What Is An Optical Drive On A Mac

  1. What Is An Optical Drive On A Macbook
  2. What Is An Optical Drive On A Laptop
  3. What Is An Optical Drive On A Pc
  4. What Is An Optical Drive On A Mac Computer

Apr 11, 2018 An optical drive provides only a legacy functionality for many, so dropping $20 on one is wasteful. Music CD sales are plummeting and DVD's are selling more but aren't holding on to their market. Plug it into your computer's USB port to play and burn discs or to load new software onto the hard drive. This slim Dell USB DVD/RW drive fits into a tote bag, and it draws power directly from the computer's USB port for hassle-free operation. See all External DVD Drives. Price Match Guarantee. Link to Drive from Mac. Once the drive is shared on the PC, you are ready to go back to the Mac and load the optical drive in the Finder. In Finder, choose the menu item “Go - Connect to Server.”. Click Browse and you will see a list of shared folders on your network. Locate the name of your shared folder, the DVD drive on the PC,. Apr 02, 2007 An optical drive is a drive which is capable of reading CDs or DVDs; most currently available drives also include the ability to burn one or more of CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD-RAM, and dual layer recordable DVDs. An external optical drive will allow you to access discs on your Mac. To do this, you’ll need to buy an external disc reader that plugs into your Mac via a USB cable. Such an external drive could read CDs and DVDs, play Blu-Rays, and even burn discs — if that’s what you want.

Silver Tower Mac Pro (Dual Optical) Q&A - Updated May 17, 2017

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How do you upgrade the hard drives in the Mac Pro to SSDs? What SSD options are available? Which SSD configuration provides the fastest performance?

When this Q&A first was published eons ago, Apple did not offer an SSD option for the Mac Pro and equipping any Mac Pro model with an SSD involved a creative use of zip ties or some other method to delicately anchor a 2.5' SSD in a 3.5' hard drive bay.

Thankfully, times have changed. Starting on July 27, 2010, with the introduction of the 'Mid-2010' Mac Pro models, Apple began to offer SSDs as a standard configuration (albeit at significantly higher prices than SSD options from other companies available for self-installation).

Also, third-party options have emerged that make it quick and easy to install SSDs in the traditional Mac Pro hard drive bays as well as in the optical drive bays. Much faster PCIe 2.0-based SSDs have been developed, too.

Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (Mac Pro)

Identification Help

As the SSD installation options available vary depending on the Mac Pro model, it is particularly important to know which Mac Pro model you have.

Each Mac Pro line can be identified by the Model Identifier in software and externally by EMC Number.

To locate the model identifier, select 'About This Mac' under the Apple Menu on your computer and click the 'More Info...' button. If the Mac Pro is running OS X 'Lion' (10.7) or later, click the 'System Report' button after clicking 'More Info...' as well.

The EMC number is listed on the rear of the system in small type.

The specific identifiers for each model are easiest to visualize as a chart:

Mac Pro


Model ID


Original (2006)

Original (2006)

Original (2006)

Original (2007)

Early 2008

Early 2008

Early 2008

Early 2008

Early 2009

Early 2009

Early 2009

Early 2009

Early 2009

Early 2009







Server Mid-2010

Server Mid-2010

Server Mid-2010

Server Mid-2010

Server Mid-2010

Server Mid-2010






Server Mid-2012

Server Mid-2012

Server Mid-2012

Server Mid-2012

Server Mid-2012

EveryMac.com's Ultimate Mac Lookup feature -- as well as the EveryMac app -- also can identify these systems by their Serial Numbers.

SSD Hard Drive Bay Installation Options (Easiest)

Each Mac Pro system -- regardless of series -- has 'four independent 3 Gb/s Serial ATA [2.0] cable-free, direct attach hard drive bays' with 'four internal hard drive carriers included.' As these hard drive carriers are designed for a 3.5' hard drive, an adapter is needed to properly accommodate a 2.5' SSD.

Photo Credit: Icy Dock (Left), OWC Mount Pro (Right)

For all Mac Pro models (and even Windows PCs), the Icy Dock makes it easy to 'convert' just about any 2.5' SSD to fit in any 3.5' drive bay. For the 'Early 2009,' 'Mid-2010,' and 'Mid-2012' (A1289) Mac Pro models, the Mount Pro, from site sponsor Other World Computing, is a clever 2.5' drive adapter that smoothly replaces the stock Mac Pro drive sleds.

