With the improved advent of computers and laptops, optical drives are deemed unnecessary day by day. While this is true, we can't deny the importance of an optical drive for PC, even today. Optical drives provide a great storage source as well as versatile writing capabilities.

To help you understand more and get a better insight into optical drives, this guide will help you acknowledge the importance of optical drives in gaming PCs.

Contents

What Is an Optical Drive On a PC?

An optical drive, also known as an optical disk drive or ODD, allows your computer system to use CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs for various purposes such as playing games, listening to music, watching movies or installing various other software.

The optical disk drive uses laser light to read from as well as write data on various types of optical discs.

In the earlier days, way before the era of digital games where Steam just meant hot water vapor and origin just meant the point where something began, games were distributed via the medium of optical discs. In those primitive days, an optical disk drive was as important in a gaming PC as RAM is in today's gaming PC.

However, as the times shifted with the advent of the internet and digital game distribution services as Steam came into the picture, things changed. The digital game became the more common, popular as well as desirable form of the video game copy to own. The digital game presented many benefits over the physical one as well.

What Does an Optical Drive Do?

Generally, optical drives allow you to use CDs, DVDs, or Blu-Ray discs. These drives come with lenses that aid in projecting electromagnetic waves that help in reading and writing data. However, since there are better ways of reading, writing, and storing data, optical drives are on the verge of becoming redundant.

Despite this, people still find them very useful. Here are some of the major uses of optical drives.

1. Read and Write Data

An optical drive for PC uses laser beam technology which allows the PC to display the content in the optical disc. These disks include CDs, DVDs, or Blu-Ray discs. It allows you to view or edit the content on the optical disk. Moreover, you can also listen to music, watch a movie from existing content, or add some content.

2. Storing Data

An optical drive will also provide some storage capacity once the writable optical disc tray is inserted. However, the storage space of optical disk drives depends on the type of optical disk. Generally, DVDs and Blu-ray drives will store more data than a CD drive.

If you have an optical drive installed in your computer systems, then you can easily increase the storage. In addition, optical drives are important components of operating systems since they provide multiple storage options.

Is An Optical Drive Needed For a PC?

Before you jump to any conclusions, you need to ask yourself a question- "Do I like to buy physical games or digital ones?". The fact that you need an Optical Drive depends totally upon your answer to the above-presented question.

If you are more likely to opt for digital copies of games over physical copies, then you don't require an Optical Drive. Otherwise, you do. Both physical, as well as digital copies of the games, present certain pros and cons.

Why Should You Opt for Digital Games?

  • They're very convenient: Purchasing and playing a digital is very convenient. You can buy, install and play the game without leaving your chair.
  • They're ready to play as soon as they're released: Nowadays, many games can be "pre-loaded" once you've pre-ordered them. This means that you'll be able to play the game as soon as it is released without a delay of even a second.
  • You'll never lose or damage them: There is a chance that you may damage or even lose your physical game discs. However, that's not the case with digital games.
  • You may get heavy discounts: Online video game distribution services such as Steam offer heavy discounts (as much as 90%) in their seasonal sales.

Why Should You Opt for Physical Games?

  • You can resell them: Video games are a hefty affair to the pocket these days. So, you may be able to recover some cash by reselling a game you have finished already.
  • You can share them: Have a broke friend who shares your love of games? You can lend him your copy of that latest game you bought once you're done with it.
  • You can show off your collection: This is one of the biggest reasons people opt for physical games. You can show off all the games you possess to your friends and family.

Although all of us prefer one kind of game type to the other, whether digital or physical, it is totally possible that we may opt for the other kind of game type at one point or another. So while it is not necessary to have an optical drive in a gaming PC, it is recommended to have one.

Internal vs. External Optical Drive: Which One is Better?

Internal and external optical drives are used for the same purpose and functionality. However, some manufacturers may have more features to improve the user experience. Therefore, here is a quick comparison between the internal and external optical drives.

1. Performance

An internal drive tends to perform better than an external optical drive. This is because, unlike external drives, the internal drives are protected with the exterior casing. For this reason, there is a reduced chance of dust accumulation in an internal drive. On the other hand, an external DVD drive is more prone to impurities which reduces the performance over time.

