Best DVD Burner
When DVDs debuted, they quickly came to replace CDs for optical storage given they provide much greater storage at the exact same size. As the hardware involved in writing data to DVDs became more affordable, a wide range of different DVD burners were released for use in computers. These internal drives became fairly standard, typically replacing CD drives in computers completely.
External burners have also become increasingly common, providing the perks of easy data storage on DVDs with the extra portability of a separate device. However, as Blu-Ray discs have become more popular recently, these have become something of a niche product and will likely become even harder to find in the future. Check out the DVD burner buyer’s guide below for more information to help you pick the best model for your computer setup.
Best Internal DVD Burner:
Internal DVD burners give you a great option for storing fairly large amounts of media on a portable disc. At this point, most internal drives are pretty similar, with more effort being put into making Blu-ray players and burners faster. Most devices burn at maximum speeds of 16x or higher, though realistically your burn speed is also limited by the type of disc you use. You should look at the buffer memory size on these models, however, and find ones with as much memory as possible to help ensure flawless burning and reading. The software included with DVD burners can also vary quite a bit, so keep in mind what you need and what the manufacturers include.
We've chosen the following best internal DVD burners because they have the fastest write speeds, capable of burning media at least 24x if you use discs that can handle that. They also have the most buffer memory, with at least 0.5MB of memory and some have up to 2MB for even better performance; this reduces errors when burning to a disc and is important for burning both data and media discs. Lastly, these burners also have fast access times of no more than 200ms when accessing data on a DVD and even faster speeds from CD-ROMs.
For great overall performance and an excellent design, this DVD burner pretty much can't be beat. It can write to discs at up to 24x speed and has 2MB of buffer memory to help protect data as it burns. You get great software packed with it, a burner with DVD-ROM access time of 140ms, and it's designed to have low power requirements. Read Full Review
LITE-ON is well known for solid, quality components and this model is no exception. The overall read/write speeds are right up there with a lot of other models on the market, though it just doesn't have as much buffer memory as it really should and the 200ms access time is rather high. You get some pretty good burning software with this device, and it's easy to install and use with a wide range of discs. Read Full Review
This is another solid model that's just not quite as good as some other burners on the market. In terms of read/write speeds, it is quite good, but its memory buffer is lacking compared to something like the DRW-24B1ST from ASUS. Software support on this model could be better, so you might need to consider what programs you plan on using before purchasing this one. Read Full Review
Here is a great DVD burner that works well but just is not quite as great as the ASUS DRW-24B1ST. It has fast read/write speeds for both DVD and CD, including dual-layer DVDs. The buffer memory on this one is rather small, at only 0.5MB, and the 160ms DVD access time is good, but just not the absolute best specs available. Read Full Review
Another great option from ASUS, this model is fairly comparable to the DRW-24B1ST, but it isn't quite as good overall. It has a decent memory buffer and good read/write speeds overall, plus a number of great software tools. The max speeds and total memory, however, just cannot compete with the other model from ASUS, even if this one is a bit more environmentally friendly. Read Full Review
Best External DVD Burner:
External DVD burners are a great option for adding an optical drive to a laptop or other computer, without the hassle of physically installing one into a system. Read/write speeds on an external DVD burner can vary a bit, so consider how fast you want to make discs. You should also look at the amount of buffering memory various devices have, which helps protect your data during burning to reduce errors. General ease of use as an external device can also be important, so consider how these DVD burners connect to a system, what connectors you have on your computer, and also the way in which they load discs.
We've chosen these as the best external DVD burners because they offer fast read/write speeds of up to 24x when burning to a DVD and 8x when reading from one. They also have a great amount of buffer memory, at least 0.5MB, which helps reduce the chance of errors while burning or reading data. All of these DVD burners are easy to set up thanks to USB connections and front-loading designs that lets you use them just about anywhere.