With the exception of the adapters, the SSD installation procedure is the same as it is for installing a hard drive in the Mac Pro models. For video instructions of this installation method, please refer to 'How do you upgrade the hard drives in the Mac Pro?'

SSD Optical Drive Bay Installation Options

Both optical drive bays in all Mac Pro models each have a 3 Gb/s Serial ATA 2.0 connector and it is entirely possible to use either optical drive bay for SSD installation. OWC offers a variety of 'Multi-Mount' adapters and some of these make it easy to install as many as two 2.5' SSDs in each of the 5.25' Mac Pro optical drive bays.

Photo Credit: OWC (Multi-Mount Adapters)

Which adapter to purchase, however, depends on which Mac Pro you have.

For the original and 'Early 2008' Mac Pro models (A1186), you will need to purchase the MM352A52MP Multi-Mount adapter kit (on the left), which supports two 2.5' SSDs. For the 'Early 2009,' 'Mid-2010,' and 'Mid-2012' (A1289) Mac Pro models, you will instead need to purchase the MM352A52MP8 Multi-Mount adapter kit (on the right, which is shown with a 2.5' SSD and a traditional 3.5' hard drive).

After installing the SSD(s) in the Multi-Mount adapter itself, plugging in the SSD-equipped Multi-Mount adapters is essentially the same process as installing a second optical drive in the Mac Pro.

See 'How do you install a second optical drive or replace the primary one in the Mac Pro models?' for video installation instructions that cover this process.

SSD PCIe 2.0 Card Installation Options (Highest Performance)

Whether installed in a hard drive bay or an optical drive bay, however, the SSD will be limited by the 300 MB/s maximum data rate of the SATA 2.0 connection itself.

Because of PCIe bus limitations, those with original Mac Pro models from 2006 and 2007 should stick with the above hard drive and optical drive bay options unless there is value in more storage capacity, even at a slower speed.

However, for those interested in the maximum possible performance from an SSD in 'Early 2008' and later Mac Pro models, bypassing the drive bays entirely and installing an SSD-equipped PCIe 2.0 card definitely is the way to go.

Three such modern, fast SSD-equipped PCIe 2.0 cards for these increasingly vintage Mac Pro models include the Sonnet Tempo SSD Pro Plus, Kingston HyperX Predator PCIe SSD, and OWC Mercury Accelsior Pro Q.

Sonnet Tempo SSD Pro Plus

Photo Credit: Sonnet Technologies (Tempo SSD Pro Plus)

The Sonnet Tempo SSD Pro Plus supports standard, and comparatively inexpensive, 2.5' SSDs, although it is large and occupies a full length PCIe 2.0 slot as a result. As 2.5' SSDs continue to increase in capacity and fall in price, this card makes it easy to swap out SSD modules as your needs change. It has two external eSATA ports for additional connectivity, as well.

This PCIe 2.0 card uses a PLX PCIe Switch to bypass the internal limitations of the Mac Pro and reach data transfer speeds up to 960 MB/s. With two cards installed, it can reach an incredible maximum data transfer speed of up to 1700 MB/s.

Kingston HyperX Predator PCIe SSD

Photo Credit: Kingston (HyperX Predator PCIe SSD)

The Kingston HyperX Predator PCIe SSD, available from a variety of resellers, effectively is an HHHL (Half Height, Half Length) PCIe 2.0 x4 adapter for an included SSD with an M.2 connector. It is available in 240 GB, 480 GB, and 960 GB capacities that support different maximum data transfer speeds. The 240 GB supports 600 MB/s write and 1400 MB/s read, the 480 GB supports 1000 MB/s write and 1400 MB/s read, and the 960 GB supports 1000 MB/s write and 1300 MB/s read.

Note that Macs do not have an M.2 connector, so the SSD included with this PCIe 2.0 x4 adapter cannot be reused with a notebook Mac.

OWC Mercury Accelsior Q

Photo Credit: OWC, Inc. (Mercury Accelsior Pro Q)

The OWC Mercury Accelsior Pro Q is a full height, half length PCIe 2.0 x16 card with integrated flash memory storage. It is available in 480 GB as well as massive 1 TB and 2 TB capacities and provides maximum writes and reads of a whopping 1362 MB/s and 1450 MB/s, respectively.

Installation Videos

For the Mercury Accelsior Pro Q series, OWC also provides helpful installation videos:

Mac Pro (Early 2008)

Mac Pro (Early 2009-Mid-2012)

From watching the videos above, it should be clear that the installation procedure is simple and effectively like any other PCIe card.