2. Functionality

Both internal and external optical drives perform a similar function. They both use laser beam technology to read the contents and data of the optical disks. However, if you travel a lot, you may prefer an external optical drive as it allows you to carry all your data even while on the road. On the other hand, if you don't travel much and require better performance, then you can consider an internal drive.

3. Portability

External optical drives provide more portability than an internal drive. This is because external optical drives come with a slim and lightweight design for easy mobility and transport. On the other hand, an internal drive is fitted in the computer, which prevents portability.

With that being said, we'll go through the best optical drives (External and Internal) that you can try out.

Which are the Best External Optical Drives?

Best External Optical Drives

1. LG Electronics 8X USB 2.0 Super Multi Ultra Slim Portable DVD Writer Drive

17%
LG Electronics 8X USB 2.0 Super Multi Ultra Slim Portable DVD Writer Drive +/-RW...
10,725 Reviews
LG Electronics 8X USB 2.0 Super Multi Ultra Slim Portable DVD Writer Drive +/-RW...
  • 14 millimeter height ultra slim portable DVD writer drive
  • USB 2.0 interface (upto 480Mbits/s, USB 3.0 Compatible)
  • Max 8x DVDR write speed
  • Max 24x CD write speed

The LG Electronics 8X USB 2.0 Super Multi Ultra Slim External Optical Drive provides flawless operation as well as a decent writing speed, especially when it comes to writing DVDR or CDs. It provides an 8x maximum speed for DVDR and a 24x speed for CD. It also comes with free Cyber Link software to ensure ease of use, and it is also compatible with 3.0.

So, if you're still into burning CDs and DVDs, then you will definitely have fun with this model. This is because it offers faster write and you add content faster. Furthermore, you can use this external optical drive for recreational purposes like playing music or watching movies.

  • Pros
  • Exceptional writing speeds
  • Noise reduction capability
  • Compatibility with USB 3.0Slim and portable design
  • Includes a free Cyber Link software
  • Cons
  • Plastic build and not very durable

2. Dell USB DVD Drive-DW316, Black

Dell USB DVD Drive-DW316 , Black
10,258 Reviews
Dell USB DVD Drive-DW316 , Black
  • Dvdrw (R DL)/ DVD-RAM
  • 24x (CD)/ 8x (DVD) read speed
  • 24x (CD)/ 8x (DVDR)/ 6x (DVDR DL) write speed

The Dell USB DVD Drive-DW316 is a reliable optical drive that delivers decent performance. It is quite simple to install and will start working immediately after they are installed. You can use the optical drive for burning data in optical disks like CDs and DVDs. It supports both Windows and Mac operating systems.

This unit comes with a slim and aesthetic design that provides excellent portability. You also get fast writing speeds including 6x for DVDR-DL, 8x for DVDR, and 24x writing speed for CD. It is a perfect option for most travelers or your mobile needs. It only measures 0.55 x 5.41 x 5.67 inches and weighs0.44 pounds, so you'll hardly notice it in your bag.

  • Pros
  • Attractive design that is aesthetically pleasing.
  • Easy to install
  • Highly portable
  • Excellent performance
  • Fast CD and DVD writing speeds
  • Cons
  • Not the best for intense use

3. SEA TECH 1 Archgon Aluminum External USB DVD+Rw, RW Super Drive

SEA TECH 1 Archgon Aluminum External USB DVD+Rw, RW Super Drive for...
1,610 Reviews
SEA TECH 1 Archgon Aluminum External USB DVD+Rw, RW Super Drive for...
  • Premium external DVD super-muti drive
  • 1mm anybody aluminum casing
  • Mac & Window PC compatible
  • Both USB and C port cable included

The SEA TECH 1 Archgon Aluminum External USB DVD+Rw, RW Super Drive boasts a seamless operation for everyday use. This premium external DVD drive comes with a 1mm durable casing that provides a long use. It supports both Windows and Mac operating systems and includes a USB and C-port cable that is great for convenience.