While there are quite a few good external DVD burners on the market, this one has enough going for it to find a place beyond the rest. It has fast read/write speeds and enough buffer memory to ensure solid overall performance. Although it only offers USB 2.0 support, that's a minor flaw in an otherwise excellent device. Read Full Review
Here is another great slim option if you want an external DVD burner that is designed for optimal portability. The read/write speeds on this one are sufficient, but certainly nothing better than you can find elsewhere. It has enough buffer memory to protect your data and a slim design, plus it includes USB 3.0 support. Read Full Review
This is an excellent, slim option if you're looking for an incredibly portable DVD burner, but that portability does bring some limitations in performance. Maximum burn speed to a DVD with this device is just 8x, which isn't terrible, but also isn't amazing. The USB 2.0 interface and 0.75MB of buffer memory are also a bit light but if you want something that is incredibly portable, then consider this option. Read Full Review
This is a nice little model from Dell that works well and is pretty compact, but nothing really makes it superior to the other best DVD burners on the market. It has good read/write speeds, but there are faster models available. The slim design makes it easy to transport and it can work at just about any location, but it lacks USB 3.0 support. Read Full Review
Apple's external DVD burner is an excellent option, particularly if you have a Mac and do not want to worry about compatibility with other companies. The read/write speeds on this one are only about 8X for DVD, which is pretty good but not exceptional. This one has a slim design and the USB cord is attached so you don't have to worry about losing it. Read Full Review
DVD Burner Buyer’s Guide
Although Blu-Ray burners have become more popular, there are still a number of really good DVD burners to choose from. Consider if you want an internal or external drive, look at the form factors available, and pick the best load type for your setup. Technical aspects like burn speed, cache size, and ROM access time are also important so take a look at those numbers and pick the fastest, most efficient model you can. Other considerations like the interface type and manufacturer are also important, and ultimately you just want to find the right combination of each element to fit your needs.
Internal vs External
This is probably the single most important decision as you look at different models on the market.
Internal devices are installed inside your computer and connect directly to your motherboard. These are usually the fastest models on the market, thanks to the direct connection and stability, but you cannot easily swap them between computers. External DVD burners can easily be unplugged from one system and connected to another, but they are also usually slower than internal devices.
If you value speed above all other considerations, and only need to use your burner with one system, then pick an internal model. On the other hand, pick an external device if you want to be able to swap your burner between different computers or devices and you do not mind having another device in your work area.
The interface is the type of port that physically connects your DVD burner to your computer. Internal devices usually have SATA connections, though you might find a few that use USB ports instead. External DVD burners typically have USB connections, but there are some that have eSATA connections. As you look at external devices, check out the USB version supported by a drive to ensure fast connection and data transfer rates. USB 2.0 is the bare minimum you should accept, with USB 3.0 being preferable.
Burn speed indicates the maximum speed at which a burner can write data to a physical disc. In general, you will usually find that internal devices can burn faster than external models, so keep that in mind.
When picking an internal DVD burner, you should look for a model with a maximum speed of 24X, which is pretty standard at this point. While you might see slower models available, there is really no reason to pick one over a burner with faster performance. You can find external devices that burn at up to 24X, though slower models are a bit more common in external models and are usually less expensive.
Form Factor (Physical Size)
As DVD technology has improved, the hardware involved has also become much smaller, creating opportunities for slim designs. Full drives are larger, taking up a 5.25-inch slot in a computer case, and external models are about the same size. Conversely, slim designs are narrow and take up less room within a computer case or outside of it when deployed in your work area.
This choice really comes down to the space you have available either inside your system or on your desktop, but make sure you have the room and proper mounting available for any internal device you choose.
The cache in a DVD burner refers to memory present in the device used to temporarily save data before burning it to a disc or accessing it by your computer. The more memory you have in the burner’s cache, the smoother data can flow between the burner and your system. For both internal and external burners, you really want at least 1MB of cache memory, but 2MB is preferable and not particularly hard to find.
ROM Access Time
The ROM access time of a DVD burner indicates how quickly your system is able to read data from a disc and access it. Faster speeds mean lower times, so you want to look for a burner with the lowest time you can find. Anything around 150ms is quite good, and below that is what you want to look for. 145ms is great for both internal and external devices, but look for an access time of around 130ms for the best read speed possible.
There are a few different load types you are likely to see, and personal preference will play a big part in which one you choose.
Slot loading burners simply have a thin opening you insert the DVD into, while tray loading drives eject a tray that you place the disc in and then the tray retracts into the burner. Slot types have fewer moving parts to worry about, but are somewhat rarer.
Tray-loading burners can be problematic as they have a tendency for the tray mechanism to stop moving in and out after years of use, plus you need to be sure you have room for the tray to come out from the front of your system.
External burners can also have a top-loading design where the top opens up and you place the disc inside the device. These models are less likely to have physical issues compared to the tray-loading ones, but the top can break off if you are not careful and you have to be sure you have room for it to open on your desktop or work area.
You are probably best off choosing a model based on write speed and performance, but make sure you have room to utilize whatever load type you choose.
Manufacturer and Warranty
Be sure to choose a reliable manufacturer that provides an excellent warranty to cover your investment in a DVD burner. As these have become niche products, the range of manufacturers has shrunk, but there are still some good companies producing them. Look for manufacturers like ASUS, LG, and HP to be sure you end up with a burner that can handle hundreds or thousands of hours of use. A one-year warranty on these devices is pretty standard, but you should definitely not accept anything less than that.