A lot of people these days are streaming movies and watching content online via the internet. Even the process of installing popular apps has changed to involve downloads rather than box-based CDs. That means that laptops with optical drives have become a lot less common in 2022, especially with laptop makers focusing on making thinner and lighter devices. So, if you still have a collection of CDs, DVDs, or Blu-rays, you might be wondering what this means for playing or using that content on your laptop.
You always can use an external optical drive, but there are a small collection of older laptops out there that still have built-in optical drives. In this guide, we’ll select some of the best for you, from a variety of categories. Keep in mind, though, that a lot of these laptops won’t have modern or impressive specs due to their age. But, these laptops are still for sale, and we’ve still picked the best overall, the best budget, and so much more. You also can navigate to your specific pick by clicking the link below.
Navigate this guide:
Best overall: HP Envy 17T
At the top of our list is a laptop that we really like, Not only does it have a built-in CD/DVD drive, but this laptop is 17-inches, so you’ll end up immersed in whatever content you’re watching. Another bonus thing that you’ll get with this laptop is a dedicated GPU, though it’s not the most powerful. Again, it’s becoming harder to find, but here’s a bit more on why we like it so much.
Jumping into the screen first, this laptop sports a 17.3-inch 1920 x 1080p resolution display. By 2022 standards, that might not be 4K or 2.5K resolution that people look for, but for basic multimedia consumption like watching a DVD that you might have, it should get the job done just fine. The laptop is also touch, so you can use the big screen to your advantage and use your fingers for navigation.
Now, onto specs. This is a much older system, with much older graphics, but if your primary purpose is to use it to web browse, watch content from DVDs, or listen to CDs you should be fine. It comes with the Nvidia MX 250 graphics card and an Intel Core i7 CPU. That’s paired with 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. I typically would not suggest a laptop with these older specs, but with laptops with optical drives being rare, these are good enough specs as you can get for the price. Despite the massive screen, the older specs help with the battery, too, as it’s rated at 7 hours.
Do note, though that this laptop doesn’t have a DVD writer. It’s only a DVD and CD reader, so keep that in mind. You’ll only be able to read discs, not write to them. It’s also quite heavy, coming in at 6.63 pounds and 16.38 x 11.4 x 1 inches, but don’t worry. Our other picks will be much better.
Best budget: Aspire Aspire 3
Next on our list is the Aspire Aspire 3. This is yet another 17-inch laptop that you can buy in 2022. Again, since many laptops stopped coming with CD drives a few years ago, this is one of the last modern ones you can find. The specs and overall design will not be that impressive either, but it’s hard to complain for a laptop that’s $550. Let’s dive a bit deeper, shall we?
It is a complicated process to suggest a laptop with older specs like this in 2022, but if a CD drive is a must, then this is the way to go. You will not find a laptop with 12th generation CPUs that sport CD Drives. That’s why this device has a much older 10th-generation Intel Core i5 CPU that can hit a total of 3.6GHz. You’ll also find a total of 8GB of RAM and an NVMe SSD. The combo should last you for basics like web browsing, but anything beyond that and you might need to just settle for a new laptop without a CD Drive, and buy an external reader, instead.
As far as the display goes, 1080p was the standard when this laptop was first released. While the laptop itself has a 17.3-inch display, the resolution will cap out at 1920 x 1080. You might not experience crisp details in movies, but you’ll still be able to enjoy the basics. You’ll have plenty of room to stack windows side by side too if you plan to use this device for productivity.
In terms of ports, there’s a lot for a laptop from this era. It ranges from 2 USB 2.0 ports, 1 USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A Port, 1 headset (headphone and microphone combo) port, 1 RJ45 – ethernet port, and 1 HDMI 1.4 port. You definitely won’t need a dongle.
On weight, this is a heavy device, as is typical for laptops with optical drives. That added weight is why laptop makers stopped including CD Drives, to begin with. Anyway, this laptop comes in at 6.17 pounds and measures 16.5 x 11.4 x 0.97 inches. It’ll be hard to carry around, so you might want to check out our next pick, which is a 15-incher.
Best 15-inch laptop: Lenovo IdeaPad 330
Third on our list is a 15-inch laptop, the Lenovo IdeaPad 330. This is one of the lone 15-inch laptops that we can find that still is for sale. It’s from 2019, so again, the specs won’t be the greatest, but it still can get the job done if you need a laptop just for an optical drive to use an old CD or DVD. Read on for more.
This laptop features an 8th-gen Intel Core i5-8250U which isn’t all that bad in 2022 for everyday tasks like web browsing. The notebook also packs 8GB of RAM, and 1TB of HDD storage. This is slower than an SSD, but the big space means you can store your documents, important photos, and other stuff on the laptop — when not using it as a CD or DVD player. Some models also come with optional Nvidia graphics, so if you find those, you can get away with light gaming, too in much older titles like CS: Go.
As far as the display goes, this laptop sports a 15-inch FHD display. Like our other picks, that’s 1920 x 1080 resolution. Again, it’s not as high resolution as you’ll get on modern 15-inch laptops, but for the basics, it will be fine. Note that flanking that display are some speakers. The laptop sports Dolby Audio speakers, which can help make music sound better, especially if played off a CD. If audio is important for you, then we do suggest you buy this laptop.
As always, we do want to end by talking about the ports, too. For a laptop from 2019, there is a shocker. It has a USB-C port. It’s not Thunderbolt, but you will be able to connect modern things like newer SSDs to this device without worry.
As you can tell, there aren’t that many laptops left with an optical drive in 2022. It’s mainly older devices, and many new laptop makers are no longer including the technology on board. You can buy an external optical drive instead, and connect it to a newer laptop (we have a pick for best new laptops) via USB-A or USB-C. The external optical drive we have below is a really great pick if this is for you. Or, you can check out our dedicated guide for more.