With so many cheap and portable storage options available, not to mention all the free cloud and file transfer services, people use DVD-readers and burners less and less. But it can be quite practical to have, even if it's just to (re-)install Windows. We tested 9 internal DVD and Blu-ray drives, so you know what you should pick when you assemble that new desktop PC.
Once upon a time all new software had to be installed from a CD-ROM (or floppies, if we go back further), but that has become the exception rather than the rule. When you buy a new game, you download and install it from Steam or one of the other online services (such as EA's Origin). Back-ups are much more affordable and practical to do with an external hard disk or a NAS device, especially now that hard disks contain hundreds of gigabytes and even terabytes of data. These devices also lend themselves better for storing your media collections.
When we asked the suppliers of blank DVDs, they reported that the sales of optical media is currently only a fraction of what it once was in the hey-day of CD-ROMs and DVDs. New PCs and laptops often don't even come with an optical drive, and most people don't even seem to miss it very much.
And while DVD burners once were very common, Blu-ray burners never really achieved that level of popularity. When the first Blu-ray burners arrived for consumers, the trend of increasingly larger and affordable (external) hard disks had already gained a lot of traction. If you were thinking in terms of price per GB, then using Blu-ray discs was not the most appealing option.
Now that BD-R discs cost less than a euro apiece, that argument is less relevant. However, for the price of 80 BD-R discs you can also buy a 2 TB external hard disk with the same capacity. How you intend to use the storage will then be the determining factor. Some people probably watch Blu-ray films on their PC, but it's much more common to download movies from the internet, or to stream them from online sources.
So optical drives have lost their position of being standard features in computers, but that doesn't mean they're entirely obsolete. Especially when you build a new PC, it's the easiest way to install Windows. And if you don't have an internet connection yet, it's a great way to get the basic drivers installed to get things going. To get an impression of the current market of optical readers, we tested five DVD burners, two Blu-ray Combo drives and two Blu-ray burners.