HTPC GuideZertz , technodanvan , tacohunter52 -
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There is really nothing to choosing an optical drive. You'll need to decide whether or not you'll want Blu-Ray capabilities or if DVD will suit you just fine. I've had good experiences with drives from LG, LITE-ON, and Asus. There are many other companies out there, so I would suggest getting the most affordable drive you can. The only real difference will be read/write speeds, and even these shouldn't matter too much in the case of an HTPC. You'll probably have a few older DVD drives just laying around. These should work perfectly fine, and if you don't want Blu-Ray, you can skip purchasing an optical drive altogether.
The current most commonly used optical drive is a DVD drive. The name should tell you exactly what they allow you to do, which by the way is watch and play DVD's. DVD drives are fairly basic, and this also makes them extremely cheap. You can pick up a pretty decent drive for just over $20. In truth you can easily use an old IDE drive, but I find IDE to be a little irritating while trying to manage wires. The reason for this is because of the big bulky ribbon cable, as opposed to the skinny, little, red SATA cable on the newer drives. Another thing SATA brings to the table is the fact that you can easily add more than one drive. With IDE you'll have to set one drive as master and the other as a slave, whereas SATA will automatically detect your new drives. On top of that you can add as many drives as you have SATA ports. That of course is considering you didn't use all your ports on HDD's. If so, an IDE drive might be something to consider. $20 really isn't that much, so buying a new drive really shouldn't be a problem.
- Asus Light Scribe: I've never had an optical drive die on me, so I can't really say Asus drives are better than any other brand. I can't however say I'm above repeatedly buying from the same companies.
- LG GSA-H62N: LG is another brand I tend to buy.
As I'm sure all of you know, Blu-Ray was the competitor of HD-DVD. Of course they have long since won the competition. Now that HD-DVD is out of the way, prices have gone down, but you can still multiply the cost of your cheap DVD drive by ten and be under the price of many Blu-Ray drives. However, if your HTPC is going to be for current and future multimedia, you'll deffinately want to at least consider owning a Blu-Ray drive. They can also be added in later. For someone under a strict budget, adding a Blu-Ray drive later may in fact be the best option. As for which Blu-Ray drives I would use, well I'd probably go for whatever is affordable to you. So far I have only used three and was equally happy with each one.
- LG Black 6X BD-R 2X BD-RE: Once again I used drives from my three favorite companies. This drive just happened to be the first Blu-Ray drive I used. It wasn't the fastest Blu-Ray drive out there, but it did burn DVD's faster than my old DVD burners.
- LITE-ON Black 4X BD-R 2X BD-RE: This drive is a little faster than the LG drive. Although it doesn't really offer a noticeable performance gain.
- LITE-ON Black 4X BD-R: I enjoyed this drive very much. It is basically a cheaper sibling to the LITE-ON drive above, without BD-RE capabilities of course. For general use this drive will be just fine.