External CD Drive

To help you, here is my selection of the 6 best external drives among more than 30 models available on the market at the moment, so that you can make up for the absence of this one on your computer. As for me, I prefer the ASUS reader/writer which, for a still very affordable price, offers a quality device and seems quite simple to use. You will also find at the end of this article a buying guide that summarizes the important criteria to consider before making your choice.


Best External CD Drive

Asus U7M




The famous computer brand Asus offers the second external reader/writer model of this selection, and this time again for a very modest price. The Asus ZenDrive U7M is an external DVD burner in a slim, compact format (13.55 x 14.25 x 1.39 cm) that can easily be taken everywhere. Its design, inspired by the Zen spirit, has a brushed metal finish with a sophisticated aesthetic. Compatible with Windows and Mac OS, this reader/writer can be used by everyone, without system restrictions, unlike the previous one.

It works with the Cyberlink Power2go 8 software which is very intuitive and simplifies the burning process. This device also has double security with Disc Encryption thanks to the password control and file name concealment function. In addition to the drive/writer, two blank 4.7GB M-DISC DVDs are included, allowing data to be burned in an ultra-solid layer that can withstand extreme conditions. This allows you to back up all your memories and data and keep them for the next 1000 years, unlike hard disks, flash disks and other burning media, which typically have a lifespan of about 8 years. This drive/burner also comes with Nero BackItUp software, which offers one-click backup of your photos, videos, documents and data on Windows systems only unfortunately.

With the purchase of this product, Asus also offers free storage on Asus Webstorage (unlimited for 12 months). Here in black version, it is also available in silver version, just as beautiful. So many advantages for this device, especially given its price and very elegant design. Too bad however that it requires 2 USB ports to work and not just one like the LG device. A device that seems to do its job perfectly and that seems less fragile than the previous reader/writer. A very good quality/price ratio so with a design that I like very much. My favorite of this selection without hesitation!








The second inexpensive external reader/writer in this selection is a device from LG. This DVD player/writer is capable of reading and recording all DVD and CD formats available on the market, including M-Disc and double-sided mode. Ideal to be able to use the oldest as well as the newest formats without having to multiply the devices! Ready to use, simply connect it to your computer via a single USB 2.0 port. So you don't need a special power supply, which makes it very easy to use.

Simply insert the USB port into your computer as you do with a USB stick and the device installs itself, no complicated installation is required. Then simply load a CD/DVD into the small drawer that comes out of the device. Be careful though, this drawer is quite fragile (141 x 136.5 x 14 mm) and therefore needs to be handled with care! This is clearly the disadvantage of having such a thin, small (approx. 14.4 x 13.75 x 1.4 cm) and light (200 grams) device. With its slim and elegant design, it is ideal for an ultra-portable computer or a netbook without a DVD burner and will accompany you everywhere.

With its 1 MB cache memory and an access speed of 140 ms for a CD and 360 ms for a DVD, you have fast access to data. This drive is compatible with most computers running Windows 7, Vista or XP (check your system compatibility) but unfortunately does not seem to be compatible with Apple systems (IOS). Apple users must therefore go through the process...




Pioneer BDR-XD05B




His look is sober and basic. Available in black or white it will not denote! Still considerably more expensive than the previous device, this Pioneer external reader/writer is one of the smallest BD (Blu-ray Disc)/DVD/CD reader/writers with its dimensions of 133 x 133 x 15 mm and its weight of 230 grams. This ultra-compact device can read and burn all Blu-Ray, DVD and CD formats just by plugging into one USB 3.0 or two USB 2.0 ports. So you don't need a power outlet, and this device can go with your computer wherever you are. It opens through a cover rather than a drawer, which is reassuring given the price.

This device comes with several software programs that make it easy to play and burn your media and also allow you to do many other things such as editing videos and saving files. Its powerRead function allows you to play back media even with small scratches without you noticing it. Its Auto quiet mode adjusts the rotation of the disc to reduce playback noise, convenient for listening to movies or music. So you'll always get the best performance from all your media!

Compatible with Windows (XP, Vista, & more) and Mac (OS X 10.6-10.12) systems, this camera is perfect for most computers. Check the compatibility with your system anyway, it would be a shame if you can't use it. However, please note for Mac owners, the software package is not compatible with Mac OS systems. You should also make sure that your computer has a compatible processor (Intel Core2 Duo E6750 (2.66MHz), AMD Phenom 9450 (2.1GHz) or faster) and a compatible video card (Intel G45, NVIDIA GeForce 8600GT, AMD Radeon HD2600 or better) in order to be able to use this drive/writer to its full capacity.