As one of the best external optical drives, this external optical drive is designed for people who are looking for improved performance. Furthermore, if you are a beginner or have less knowledge of using external optical drives, then this unit provides a plug-and-play design that is easy to use.

  • Pros
  • Small and lightweight design for easy portability
  • Supports M-disc
  • Easy plug and play external DVD drive
  • Compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems
  • Tested and approved
  • Cons
  • A bit more expensive than other models

4. ASUS ZenDrive Silver 13mm External 8X DVD/ Burner Drive

ASUS ZenDrive Ultra Slim USB 2.0 External 8X DVD Optical Drive +/-RW with M-Disc...
1,214 Reviews
ASUS ZenDrive Ultra Slim USB 2.0 External 8X DVD Optical Drive +/-RW with M-Disc...
  • 8X DVD write speed, ASUS ZenDrive U7M provides a complete, easy-to-use backup...
  • ASUS ZenDrive U7M has an ultra-slim, 13mm form factor, making it the perfect...
  • M-disc is designed to protect your memories from degradation and data loss for...
  • Nero backup full back up solution for Android devices.Operating temperature : 5...

If a compact footprint matters for you, the ASUS ZenDrive Silver 13mm External 8X DVD/ Burner Drive is a great pick. It is a simple and quality CD/DVD combo drive but doesn't support Blu-rays. This means that it comes at a pretty low price. It measures 0.55 x 5.33 x 5.61 inches and has a single USB connection for more power.

As one of the best external optical drives in the market today, the ZenDrive delivers excellent performance for its size. It has DVD read and write speeds up to 8x and CD read and write speeds up to 24x. This drive can also access CD and DVD content at 160ms. It also supports burning to an M-Disc for long-lasting storage and also supports Windows and Mac operating systems.

  • Pros
  • Ultra-slim design that makes it highly portable
  • Easy to use
  • Nero full backup solution for Android devices.
  • Protection against data loss
  • Stylish and attractive design
  • Cons
  • Requires two USB inputs

5. ASUS Powerful Blu-ray Drive with 16x Writing Speed

11%
ASUS Powerful Blu-ray Drive with 16x Writing Speed and USB 3.0 for Both Mac/PC...
1,052 Reviews
ASUS Powerful Blu-ray Drive with 16x Writing Speed and USB 3.0 for Both Mac/PC...
  • Super-fast 16X Blu-ray writing speed with BDXL support that supports data...
  • Cloud backup solution for Android devices. Supported operating system is windows...
  • MacOS and Windows Compatiblity via USB 3. 0 (USB 3. 1 Gen1) connection....
  • Diamond-shaped design for luxury look and clean aesthetics

Unlike most of the best external optical drives that have a small form factor which makes them portable, the ASUS Powerful Blu-ray Drive with 16x Writing Speed goes big. It measures 2.48 x 6.50 x 9.57 inches which might be unsuitable for a small desk, but with this additional size, you're assured of amazing performance with every task you do.

This unit boasts fast access times for all types of optical media, which means less waiting time. For example, the external optical drive can access DVD-ROM in 170ms, CD-ROM in 160ms, and Blu-rays in 180ms. Its read and write performance is also incredible, with 8x, 16x, and 40x read speeds in Blu-rays, DVD, and CD respectively. Also, it can burn CD-R at 40x, DVD-R at 16x, and BD-R at 16x.

  • Pros
  • Superfast writing speed
  • Cloud storage and backup solution for Android devices
  • Windows and macOS compatibility
  • Attractive diamond-shaped design
  • Extra private files protection
  • Excellent performance
  • Cons
  • The quality and finish is not the best

6. Verbatim External Slimline Blu-Ray DVD CD Writer

Verbatim External Slimline Blu-Ray DVD CD Writer USB 3.0 M-Disc Ready Compatible...
331 Reviews
Verbatim External Slimline Blu-Ray DVD CD Writer USB 3.0 M-Disc Ready Compatible...
  • Compact and lightweight External Blu-ray CD and DVD Writer in a genuine metal...
  • Compatible with all common CD, DVD, and Blu-ray formats and M-Disc Ready; USB...
  • Features Nero Burn & Archive software to help you successfully organize, burn...
  • Read and write CD’s, DVD’s and Blu-ray discs any time, any place; Blu-ray...

