The best CD/DVD drives for Mac 2023: keep those discs spinning

Modern Macs no longer have disc drives, so if you use CDs and DVDs you’re going to need one of the best disc drives for Mac. An external disc drive connects through USB and works just like a portable hard drive. If you opt for a CD-RW or DVD-RW drive you can also write data to CDs and DVDs.

So whether you want to watch movies, store data, or view legacy content, you need an external CD drive. The good news is that most disc drives are relatively inexpensive and we’ve found the best drives available so you can find which one works best for you.

Be kind to your discs with the best CD/DVD drives for Mac

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Which is the best disc drive for Mac?

In our guide above we've selected the ASUS ZenDrive U9M as our favorite pick since its read and write speeds are impressive, and you don't need a dongle to use it with your newer MacBook — like the M2 MacBook Air.

If you're working with a small budget, take a look at the LG Electronics 8X USB 2.0 Super Multi Ultra Slim Portable. It's lightweight, fast, and doesn't cost too much, making it a perfect compliment to an already expensive 16-inch M2 MacBook Pro

Why do you need a CD/DVD drive for Mac?

It may seem like the time of the disc drive is behind us, but they're actually still really useful to have around. It's worth having a CD drive for the times that you do need one, which can happen surprisingly often. 

You might want to digitize your DVD or music collection, for example. Or watch a movie that you own on DVD and don't want to buy on streaming again. With an external drive you can do this on your Mac without having to jump through hoops.

One of the biggest reasons is legacy data recovery. Maybe you've got years of files that you need to view and access on CDs and DVDs. An external disc drive will let you do that without a drive in your machine itself.

How do you find the right CD/DVD drive for your Mac?

There are many different CD/DVD drives on the market, so how do you find the right one for your Mac? 

  • Connectivity — You'll need to check how your drive connects to your Mac first and foremost to be sure that it works with your devices. For example, many Macbooks only have a USB-C port. So you'll need to be sure the disk drive you're buying works with USB-C. 
  • Compatibility — Most DVD drives work with Windows and Mac, but do check the specs before you buy to make sure the drive doesn't favor one or the other or need additional software to work.
  • Speed — The speed tells you how fast the drive will read and write data. This goes from 1 x (slow) to 24 x (fast). 
  • Budget — You tend to get what you pay for with technology. But if you're looking for a simple disc drive for watching discs occasionally, you could get a cheaper drive than someone who wants to transfer thousands of CDs to their laptop and needs fast speeds to do so.
  • Design — If you like your products to all look the same, you'll want to find a disc drive with a similar finish to you Mac. It's also worth considering when and where you'll be using your disc drive. If you need to carry it to an office, you'll want a slim and compact design that can slip into a laptop case.

If you're looking for ways to upgrade your Mac experience, we have a few more buying guides you might be interested in. The include our pick of the best USB-C portable power chargers for MacBook and MacBook Pro, the best external hard drives for Mac and the best 4K monitors for Mac.

Or, if you want to give your Mac a makeover, take a look at our selection of the best MacBook Pro cases or the best cases for MacBook Air with M2.

John-Anthony Disotto
How To Editor

John-Anthony Disotto is the How To Editor of iMore, ensuring you can get the most from your Apple products and helping fix things when your technology isn’t behaving itself.

Living in Scotland, where he worked for Apple as a technician focused on iOS and iPhone repairs at the Genius Bar, John-Anthony has used the Apple ecosystem for over a decade and prides himself in his ability to complete his Apple Watch activity rings.

John-Anthony has previously worked in editorial for collectable TCG websites and graduated from The University of Strathclyde where he won the Scottish Student Journalism Award for Website of the Year as Editor-in-Chief of his university paper. He is also an avid film geek, having previously written film reviews and received the Edinburgh International Film Festival Student Critics award in 2019. 

John-Anthony also loves to tinker with other non-Apple technology and enjoys playing around with game emulation and Linux on his Steam Deck.

In his spare time, John-Anthony can be found watching any sport under the sun from football to darts, taking the term “Lego house” far too literally as he runs out of space to display any more plastic bricks, or chilling on the couch with his French Bulldog, Kermit.