Best Optical Drives of 2020 – Complete Round-up

Optical drives are becoming redundant day by day with the advent of modern computers and laptops. However, we cannot deny or ignore the importance of these drives even today.

Optical drives are a handy source of storage and offer various writing capabilities.

To give you better insight, this guide will help you acknowledge some of the best optical drives and their features. 

Comparison of the Best Optical Drives

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Maximum DVDR write speed of 8x
  • Slim design with cyber link software enabled
  • Promises a 24x maximum CD write speed
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  • Promises a plug and play operational capability
  • Fast writing speeds of 24x CD while 8x DVD writing speed
  • Comes with a built-in Cyber link Media Suite
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  • Uses an E-Green (Energy Green Engine) for energy conservation
  • Best for the money
  • Features E-hammer to permanently delete data on writable optical disks
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  • Features a 1mm durable aluminum casing
  • Best external optical drives
  • Comes with a USB and C port cable
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  • Best optical drive for gaming
  • Readily supports USB 3.0 for modern devices
  • Has a slim design and supports BDXL Cyber link software
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  • Features an 8x DVD write speed for fast data writing
  • Has a diamond-cut design that looks really attractive
  • Best external optical drive for gaming
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What is an Optical Drive?

An optical drive is also known as Optical Disk Drive. It uses an optical disk to read and write various data. Typically, it uses laser beam technology to read the contents of an optical disk. You can successfully read, view, or change the content of the optical disk using an optical drive. Optical disks like CDs and DVDs might be obsolete, however, they are a major component of the computer.

Commonly known as Optical Disk Drive (ODD), these drives are mainly used as an input device. Their functionality depends upon the type of optical disk inserted into it. Optical drives are usually quite cheap and offer you storage and writing capabilities based on the type of disk inserted. 

What Does an Optical Drive Do?

An optical drive allows you to use DVDs, CDs, or Blu-Ray discs. The drive contains lenses that project electromagnetic waves responsible for reading and writing data. Optical drives are on the verge of obsolescence since there are new and better ways to store and read/write data. Discussed below are some of the major uses of optical drives. 

Read/Write Data

Optical drives use laser beam technology that allows the computer to display the content of the optical disk. These disks can be CDs, DVDs, or Blu-Ray discs. You can view the content on the optical disk or you can edit it as you desire. You can also watch a movie or listen to your favorite music by either adding or viewing the existing content. 

Storage

An optical drive can also act as a storage device once a writable optical disk is inserted. You can store an ample amount of data on an optical drive, depending upon the type of optical disk. Typically, Blu-Rays and DVDs store more data compared to a CD. If you have an optical drive installed in your computer, you can easily increase your storage capacity. 

An optical drive is an important component of the computer that can provide you with multiple storage and read/write features. If you are short on storage, you may want to add an optical drive to increase your data storage capacity. 

Why Did These Optical Drives Make Our List?

The optical drives available in the market boast different types of features and mechanisms. However, we selected some of the best based on their read/write capabilities and design. To provide you with a clearer perspective, here are some of the features of an optical drive: 

Design

Most modern optical drives feature a slim and portable design. These drives can be easily fitted into your computer without taking up a lot of space. Moreover, these drives are also lightweight and portable, offering ease of transport when traveling. 

Compatibility 

High-end optical drives feature great compatibility and ease of use for the user. These drives are capable of reading and writing most optical disks for your convenience. Whether CDs, DVDs, or Blu-Ray discs, these optical drives can easily read/write the content on these optical disks. 

Read/Write Speed

Modern optical drives offer fast and reliable reading and writing capabilities. They greatly improve the overall user experience. A good optical drive will not only allow you to access the content efficiently but can also save you a lot of time. 

LG Electronics 8X (GP65NB60)

Noise

Most high-quality optical drives feature noise reduction mechanisms. These mechanisms ensure the quiet and silent functionality of the optical drive. As a result, you can enjoy music and movie content with ease and reliability. 

