabilities. It also doesn’t have a clamshell design, which is mostly inconsequential unless you have very limited free space on your desk.

Like most modern external USB drives, the LG WP50NB40 has a large buffer for underrun prevention. Buffer underruns happen when a buffer used to communicate between two devices or processes is fed with data at a lower speed than the data is being read from it. Unless you have a very old computer, the LG WP50NB40 ensures that this won’t happen to you when watching Blu-ray movies or archiving them onto a hard drive.

Earlier versions of the LG WP50NB40 have shipped with a buggy firmware that prevented the drive from writing data onto M-Disc media. Fortunately, LG fixed this issue with a firmware update, which is available from the official support page of the LG WP50NB40.

ASUS ZenDrive

Just like ZenBooks and ZenFones, the ASUS ZenDrive is elegantly slim and beautiful to look at. With its 13 mm thin form-factor, the ASUS ZenDrive fits inside any bag or briefcase, provided a convenient backup and playback solution with support for all kinds of CDs and DVDs, including M-Disc, an archival-quality storage format with a lifespan of up to 1,000 years.

Included with the ASUS ZenDrive is the CyberLink Power2Go 8 software, which is a feature-packed burning suite with a classy user interface and the ability to do everything from mounting ripped disc images to burning new media to taking care of system backup and recovery. As long as you don’t need to author Blu-ray movies, CyberLink Power2Go 8 does everything you could ever want it to do and more.

The only downside of the ASUS ZenDrive is its limited durability. No, the drive won’t suddenly break on you in the middle of an important burn job, but its thin aluminum case isn’t designed to withstand rough handling.

Sea Tech Aluminum External CD/DVD Drive

We’ve picked the last drive on this list specifically to please all the lovers of Apple’s aesthetics among you. But don’t worry: the Sea Tech Aluminum External CD/DVD Drive offers a lot more besides pretty looks. It features USB 3.0 connectivity and USB 2.0 compatibility, and ships with a USB cable.

The drive is compatible with all modern Windows and Mac computers, and it works right out of the box without any configuration. All the internal components of the Sea Tech Aluminum External CD/DVD Drive are protected by a thick unibody casing made from a single block of aluminum.

Keep in mind that Mac computers don’t support Blu-ray playback unless you install some third-party software solution that can decode Blu-ray movies. The good news is that there’s a lot of such software solutions to choose from, and some of them are even completely free.

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