The Drive to Nowhere
March 29, 2007 7:07 PM   Subscribe

This may be an easy one (at least I hope so - and no, it hasn't been easy for me). Is there a site, or more than one site, that is somewhat devoted to compatibilities in hardware? I'm looking at notebook cdrw/dvd-rom (slim) drives and it would be nice to know which models will - ostensibly, anyway - work with which laptops. Help if you can. Thanks.
posted by zephyrbill to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
Best answer: I'd check out NotebookForums - signal to noise is way worse than MeFi, but I've had pretty good luck asking questions there - they have subforums for many of the major laptop makers, and someone should be able to help if you have a relatively common laptop.
posted by mikeyk at 7:21 PM on March 29, 2007

You don't mention if you need internal or external. My internal drive on my laptop just went out so I went to Fry's and bought an external USB Philips dvd/cd-rw burner. Really, anyone will be compatible, it just depends on what you need.
posted by hammerthyme at 12:50 AM on March 30, 2007

Best answer: Laptops are finicky beasts. In 99% of cases, the best (only?) option is to buy a drive specifically intended for your make and model of laptop. My G4 powerbook combodrive went byebye a couple of years ago and replacing it would've involved a complete teardown and rebuild almost, so I've been using a Lacie D2-based firewire DVD-writer as a replacement. However, NotebookForums sounds like a good plan. You might also try googling for "yourbrand" "yourmodel" "replacement cd drive" or something along those lines.
posted by Alterscape at 3:54 AM on March 30, 2007

I second hammerthyme's recommendation of an external unit, which should do anything you want except possibly boot from a system disk.

If you want a working internal drive, collect the existing drive specifications published by the laptop's manufacturer -- connection type and form factor are the most important. Then check parts resellers for devices with equivalent specifications. Laptop manufacturers frequently source from multiple manufacturers, so there are likely to be several optical drive models that fit your drive bay.

Try to find takeapart diagrams for your laptop. If you've never taken a laptop apart before, this might be one of the easier ways to learn, but you have to be very careful -- the data cable in particular is fragile and easily damaged.
posted by ardgedee at 5:56 AM on March 30, 2007

This is from a friend who owns a laptop component retail business:
Laptop internal optical drives (also called slimline drives) are all basically identical with one very, very irritating difference; the tray itself is constructed differently between drive manufacturers and therefore the faceplate cannot be swapped between drives. The outside casing itself is manufactured to a global specification so that the mounting screw holes and the IDE connector in the back are all in the same position, making it universal in that sense.

When seeking a replacement, it is best to either find the exact same drive that you currently own (find this under Windows device manager or Apple laptop information) and swap the faceplate if necessary, or find any laptop drive that has a faceplate that will definitely fit the space provided for a faceplate in your laptop (many drives are provided with a rectangular black faceplate that is the same height and width as the drive itself).
[commercial link warning] - he suggested looking at this drive (links to his site). I expect you could call them, and maybe they could help you.

posted by amtho at 12:14 PM on March 30, 2007

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