Quick Take - Best Optical Drives

Just looking for the three best optical drives? Here they are:

  1. LG Electronics 8X (GP65NB60)
  2. Dell DW316
  3. ASUS DRW-24B1ST

Review of the Best Optical Drives

Finding the best optical drive can prove to be a bit of a challenge nowadays. However, there are certain aspects that clearly determine the qualities of a high-quality optical drive. Most good-quality optical drives offer fast reading and writing capabilities with decent storage capacity. Based on such features, here is a list of some high-quality optical drives:

LG Electronics 8X USB 2.0 Super Multi Ultra Slim Portable DVD Writer Drive +/-RW External Drive with M-DISC Support (Black) GP65NB60

PROS

  • Compatible with a USB 3.0
  • Has an exceptional writing speed
  • Slim design enables high portability
  • Features the capability of reducing noise levels
  • Comes with Cyber Link software, which is absolutely free

CONS

  • Manufactured with plastic
  • Not very reliable for long-term usage
  • Not very durable and needs to be handled with care

What Recent Buyers Report

Most of the users were satisfied with the flawless operation of this optical drive. They believe that this drive features a decent writing speed, which is great. Some users also reported it as being fragile. However, if you can handle it carefully, it's going to last longer periods.

Why it Stands Out to Us

What we like about this model is its writing speed. It has an astonishing writing speed when it comes to writing DVDR or CD. It features an 8x maximum speed for DVDR, and a blazing-fast 24x speed for CD. Moreover, it comes with free Cyber Link software and is highly compatible with USB 3.0.

Who Will Use This Most

Well, if you are all about burning DVDs and CDs, this model is your best bet. Since it offers fast write speeds, you can quickly add content to the optical disks. That's not all. You can also use it for recreational purposes like watching a movie or playing music. 

Bottom Line

The bottom line is that it's a superb optical drive available in the market with great features. It allows a super-fast writing speed for optical disks. It's highly compatible with USB 3.0 and appeals to users with an aesthetic and slim design. However, watch out for the fragile build quality. Other than that, it's a perfect choice.

Runner-up:
Dell DW316

Dell USB DVD Drive-DW316

PROS

  • Extremely simple and easy to install
  • Highly portable and great for travelers
  • Offers fast 24x CD and 8x DVD writing speed
  • Aesthetic design is very attractive
  • Promises great performance with a simple and elegant design

CONS

  • Not designed for intensive usage
  • Customer service is not very reliable
  • Not capable of playing Blu-Ray discs

What Recent Buyers Report

Most users reported decent performance with this amazing optical drive. They said this drive was a great addition to any rig. It is easy to install and starts working immediately upon being plugged in. You can also use this optical drive for burning data to optical disks like DVDs and CDs. It is also highly recommended by most users.

Why it Stands Out to Us

What strikes us about this optical drive is its ease of installation. The unit features a plug and play capability. All you need to do is plug in the cables, and it will start operating immediately. It has a slim, aesthetic design, which is great for portability. Writing speeds are significantly fast; 24x writing speed for CD, 8x for DVDR, while 6x for DVDR-DL.

Who Will Use This Most

This model is designed to perfection for most travelers. It offers great aesthetics and a unique, slim design which attracts most customers. The design enables it to be a great traveling companion for carrying useful data with you. All in all, it's a great choice for your mobile needs.

Bottom Line

This is a superb optical drive that offers all the useful features you can desire. It offers great performance while being super-easy to install and operate. Moreover, it features a plug and play capability while delivering high writing speeds for your convenience and satisfaction. It is truly a great choice for everyone!

Best for the Money:
ASUS DRW-24B1ST

Asus 24x DVD-RW Serial-ATA Internal OEM Optical Drive DRW-24B1ST Black(user guide is included)

PROS

  • Highly reliable with its OTS feature
  • Auto Vibration Reducing System reduces vibrations
  • Quite inexpensive and doesn't require much maintenance
  • A great option for power saving and energy efficiency
  • Designed to operate silently with great performance capabilities

CONS

  • No free software available
  • Very slow to rip a music CD
  • Can get a bit noisy while in operation

What Recent Buyers Report

Well, a large number of positive reviews are what we get from its users. Most people believe this optical drive is a cheap option if you are looking for a budget drive. However, you can expect ease of installation and a drive that doesn't demand high maintenance. All in all, it's a great choice for beginners.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Most people refer to this optical drive as a value for money option. However, we think a bit differently. What we like about this drive is the power saving option. It uses an E-Green engine that closes applications that are not in use. Also, it has an Optimal Tuning System that runs tests before any operation.

Who Will Use This Most

This optical drive is an ideal platform for most beginner CD and DVD rippers. Since this drive requires little maintenance, you can use it to enhance your expertise. Furthermore, if you are looking for a power-saving, yet high-performance unit, then this is your pick.

Bottom Line

All in all, this model is a great addition to your computer if you are a CD or DVD ripper. You can perform multiple tasks using this optical drive. It offers you a great power consumption option. Also, you can delete data permanently from the disk using its E-Hammer feature. Moreover, the OTS enables a fool-proof operation, which makes it a great all-round optical drive.

