Do you also believe that Mac’s external CD/DVD drives are of no use anymore? Well, I did think the same. But just because we don’t use a CD/DVD drive anymore doesn’t mean that we put a label of extinct on them.
Think about this for a moment you are in dire need of software, and it’s almost impossible to find it online. You instantly remember that the particular software is available in an optical drive.
You take a look at your MacBook, and there’s no built-in CD/DVD drive either. So what will you go to do?
If you think that you are not going to find any solution but make excuses to your boss, you might be wrong.
I recently discovered how people stuck in a similar situation pave their way.
In such a scenario, the only possible solution you can have is to connect a CD/DVD drive externally to your Mac. In this review, we’ll discuss some of the best external CD-DVD drives for your Mac. But before that, let’s refresh our memories regarding the optical drives and their types.
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What are External CD/DVD Drives?
These are the devices through which you can burn an optical drive and read the data written on that drive. You can connect them externally to your Mac and run CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray disks. First, however, you must make sure whether the external drive is CD-R (CD-Recordable) or CD-WR (CD-Rewriteable).
In the everyday context of the CD burning process, a CD-R drive allows you to write data on the optical drive only one time.
The CD-RW drive allows you to write data on an optical drive multiple times, unlike a CD-R drive.
So, it’s essential to check whether the CD/DVD drive you will buy is CD-R or CD-RW type.
Also, do check the compatibility of the CD/DVD drives.
A CD drive can only read CDs.
A DVD drive can read CDs and DVDs.
A Blu-ray drive can read CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs.
Usually, we use an optical drive to install a particular software or install Windows in a virtual machine. But, sometimes, when we want to enjoy the old collection of movies and songs, we need a CD-DVD drive.
Therefore, one should have an externally connectable CD/DVD drive available every time.
Now for your MacBook, the following CD/DVD drives are trending in the online market.
Best 10 External Optical Drives for Mac
You already know that Apple has stopped launching MacBook with a built-in CD/DVD drive. The 13-inch MacBook Pro released in 2012 was the last model with an optical drive.
If you want to use older technology with your upgraded Mac, you can find a suitable CD/DVD drive from the following list.
The USB SuperDrive is an Apple product that suits your MacBook and Mac mini well. Its compatibility allows you to burn and read data on CDs and DVDs. But unfortunately, it’s incompatible with Blu-ray discs.
You might find it interesting that you can connect it to your Mac, preferably MacBook Pro or iMac, using a USB-C to USB adapter.
The size of Apple’s SuperDrive is like a CD case. You can easily fit it in your backpack, and there is no vulnerability to damage.
The operability is also easy. You just have to plug it in your Mac, and Boom, here you go. There is no need to download or install any external software. Once you plug in the SuperDrive in your Mac, you can simply begin the necessary process with CD/DVD.
- Made for Apple laptops
- Works with USB c ports
- Slim body
- Plug and play
- Can’t burn or play Blu-ray discs
- It needs a USB-C to USB adapter
The NOLYTH USB-C Superdrive is similar to the Apple USB SuperDrive. But there are some reasons why I prefer this over Apple’s optical drive.
First, it has a USB-C cable. You don’t have to connect any additional adapter. Just plug it directly into your Mac without needing any second device or software.
Then, it also has a USB-A adapter. So you can connect the NOLYTH USB-C Superdrive with any USB port using this universal adapter.
Thirdly, it’s cheaper than Apple’s SuperDrive.
- Built-in USB-C Cable
- It also has a USB-A adapter
- Less expensive than Apple USB SuperDrive
- Incompatible with Blu-ray discs
ASUS ZenDrive U9M is famous for its fast performance. If you require intense CD burning and reading processing, the ASUS ZenDrive U9M CD/DVD drive would be a good fit for you.
Since the ZenDrive U9M comes with USB and USB-C cables, you can easily connect it to your MacBook Pro without an adapter.
This optical drive is preferable where a large amount of data needs to be burned and read in a short time. You can also use the ASUS ZenDrive U9M in your professional workspace and personal IT projects.
