Simple Question about buying an External DVD burner



I’m just starting to look into buying an External DVD burner. I have probably been looking at them for about a week and it’s blowing my mind. First of all are just about all external dvd burners an internal burner with a case on it? And also I’ve been reading alot about 2.0 USB and such and that seems the way to go. I have a computer that I dont consider old but it’s a Dell Dimension 4400 and I don’t have 2.0 USB ports. So will burners that support 2.0 USB work with my computer? Or is it a different size or what? It’s probably a dumb question but I thought I’d ask. Thank you.


I believe that all usb 2.0 devices are compatible with older usb 1.1. Unless otherwise stated on the package. Just be ready for a real long wait. External drives typically take a bit longer to rip from and naturally to burn from, especially if you have usb 1.1. I have an external harddrive, and I did a little test to justify purchasing a pci usb2.0 card. I had to move a fairly large file from the external harddrive to an internal harddrive, and it took about 2.5 hours to do it. After installing the usb 2.0 pci card into my desktop, I again moved the same file, and it was done in about 20 minutes. I have since burned from the external drive to an internal dvd burner, and there is very little difference than if it was from an internal harddrive. So I myself would strongly consider internal or at least getting a pci card that gives your pc usb 2.0 And yes most of the external burners are just internals in a box. Hope this helps.


as far as i know, all USB 20 devices are backward scompatible, but I’d seriously recommend upgrading your USB ports. not only is it the annoyance of taking too long, but that slwdown can seriously affect bur quality

burning too slow for the disc/drive is just as bad as burning too fastand can ause some of the same problems like skipping, freezing, etc on the backup dvd (if you’e burning video)


You may get a warning that a faster device is attached, but if you are going to use it for an external DVD burning I would have to say no. If it was just for a hdd for data storage then it would be okay.

I would have to go with reson and upgrade your ports, you can buy USB 2 vards quite cheaply now.


You might want to spends the 20 bucks and get a usb 2 card for you Box.
The geometic. Also any chance you have firewire? It works beter for me.


I have to ask as the PC is out of warranty: Why not just fit an internal? It would be easier after all.


Not trying to challenge you here, but are you certain you don’t have usb 2 ports on your dell? As you said, it’s not that old and if I recall correctly, usb 2 was introduced about 2001. Agree with reasonsnotrules and others, you will have nothing but heartache trying to burn video files with < usb 2. PCI cards are dirt cheap and as Jay said, why not just go internal?


“A panel on the front of the case lifts up to reveal one USB port and a headphone jack. Two more USB ports are at the back, along with serial, parallel, and PS/2 mouse and keyboard ports, but no FireWire (IEEE 1394) port is includ”

No usb2 and no firewire,


I’m not 95% positive that I dont have USB 2 ports. I meant my computer doesn’t seem old to me, it still runs great and everything but I probably got it around 2001ish. Anyway for me to check these specs out on my computer? Also some mentioned get an internal. I could get an internal but I dont know why but I love the new external idea. Also if I were to purchase a USB 2 card I wonder how much trouble I’d have putting it in. I’m not completely computer illiterate but I can’t build one either. Do all you have to do is take the box off and more or less ‘plug it’ in somewhere? And again does anyone know how I could check out the spec’s on my computer and find out what kind of USB ports I have? Thanks for the replies.

EDIT: Sorry Braynes I guess I over looked your post the first time. Guess thats a definate no on the USB 2.0. So again how hard would that be to install a ‘pci card’ I guess you call it.


If you are going for it because you “love” the idea, I am sorry mate but you are the instrument of your own problems. Go internal it will be better for you and simpler.


I still agree with JayC30 here…if it were me, I’d definitely be going internal.
Unfortunately, I have no idea whom or what braynes’ quoted…?

There are a number of configurations for your dell.
Per dell’s site :

Dellâ„¢ Dimensionâ„¢ 4400


  System Information

  Expansion Bus



  Ports and Connectors


  Controls and Lights




Microprocessor type
 Intel® Pentium® 4 microprocessor that runs at 1.50, 1.60, 1.70, 1.80, 1.90, 2.0, 2.20, or 2.40 GHz internally and 400 MHz externally
L1 cache
 8 KB first-level
L2 cache
 integrated 256-KB or 512-KB at full microprocessor speed

System Information
System chip set
 Intel 845 with DDR memory support
DMA channels
Interrupt levels
System BIOS chip
 4 Mb (512 KB)
System clock
 400-MHz data rate

Expansion Bus
Bus types
 PCI and AGP
Bus speed
 PCI: 33 MHz; AGP: 66 MHz
AGP connector
AGP connector size
 172 pins
AGP connector data width (maximum)
 32 bits
AGP bus protocols
 4x/2x modes at 1.5 V
PCI connectors
PCI connector size
 120 pins
PCI connector data width 
 32 bits

