How to Install an Optical Drive

The optical drive – whether in the old-school DVD format or the more modern Blu-ray – is becoming less common as more of our data moves online, but it’s still a useful component to have in your PC.

Depending on its age, your optical drive might have a SATA connector…


…or an older IDE connector…


TIP: If you’re installing more than one IDE drive, you’ll need to set the jumpers on the rear so that one drive is the master and the other is the slave.

1. Fit the drive


First, fit the optical drive into a spare 5.25in drive bay in the case. Some cases have flaps at the front to hide the optical drive from view. If you have a screwless case or your drives need to be fitted on runners, consult your case’s manual for full instructions.

Other cases require you to screw the drive into place. The optical drive needs to be slid into the case from the front. This often means that you need to have the front of the case removed if you haven’t done that yet. Slide the drive into the bay. The front of it needs to be flush with the case where there’s no flap, and slightly further back if your case has a drive flap.

To tell where the drive should be, push it in until the screw holes in its side match up with the round screw holes inside the case. Now use the four screws (provided with the optical drive or case) – two either side – to hold the drive in place.

2. Fit the IDE cable


Most optical drives use the older IDE data connector. If yours uses SATA, follow the instructions for fitting a hard disk. An IDE
cable is a wide ribbon cable. It’s harder to plug in than a SATA cable, but shouldn’t cause any problems if you know what to look out for. First, the cable can plug in only one way due to a blocked off connector in the cable. Second, the colored cable (red or white depending on the cable provided with your motherboard) goes to the right of the connector closest to the power connector. Plug the cable in gently and as straight as possible so as not to bend any pins on the drive.

3. Fit the power cable


Optical drives tend to use a Molex power connector. This is the large four-pin connector on your power supply. Locate a free one and push it into the drive’s power connector. Use a bit of force to get it to connect properly. Once you think it’s in, give it a gentle tug to make sure it’s secure.

4. Fit the IDE cable onto the motherboard


Now you’re ready to plug the cable into the motherboard. Be careful not to get the connector confused with the floppy disk connector; check your motherboard’s manual for its location. The IDE connector can plug in only one way, thanks to a notch in the motherboard’s connector. Plug in the cable gently as straight as possible to avoid bending any pins.


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