Mac Pro SSD Upgrade Conclusion

It once was reasonable to question whether or not the extra performance of an SSD was worth the extra price compared to a hard drive, but those days have since passed. As SSD prices have moderated, now few who value the power and expansion of a Mac Pro doubt that the performance of an SSD is worth the price compared to a hard drive, or at least in addition to hard drives, but which SSD option is best for you depends on both your budget as well as your storage and performance needs.

If something simple and inexpensive is your highest priority, and you have available hard drive bays, it is quick to install an SSD in a free hard drive bay using an Icy Dock or Mount Pro adapter. If your hard drive bays are full, installing an SSD or two or more in the optical drive bay(s) also is fairly straightforward with the right Multi-Mount adapter. If performance is your top priority, installing an überfast SSD-equipped PCIe card in your Mac Pro will make the system just about as fast as it can be.

Mac Pro SSD Purchase & Professional Installation Options

In theory, just about any SSD that meets the minimum requirements should be compatible with the Mac Pro. However, it always is best to buy from a trusted company with Mac knowledge for the most trouble-free experience and the Mac Pro-specific third-party products make installation much easier and can even provide higher performance, too.

In the US (and many other countries), site sponsor Other World Computing sells SSDs compatible with all Mac Pro models, the Mount Pro, the Multi-Mount adapter kits, and the OWC Mercury Accelsior Q and Sonnet Tempo SSD Pro Plus PCIe cards.

In the UK and Ireland, site sponsor Flexx sells Mac Pro compatible SSDs with free shipping. The company provides flat rate shipping to France, Germany, and Switzerland and inexpensive shipping for all of Europe, too.

In Australia, site sponsors Macfixit and Upgradeable sell Mac Pro compatible SSDs with fast shipping, a money-back guarantee and more.

In New Zealand, site sponsor Upgradeable New Zealand sells Mac Pro SSDs with fast delivery to all corners of the country, precise compatibility, a lifetime warranty, and a money-back guarantee.

Also see:

  • How do you upgrade the hard drives in the Mac Pro models? How many drives of what type are supported?
  • How do you install a second optical drive or replace the primary one in the Mac Pro models? What options are available for the second Mac Pro 'optical drive bay'?
  • How many PCI slots of what type are provided by the Mac Pro models? How do you install a PCIe card in the Mac Pro?

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What Is An Optical Drive On A Macbook

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  • >What is the SuperDrive?
  • >What you can do with a SuperDrive
  • >Should I buy the last MacBook Pro with CD Drive?
  • >Why you don't need a SuperDrive
  • >Alternatives to the Apple USB SuperDrive

The last Apple Mac to ship with an optical CD or DVD drive was a 13in MacBook Pro, originally released in June 2012, but on sale until October 2016, when Apple discontinued that model, more information about the last Mac to ship with a SuperDrive below.

Since that date Apple has not sold any Macs with optical drives.

However, that doesn't mean that you can't get a CD or DVD drive to use with your Mac. Apple still sells the SuperDrive, which is its combined DVD and CD drive that you can plug into the USB port on your Mac. Read on to find out whether it is worth buying the Apple SuperDrive.

What is the SuperDrive?

Apple sells an external optical drive that reads and writes CDs and DVDs. It's called the USB SuperDrive, and it plugs into a USB-A port.

The SuperDrive has some limitations:

What Is An Optical Drive On A Pc

  • It’s a little slower than using a Mac with a built-in DVD drive.
  • Some Macs sold today - such as the MacBook - don't even have a USB-A port. You would need an adaptor to use the SuperDrive with a MacBook. We have a selection of the best USB-C adaptors here.
  • In the age of lightning fast broadband internet connection, USB Type-C, Thunderbolt 3, and lightning-fast flash drives, the optical drive does seem a little archaic.

Although DVD technology is starting to be phased out from the computer market on the whole, it is still a standard addition to many computers. Attaching a Apple USB SuperDrive to the Mac allows it to do the things that other computers with a DVD drive can do.

