Replacing a broken Macbook optical drive.
June 14, 2009 3:23 PM   Subscribe

So I've got an older Macbook with a broken optical drive (it takes heroic measures to get it to eject discs), and I'm trying to figure out the best way to replace it.

This is probably a ridiculously simple question to answer, but I wanted to get the hive mind's advice first anyway. My plan is to buy an external cd/dvd drive and just write off the internal as a loss, since the guides I've found for replacing an internal optical drive indicate that it's more of a major task than I'm prepared to take on, and having it professionally replaced would cost a significant fraction of the value of the computer. Is there anything I should watch out for with this plan? Any specific drives that people recommend? I've noticed while idly browsing in stores that most all of the drives I've found say "requires Vista" or something equivalent; does this actually mean that these drives won't work with a Mac?
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A lot of the times the "requires vista" is for the bundled software. On my ancient G3 iMac the Firewire Sony DVD burner I bought for my Windows computer just worked when I plugged it in. I had to use Toast to burn the drives as iMovie and iDVD wouldn't work on it.

You might want to buy something from a Mac shop like OWC. That will work just fine.
posted by birdherder at 3:51 PM on June 14, 2009

That's what I'd do.

Perusing newegg, I see the options are kinda limited but this and this should work together for you.
posted by @troy at 3:56 PM on June 14, 2009

Are you sure you've exhausted the possibilities for professional repair? Definitely call Apple's customer service, if you haven't already, even if your machine is out of warranty: you should rule out the possibility that yours is a known issue or can be easily fixed without a hardware repair.

If there's an Apple-licensed repair facility in your area, try taking it there. They might be able to do the repairs for cheap, regardless of its warranty status.

If neither of those work, an external drive is a good idea. Other World Computing sells external optical drives; they're an all-Mac shop, so you shouldn't have to worry about compatibility issues.
posted by aparrish at 4:11 PM on June 14, 2009

I think there's a difference in the way Apple works with FireWire as opposed to USB. That might be worth looking into before you purchase -- can you boot the computer off an external drive? and does the type of connector make a difference?
posted by hippybear at 4:16 PM on June 14, 2009

Only caveat: Older macs won't boot from USB so you might need a firewire enclosure if you need to boot from CD. Other than that, any old optical drive in USB or firewire flavors should be fine.
posted by chairface at 1:42 PM on June 15, 2009

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