A lot of modern laptops have foregone the idea of having an optical disc so as to trim the weight and size of the devices. However, the reduction of this size doesn't really make sense if you will need to carry big external optical drives. This is why the Verbatim External Slimline Blu-Ray DVD CD Writer is a great pick.

It measures 0.45 x 5.24 x 5.75 inches making it super compact and is compatible with both Windows and Mac computers. It comes with a metal housing that gives a premium feel and looks while still ensuring that it is fast. It can write Blu-rays at 6x, DVDs at 8x, and CDs at 24x, as well as supports M-Disc. It is a full CD, DVD, and Blu-ray drive that is a great mobility option.

  • Pros
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Compatible with CD, DVD, and Blu-ray formats
  • Easy to use Nero Burn & Archive software
  • Great read and write speeds
  • Durable metal housing
  • Cons
  • Not the best Blu ray player

Which are the Best Internal Optical Drives?

Best Internal Optical Drives

1. ASUS 24x DVD-RW Serial-ATA Internal OEM Optical Drive

16%
ASUS 24x DVD-RW Serial-ATA Internal OEM Optical Drive DRW-24B1ST Black(user...
7,815 Reviews
ASUS 24x DVD-RW Serial-ATA Internal OEM Optical Drive DRW-24B1ST Black(user...
  • Allows you to permanently delete the data on rewritable discs
  • Power saving drive
  • Provides you with flexibility and efficiency in terms of multimedia data storage...
  • It is a revision of 90 D4CHVV UB1080

If you're looking for a budget internal drive, you should consider this cheap option. Apart from the affordable price, the ASUS 24x DVD-RW Serial-ATA Internal OEM Optical Drive delivers ease of installation and doesn't require high maintenance making it a great option for beginners.

One of the best features of this DVD ROM drive is the power-saving option. This drive uses an E-green engine which helps in closing applications that are not in use. It also features an Optimal Tuning System, which runs tests before any operation is done. So, if you're looking for a power-saving internal optical drive, then this should be your pick.

  • Pros
  • Affordable
  • Doesn't require a lot of maintenance
  • Comes with an OTS feature that makes it very reliable
  • Silent operation
  • Energy efficiency and power saving
  • Minimizes vibration with the auto vibration reducing system
  • Good performance
  • Cons
  • A bit slow when it comes to ripping music from a CD ROM drive

2. LG WH16NS40 Super Multi Blue Internal SATA 16x Blu-ray Disc Rewriter

25%
LG WH16NS40 Super Multi Blue Internal SATA 16x Blu-ray Disc Rewriter
3,476 Reviews
LG WH16NS40 Super Multi Blue Internal SATA 16x Blu-ray Disc Rewriter
  • Drive type Internal 16X Blu-ray Disc Rewriter, M-DISC Support. Access time :...
  • Interface: SATA (SATA 1.1a), Buffer Memory: 4 MB
  • Operating System - Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8
  • Blu-Ray Disc, DVD and CD Family Read/Write Compatible, Write and Read Quad,...

The LG WH16NS40 Super Multi Blue Internal SATA 16x Blu-ray Disc Rewrite comes with many amazing features that make it stand out from the rest. First, it features super multi compatibility to ensure it can read and record discs of different formats, including DVD+R, RW DVD-R, RW DVD-RAM, and Blu-ray Disc. This allows you to pick the best option that is suitable for every task.

Additionally, it has superior data protection using M-DISC support. The silent play technology also helps reduce the noise when streaming services or during playback. It recognizes the different media and adjusts the playback speed automatically for optimal performance. You can now enjoy your favorite shows on blu ray players.

  • Pros
  • Great value for money
  • Reliable brand
  • Super multi compatibility
  • Noise reduction
  • Data protection
  • Cons
  • Lacks a software

3. Plextor PlexWriter PX-891SAF DVD/RW Dual Layer Burner Drive Writer

Plextor PlexWriter PX-891SAF 24X SATA DVD/RW Dual Layer Burner Drive Writer -...
550 Reviews
Plextor PlexWriter PX-891SAF 24X SATA DVD/RW Dual Layer Burner Drive Writer -...
  • [Highly accurate and reliable] DVD recording at 24X. Supports full range of...
  • [Secure Media Speed Stability] Ensures that media duplication speed does not...
  • [Stable Recording Control] The drives have an extensive database of media specs...
  • [Archival Burning Capability] Able to burn virtually all makes of specialty...

