Built-in optical drives have become fairly rare, even for business laptops. But sometimes physical media is what you need. Here's the best systems to consider.
Years ago, every laptop came with an optical drive, which was crucial for installing software. Nowadays, a physical disc drive just isn’t needed on most systems, since software is usually either downloaded from the web or installed via a USB drive. Plus, laptops have gotten sleeker and more portable without the extra bulk an optical drive adds.
Still, a built-in CD/DVD drive can come in handy if installing and using legacy software is a regular part of your business plan. And lucky for you, there are a handful of business laptops that still offer the feature – though the number is dwindling with each passing year.
If you only need an optical drive on rare occasions, you might be better off picking up an external drive that connects to your laptop via USB and can cost as little as $15. But if you really can’t live without the feature built in, here’s a list of your best options.
Acer sells at least one optical-drive-equipped laptop in its TravelMate P2 line. The P2 is an affordable, mainstream work laptop with good security credentials, but it sports no special durability features. In general, TravelMate laptops are designed to be lightweight and business-friendly but are a bit boring to look at. The line was originally used by Texas Instruments, until it sold it to Acer in 1997.
Acer TravelMate P2
Dell still sells a couple of business laptops that come with optical drives, both of which are in the Precision line. Precision laptops are workstation-class systems that provide tons of power but are also large, heavy and tend toward the pricey. You won’t find one with a screen smaller than 15 inches, but the top-of-the-line model comes with 4TB of storage and a 4K display.
Dell Precision M6800
Dell Precision M4800
Several optical-drive-equipped systems can be found in HP’s line of ProBook laptops. ProBooks are midrange, mainstream business laptops that lack the premium build quality or durability of HP’s EliteBook line. But these gray, plastic laptops are designed to be more affordable, while combining the best of new technologies with older gear, such as optical drives.
HP ProBook 455 G3
HP ProBook 650 G2
HP ProBook 655 G2
Lenovo’s only optical-drive-equipped laptops come in its ThinkPad line. These business-class laptops are known for their excellent keyboards, durable designs and strong security options. The black and boxy design of the series, originally developed by IBM, makes it immediately recognizable. You might also recognize the red nubbin between the G and H keys, called the TrackPoint navigation device. Bonus fact: By 2003, ThinkPads were the only laptops certified for use in the International Space Station.
Lenovo ThinkPad L560
Lenovo ThinkPad E560
Toshiba offers a handful of laptops with optical drives in its Tecra line. Tecra laptops (known as Dynabook Tecra in Japan) are business-class devices with strong security via such features as SecureSleep, Service Boot and System Password Security. These machines often have plastic designs and aren’t as durable as systems in Toshiba’s pricier Portege line of premium business laptops.
Toshiba Tecra A50
Toshiba Tecra C50