Do You Need An Optical Drive for A Gaming PC?


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Do You Need An Optical Drive for A Gaming PC

Gaming has gone through multiple forms of storage, from cartridges containing a few hundred KBs to digital downloads with over 200 GB of raw data. In our last decade, we switched from DVD-ROMs to digital downloads as internet speeds have allowed people to take advantage of remote storage of games rather than physical copies. 

The optical disc drives that powered the last generation of data transfers have gone from being a requirement to completely optional due to the limited cases for practical gaming uses in 2023 for newly released games. Still, the technology persists in keeping physical copies of media like Movies or Video Games independent from the internet. However external drive and blu ray disc drive also meet the criteria which are required for optical drives.

Let’s go over whether you need an optical or disc drive in your gaming PC.

What is a gaming PC optical drive?

What is a gaming PC optical drive

Not everyone needs an optical drive for gaming, depending on the role and type of machine. DVD-ROM was the last successful game data distribution for PC in the early 2010s. Since then, prebuilt and custom gaming PC companies have phased out optical drives due to the increased support for higher bandwidth internet and relatively cheaper storage.

Almost every modern PC game releases digitally somewhere. You’ll usually find a digital download for the latest games through one of the distribution services like Steam or the Epic Games Store. So, optical disc drives aren’t necessary for gaming anymore. Let’s go over how physical discs and digital downloads differ because it’s more than their tangibility.

Physical Discs

Physical discs have an unparalleled role in data storage use in their prime time. With optical drives ranging from PC desktops to mobile CD Players, physical disc technology stored every type of media conceivable. Depending on the media, there are two main types of physical discs used to hold data depending on the use.

  • CD-ROMs: Compact Disc-Read Only Memory was standard for games on desktops or laptops. Most video games made their first appearance in this format and have snowballed into the Triple-A games we know today.
  • DVD ROMs: Digital Versatile Discs-Read Only Memory was the last successful media adoption before the popularity of digital downloads. The game data often came on multiple discs installed in sequence for a complete installation. This was a classical quirk as games got bigger and bigger, like Metal Gear Solid on the PS1 having the game in two discs, but it was frequently more annoying depending on who you asked.

Digital Downloads

Digital downloads started to gain popularity when internet speeds could get faster for cheaper and strategic advancements in storage space. Hard Drives were the dominating storage type in the mid-2000s, and the introduction of SSDs made hard drives dedicated storage drives for games. We now stand in 2023 with the M.2 at the top, providing the fastest read and write speeds, followed by SATA SSDs and Hard Drives.

Why do you want an optical drive?

Why do you want an optical drive

If you enjoy the occasional walk down memory lane, revisiting your favorite CD or DVD can be worthwhile investing in the proper hardware. While most gamers have moved on to the next installment of games, a dedicated few still love playing older, less supported games, as nothing has changed since their release. Optical drives are great at reading older CD-ROM games no matter what support hurdles a game has overcome to stay playable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is an optical drive important for gaming?

Despite frequently being an excellent tool for accessing older media, optical drives are not required to finish a gaming setup. Most older game ROMs are digitally emulated by devoted fans or later developer support.

Do you need an optical drive for a PC?

Modern laptops are almost entirely free of optical discs, making them ever-thinner and lighter. A PC user can still decide whether to hold the last ten years’ storage and media revolutions.

Is the optical drive functional?

A computer system’s optical disc drive (ODD) enables you to watch movies and listen to music on CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs. Most drives also let you write data to discs, allowing you to make your music CDs, video DVDs, or even backup copies of your critical data files.


Depending on the game, no, you do not need one. Optical drives are handy for local disc storage of media or video games released in years past. While digital streaming and downloads have become popular, some games only offer digital downloads, which creates a loss for those with limited bandwidth on the internet every month.

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