Help me choose: Optical drives

Dell offers a variety of optical drives with the features and functions needed for multitasking and enhanced productivity. Choosing the right drive for you can be tricky, but we’re here to help.

Q+A

The optical drive on your Dell system can allow you to watch DVDs, play video games, and back up your data and images by burning them to CD, DVD or Blu-ray™ discs. You should choose between CD, DVD and Blu-ray disc drive formats based upon your capacity requirements. If you’re looking for more storage capacity than CDs or single-layer DVDs can provide, you can try a DVD drive compatible with double-layer (DL) DVD discs, which offer up to 8.5GB of storage. Higher capacities are supported on Blu-ray drives, available on select Dell Inspiron™, XPS™, and Alienware™ desktop and laptop systems.

Drive speeds
The higher an optical drive’s speed, measured in multiples of a standard ‘base speed,’ the faster the drive’s ability to write data to disc (for instance, a 16x drive is faster than an 8x drive). This increased write speed allows you to create CDs and DVDs more quickly, the higher the multiple.

Compatibility
All optical DVD drive options currently available are fully backward-compatible with all previous technology and commonly used disc formats, so there’s no need to worry — your old CD-ROMs or DVDs will run properly in your new system, regardless of what DVD drive option you select. Blu-ray disc drives may be backward-compatible, but newer Blu-ray drives may not (consult product details to determine compatibility). Additionally, all available drive options support dual-layer discs.

Drive types
  • Combo drives are drives that can read both Blu-ray discs and regular DVDs, as well as CDs. Combo drives cannot write to or erase Blu-ray discs.
  • RE drives are drives that can both read and erase data and media, including Blu-ray discs.
  • RW drives are drives that can both read and write data and media onto DVD (not Blu-ray disc).

Dual optical drives
On select desktops, dual optical drives are an option.

  • Copy CDs and DVDs more easily, as both drives can operate at once: one to play the disc’s content and the other to record it.
  • Move music and media onto your system more quickly, with both drives performing separate installs simultaneously.
This chart will help determine which drive option is right for you, based on what you intend to do with it. Note that the system you are configuring may or may not include all of the options listed here. Consult your system’s configurator to find out what drive options are available.

If you want to...Choose...
Burn DVDsDVD+/-RW, BD Combo or BD-RE
Burn CDsDVD+/-RW, BD Combo or BD-RE
Play DVDs DVD+/-RW, DVD-ROM, BD Combo or BD-RE
Load software from DVD DVD+/-RW, DVD-ROM, BD Combo or BD-RE
Load software from CDDVD+/-RW, DVD-ROM, BD Combo or BD-RE
Enjoy superb storage capacity and high-definition viewing pleasureBD Combo or BD-RE