How to Install an Optical Drive

The optical drive, whether it is 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

sata-optical-drive-connections

or an older IDE connector.

ide-optical-drive-connections

Installing an optical drive is fairly easy, but you must understand how they connect. This article walks you through the process.

Step 1: Fit the Device into the Drive Bay

insert-an-optical-drive-into-pc-case

First, find and fit the optical drive into a spare 5.25-inch drive bay within the case. Some cases, such as those found in select ASUS computers, have flaps on the front to hide the optical drives from view. Those models require removal of the front panel in most situations.

If you have a screwless drive bay design or one with runners, consult your computer manual for full instructions.

Other cases require you to screw the drive into place from the sides. The optical drive gets pushed into the case from the front, and that is where removing the front panel comes into play. The front of the drive needs to be flush with the case (flap-free models) or slightly further back for cases with flaps in the front.

To identify where the drive should be, push it in until the screw holes on one side line up with the round screw holes on the bay’s sidewalls. Use the four screws (provided with the optical drive or case) to hold the drive securely in place. There are usually four screws in total.

Step 2: Connect the EIDE or SATA Cable into the Drive

The second step to installing an optical drive is to attach the data cables to the device. The process depends on whether you have a SATA or EIDE DVD/Blu-Ray drive.

Connecting SATA Plugs into the Drive

SATA optical drives feature a slim plug that features a right-angle notch, ensuring it only fits one way.
sata-cables-462x346
Gently push the plug into the drive’s socket, and then check that it is parallel with the drive’s back end. When in place, apply firm pressure to ensure the connection is secure.

connect-sata-data-connector-to-optical-drive

Connecting EIDE Cables into the Drive

IDE (technically EIDE) optical drives include a 40-pin, 80-wire cable that is much wider and more difficult to insert. The EIDE cable only fits one way due to a protruding key design in the connector’s middle section.


Insert one side of the connector at a slight angle, and then partially insert the other side so that the plug is even. Next, push the entire connector (with medium force) into the socket on the drive. The slight angle method ensures the first pins align properly before inserting, which prevents forced bends.

Once you verify that all pins line up, give the connector a firm push to ensure it goes in all the way. This process requires patience since the plug is difficult to fit into the opening. You don’t want to bend those pins or push too hard if one was not lined up correctly.

TIP: If you’re installing more than one IDE drive, you’ll need to set the jumpers on the rear so that one drive gets set as master and the other set to slave. Most drives have a diagram on top.

Step 3: Insert the Power Cable

Once you have installed the optical drive and connected the data cable, it is time to attach the power cables.

Inserting SATA Power Plugs into the Drive

connect-sata-power-connector-to-optical-drive

DVD/Blu-Ray drives and recorders typically use the SATA connection. The SATA power cable is slim and flat.

Find an available power plug and insert it into the optical drive.

Inserting MOLEX Power Plugs into the Drive

Older DVD drives with an EIDE connection use a Molex power connector. This plug is a large (compared to other PC plugs) white or black four-pin connector coming from your power supply. Locate a free one and push it into the drive’s power socket. Use a bit of force to ensure proper connection. Give the plug a GENTLE tug to make sure it’s secure.

4. Fit the IDE or SATA Cable into the Motherboard

With all connections hooked up on the optical drive, you’re ready to plug the cable into the motherboard.

The same insertion method used on the optical drive applies to the motherboard. The SATA socket includes the same right-angle design to prevent plugging it in the wrong way. You should hear a click once the connector is in place.

connect-sata-cable-to-motherboard

An EIDE motherboard socket connects the same way as the optical drive, except you often have two color options. Usually, blue is the primary connection, and white gets used for the second EIDE controller on the board. However, some motherboards include white EIDE sockets only, one black plus one white, or a different color from the norm.

Regardless of IDE colors, the motherboard’s EIDE connections leave pin 20 empty. Some plugs block off that pin as a secondary protective measure to ensure a correct fit on the board.

You can always check your motherboard’s manual for specifications and location information. The IDE connector plugs in one way only, thanks to that previously mentioned notch design in the EIDE socket. Push the cable in gently and as straight as possible to avoid bending any pins.

Now that all connections are attached and secured, you can turn on your PC and let it detect the new drive at boot and in Windows.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Disclaimer: Some pages on this site may include an affiliate link. This does not effect our editorial in any way.