Best External Optical Drives:
SEA TECH 1 Archgon

SEA TECH 1 Archgon Aluminum External USB DVD+Rw, RW Super Drive for Apple-MacBook Air, Pro, iMac, Mini

PROS

  • Readily supports M-disc for reading and writing
  • Plug-and-play drive without installing any drivers
  • Has a small and lightweight design for portability
  • Tested upon manufacturing for faulty drives
  • Compatible with Windows and Mac operating systems

CONS

  • Optical disk drawer is very weak
  • Relatively more expensive than other models
  • Not very durable for long-lasting operation

What Recent Buyers Report

Well, the reviews say it all. Most recent buyers reported a seamless and flawless operation of this optical drive. Some users were, however, not fully satisfied, but most people praised its quality and performance. Buyers highly recommended the optical drive for daily use.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We like this model for several different reasons. First, it is a premium external DVD drive that features a 1mm durable aluminum casing. Secondly, it supports Windows and Mac operating systems right out of the box. But that's not all. It also comes with a USB and C-port cable for your convenience.

Who Will Use This Most

This unit is mainly designed for users looking for a performance option. Moreover, if you have less knowledge and want a plug-and-play experience, then this is the drive for you. You can perform multiple tasks using this optical drive without a hassle. All in all, it's a great choice for your reading and writing needs.

Bottom Line

Well, you asked for the best, and here it is. This is one high-quality optical drive that promises all you desire. Whether writing or reading on optical disks, this model does it all. It performs exceptionally well, however, it might not be a reliable pick for long-term usage.

Best Optical Drive for Gaming:
Pioneer BDR-XD05B

Pioneer BDR-XD05B 6x Slim Portable USB 3.0 Blu-Ray Burner (Black) - Supports BDXL/BD/DVD/CD - Bonus CyberLink Media Suite 10 Windows Software

PROS

  • Comes with acoustic management
  • Quite durable and has a metal base
  • Supports standard USB Mass Storage
  • Compact and fast unit works great with Windows, Mac, or Linux
  • Comes with an optional utility that can be downloaded from the website

CONS

  • Extremely small
  • Doesn't support BDXL formats
  • No cable compartments available

What Recent Buyers Report

The majority of users seem to be completely satisfied with their purchase. What they believe is that this optical drive offers great versatility and compatibility. It is easy to install and works great with Windows, Mac, or Linux operating systems. Most importantly, it is available at a reasonable price, which makes it a great purchasing option.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The design of this optical drive is what appeals to us the most. The model features a clamshell design that is highly unique. It readily supports USB 3.0 and is extremely slim and lightweight. Moreover, it comes with the BDXL Cyber Link software, Silver Retail, to enhance the user experience.

Who Will Use This Most

This Pioneer model is designed for gamers. Due to its high compatibility and fast reading and writing speeds, it's great for gaming. It has a unique design and is small and lightweight. You can easily carry it from one place to another without any hassle.

Bottom Line

To sum it up, this model is a great gaming optical drive with fast reading and writing options. What's attractive is the compatibility it offers. It readily supports USB 3.0 and is highly compatible with most operating systems. If you are looking for an ultimate gaming experience, this unit won't disappoint you.

Best External Optical Drive for Gaming:
ASUS LITE Portable (SDRW-08D2S-U/BLK/G/AS)

ASUS ASUS LITE Portable USB 2.0 Slim 8X DVD/ Burner +/- Rewriter External Drive, Compatible with both Mac & Windows, Black (SDRW-08D2S-U/BLK/G/AS)

PROS

  • Features a user-friendly interface
  • Offers disc encryption for data security
  • Extremely easy to use and reliable backing solution
  • Compatible with Windows and Mac operating systems
  • Promises great performance with fast 8x DVD write speed

CONS

  • Takes a bit of time while reading files
  • Doesn't support Linux operating systems
  • Several users reported detection issues upon installation

What Recent Buyers Report

Most users reported this drive as a great option for multiple functionalities. It offers a fast and reliable source of writing on DVDs. However, it is not very durable and needs to be handled with care. Other than that, it is a great choice for most people.

Why it Stands Out to Us

What we like about this optical drive are its performance and design. It features a fast 8x writing capability for DVD drives, which is super-reliable and time-saving. Moreover, it has a diamond-cut design that is highly unique and attractive. It further supports Windows and Mac operating systems.

Who Will Use This Most

This unit is intended for anyone looking for a reasonable drive. It offers high compatibility and performance, which makes it a great option for anyone. Furthermore, it's relatively cheap. So, if you are looking for a budget optical drive, this model is the way to go.