What you can do with a SuperDrive

There are still plenty of reasons why you might find a DVD drive useful on your Mac:

  • Install optical based software on your Mac. Sure most apps these days can be downloaded via the Internet - you can easily shop for apps on the Mac App Store - but if you have old software on CD/DVD you will need an optical drive install it.
  • Rip CDs into iTunes. You can copy the music from your CDs onto your Mac
  • Once you have copied your CD collection to your Mac you can play it via iTunes, and play it on your iPhone, iPad, or HomePod once you have synced up your devices.
  • Watch DVDs on your Mac. Read: How do I play a DVD on my Mac?
  • Rip DVDs onto your Mac. We have this tutorial about How to import DVDs to play on your iPad.
  • Burn a music CD, to play in the car, for example.
  • Burn a DVD, perhaps to archive photos, or family videos. Read how to burn a CD or DVD on a Mac here.
  • To back up your Mac. While it's probably preferable to use Time Machine or another app to keep your Mac backed up, you could use rewritable CDs or DVDs and keep up to date copies of your data on them.

You can find the SuperDrive on the Apple Store here, it costs £79/$79.

What Is An Optical Drive On A Mac Computer

Read our Apple SuperDrive review.

Should I buy the last MacBook Pro with CD Drive?

The last MacBook Pro with DVD drive was on sale from 2012 to 2016. It lacked the Retina display and offered the following specs:

  • 2.5GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 Ivy Bridge processor.
  • 4BM 1600MHz RAM.
  • 500GB 5400-rpm spinning hard drive.
  • Intel HD graphics 4000.

If you are desperate to get your hands on a Mac with an optical drive, you might be able to find this MacBook Pro model on eBay or a similar site. We found one on ebay here for £294.99.

We review the last model of the MacBook Pro to offer a DVD drive here.

Beware that if the model you find doesn't offer the specs listed above it may be even older than 2012. This could be an issue in time, as currently only a 2010 Mac models (and a few 2009 models) are currently compatible with High Sierra, Apple's current Mac operating system, and this could suggest that in a year or even less the 2012 model may not be compatible.

Even if you aren't planning to run the latest operating system, there are many MacBooks from 2010 and 2011 that are listed as discontinued or obsolete by Apple, meaning that you may not be able to ontain service or parts from Apple or Apple service providers.

Why you don't need a SuperDrive

At £79/$79 the SuperDrive is a pretty expensive option. Are there any other ways to add an optical drive to your Mac?

1. Use Remote Disk

If you have a CD you are desperate to import into iTunes, or a DVD you would really like to watch, you don't need to have a SuperDrive attached to the Mac you wish to import the tracks, or watch the DVD on.

If you have an old Mac with a DVD drive you can actually use that and get your current Mac to connect to it over the network.

To access the CD or DVD in the other computer you need to use Apple's Remote Disc feature.

Remote Disc lets you use files stored on a CD or DVD hosted from another computer, you can read about it here.

To access the CD or DVD on the other Mac follow these steps:

  1. Go to System Preferences on the Mac with the optical drive.
  2. Click on Sharing.
  3. Note the name in the Computer Name field.
  4. Tick the box beside DVD or CD sharing.
  5. Now, on the Mac without the optical drive open a Finder window.
  6. Select Remote Disc from the panel on the left.
  7. Click on the computer that you want to share from.

2. Use Apple Music, or just buy the tracks as MP3s

You may be able to listen to the tracks on your old CDs for free if you sign up for Apple Music. A subscription is £9.99 a month - which is only slightly more a year than the SuperDrive would cost.

Alternatively you might find that if you bought MP3 versions of the music on your CDs you may still have money left over from your £79/$79 SuperDrive budget afterwards.

3. Subscribe to Netflix, Amazon Prime, or another service

It's possible that he movies you want to RIP from your DVDs are available there.

Faiing that, you can purchase them from the iTunes Store.

Alternatives to the Apple USB SuperDrive

If you don't have an old Mac with a DVD/CD drive available for Remote Disc, there are plenty of cheaper DVD/CD drive options that can work with your Mac.

You should be careful to check compatibility when buying because Apple has moved so decisively away from optical support many DVD recorders do not support the Mac OS X operating system.

Options include:

LG, GP57EB40 External Ultraslim DVD Writer, £24.99, available here.

Asus, SDRW-08D2S-U LITE External Slimline SATA DVD Writer, £23.99, available here.

Patuoxun, External DVD CD Burner, £19.99, available here.

Emmaky, USB External Slot DVD CD Drive Burner Writer, £17.99, available here.

Blingco External CD DVD Disc Drive, £28.99, available here.

There's a more comprehensive roundup here: Best DVD and Blu-ray drives for Mac.