As far as just reading DVD-ROM discs, early DVD drives weren't problematic at all. The real problem with early DVD drive installations was the extra hardware and software required to play DVD video discs, which requires doing MPEG-2 decoding. 400MHz and faster processors can decode MPEG-2 video fast enough for stutter-free playback with a software-based decoder, but when DVDs first came out many processors were simply not fast enough to do this well.
That meant when you ordered a PC in the late-'90s to early '00s equipped with a DVD drive the system builder would often include a hardware based MPEG-2 decoder
, which was usually in the form of a secondary pass-through video card that offloaded the MPEG-2 decoding from the system processor. These cards required their own slots and drivers
, which greatly added to the complexity and cost of a system. In fact, here is an example of a Dell Dimension V333c
from 1998/99 that included exactly that sort of configuration. In the Original System Configuration
list you can see a Quadrant Cinemaster DVD decoder card
was included. Dell selected this card because it was one of the few with support (i.e. drivers) included in Windows 98
Fortunately, by the time Windows XP came out in 2001, most systems had processors that were fast enough to do the decoding via software alone
, meaning the MPEG-2 decoder cards were no longer required.
It is interesting to note that even though DVDs had become ubiquitous by the mid-'00s, Microsoft still doesn't include an MPEG-2 decoder with all Windows editions even today. For more information on playing DVDs in Windows, see the following article: Playing DVDs in Windows