Bottom Line

A final verdict on this optical drive is that it's a great overall unit that offers multiple features and high versatility. It is highly reliable in terms of compatibility and performance. It also boasts a unique design, which makes it an eye-catching product. All in all, it's a great purchase for superior performance.

Types of Optical Drives

Optical drives are available in different forms and functionalities. Some optical drives support only a single type of optical disk, like a CD-ROM. Others, like a DVD-ROM, can support both CD and DVD-type optical disks. Here is a more detailed overview of some of the different types of optical drives: 

CD-ROM

Compact Disk Read Only Memory drives are among the first-ever disk-based drives manufactured. They use the Compact Disk Filing System and can gain read speeds of 60 revolutions per second. However, most CD-ROM drives operate at lower speeds to enhance stability and reduce noise during operation. Typically, these drives only speed-up for large data files or in case of reading errors. They are only able to read CD-type optical disks. 

DVD-ROM 

Digital Versatile Disk Read Only Memory drives are the evolution of CD-ROM drives. These drives deliver a much better performance and storage capacity than CD-ROM drives. While they are identical to the CD-ROM drives in terms of physical dimensions, these drives are much better. You can experience faster reading speeds with an improved storage capacity. 

Blu-Ray 

Blu-Ray drives are the latest optical drives available in the consumer market. These drives are usually reserved for devices that possess high definition display capabilities. These devices include high-end computers, game consoles, and other modern devices. Blu-Ray discs are capable of processing large amounts of data. Dual-sided Blu-Ray discs can hold as much as 50 gigabytes of data. Blu-Ray discs are also available as mini disks, which can process lesser amounts of data but are considerably cheaper. 

How to Install an Optical Drive

Installing an optical drive is not a challenge if you have some sort of computer knowledge. To successfully install an optical drive, you need to make some prior preparations. To help you with the installation phase, here are a few simple steps on how to install an optical drive:

  1. For installation, you'll need an anti-static computer mat, anti-static wrist band, screwdriver, and an optical drive itself

  2. Make sure your computer matches the system requirements for the optical drive

  3. Wear your anti-static wrist band and then place the optical drive in the optical drive slot located in the chassis

  4. Plug the PSU and the SATA cables into the optical drive

  5. Now connect the SATA cables to the motherboard

  6. Lock the optical drive in place by tightening the screws using a screwdriver

  7. Make sure the screw holes are aligned properly and you are good to go

Most optical drives are plug and play and start working once connected to a power supply. However, in case your optical drive is not responding, you need to enable it manually. For that, head to the control panel and to the device manager. Right-click on the option and then, enable your optical drive. However, if you're still unsure, please refer to the video below for a full overview of what was just described.

How to Clean an Optical Drive

Cleaning an optical drive is necessary if you desire smooth and reliable performance. The performance of most optical drives deteriorates with the passage of time. This is mainly due to accumulated dust and other impurities within the drive. However, you can improve and extract maximum performance by cleaning the optical drive.

Here is how you can clean your optical drive:

  1. Open your computer case

  2. Inside the case, locate the optical drive where it is installed. Typically, the optical drive is held in place with four screws, two at both sides

  3. Unscrew the screws using a screwdriver

  4. Now, remove the connections from the optical drive, which are usually the power cable and the SATA cable

  5. Push the optical drive from behind so you can remove the drive from the front of the case

  6. Open the tray of the optical drive where various optical disks are inserted. You can do this by connecting it to a power source

  7. Now with the tray open, you need to remove the front face of the drive

  8. You can now remove the screws that hold the upper and lower part of the outer body

  9. Remove the back panel, exposing the inner parts

  10. Use a cotton swab dipped in alcohol to gently remove the dust, and you are done

How to Remove an Optical Drive

Removing an optical drive is pretty simple. You don't have to gather a lot of information to remove an optical drive, since its quite simple and easy. An optical drive is usually located on top of the chassis, where it is tightened by two screws. If you are wondering how to remove an optical drive, here are some easy to follow guidelines:

  1. The first thing to do is open your computer case

  2. Locate the optical drive where you have installed it. Usually, it is located on the top front side of the chassis

  3. Unscrew the screws using a screwdriver. Typically, there are four screws, two at both side of the optical drive

  4. Now, you have to remove all the connections from the optical drive. These generally include SATA cables and power cables

  5. You need to push the drive from the back end to make sure you remove it from the front

Make sure you are wearing an anti-static wrist band to avoid any damage to the computer components. Moreover, your hands should be dry while trying to remove the optical drive. All the above-mentioned guidelines need to be performed step-wise and carefully for successful removal. However, be sure to refer to the video below for a full overview of what was just described.