- Fast burning and reading speed
- Has USB and USB-C cables
- Connects directly with MacBook Pro
- No option for Blu-ray discs
This external VersionTECh optical drive for CD/DVD is another option for you. Unfortunately, unlike other DVD drives, you won’t find an eject button on this drive. So how are you going to make this thing work?
The plug-and-play feature of the VersionTECh external drive makes processing CDs and DVDs easy. A USB connection powers it. So when you connect the VersionTECh drive with your Mac, it’s ready to work.
You can find the USB 3.0 and USB-C cables in the VersionTECh drive package. So there is no need to attach an adapter as an intermediary.
The best thing about this drive is that it works with both Mac and Windows without any issue.
- Plug and play feature
- Slim and compact body
- Works on Mac and Windows
- It comes with USB 3.0 and USB-C cables
- Can’t burn or read Blu-ray discs
As an affordable option, you can consider LG 8X External Rewriter Drive. It’s also lightweight as it’s manufactured of a hard shell polymer. So the first plus of this external optical drive is its light, just like a CD case.
But due to its lightweight manufacturing, the sturdiness factor is compromised. As a result, the LG 8X External Rewriter Drive is fragile. So you better not give it a try to break.
This LG external drive’s performance is fast compared to other options. And on top of that, you can easily afford it.
You can find upgraded models of the LG external drives that can also burn and read Blu-ray discs.
- Compact design
- Fast performance
- Have upgraded models to burn & read Blu-ray discs
- Easily breakable
The Verbatim External Drive is also an option worth considering. This drive is commonly used to burn DVDs and CDs. It’s also lightweight, around 0.75 lbs, and compact design.
You can power this external drive directly from a USB cable. Although a DVD burner, its performance is average but highly secure.
You can rely on it while storing critical data. And not only that, the Verbatim External Drive gives robust storage for audio and video libraries.
- 0.75 lbs weight
- Secure storage
- Compact design
- Average disc burning speed
Call it underrated; a Samsung TSST Optical Drive is one of the best options for your Mac mini. While you don’t hear about such products from Samsung, now you have another solution on the list for your external drive problem.
As it’s optimum for your Mac mini, you save a lot of space on your desk due to its compactness. Its slim design is also attractive.
About its performance, your requirement to burn and read CD and DVD will be fulfilled without any compromise in quality. Just plug it into your Mac and start working.
- It comes from the Samsung brand
- Super compact and slim
- Plug and play feature
- A bit costly
The Pioneer Slim Mac External Drive is the first one that supports Blu-ray. So if you are looking for an external drive with having Blu-ray option, go for Pioneer Slim Mac External Drive.
As it supports Blu-ray discs, this means that you can also burn DVDs and CDs using Pioneer’s drive.
It gives a burning speed of up to 8X for DVD and Blu-ray. With high-speed performance, you may hear the Blu-ray ripping noise. Also, the price of this drive is a bit higher because it supports Blu-ray discs.
So if you want to buy Pioneer’s external drive for your Mac, you must consider the noise and price factors.
- Supports BDXL, Blu-ray, CD, and DVD
- Compatible with Mac OS and Windows
- Burning speed up to 8X
- Slim design
- Price is high
- Blu-ray burning noise
Yes, you read that right. Hitachi is also one of the providers of external drives for DVDs.
The Hitachi portable DVD-writer is a fast and multi-compatible DVD writer. Apart from the lightweight and slim design features, the Hitachi external drive is multi-compatible.
It operates on Windows 10 Mac OS and has unique compatibility with smart TVs (selected).
You can burn a DVD at 8X speed using the Hitachi external drive. The portability is also up to the mark due to its sleek manufacturing.
- Up to 8X burning speed
- Slimmest external drive
- Three compatibility options: Mac OS, Windows, and TV
- It doesn’t support Blu-ray format
Rioddas External Drive
The Rioddas External Drive for DVDs and CDs is a fast and powerful option powered by a USB port. In addition, it comes with an eject button, allowing you to handle the external drive manually.
The ultra-slim technology with a button will never let a CD/DVD stuck in the external drive.
