Buying a new computer can be an expensive ordeal. When you go to a big box retailer or manufacturer, you often pay for components you don’t need or get overcharged for the ones you do. The best solution is to build your own computer. What most people don’t realize is it’s actually surprisingly easy to do. To help you design your next computer, or just to become familiar with what to look for, WorldStart is doing a 10-part series on the components you’ll need to build your own computer.
In each part, I’ll offer recommendations on the components discussed. I’ll recommend parts to accommodate those both looking for value and those looking for high performance. Since manufacturers are always updating styles and features, your final decision should be based on your own judgment, aided by the knowledge you gain from these articles. You know what you want from your PC, I’m here to help you design it.
Part Three: Optical Drive
While optical drives lack the diversity of many other components, there are a few key things to look for in a drive. While the drives may all look similar from the outside, don’t let these important specifications slip you up.
Drive Type: Modern optical drives come in four major varieties and choosing the right one for your needs is important.
- DVD Drive – This style of optical drive can read CDs and DVDs but cannot write to them.
- DVD Burner – This style of optical drive can read and write to CDs and DVDs.
- Blu-Ray Drive – This style of optical drive can read CDs, DVDs and Blu-Ray discs but cannot write to them.
- Blu-Ray Burners – This style of optical drive can read and write to CDs, DVDs and Blu-Ray discs.
Speed: No matter the style of drive you purchase, you’ll see speed ratings for each type of disc type. For example you may see 8X DVD-RW 24X DVD-R which means that DVD-RW (rewriteable) discs can be burned at 8X speed while DVD-R (write once) discs can be burned at 24X.
Software: Even though you may be used to getting software with your hardware, many optical drives do not include any. This isn’t a major problem as most drives will function without a driver CD, and free burning software such as CDBurnerXP is available. The one exception is for Blu-Ray drives, as these drives require special burning and playback software. Pay attention to if your drive includes any or if the software costs extra.
Budget Optical Drive – ASUS 24X DVD Burner Model DRW-24B1ST – $19.99
Asus is a well know manufacturer, and this budget model DVD burner offers all of the basic features you’ll need in a DVD burner. The OEM version does not include SATA cables, so you’ll need to have one (usually included with motherboards) or software, so you’ll need to use Window’s built-in DVD burning software or download CDBurnerXP. The only downside is the lack of Blu-Ray, but for 20 dollars it’s hard to beat.
Premium Optical Drive – LG Blu-ray BDXL Internal Rewriter Model BH16NS40 – $119.99
What does a $100 more compared to the budget recommendation get you? Quite a few things when it comes to this LG model. This optical drive supports burning and reading data Blu-Ray discs (along with DVD’s and CD’s) and includes free software to watch Blu-Ray movies. You also receive support for M-Disc DVD’s along with 3d Blu-Ray and BDXL formats. The only downside is you will have to purchase an upgrade to the bundled software to burn Blu-Ray movies. If you plan to watch Blu-Ray movies or just want a drive that can do almost anything you could need this is the one for you.