Best Laptops with an Optical Drive Windows Central 2020
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.
- Best Overall: HP Envy 17t
- Best Budget: Dell Inspiron 15
- Best 15-inch: Lenovo Ideapad 330
- Best Gaming: Acer Predator 15 G9
Best Overall — HP Envy 17t
With the Envy 17t, HP has 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 and, 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 an 8th Gen Intel Core i7, the graphics come from NVIDIA in the form of a 2GB MX150, and the audio comes courtesy of Bang and Olufsen. This is every bit the high-end laptop you expect, but it doesn't command a particularly high price.
It's also making use of some cutting edge internals, like Intel's Optane memory for storage acceleration. It's even got pretty good battery life at up to nine hours. What more could you ask for?
- Great hardware specs
- Stylish design
- Dedicated graphics
- Decent battery life
- Quite large
- Display limited to 1080p
Big, beautiful, and ticks all the boxes
The Envy 17 has a large display, a gorgeous design, tons of hardware, and even squeezes an optical drive in.
Best Budget — Dell Inspiron 15
If you're on a tight budget, Dell has just the ticket with the Inspiron 15. 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 Inspiron 15 has a 15.6-inch display, an Intel Core i3 processor, 1TB HDD storage, and 8GB 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. It's unusual to find a full Intel Core i processor on a cheap laptop such as this, so the Inspiron 15 has a little more power than some of the competitors in this price range.
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. For an additional $100 you can get a 1TB SSD that will make your daily life with this laptop a lot faster.
- Lots of ports
- Good included storage
- Great size
- Full Intel Core processor
- Lower resolution screen
- Slow HDD
- Quite large and heavy
A low-cost laptop that still plays DVDs
Laptops with optical drives are few and far between, but this one will let you play your DVDs without running away with your wallet.
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 extremely attractive price, it's packed with plenty of goodies on the inside. An 8th Generation 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
- Intel graphics
- Low storage as standard
- No touch display option
Solid hardware, great price
If you love the 15-inch form factor and need an optical drive, this is the laptop to get.
Best Gaming — Acer Predator 15 G9
Acer's Predator gaming-focused notebook has an elegant trick: You can have it both with and without an optical drive. The drive is modular and can be swapped out for an additional cooler. The idea is that when you're gaming, you probably don't need the optical drive (unless you're playing some older games off a disc). So instead, you give the laptop some additional help keeping cool.
Besides this niftiness, you get a quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, a combination of HDD and SSD storage, and a 15.6-inch, 1080p display with NVIDIA G-Sync for tear-free gaming.
The graphics power is provided by a 6GB NVIDIA GTX 1060, and Acer has a bunch of software tools on board to help you get the best from it. It's an excellent gaming laptop, all-around. The best way to get one now is a factory refurbished unit, which comes backed by a solid warranty and a more attractive price.
- NVIDIA GTX 1060
- Modular optical drive slot
- G-Sync display
- Quite heavy
- Discontinued by manufacturer
- No touch display option
Optical drive when you need it, cooling when you don't
This laptop has an innovative solution to the optical drive, allowing you to remove it when you're gaming to add in some extra cooling.
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 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!
But there are also good choices out there for other needs. Whether you're on a budget, looking for something smaller, or even need something with the power to handle gaming, there's something out there for you. The days of installing PC games from a DVD are long gone, but Acer's Predator 15 has an innovative design that keeps the optical drive alive, but only when you need it.
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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