Another amazing internal drive would be the Plextor PlexWriter PX-891SAF DVD/RW Dual Layer Burner Drive Writer. This optical media drive supports both CD and DVD formats, including the CD-R, CD-RW, DVD+/-RW, and DVD-/+R. The secure media speed stability ensures that the media duplication speed won't exceed the encoded maximum rates.

It also features a stable recording control that ensures the drive can easily communicate and convey all the details. In addition, it ensures reliable and consistent burning of any file to ensure the optic media provides greater reliability of playback.

  • Pros
  • Easy to use
  • A new, improved chassis design
  • Reduced noise
  • Better compatibility
  • Greater reliability
  • Cons
  • A bit slow

4. Lite-On 24X SATA Internal DVD+/-RW Drive

5%
Lite-On 24X SATA Internal DVD+/-RW Drive Optical Drive IHAS124-14 + Nero 12...
428 Reviews
Lite-On 24X SATA Internal DVD+/-RW Drive Optical Drive IHAS124-14 + Nero 12...
  • Free bonus: Nero 12 multimedia Suite burning software ROM essentials + SATA...
  • Special Features: internal 12/8cm CD and DVD Drive (half height form Factor)...
  • Tray load mechanism supporting horizontal and vertical Use, Dust protected...
  • Access time: DVD: 160ms CD: 140ms

The Lite-On 24X SATA Internal DVD+/-RW Drive comes with a tray load mechanism that supports both vertical and horizontal use. It also supports DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R9, DVD-R9, DVD-RAM, DVD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, and CD-ROM. It also supports the double layer DVD+/- R9.

The ABS system comes in handy to reduce noise and vibration during reading and recording. This drive also includes a combo kit that comes with a 4 Pin to 2 SATA power cable that splits into 2 SATA connectors. This allows the two drives to be powered. This combo also has four screws to ensure you easily lock in the drive, as well as a Nero12 essentials program.

  • Pros
  • Dust protected enclosure
  • A reliable software
  • Tray load mechanism
  • Affordable
  • Less noise and vibration
  • Cons
  • The software is a bit pricey
  • Not very durable

Types of Optical Drives Used In PCs

Optical drives come in different functionalities to match different needs. At the same time, some optical drives will only support one type of optical disc, like the CD-ROM format. However, most optical drives will support both CD and DVD-type optical disks.

Here is a detailed description of the different types of optical drives;

1. DVD-ROM

DVD-ROM, also known as Digital Versatile Disk Read Only Memory, is a drive that provides a much better storage capacity and performance than the CD-ROM drive. While they are very similar to CD-ROM drives when it comes to physical dimensions, they are much better when it comes to performance. As a result, you get to experience improved storage and faster reading speeds.

2. CD-ROM

The second optical drive is CD-ROM. CD-ROM, also known as Compact Disk Read Only Memory, was one of the first disk-based drivers to be manufactured. These drivers use a Compact Disk Filing System with reading speeds of 60 revolutions per second.

However, most CD-ROM drives operate at lower speeds to reduce noise and enhance stability during operation. As a result, these drivers will only speed up when it comes to reading errors or for large data files. In addition, they can only read CD-type optical disks.

3. Blu-Ray Discs

Blu-Ray drives are the latest type of optical drive available in the market today. These drives are designed for computer systems with high-definition display abilities, including game consoles, high-end computers and other high-end devices.

Additionally, these devices can process large amounts of data. For example, some Blu-ray drives are dual sides and can hold up to 50 gigabytes of data. Blu-ray drives also come as mini disks, which are a bit cheaper but can process a less amount of data.

What Do You Consider Before Purchasing the Best Optical Drive for PC?

1. Compatibility

The best optical drives provide excellent compatibility and also ease of use for every user. These drives can read and write most optical disks, whether it is DVDs, CDs, or Blu-ray discs. So, ensure the optical drive you get can easily read/write content.

