The $500 Gaming Machine

Optical Drive

Image source: NewEgg.

We had envisioned a low-budget game system without any optical drives to free up money for parts to improve game play performance. However, some games require the install disk to be in the drive to be able to play, utilizing the all-too-popular form of anti-piracy technique called disk checking. Assuming you have a network for installing the game files was a bit of a stretch so we need to include an optical drive. Even still, in a strictly gaming system, the optical drive is seldom used compared to other components.

We selected the bare-minimum equipment. This DVD-ROM from LiteOn (SOHD-16P9SBLK) suits our purposes just fine. LiteOn has a good reputation for quality and at $21.00, it's a real bargain. You may be thinking that a CD-ROM drive would be the bare minimum, but more and more game titles are released on DVD instead. And the fact that DVD-ROM drives are on par with CD-ROM drive prices, it's a no-brainer to go DVD.

Many readers may jeer at the fact that no burnable optical drive was selected, especially as prices have dropped dramatically in the last year. This is not intended as a media system, this is a streamlined gaming system on a budget, so let's stay focused. While burning CDs and DVDs as backups is smart, it's by no means mandatory. Plus, adding a DVD burner down the road is probably the easiest of all potential upgrades.