Buying a computer system/vertical tower with cd/dvd player


QUESTION: I'm thinking of buying a Dell desktop with a smaller than standard tower, and it stands vertically. It has a DVD/CD player/tray that is vertical too. Do you think this will affect playing disks, as far as skipping or anything else? Someone online says it does, because 'gravity kicks in' but that's the only comment I saw about it.  Thanks

ANSWER: No it will not have a negative effect on discs - optical drives actually "grip" the disc during play to prevent wobble, which also allows the disc to be read vertically. In a slim tower you may also have a mobile/laptop-style drive (if the drive is thinner than a typical PC drive this is an indication of such), which will "snap" the disc into place when it is inserted. If it uses a conventional PC drive, you may have to hold the disc in place while the drawer closes, but once the disc is taken into the drive, a clamp will hold the disc in place.

This video shows a disc drive operating with its covers removed:

Notice the "puck" that is placed on top of the disc? If the top covers were on the drive, that piece would be lowered and placed by the drive itself. The piece is held in place with magnets (these present no danger to optical media or you), and ensures the disc remains stable during operation (CD/DVD/Blu-ray is spun at very high speed and without a stabilizer would quickly begin to wobble which can lead to irrevocable damage to the disc (they usually shatter) and potentially drive).

There should be no risk or danger to vertical operation as a result, and many systems have employed this layout for years.

If you have further questions, feel free to ask.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Bob, The desktop pc I'm considering has a smaller size tower than standard and has a power supply of 220W, compared to 300 with the larger tower. I'm not a gamer and don't plan to upgrade, but do you think having just 220W will cause any kind of problems in performance or anything else?  Thanks again

ANSWER: Not unless the system needs more power than the PSU can provide, but I'd be relatively comfortable trusting that Dell has done their homework and sized the PSU appropriately. There's no benefit to any system in having a PSU that provides superfluous capacity, unless you're hoping to have "wiggle room" for upgrades (e.g. you buy the system today and expect to add a bunch of stuff to it in the summer), but if you're likely to just keep the machine in the configuration it ships with, it should be no problem at all.

If you have further questions, feel free to ask.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Bob, just one thing I thought of re: the power. The only thing I may upgrade in the future would be increasing the memory from 8GB to maybe 12 or 16GB. Would this require more power than the 220W it comes with? Or does one have nothing to do with the other?

If you increase the memory capacity by using larger modules (e.g. you go from a pair of 4GB modules to a pair of 8GB modules) there should be no change in power draw, if you increase the memory capacity by using additional modules (e.g. you add a pair of 4GB modules to an existing pair of 4GB modules) there will be a slight increase in power draw. Either way it is nothing that would be a worry for a 220W PSU in this system. The kinds of upgrades that would be potentially problematic would be adding a large number of hard-disks (e.g. an 8-disk RAID array), a high performance graphics card (some of the best can draw 220W all by themselves), or anything else that will demand a lot of power in operation (this doesn't include external devices that have their own AC power source). Since this is an SFF system, your expansion options for "power hungry devices" are relatively limited, as many of the biggest consumers will likely be larger than your case supports. For typical usage (e.g. you aren't trying to animate the CGI for the next Star Wars movie, or play the latest DirectX 12 game across 3 4K displays, or cure cancer, etc) there is nothing at all wrong with modern SFF systems, as modern CPUs and mainstream graphics hardware have quite frankly become excellent in recent years (to the point that modern "entry level" graphics hardware is generally suitable for many games and other graphics-intensive operations, and modern CPUs are generally good enough across the entire range of prices for a huge range of applications).

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask.


Buying a computer system

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I have nearly two decades of experience in IT, computer repair, and related fields and will attempt to provide the most solid, brand-agnostic advice when it comes time to purchase a new computer, or upgrade an existing machine. I can answer anything from the seemingly basic to the downright complicated - and will do my best to provide this information in a clear and concise manner.


I have been an enthusiast of PC's for many years, and can answer questions about the purchase/use of a new computer or the purchase, installation, and use of upgrades for existing computers. There probably isn't a whole lot related to the home computer that I haven't seen over the years.

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