You need to ensure that the best drive is compatible with your computer's operating system. Remember to also check the compatibility of the connectors and cables.

2. Design

While most modern optical drives come with a slim and portable design, others will have different designs. The slim optical drives can be easily fitted into your computer system without taking up too much space. For an external optical drive, the slim ones are much lighter and portable, making it easy to move around with them.

3. Read and Write Speed

Unlike other drives, most modern optical drives provide reliable and fast reading and writing abilities. This comes in handy to improve the user experience. The best optical drive will allow you to access all content efficiently and can help save a lot of time.

4. Noise

High-quality optical drives will have noise reduction mechanisms to ensure silent and quiet functionality. This way, you are able to enjoy watching movies or listening to music with ease.

5. Easy to Use Software

The drive should include simple software that is easy to use. Windows and Mac operating systems will provide software for burning data to blu-rays and DVDs. Mac system may also include a DVD player app for playing video discs. However, if an optical media drive comes with decent burning and playback software, then that's definitely a plus. It makes it easier to play DVDs and blu ray movies.

How Do You Install an Optical Drive?

When it comes to installing an optical drive, this might not be a challenge if you have a bit of computer knowledge. You first need to make some preparations to successfully install the optical drive for the PC. Here are some simple steps you should follow;

  1. You need to ensure you have an anti-static wrist band, mat, and optical disc which matches your computer's system requirements.
  2. Wear the wristband and place the optical drive in its slot located in the chassis.
  3. Plug the SATA and PSU cables into the drive and connect the SATA cables to the motherboard.
  4. Ensure the optical disc is locked in place by tightening the screws.

Most optical drives are plug and play once they are connected to a power supply. However, in cases where the drive is not responding, then you have to enable it manually. To do that, go to the control panel, then the device. Next, right-click on the drive option and enable your drive. Remember, only an internal drive can be installed.

How Do You Remove an Optical Drive?

You don't have to have a lot of knowledge to be able to remove optical drives, and it's pretty simple. Here are some steps you need to follow;

  1. Open the computer case and locate the optical disc. It is usually on the top front side of the chassis.
  2. Unscrew the four screws and remove all the connections from the drive.
  3. Push the drive and ensure you remove it from the front.

Optical Drives Vs. SSD: What Is The Difference?

A Solid State Driver and optical drive provide the same function, but they differ in some aspects. First, optical drives are older storage solutions, while an SSD is a modern solution. So, let's take a look at more differences.

1. Longevity

SSDs tend to wear out a bit faster than optical drives. In addition, they have a lower lifespan, unlike optical drives, which have longer lifespans and can operate for a very long time.

2. Speed

SSDs are much faster when compared to optical drives. They provide fast data transfers and use modern technology that helps access data in no time. On the other hand, optical drives use laser beam technology that is a bit time-consuming when it comes to reading and transferring data.

3. Price

Optical drives are much cheaper than SSDs. Although SSDs perform better than optical drives, they can cost lots of money. If you're on a budget, you might want to consider getting an optical disc because it is also a decent option.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Optical Drives

1. How Do You Clean Optical Discs?

Cleaning both the internal and external optical drives is important to ensure reliable and smooth performance. This is mainly because of the accumulation of dust and other impurities over time within the drive. To clean the drives, use a cotton swab dipped in alcohol and gently clean out all the dust on the surface of the drive.

2. Which Optical Disc Can Hold 25 GB to 50 GB of Data?

Blu-rays have the ability to hold 25GB or sometimes 50GB of data. A blu ray disc, which was first introduced in 2011 by Sony, is used in high-end computers and gaming consoles. These blu rays are dual-sided, which allows them to hold up to 50GB of data.

3. How Do Optical Drives Read Data From a Disc?

Typically, optical drives work by rotating the disk at a constant speed where the faster the rotational speed, the less reading time and data transfer. The laser beam will read the disk as it rotates. 

About the Author Anton

Anton is the founder of 25pc. He is a huge gaming tech nerd and loves helping people save money. To find out more about him read his about me page.