Optical drives that spin discs to read and write content aren't anywhere near as popular as they once were, but that doesn't mean they don't have a place in the home. Blu-ray is still a popular format for high-definition movies, so if you're looking for a way to read, record, or write using Blu-ray on your Windows PC, you'll want to use one of these USB Blu-ray drives.
Pioneer's external Blu-ray burner is one of the slimmest options on the market, featuring a clamshell design and six-times write speed for all the popular formats, including triple- and quad-layer discs. It has plug-and-play functionality and support for the latest macOS and Windows 10 software. You plug it into your computer via USB — it only requires USB 3.0 — and you should be good to go. As a bonus, you get some free software from Cyberlink and a nifty carry case included in the box.
This large but stylish entry from ASUS is an excellent option if portability isn't such a significant factor for you since it's pretty large. Still, beyond aesthetics, this drive is capable of writing at 16x speeds for standard BD-R discs. It supports BDXL, meaning you'll be able to backup up to 128GB of data onto a single Blu-ray. It does require external power, however, making this one for the home or office desk.
This Buffalo Blu-ray disc writer is the fastest here, capable of writing at 16x speeds if you're handling DVDs, but also a respectable 6x when you're reading and writing Blu-ray discs. It's TAA compliant and handles video upscaling as and when required, hooks up with USB 3.0.
This small and pretty stylish-looking Blu-ray drive uses USB 3.0 for best performance, which is essential since it can also handle 4K UHD Blu-ray discs. This stylish aluminum drive is highly portable and comes with a travel case included and all necessary cables. For 4K playback, however, a third-party app will be required, such as Cyberlink PowerDVD.
With speeds up to 6x and support for triple-layer discs as well as BDXL and M-DISC, this external drive can handle just about everything you'd want to throw at it. It utilizes USB-C 3.1 to hook up your PC, too, for the best overall performance, and the drive slot is whisper quiet. And despite all this, it's still powered by just the USB bus.
Reuse and recycle
If you have a spare, unused Blu-ray drive in a desktop PC that you wish was external, this creative enclosure is a neat way to get precisely what you want. It requires its own power, but otherwise, you slot in an internal drive, connect up over USB, and away you go. Waste not, want not!
The bottom line
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You really can't go wrong with these external Blu-ray drives. Deciding on which one is best for you will largely come down to what you need, how much you can afford, and whether you're a fan of any particular brand. Getting the best USB Blu-ray drive isn't a particularly glamorous purchase, but making the right choice is still important.
All that said, we feel the Pioneer BDR-XD07B is worthy of the top spot as the best balance of price, features, and performance, as well as the bonuses you get included in the box with it. Pioneer also has a great alternative in the BDR-XS07S if you need something that can handle the most demanding tasks with the best read and write speeds. Likewise, the ASUS 16x is a solid choice for a home office environment.
These excellent Blu-ray drives will transform your best desktop PC into a multimedia powerhouse.
Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.
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