Sony NEC Optiarc AD-7173A (2006, 18x)
Sony and NEC teamed up to cater to the optical drive market, hence the new optical drives manufactured by Sony NEC Optiarc. The AD-7173A was still based on parallel ATA, but the interface had reached 66 MB/s speed (rather than 33 MB/s). Since the drive’s 18x transfer speed equals 23.76 MB/s, even the older interface would have been fast enough to deliver sufficient bandwidth.
Our test sample, the 7173A, is the PATA version that supports Labelflash, which utilizes the drive’s laser to label the top side of the disc once you flipped it over. The 7170A does not support Labelflash and two equivalent models that ended on S rather than A were already based on SATA interfaces. Compared to the older ND-4570A, this drive goes from 16x to 18x recording speed and handles DVD-RAM at 12x as opposed to 5x. The 2MB buffer wasn’t modified.
DVD-5 creation starts faster than this drive's predecessor at almost 8x, which is a direct result of the faster rotation speed. Recording speed increases to almost 18x, but we found that the drive throttles speed to around 16x by the end of the recording process, most likely because of vibration.
Nevertheless, recording time for a DVD-5 was shorter, at 5 minutes and 29 seconds as opposed to 6:18 on the 16x drive. However, the write process for a double layer DVD-9 wasn’t quicker, as both drives were designed for 8x speeds during double-layer writes.