Sony VAIO Pro 13 Touch Ultrabook Review – Pre-Configured SATA PCIe SSD Far From Ideal

DISASSEMBLY AND SSD IDENTIFICATION

We never recommend disassembly of any portable system by anyone, however there may be times where it may be necessary for hardware upgrades.  Such is the case for the VAIO Pro 13 with respect to upgrading the SSD or Wifi Card.  Disassembly of the base is relatively simple and starts with the removal of the long rubber lip and two smaller rubber feet, as well as the plastic door in the middle of the base, which will unclip.  From there, remove the screws as shown here:

Vaio Pro 13 Bottom

Once the screws have been removed, all that is necessary is to gently start pulling up on the base plate starting at the top center and working your way around.  Remember to be careful when clearing the ports on the right side.

VAIO Opened1

To the best of our knowledge, the Sony VAIO Pro 13 ultrabook ships with either the Sony XP941 M.2 ‘native’ PCIe SSD or the Toshiba HG5d M.2 ‘SATA  based’ PCIe SSD, the latter being present in our received sample system.  The Toshiba HG5d M.2 PCIe SSD is available in capacities of 60, 128, 256 and 512GB.  It is a 6Gbps blade style SSD with maximum read and write data transfer speeds of just over 500MB/s.

Vaio Toshiba SSD

It contains a controller that was created by Marvell, however, Toshiba has improved this SSDs capabilities significantly through their own engineering and firmware expertise.  This controller would be specifically constructed for use with M.2 SATA based PCIe SSDs. This is also a bit of an opportunity to speak about the M.2 interface.

Vaio Toshiba Controller

In the above picture, we see that there are two slots in the interface (or connector) and these are termed as  ‘keys’ on either end, the ‘B’ key on the left beside the small connector containing 6 teeth while the ‘M’ key on the right is beside that with 5.  M.2 SSDs of this type are SATA PCIe SSDs and only capable of SATA 3 speeds of just over 500MB/s.  If there were only one slot, as seen in our previous review of the Samsung XP941 SSD, performance could increase significantly as data transfer opens up to PCIe Ver.2.0 X4 (2GB/s) lanes.  The key within this type of SSD is the ‘M’ key. These are both termed as M.2 SSDs as the connector that each slides into is a M.2 connector, the physical difference between both SSDs being the pin-out assignment.

Vaio Toshiba Memory

There are also four modules of Toshiba 19nm NAND flash memory on the PCB, each being 32GB in capacity for a RAW total of 128GB.  Once formatted, the capacity available for consumer use is reduced to 103GB.

CRYSTAL DISK INFO VER 5.6.2

Crystal Disk Info provides some excellent information about the SSD itself to include its health, product information, ‘power on’ information as well as the characteristics of the SSD. We can see that the SSD is capable of TRIM as it is not grayed out as with AAM.

VAIO CDIWe can also tell by the power on count and hours that this unit has been through several other reviewers before reaching our hands.

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Cape Dave
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Cape Dave

Kind of like a tire with not enough air in it 🙂 It will never produce the results hoped for. Thanks for the heads up. MBA is still looking good!

vaio pro 13 user
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vaio pro 13 user

Been using it for 3 days and found wifi continuous disconnects every 5sec, plus slow wifi connection (1/3rd of the nominal achieved download speed) compared to other laptops. The SSD is only 52Gbytes free for the user. One should delete a lot of content to free up space. Apart from those a brilliant piece of ultrabook, but needs a lot of work from the user to be productive.

Tsais
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Tsais

On almost all ultrabooks, this issue is the same and can be fixed in the same way: Set your preferred WiFi mode to 2.4 GHz in the WiFi card driver settings. The default is usually 5 GHz, which will cause the issue if your 5 GHz reception is marginal for one reason or other. It works like this: Unit tries to connect with 5GHz, fails, falls back to 2.4 GHz, gets connection: your internet works. After a short time, it tries 5GHz again, fails: your connection dropped. Falls back to 2.4 GHz: your connnection is back on again. And so… Read more »

Sean
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Sean

You can order it without bloatware directly from Sony at no extra cost. I did today 🙂

Les@TheSSDReview
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Congrats Sean! You should join ther Forums and do a bit of a review! Welcome to the PCIe world!

iCrunch
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iCrunch

Wow, that’s great! I don’t actually want to buy this Sony machine, but it will force Apple to redesign (as opposed to just “refresh”) the MacBook Air, like adding a Retina display or how about just an IPS display vs. the atrocious TN panel they have in there now. Speaking of refreshes, I just ordered a CTO/BTO model of the JUST-refreshed iMacs with a 256GB PCIe SSD, which almost certainly will be the Samsung XP941, except it won’t be artificially slowed down for the purpose of battery longevity, which I think Apple did on the Air. I’ll do some benchies… Read more »

Tsais
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Tsais

Les, I worry about the flex of the case. Not because I think the case would take any damage, but because of the main circuit board. Modern circuit boards are usually made with 6 to 8 layers, with tiny vertical interconnects between the layers. This is one reason why you should avoid bending them, because bending not only stretches the leads in the outer layers but will eventually shear off vertical interconnects. When I first saw the flex on this notebook, I figured Sony must have solved this issue by using several smaller circuit boards to alleviate the issue. But… Read more »

Les@TheSSDReview
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Cant say as I agree with this thought at all. We have been using the Toshiba Z830 Ultra that we reviewed for years now and I have to say that the flex has been more beneficial than anything else. I believe there is actually more flex in the Z830 in fact. Right now, my main system is the new MBA and I did get won over in the ability to have all 3 OS’s up and running simultaneously (OSX/W7/W8) but I have to say, the rigidity of the MBA (as much as i love the feel of this system, has… Read more »

Sean
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Sean

I agree. I was also concerned with flex on laptops before, as seen on many light weight models. But when I look at my previous powerful work laptops like Dell M4500, M4600 and M4800 they all had dents in the chassis. I prefer flexing over dents and broken parts and I’m not worried about the circuit board unless you drop it from heights were it would take damage no matter if the chassis was rigid or flexible. I think if you can live with the flex in Vaio Pro 13, it’s a great laptop with a really low weight. If… Read more »

Allegator
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Allegator

I’m seriously thinking about this unit. My understanding from what I’d read was that the SATAs shipped to Europe while all 13 inchers sold in the US contained the native PCIe Samsung. Would I be able to see that I have the Samsung in Device Manager?

Les@TheSSDReview
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Both of our units are bring shipped back to Sony so I cannot check, however, yes…the SSD identification should be visible in the Device Manager, as it has always been. Consider Amazon and our links if you enjoyed our report!

Sean
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Sean

Bought the Pro 13 today on Sony.no – could choose between SATA and PCIe SSD in the configurator. Went for 256GB PCIe SSD.

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