Internal vs. External Optical Drive - Quick Comparison

Internal and external optical drives usually have a similar purpose and functionality. However, some manufacturers add certain features to their products for an ultimate user experience. If you are confused between purchasing an internal or external optical drive, here is a quick comparison:

Performance

Typically, internal drives perform better than external drives. The reason behind it is that the internal drives are protected by the exterior casing, unlike external drives. As a result, there is less chance for dust accumulation inside an internal drive. An external drive, on the other hand, is more prone to dust and other impurities. Consequently, the performance of an external drive decreases with time.

Portability

External drives offer portability, while an internal drive does not. External drives usually have a lightweight and slim design for easy transport and mobility. You can easily carry an external drive anywhere you like. An internal drive, on the other hand, requires proper fixation. It is fitted inside the chassis or casing of a desktop computer or laptop, which diminishes the portability feature.

Functionality

Both internal and external drives have a somewhat similar function. They usually use a laser beam technology to read data and content of the optical disks.

If you are a traveler, an external drive will be a better option for you. You can carry all your useful data with you while traveling. However, if you need better performance and don't travel much, the internal drive would perform better.

Optical Drive vs. SSD

An optical drive and a Solid State Drive offer the same functionality, yet differ in various aspects. An optical drive is a much older concept for storing data, while an SSD is a modern innovation.

But how much do they differ from one another? Let's find out.

Speed

Talking about speed, an SSD is much faster compared to an optical drive. It is capable of fast data transfers, which enables it to be much faster and reliable. It uses modern technology to access the data in no time. The optical drive uses laser beam technology, which is obsolete and quite time-consuming.

Price

An SSD is much more expensive compared to an optical drive. Yes, an SSD performs way better than an optical drive but costs you more money. An optical drive is a cheap option if you have a low budget. If you don't want to spend your money on a faster SSD, then an optical drive is a decent option.

Longevity

This is an area of concern for SSD users. SSDs tend to wear out with the passage of time. Moreover, they have a significantly lower lifespan compared to optical drives. An optical drive has a greater life span and can operate for long-lasting durations.

Conclusion

Choosing an optical drive can be a challenge, especially when there are so many to choose from. However, it's up to you to decide which type of drive would better suit your needs. We tried our best to display all the facts about optical drives to save you time and money. Now, all you have to do is pick one based on your personal preferences.

People Also Ask

A satisfied customer demands all his queries be answered adequately. So, in order to ensure customer satisfaction, we believe these questions must not be left unattended. We try our best to relieve the reader of any sort of ambiguities. Therefore, we have prepared a set of frequently asked questions to ensure nothing is left unanswered.

What Optical Drive Do I Have?

Most manufacturers mention the type of optical drive on the front. If you possess a CD-ROM, then it will probably be written on the front of the optical drive. However, if you are unable to find it written, head into system information. If you see CD-ROM, then it's a CD drive.

What is an External Optical Drive?

An external optical drive is a drive that can be connected externally to a laptop or computer. It is not installed inside a desktop computer or laptop, that's why it's called an external optical drive. External optical drives feature portability and a lightweight design for travelers to take useful data with them.

Do You Need an Optical Drive?

Your choice for an optical drive depends upon your needs and requirements. If you are short on space and budget, an optical drive will do just fine. Optical drive offers you an opportunity to add more storage. Additionally, it also offers you more options, like reading and writing content, watching movies, music, and more.

What is the Difference Between an Optical Drive and a DVD Drive?

A DVD drive is a type of optical drive that uses laser beam technology to read content. It is considerably faster than a CD-ROM, despite having similar physical dimensions. It can also store more data and has a much faster reading capability compared to a CD-ROM.

How Do Optical Drives Store and Read Data From a Disc?

Optical drives have now almost become obsolete. Most users have now upgraded to SSDs, which are much faster and reliable, despite being expensive. Optical drives work by rotating the inserted disk at a constant speed. The faster the speed, the faster the reading time and data transfer. The laser beam, on the other hand, reads the disk as it rotates.

Which Optical Disc Typically Holds 25 GB to 50 GB of Data?

A Blu-Ray optical disc has the capability to hold 25 GB or even 50 GB of data. Blu-Ray discs were first introduced by Sony in 2011. These disks are used in high-definition and high-end computers and gaming consoles like a PS4. Blu-Ray discs are sometimes dual-sided, which can hold an incredible 50 GB of data.

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