7 of the best optical drives for laptops [2020 Guide]

Matthew Adams
by Matthew Adams
Windows & Software Expert
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Optical drives are the drives you insert CD, DVD or Blu-ray discs into. They were once an essential component for desktops and laptops. However, times are changing and cloud storage, software and media downloads and USB sticks have ensured a gradual optical drive decline. Now fewer and fewer laptops include their own optical drives. So if your laptop doesn’t have a optical drive, you’ll need to add an external drive.

There are three types of alternative optical drive. They are CD, DVD and Blu-ray drives. DVDs replaced CDs as the primary disc format, but now Blu-ray discs are phasing out DVD. Blu-ray discs have the highest storage that is typically in the 25 to 50 GB range, but can be as much as 128 GB. Consequently, Blu-ray is the new industry standard optical drive for desktops and laptops.

So the best external optical drives for laptops are now Blu-ray drives, and they also have backward compatibility with DVD/CD. One big advantage the Blu-ray format has compared with DVD is that it supports high-resolution video. As Blu-rays have larger storage volumes than DVDs, they’re also better backup discs. These are some of the best external Blu-ray optical drives for laptops.

What optical drives should I get for my laptop?

ASUS External 12x Blu-ray Burner with USB 3.0

optical driveThe ASUS 12x Blu-ray Burner is an optical drive with a unique diamond design that you can place either vertically or horizontally. It supports a variety of BD (Blue-ray), CD and DVD video, audio and photo disc formats. The Blu-ray burner is a BD-ROM, BD-R, and BD-RE optical drive that boasts 12x write speeds. Its DVD and CD write speeds amount to 16x and 40x. In addition, the ASUS 12x incorporates Magic Cinema Technology that enables 2D-to-3D video conversion. A few backup software applications are also bundled with the optical drive, which includes Cyberlink PowerBackup 2.5. The optical drive is compatible with Windows platforms from XP up.

LG Electronics 14x External Blu-ray Disc Rewriter BE14NU40

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The Super Multi Blue External USB 3.0 14x Blu-ray Disc Rewriter (yes, that’s quite a mouthful) is a highly rated optical drive that has to write speeds of up to 14x for single-layer BD-R discs. This optical drive is compatible with Blue-ray, DVD+R, RW DVD-R and RW DVD-RAM disc media. It also supports both BDXL (100 GB Blue-ray disc) and M-Discs. Like the ASUS 12x Blu-ray Burner, this optical drive has 2D-to-3D real-time conversion options for DVDs. The BE14NU40 is also compatible with USB 3.0, which is considerably faster and has higher transfer rates than USB 2.0. This Blu-ray drive is retailing on Amazon and is compatible with Windows.

Pioneer Electronics USA 6x BDR-XU03 Slim External Blu-Ray Writer

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The BDR-XU03 is a lightweight and compact Blu-ray drive that supports both vertical and horizontal desk placement. It has a 6x write speed for BD-R discs, which isn’t the fastest compared with some of the other optical drives mentioned here. This optical drive is compatible with BDXL, DVD and CD discs. The BDR-XU03’s PowerRead ensures smooth playback even for scratched discs. Its PureRead tech also minimizes music playback glitches. This external optical drive is compatible with Windows (XP – 10) and Mac OS X (10.6 – 10.12) platforms.

Editor’s Note: This article continues on the next page. If you’re interested in other laptop products, check out our wide collection of guides.