Pioneer’s New Ultra HD Blu-ray PC Drives Require Kaby Lake, HDMI 2.0a And Windows 10

It looks like Pioneer will be the first company to release a line of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray drives for PCs. Pioneer in Japan announced two models that are expected to go on sale later this month, both of which stick to the standard half-height 5.25-inch optical disc drive form factor. However, both also require Windows 10, at least 6GB of system memory, and a Kaby Lake processor.

The two models are the BDR-S11J-BK and BDR-S11J-X. They've very similar to one other, with the higher end BDR-S11J-X sporting a paint job that's better at dissipating heat, low resistance flat cable, anti-vibration components, and the ability to check and display the playback quality of an audio CD (CD-DA) in four different levels. If it detects a low quality level, it can recommend a change in settings for better sound. In short, the BDR-S11J-X does a superior job at ripping CDs and playing back audio.

Pioneer 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Drives

Of course, the big news here is the ability of both drives to play 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs on the PC. For that to be possible, users will need a well equipped system, one that is running a 7th generation Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processor based on the company's Kaby Lake architecture. The drives tap into the integrated Intel HD Graphics 630 GPU for 4K Ultra HD playback and are not compatible with Kaby Lake-U CPUs, just Kaby Lake-S and Kaby Lake-H.

Those are hefty requires for an optical drive and they're in addition to needing an HDIM 2.0a port, as well as an HDMI 2.0a compatible 4K monitor. If you have all those piece in place, then you can install one of Pioneer's new optical drives and enjoy 4K Ultra HD playback on your PC.

These are both SATA drives with write speeds rated at 16x BD-R, 14x BD-R DL, 8x BD-R LTH, 2x BD-RE and 2x BD-RE DL, along with a maximum BD-ROM read speed of 12x The drives can also write triple-layer BD-R media at 8x, quad-layer BD-R at 6x, and triple layer BD-RE at 2x.

The drives will ship in February. Pioneer has not yet released any pricing information.