Please note that this device requires 2GB RAM for Blu-Ray playback and 3GB RAM for high definition video editing. Your hard drive must also have at least 5 GB free to operate this device properly. This is a very powerful device, but it will clearly only work properly on computers that are also very powerful. You should therefore make sure that your computer can support such a device.




Dell DW316




A must for computers and related devices, Dell offers here a USB DVD+/-RW external optical drive, a read and write solution for read and write discs out of the box. As with previous devices, simply plug this drive into your computer's USB port and you're ready to read or burn DVDs or CDs. Lightweight (200g) and compact (14mm), this external drive fits neatly into your bag so you can take it anywhere. You'll always have it close at hand. The pre-installed CyberLink Media Suite software allows you to read and burn DVDs and CDs or install computer programs on disk easily.

Be careful however to check the compatibility of this device with your system since it is not compatible with all of them, and does not seem to be compatible with Mac OS systems unfortunately. This restricts its use, which is a real shame. Moreover, its drawer also seems a bit fragile, to be handled with care! The installation, and the use also seems sometimes a bit difficult, much more negative feedback on this side compared to the previous devices. So there's plenty of room for improvement, even though this device has a sleek design that fits perfectly with today's laptops and blends effortlessly into your workspace. Given the price, this reader/writer therefore disappoints me a bit. It's a shame, since Dell generally delivers quality hardware that's pretty well thought out. The Asus U7M delivers much more for less.




Pioneer BDR-XU03




At the very top of the range, at a price above the 200 euro mark, which I find really high, Pioneer offers a third device, still quite different from the previous ones of the same brand. For this price, Pioneer presents a BD/DVD/CD writer/player only 1.2 cm thick, one of the thinnest so far. In addition to its ultra-compact format (13.3 x 13.2 x 1.2 cm, 245 grams), this device is made of magnesium and not plastic like its predecessors, which gives it a very high-end look and feel. It also has the advantage of operating via a loading slot and not a drawer, which is a much more robust mechanism. It also has the originality of being able to be used flat but also vertically thanks to the support included, which saves a significant amount of space.

In addition to a very advanced and quality design, this reader/writer is one of the fastest on the market. Just like the previous devices of the same brand, it also features Auto Quiet mode, Power Read and PureRead2+, which offer incomparable listening quality. Once again, all formats are supported, so it allows you to use any media and is compatible with many operating systems (Windows and Mac). Make sure that your computer is compatible before you buy, especially considering the investment.

Please note that this device is not sold with software, which may cause problems for some people, especially novices. Like many others, this camera works through a simple USB 3.0 port and therefore does not require a power cable. Perfect to accompany your laptop anywhere! Very stylish and really practical, its price is partly explained, although I think some cheaper devices will do the job perfectly.




Pioneer BDR-XS06




The Pioneer brand offers here a second device, also a BD/DVD/CD reader/writer, like the previous one but at a much higher price. The first notable difference with the previous device is the media insertion mechanism, which this time works by inserting the media directly through a slot in the drive. This means that Pioneer is completely free of the drawer or top opening, which eliminates a potentially fragile area. Like the previous unit, this drive also supports all BD/DVD and CD formats and does not require a power outlet as it operates via USB 3.0. Similar to the previous unit, it also features PowerRead, AutoQuiet and PureRead mode (for jump-free music).

However, it is significantly larger than previous units with dimensions of 18.8 x 16.76 x 4.57 centimetres and a weight of 408 grams. Still portable, this should be taken into consideration if you intend to use it mainly for mop use. Here again, this reader/writer, just like the previous one, is compatible with many operating systems (but it is better to make sure that your computer is compatible), and requires characteristics at the level of the processor, the video card, the RAM and the hard disk which are not necessarily basic.

Make sure that your computer is up to the task, so that you can use this device and all its functions without any worries. In terms of design, this device is rather elegant and versatile. It matches perfectly with the silver colour of many Mac computers, which is a bit different from previous models.




How to choose your external CD Drive ?

With the wave of notebooks, netbooks and other ultra-thin computers, manufacturers have chosen to no longer include a DVD reader/writer in order to gain compactness, a trend that has even gained some non notebook computers. Even if we generally appreciate the small formats on offer, it is not ideal when we want to install software or play our favorite DVDs. In these cases, you should therefore opt for an external drive/writer. Here's a little buying guide that lists the important criteria to consider before buying.