The internal structure of the Rioddas external drive is made of copper mesh technology for a stable data transfer.
You just have to plug it into your laptop, and the system will automatically detect the drive. As for its compatibility, you can connect it to Windows, Linux, and Mac OS.
In addition to that, if you want to connect this drive to your desktop, plug the cable into the motherboard USB port for normal functioning.
- It comes with an eject button
- Uses ultra-slim design
- Copper mesh technology for stable data transfer
- Compatible with Windows, Mac OS, and Linux
- It doesn’t support Blu-ray discs
As you have read about the best external drives to burn/read CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays, now it’s up to you which external drive to go for. Although you might find many standard features in the above-discussed drives, a significant factor that can affect your buying decision is your usage of the external drive.
It does matter how frequently you will use the external drive for your Mac. Even if you need a drive temporarily, I would recommend going through each drive that supports Mac OS.
Now let’s discuss some of the common queries related to the best external drive for your Mac.
The following questions are based on the general performance of the external drives.
What’s the most significant factor to look for while buying an external drive for Mac?
First of all, check the compatibility. The drive you are looking to buy must be compatible with your Mac. It doesn’t matter if you are using a MacBook Pro or Mini; the main concern is the compatibility with Mac OS.
Sometimes, the manual says that the drive works with multiple operating systems. Unfortunately, you can’t go for such written statements. Therefore it’s a must to check an external drive before buying.
In an online purchase, make sure that the vendor is giving a warranty with a 100% return policy.
Other factors like speed, size, price, connection cable, and portability come later.
Is having a USB 3.0 must for external drives?
No. You can plug the external drive into any USB port of your Mac. The USB type defines the performance speed of the external drive. If you need fast burning and reading of your disc, go for a USB 3.0 port.
Sometimes, you can feel slower processing because of the compatibility difference between a USB 3.0 and USB 2.0.
Can we play videos and songs using the external drive?
Yes. You can play video and audio files directly from the external drive. And another thing this option is widely famous among Mac users.
Do the DVD external drives support CD and Blu-ray?
Here’s the difference:
A DVD drive only supports CD and DVD. It doesn’t support Blu-ray format. In contrast, a Blu-ray drive supports all three disc formats: CD, DVD, and Blu-ray.
The external Blu-ray drives for Mac are challenging to find in the market.
What to do when the Macbook or MacBook Pro doesn’t recognize the external drive?
After connecting the external drive to your Mac, go to preferences. There, you can find a notification regarding the external drive. It asks for verification, and you have to enable it manually. It’s one of the security features of Mac regarding connecting with external devices.
What if the MacBook or MacBook Pro doesn’t show any notification regarding the external drive?
The issue might be with your Mac’s port. To check whether the port is working fine or not, connect any other peripheral device. If the port is not working, contact the relevant customer support service. You can also take your Mac system to the nearest station along with the external drive.
Is there any need to install software for the external drive?
Almost every external drive for MacBook and MacBook Pro has a plug-and-play feature. This means that you don’t have to download or install any additional software. Instead, plug in the drive-in of your Mac and start working on your required CD, DVD, or Blu-ray.
What to do if the DVD gets stuck in the external drive?
If your external drive has an eject button, press it one time and wait. If there is no response, find the pinhole at the front side of the drive. You can forcefully eject the tray from the external drive through that pinhole.
The exact process is for the drives that don’t have any button to eject a DVD manually. The emergency pinhole is explicitly built for the forceful ejection of the CD.
What if there is a burning smell from the external drive?
If you smell something burning near the external drive, quickly disconnect the drive so it gets turned off. The burning smell might spread due to the overheating of the drive’s CD head.
The best external drives for your Mac are readily available from multiple online platforms. As you can see the variation in each drive’s price, the price factor depends on the manufacturer’s brand, performance, and the included accessories like cables and adapters.
The best part is that the external drives don’t need third-party software to run on your Mac or Windows system. All of the drives will start working once you plug them in.
However, if you first time plug a DVD or Blu-ray supported drive externally, you might have to allow it from your system’s settings. Other than that, you can quickly burn and read data from your DVD and Blu-ray.
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