Memory connectors
Memory capacities
 128-, 256-, and 512-MB non-ECC DDR SDRAM 
Minimum memory
 128 MB
Maximum memory
 1 GB
Memory type 
 DDR (non-ECC)
BIOS address

Externally accessible
 two 5.25-inch bays
two 3.5-inch bays
Internally accessible
 two bays for 1-inch–high IDE hard drives
Available devices
 ATA-66 or ATA-100 Ultra DMA hard drive, CD drive, Zip drive, DVD drive, DVD+RW drive, and CD-RW drive

Ports and Connectors
Externally accessible:
 9-pin connector; 16550C-compatible
 25-hole connector (bidirectional)
 15-hole connector
 6-pin mini-DIN connector or USB connector
 6-pin mini-DIN connector or USB connector
 two front-panel and two back-panel USB–compliant connectors
 front-panel miniature connector
 three miniature connectors for line-in, line-out, and microphone
Internally accessible:
Primary IDE channel
 40-pin connector on PCI local bus
Secondary IDE channel
 40-pin connector on PCI local bus
Floppy drive
 34-pin connector
1 Present only on computers with integrated audio capabilities.

Audio controller
 ADI 1885
2 Present only on computers with integrated audio capabilities.

Video controller

Controls and Lights
Power control 
 push button
Power light 
 green light on power button—blinking green in sleep state; solid green for power on state; solid amber for possible internal power problem
Hard-drive access light 
Diagnostic code lights 
 four bicolor (amber and green) located on back panel

DC power supply:
 250 W
Heat dissipation 
 534 BTU (fully-loaded computer without monitor)
Voltage (switch-selectable 
on back panel) 
 90 to 135 V at 50/60 Hz; 180 to 265 V at 50/60 Hz; 100 V at 50/60 Hz for Japanese computers
Backup battery 
 3-V CR2032 coin cell

Height x Width x Depth
 42.5 x 18.1 x 44.7 cm 
(16.7 x 7.1 x 17.6 inches)
 12.7 kg (28 lb)

 10º to 35ºC (50º to 95ºF)3 
 –40º to 65ºC (–40º to 149ºF)
Relative humidity
 20% to 80% (noncondensing)
Maximum vibration:
 0.25 G at 3 to 200 Hz at 1/2 octave/min
 0.5 G at 3 to 200 Hz at 1/2 octave/min
Maximum shock:
 bottom half-sine pulse with a change in velocity of 50.8 cm/sec (20 inches/sec)
 23-G faired-square wave with a velocity change of 508 cm/sec (200 inches/sec)
 –15.2 to 3048 m (–50 to 10,000 ft)3
 –15.2 to 10,670 m (–50 to 35,000 ft)
3 At 35°C (95°F), the maximum operating altitude is 914 m (3000 ft).


Typically, this pc is configured with 2 rear and 2 front usb ports.
The easiest way for you to check is to go to dell support and type in your service tag #…you’ll find this on the outside of the case. It will list your specs, precisely.

Gotta run…good luck.


It is easy unplug the computer,hold the power button in for a few secends to bleed the caps in the psu,find a pci slot that has no card in it remove the blank,plug card in,reuse the screw from the blank to hold card in.
Reasembly the case,plug in,windozz will find and install the card,you may have to reboot.

Maineman I cut and pasted it from the dell site.


Thanks for posting your reference. My source was also a cut & paste from Dell…which shows the typical 4 usb ports (2 front, 2 rear).

I wonder what we’ll get if we go back a third time… :bigsmile:



Thanks for posting your reference. My source was also a cut & paste from Dell…which shows the typical 4 usb ports (2 front, 2 rear).

I wonder what we’ll get if we go back a third time…

Maybe they will be mini ports the next


My bad… :o


I just went through something very similar, check the thread in this newbie forum on " the best way to make archival DVD’s"

To find out if you have a USB 2 port, if at least you have WinXp, just go to your device manager and at or near the bottom is USB. Click it and it will say if your USB is a 2 or not.

MY external LIteOn, that now is hooked directly into the back of the computer, runs almost as fast as one of our experts here said his internal did on checking disk quality. His ran as I remember in around 7 minutes, and mine did it around 9. BUT, BEFORE when it was plugged into my USB Hub, it took almost an 1-1/2 hours to do the same thing.

Now that I am hooked direct to the computers USB, I really like the external, as there are many options, as far as moving it, and I didn’t have to go into the case and try to figure out where it would fit, etc. Some people have larger cases, no pun intended.