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.
Asus 24xDVD-RW Serial ATA Internal OEM Drive DRW-24B1ST
LITE-ON iHAS324 24X DVD-RW SATA Optical Disk Drive
LG Electronics Optical DVD Drive GH24NSB0
Plextor PX-891SAF Internal CD-RW, DVD+/-RW
ASUS Internal 24X SATA Optical Drive DRW-24B3ST
This model can burn DVDs at speeds up to 24x, along with a number of lower speeds including 22x and 16x, with read speeds of 16x for DVDs and 48x for CDs. That gives you a lot of control over how you write data to a DVD or CD, and 24x is as fast as you'll find for burning to a DVD. This model has a data buffer of 2MB, which is very good for an internal device. The software included with this model is decent but the fast speeds and good amount of buffer memory really make this a stand-out DVD burner. The burners ROM access time of 140ms from DVD is terrific and ensures quick access to any disc you place in it. ASUS designed this model to have pretty low power consumption, so it doesn't draw too much from your system's power supply and can help keep your electric bills down over the long term.
In terms of read/write speeds, this DVD burner is just about as good as any other model out there, capable of burning DVDs up to 24x but only has a maximum speed of 8x for dual-layer DVDs. That means it will burn slower than a drive that can burn dual-layer discs at 12x, which other models on the market can do. However, it can read DVDs at 16x and both read and write CDs at 48x. The buffer memory on this one is only 0.75MB, which is definitely less than it could be but still higher than some other models. While it still works just fine for burning discs, this difference could lead to issues with data corruption when burning a DVD. You get DVD-ROM access time of 200ms with this drive, which is decent but definitely about as slow as you should accept. The Nero software included with this model is excellent so if you don't have any burning software of your own, this is a great option that doesn't require the use of any other programs.
In general, this is a solid choice and a well-built DVD burner with a maximum burn speed of 24x much like similar models on the market and a maximum read speed of 16x. For burning to a dual-layer DVD it only has a maximum speed of 8x which is decent but certainly not remarkable. This model has 0.5MB of buffer memory, which leaves quite a bit to desire as this low amount of buffer memory can result in slow burning and a higher risk of data corruption, so keep that in mind if you plan on doing a lot of large-file writing and need fast, reliable performance every time. DVD-ROM access time with this model is excellent, at 145ms when using a single-layer disc. You'll probably want your own software with this one, and it can have some issues with specific programs, so be sure it's compatible with any software you plan on using.
There is a lot to like about this DVD burner, and while the DRW-24B1ST from ASUS is just a bit better, you get great options with this model that make it an excellent choice. It has a maximum write speed on DVD of 24x, with 12x when using dual-layer DVDs, which is very fast. 48x speeds when burning or reading from CDs is pretty common, but as good as you can find. The buffer memory on this model is a bit lacking, at just 0.5MB of memory, which diminishes how well this model deals with errors or data corruption while burning a disc. DVD-ROM access time with this burner is quite good, at 160ms, but just not quite as fast as the very best model from ASUS. This is a well-designed model, with dampers throughout the device to help absorb vibrations so overall operation is faster and helps eliminate errors caused due to disc or hardware vibrations.
In some respects, this model is almost comparable to the DRW-24B1ST from ASUS, but that other model remains superior in certain key ways. This burner has a maximum write speed for DVDs of 24x, though you'll probably use it closer to 12x, and a maximum speed of 12x when burning to a dual-layer disc. For CDs, it can read and write at 48x speed, which is pretty much the same as many other models on the market. One great aspect of this model is that ASUS includes a lot of environmental software with it. These utilities monitor when you're using the drive, and when you're not it can "power down" to save you money on your electric bill and reduce power draw by your computer. It has a 1.5MB memory buffer, which isn't as good as the DRW-24B1ST from ASUS, but is still excellent. Access time with this drive is great, with DVD-ROM access at 150ms, which is slightly slower than the DRW-24B1ST but still great. If you can deal with slightly less buffer memory, then the environmentally friendly software and additional features with this drive make it an excellent choice.
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.