[TOPIC] What is an optical drive? Introducing the basics of optical drives, types and selection methods

One of the points to keep in mind when you purchase a personal computer is the presence or absence of an optical drive and its type. There are many different types of optical drives, and some of you may have difficulty to describe the differences. Therefore, this content introduces the basic knowledge of optical drives and the types of optical discs. How to choose an optical drive is also shown. We hope this content helps you choose your computer.


  1. 1. Types of optical discs
  2. 1-1.CD
  3. 1-2.DVD
  4. 1-3.BD (Blu-ray Disc)
  5. 2. Types of optical drives
  6. 2-1. DVD drive
  7. 2-2. Blu-ray disc drive
  8. 3. How to choose an optical drive
  9. 3-1. Which optical disc do you usually use?
  10. 3-2. Select by writing speed
  11. 3-3. How to choose an external optical drive
  12. 4. Conclusion Choose a suitable optical drive with right knowledge

・1. Types of optical discs
Optical discs are also called optical discs and optical media. These are used for recording data such as music and video. There are various types, such as those that are read-only, those that can write only once, and those that can rewrite data multiple times. Understanding optical discs can also help you choose an optical drive, as each optical drive supports different optical discs.

・1-1. CD
Currently, there are three types of CDs that are often used as sound source software: CD-R, CD-ROM, and CD-RW. A CD-R allows you write data only once and you cannot rewrite the data. A CD-ROM allows you only write data, and a CD-RW is a medium that can be repeatedly written and rewritten. There are two types of CDs, one for data and the other for music. Although the materials of the discs themselves are almost the same, commercially available music CDs may emphasize sound quality, assuming that music data will be recorded.

・1-2. DVD
DVDs that are still often used are optical discs with many types such as DVD-R, DVD-R DL, DVD-RW, DVD-RAM, and DVD-ROM. In particular, DVD-R, DVD-R DL, and DVD-RW are divided into two types, + and-. + and- are not compatible because they are based on standards set by different organizations. Since there is also a drive that supports both standards, if you are uncertain, you should choose the one.

・1-3. BD (Blu-ray Disc)
There are BD-R, BD-R DL, BD-RE, BD-RE DL, and BD-ROM as types of Blu-ray discs, and BD-R and BD-RE are called DLs with two recording layers. In addition, R and RE have a standard called BDXL, which has a three-layer or four-layer structure. The three-layer type has a large data recording capacity of 100GB, and the four-layer type has a larger capacity of 128GB. In recent years, Ultra HD Blu-ray (UHD BD), which is a next-generation disc, has also appeared in order to support 4K image quality. There are also Blu-ray discs for data and video, though there is almost no difference in performance or material.

・2. Types of optical drives
There are many types of optical drives. Those currently on the market can be broadly divided into two types: DVD drives and Blu-ray disc drives. There are many types of DVD drives, especially because there are many disc standards for DVDs. Here, we introduce the features of various drives.

・2-1. DVD drive
DVD drives can be divided into two types: combo drives that can read and write CDs and read DVDs, and multi-drives that can also write to DVDs. The mainstream DVD drives on the market today are super multi-drives that can read and write almost all DVDs. A drive that supports DVD ± R DL, which has two recording layers, is called a hyper multi-drive.

・2-2. Blu-ray disc drive
This is a drive that can read and write Blu-ray discs, and can be divided into three types: read-only drives, BD-R or BD-RE compatible drives, and both R and RE compatible drives. Most of the Blu-ray drives currently on the market are compatible with all Blu-ray Disc standards. In addition, drives that support 4K image quality and 3D images have also appeared and have become increasingly popular in recent years.

・3. How to choose an optical drive
How to choose an optical drive when purchasing a personal computer? Here are some tips for choosing an optical drive.

・3. Which optical disc do you usually use?
Since there are many types of optical discs, and each drive requires different types of media, so you need to choose the drive that suits the type of discs you are usually using. A Blu-ray drive that supports almost all disc standards is recommended though, if you don’t use a Blu-ray disc, you may choose a DVD hyper multi-drive.

・3-2. Select by writing speed
There is a difference in performance depending on the writing speed of the optical drive. For example, the maximum speed for each drive can be indicated by the notation such as “x12”. “x12” means 12x speed. If you want to increase the writing speed, you can check this number.

・3-3. How to choose an external optical drive
Small laptops often do not have an internal drive. For example, Mac in recent years have few models with an optical drive and there is an option to purchase an external optical drive separately. Since it is difficult for beginners to retrofit or replace the internal optical drive, we recommend an external type that can be connected via USB even if you want to renew the drive of your desktop computer. At that time, some drives are compatible with USB3.0 and USB Type-C. It is a good idea to check the USB standard of your computer.

・4. Conclusion. Choose a suitable optical drive with right knowledge
There are still many opportunities to use optical drives for recording music CDs. Since both drives and discs have many standards, get right knowledge of optical discs and drives to choose the ones you need.

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