Computer CD buying tips

Updated: 05/03/2022 by Computer Hope

Purchasing a CD-ROM drive is a relatively easy task but can involve some considerations when purchasing.


Before considering purchasing a CD-ROM, it is also good consider the other available options.

CD-R - CD-R, or CD Recordable, drives allow you to do everything that a standard CD-ROM can do with the added ability of creating CDs. An excellent solution for anyone that is in need of a CD-ROM and backup solution. Tips on buying these drives are on our CD-R and CD-RW buying tips page. Cd-R's can only be written to one time.

CD-RW - Like a CD-R drive, but a CD-RW (CD Read/Write) drive allows you to read and write to a CD-RW disc thousands of times. While a little more expensive, this is another great solution for backups. Tips on buying these drives are on our CD-R and CD-RW buying tips page.

DVD - DVD, or Digital Versatile (video) Disc, allows a computer to not only do everything that a standard CD-ROM drive can do but is also capable of reading DVD Discs and DVD movies. For users who plan on playing games or watching movies on their computers, this is an excellent addition. Tips on buying these drives are on our DVD buying tips page.


The first and foremost important consideration when purchasing a CD-ROM is the interface that the CD-ROM utilizes, such as IDE, SCSI, USB, Parallel or PC-Card.

IDE/EIDE The most commonly used interface with IBM computers, IDE/EIDE/ATAPI interface is found on all IBM compatible motherboards. This interface allows for a total of four devices to be connected.

When considering an IDE/EIDE/ATAPI CD-ROM drive, it is important to verify you have the available connections for the device.

SCSI The only method with Apple computers and commonly used interface with IBM computers, SCSI allows for seven devices to be connected to the computer. It is a faster solution than the IDE/EIDE interface.

If you are user of an IBM compatible computer, it is important you ensure your computer has a SCSI interface already present in the computer. If not present, you need to install a SCSI card before being able to install a SCSI CD-ROM drive.

USB The USB interface allows a user to install a device and supports up to 127 devices.

Before you can install a USB CD-ROM drive, both IBM and Macintosh users need to verify that a USB port is present on the computer. If not present, an interface card needs to be installed.

Parallel Solution available for PC's, Parallel CD-ROM drives allow users that may not have the available resources or may have a portable computer to connect a CD-ROM drive.

PC-Card (PCMCIA) Excellent solution for users utilizing an older laptop that does not have a CD-ROM drive to connect a CD-ROM drive to their computer.

Transfer rates

Transfer rates can sometimes be a misleading when looking at purchasing a CD-ROM drive. The transfer rate of a CD-ROM drive is how fast a CD-ROM drive can access the data from a CD. This speed is only going to be noticeable when installing a program or copying large amounts of data from a CD.

Price range

For a CD-ROM drive, not to be confused with a CD-R, CD-RW, or DVD drive, the price varies depending on the speed and interface of the CD-ROM drive.

Standard IDE/SCSI CD-ROM Drive: $50.00 - $200.00
Parallel CD-ROM Drive: $150.00 - $300.00
PC Card and PCMCIA CD-ROM Drive: $100.00 - $300.00

Ready to buy

Once you've reviewed the appropriate information and believe you are ready to purchase a computer CD-ROM, ensure that the source you plan on purchasing the CD-ROM from is reputable. Review our section on what to look out for when purchasing over the Internet.

Computer Hope is here to help you with issues you may encounter during the purchase and installation of your CD-ROM, regardless if you purchased through another vendor.

To help support Computer Hope, you can purchase directly through our well-known associate, Amazon. Click the below browse button to begin browsing through the CD-ROM section.

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CD drive installation

Additional help and information about installing computer CD drives and other computer hardware is located on our How to install computer hardware page.