Best laptops with an optical drive Windows Central 2021
The optical drive may be a dying feature on laptops, but some folks absolutely must have one. It's harder than ever to find a good laptop with this kind of drive, but not impossible. Whatever your budget or specific use case, there are still good laptops out there for you like the HP Envy 17t, which tops our list of best laptops with an optical drive.
Best overall: HP Envy 17t
With the Envy 17t, HP created a desirable laptop with a large screen, an optical drive, and just about every other spec you could ask for. It's sleek, sophisticated, and surprisingly thin, considering it has a 17.3-inch display. Most importantly, you can slot a DVD into it.
Much of the hardware here you'd find elsewhere in HP's premium lineup. The processor is a 10th Gen Intel Core i7, the graphics come from NVIDIA in the form of a 4GB MX250, and the audio comes courtesy of Bang & Olufsen. This is every bit the high-end laptop you expect, but it doesn't command an incredibly high price.
It's also making use of some cutting edge internals, like Intel's Optane memory for storage acceleration, and it's even got pretty good battery life at up to nine hours. What more could you ask for? We're big fans of HP laptops — there are multiple HP options in our list of the very best laptops available — and the Envy 17t does not disappoint.
- Great hardware specs
- Stylish design
- Dedicated graphics
- Decent battery life
- Quite large
- Display limited to 1080p
Budget 17-inch: Acer Aspire 17
If you're on a tighter budget but still want a large screen then Acer has just the laptop for you. It also has plenty of other goodies to go with it, proving you don't need to spend a lot to get a great laptop and still have an optical drive.
Besides the DVD drive, this Aspire 17 has a 17.3-inch display, an Intel Core i5 processor, 1TB HDD storage, and 12GB of RAM. Toss in a bunch of USB ports, HDMI, and an SD card slot, and you have a cheap laptop with plenty of flexibility. The tradeoff for the pretty potent processor is a lower-resolution display, but for regular work it'll still work out just fine.
An easy way to give this laptop a little extra oomph for a little extra cash is to consider replacing the 1TB HDD with an SSD that will make your daily life with this laptop a lot faster.
- Lots of ports
- Good included storage
- Full Intel Core processor
- Lower resolution display
- Slow HDD
Best 15-inch: Lenovo Ideapad 330
If you're looking for a reliable value option that's still well equipped, Lenovo's Ideapad 330 is what you're looking for. Not only does it have an optical drive tucked away in its fairly slim side, but inside you'll find a plethora of other impressive specs.
At 15 inches, it's the sweet spot for people who want a larger display without going overboard into the 17-inch range, and despite an attractive price, it's packed with plenty of goodies on the inside. An 8th Gen Intel Core i5 is paired with 8GB of RAM SSD storage and plenty of connectivity, including USB-C.
Lenovo always has great keyboards with its laptops, too, so you'll get an all-around reliable laptop. The Ideapad 330 might be a mid-ranger, but it punches way above its price tag. It's well designed, built to last, and is a perfect carry for the office or college.
- Solid design and build
- Lots of ports
- Great size
- Attractive price
- Low storage as standard
- Low-resolution display
The optical drive has now become a niche laptop feature, but that doesn't mean demand for it has gone. There are still people who need it, and there are still some laptop makers satisfying that demand. And they fulfill it with quality hardware.
The HP Envy 17t is a great laptop, period. That it has an optical drive is a bonus, but by current standards, it lacks very little. The inclusion of dedicated graphics and Intel Optane memory is a nice touch, and the Envy 17t is extremely well rounded. It even looks the part!
Sadly, that's about as far as the good news goes. While HP has made a real effort to cater to this niche with not only a new, current-spec laptop that looks great to boot, the rest of the market isn't so hot. In most cases, you'll be making sacrifices or buying older hardware just for the sake of having an optical drive.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
Rich Edmonds is a staff reviewer at Windows Central, which means he tests out more software and hardware than he cares to remember. Joining Mobile Nations in 2010, you can usually find him inside a PC case tinkering around when not at a screen fighting with Grammarly to use British words. Hit him up on Twitter: @RichEdmonds.
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