If you are looking for a reader/writer for your Notebook then it should be easy to transport and serve you anywhere. The good news is that all compact external "slim" recorders are self-powered via USB. There is no need to connect them to a power outlet as a bonus. While some models require only one USB port, others need two, so make sure your computer has enough USB ports to power your drive. Also check whether the device requires 3.0 or 2.0 ports. This can make a big difference since usually only one 3.0 port is sufficient, but it can be replaced by using two 2.0 ports.


The size

Weight and space requirements are also parameters to be taken into account. These products are designed to be transported with netbooks. Therefore, it is imperative that they are as small and light as possible. The good news is that most of the devices on the market have succeeded in being compact and take up very little space. Be careful, however, that the device remains robust enough and is not too fragile in return.


The material

If you need to regularly transport your external recorder, then I obviously recommend a metal or aluminium case, which will be more resistant than simple plastic. It will obviously cost you more, but it will certainly last longer.


How to insert media

A point of great divergence between the different models on the market, the method of inserting the media varies greatly. While many inexpensive appliances offer a drawer or hatch, higher-end appliances turn to a much more robust insertion slot. This is usually the critical point for this type of device, and the first failure. Poor-quality recorders have a drawer that very quickly ends up closing up badly. It is therefore necessary that there is as little play as possible and that the assembly is of good quality. I advise you to prefer the insertion slots rather than the drawers, even if it usually means a more consequent investment.


Compatibility with the computer

Obviously, if you want to be able to use the reader/writer, it is better to make sure that it is compatible with your computer's operating system. While most devices can be used on Windows, Vista, XP, 7, 8 or 10, as well as on MacOs, or Linux, some versions of MacOs are a bit more restrictive. Check before you buy.


Compatibility with media

The vast majority of burners are compatible with most DVD and CD formats. As far as Blu-Ray is concerned, you will have to aim for mid-range or even high-end devices to be able to use them. You will therefore have to choose your device according to the media you wish to use. If you do not intend to use Blu-Ray then it is not really worth investing more than necessary. If on the contrary you are focused on using Blu-Ray then you need to choose a device that can meet your needs, and often spend more.


Engraving and reading speed

In order not to spend hours burning media, make sure that the burner has a reasonable burning speed, and that your CD/DVD or BD can support this speed. Similarly, if you don't want to wait several minutes for your CD/DVD/BD to load, choose a device that has a good reading speed, which is bound to be more pleasant and less frustrating. The playback speed must also be up to par, but these days, this factor is generally not a limiting factor on newer devices.


Ease of use

In use, it turns out that the noise emitted in activity is a very important factor. Although it is difficult to find a truly "quiet" optical drive, some are louder than others. It would be a shame not to fully enjoy your movie or music, spoiled by the background noise of your player. Some devices even have a silent mode to ensure minimal noise. Also, some players have features that ensure that the media plays smoothly even if it has scratches, which is ideal for enjoying your favorite movie or music. It is also necessary to choose an external drive that is as resistant as possible to shock or movement. It's not uncommon to bump or move your device, either out of awkwardness or necessity, and some devices will stop playback at the slightest jolt. Of course, this can quickly become frustrating to use.


Delivered software

Very often, one or more software programs are provided with your burner. Sometimes they are simply drivers that will be installed when the device is plugged in, other times they will be installation CDs, and more rarely it will be necessary to go to the manufacturer's site to download compatible software. Check what is included with the drive and whether the software that comes with it is compatible with your system. Also, especially if you are a novice, choose an all-inclusive drive, for which you won't have to fetch drivers here and there and which, if possible, provides software for ease of use.



In conclusion, which external drive to choose?

I would say it depends on the media you want to use. If you don't intend to burn or read Blu-Ray, then the cheap writer from Asus will do the job perfectly with its included software that can really make life easier. No need to bother with an ultra-sophisticated device for nothing, which will cost you a lot of money and will generally be less easy to use. If, on the contrary, you intend to use and abuse Blu-Ray then you will necessarily have to go up in range and spend more. That said, there is no need to go to the extreme, the Pioneer BDR-XD05B does the job perfectly in my opinion. In any case, you'll just have to make sure that the recorder is compatible with your computer, to avoid unpleasant surprises.



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