Optical drives are on the verge of being obsolete, with most devices no longer including them. PCs and laptops no longer have them, and this is an optional feature on the PlayStation 5. The Xbox Series X includes a Blu-ray drive, but the S series does not.

The main reasons for the death of optical drives are the advent of flash memory and the ability to download information on the fly. Flash memory devices, like external drives, can store large amounts of data and are compatible with most devices. Many users also find it easier to download or stream content from online sources rather than using discs.

Despite the lack of optical drives on modern devices, many people still have CDs, DVDs, and game collections that they would like to access. Some people also prefer to save the information to disks as there is less chance of the data being lost due to corruption or viruses.

These are the five best external drives of 2021.

Best overall external disk drive

Verbatim External Slimline Blu-Ray DVD

Image via verbatim

The Verbatim Slimline External Blu-Ray DVD Writer has a low profile and can read and write data on most types of discs. It works with CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs. It allows users to play old CDs or watch movies on disc.

With standard Blu-ray discs up to 25GB and quad-layer versions up to 128GB, the Verbatim External Slimline is viable for saving hard copies of important information. In terms of speed, the Verbatim External Slimline writes CDs up to 24X, DVDs up to 8X, and Blu-rays up to 6X.

Considering all of its capabilities, the Verbatim External Slimline is compact in size. It measures 5.24 x 5.75 x 0.45 inches (133 x 146 x 11.4 millimeters), so it is easy to carry. It’s also easy to connect, operating from a single USB 3.0 connection. Verbatim also includes a power adapter for it to work with older devices.

This drive can read and write to most types of discs, including CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays. It also comes with Nero Burn software for added convenience. Blu-ray capacity drives up its price but is worth it for long term use.

Best high speed external disk drive

Asus Turbodrive BW-16D1X-U

Image via Asus

The Asus Turbodrive BW-16D1X-U has similar capabilities to the External Slimline, but its larger size gives it some advantages. Like the External Slimline, it reads and writes on all types of discs, including CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays. One of its main advantages over the External Slimline is that it can achieve write speeds of up to 16X instead of 6X.

The Asus BW-16D1X-U Turbodrive may be faster, but its size makes it harder to transport. It measures 9.5 x 6.5 x 2.2 inches (243 x 165 x 63 millimeters), which makes it much bigger than the Slimline external drive. The BW-16D1X-U Turbodrive also requires two cables to operate. Instead of using a single cable like the External Slimline, the Turbodrive requires an AC adapter for power and a USB cable for data transfer.

One of the advantages of the Turbodrive over the Turbodrive is the amount of software included. It comes bundled with CyberLink PowerBackup 2.6, CyberLink Power2Go 8, and Nero BackItUp, so users have full options when copying discs.

While the Turbodrive BW-16D1X-U is faster and has more software than the External Slimline, it is bulkier and requires more cables. It’s an ideal option for desktop users, but laptop owners might prefer a more travel-friendly option.

Best design-driven external disk drive

Asus ZenDrive Silver

Image via Asus

The ZenDrive Silver is another compact external disk drive from Asus. Unlike the previous two options, it has no Blu-ray capability and only works with CDs and DVDs. While the lack of Blu-ray capacity can be a hindrance for some users, it has a significant impact on the price of the player and makes it much more affordable than the Turbodrive and the External Slimline.

Where the ZenDrive Silver shines is its design. Instead of the all-black look of most disk drives, it has an attractive silver exterior, which makes it stand out. Like the External Slimline, it’s compact and easy to carry, measuring 7.09 x 7.09 x 2.36 inches (180 x 180 x 60 millimeters).

Another advantage of ZenDrive Silver is that it works with both USB-A and USB-C connections. Like the External Slimline, it has a compact design and works with a single USB cable. Asus includes both USB-A and USB-C cables in the box to make the player compatible with older or newer devices.

Some users will be put off by the ZenDrive Silver because it does not work with Blu-rays. Users who don’t need a Blu-ray player will appreciate its low price and compatibility with most devices, including Windows and Mac.

Best Wide Compatibility External Disk Drive

Hitachi LG GP96Y

Image via Hitachi

Hitachi’s LG GP96Y has similar capabilities to the ZenDrive Silver. Both drives can read and write DVDs and CDs, but neither are Blu-ray compatible.

Where the LG GP96Y stands out is its compatibility. Instead of working with PC, Mac, and Android like most players on this list, it also works with most standard Fire TVs, TV boxes, and TVs. Being compatible with so many devices, the LG GP96Y is an ideal choice as a media player, as buyers can use it for movies and music to use their old disc libraries. It also works as a backup device, allowing users to transfer data from their PCs, tablets and phones to disks.

The LG GP96Y has a compact form like the ZenDrive Silver and External Slimline. It differs in rounded edges instead of straight lines and several color options including black and white.

While the LG GP96Y is the best choice for users who want to enjoy their drives on multiple devices, it does come with a significant drawback. Its lack of Blu-ray capacity limits its audience and makes it redundant for some users. Still, given its low price and compatibility, it’s hard to complain, and the LG GP96Y remains an ideal option for users of older drives.

Best Budget External Disk Drive

LG GP65NB60

Image via LG

LG’s GP65NB60 is one of the most economical disk drives on the market. It’s cheaper than the LG GP96Y and ZenDrive Silver, but has similar capabilities and can only read and write CDs and DVDs.

Although it shares most of its functionality with other drives, the GP65NB60 has one cool feature that sets it apart. There is a feature called Jamless Mode which allows it to play damaged discs. The GP65NB60 ignores damaged areas of the disc and only reads the readable parts when in this mode. This function is convenient for users of older discs that have been scratched over the years.

The GP65NB60 emulates the compact design of the LG GP96Y, ZenDrive Silver and External Slimline. It measures 5.6 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches (142 x 137 x 15 millimeters), and like the others, it only needs one USB cable to operate.

It’s not the most advanced option, but the GP65NB60 stands out from more expensive drives like the LG GP96Y and ZenDrive Silver. At its low price, it has decent features, and being able to play damaged discs makes it a great option for buyers of older DVDs and CDs.


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