Thursday , 24 April 2014
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Sony VAIO Pro 13 Touch Ultrabook Review – Pre-Configured SATA PCIe SSD Far From Ideal

A few weeks back, we posted an article that stated our opinion of the new Apple MBA as being one of the top ultraportable laptops available today, and quite possibly, untouchable.  The backlash from Sony fans was amazing, many clearly noting that we hadn’t tested, or included, the new VAIO 13 Pro as a comparison system in that report…and they were right.  After looking into the VAIO Pro 13 specs a bit more closely, we felt that a definite contender had been excluded and, thanks to Sony, a VAIO Pro 13 was received for analysis not a week later.

Vaio Closed

In doing our background, we were impressed with the seemingly consistent accolades awarded to the VAIO Pro 13, many by top sites stating that this was an ‘Almost Perfect Notebook’. After all,  it has an IPS 1920×1080 screen, is worlds lightest 13″ ultra at only 2.37 lbs, and SSD performance of 1GB/s would qualify the VAIO Pro 13 as the worlds fastest ultra. Also knowing that  the VAIO Pro 13 contains the Samsung XP941 PCIe SSD that we had just reviewed, we believed that this ultrabook was well on it’s way to giving the MBA a run for its money.  In fact, our first impression was such that we had already  negotiated a price for retention of this ultrabook for future PCIe testing at TSSDR.

PRE-CONFIGURED UNITS MAY CONTAIN SLOWER SATA PCIE SSDS

Something not many people are aware of is that there are actually two physically different Sony VAIO Pro 13 ultrabook configurations being distributed, those that have been constructed for pre-configured sales and those for custom build.  Pre-configured configurations may use a SATA based PCIe SSD, while all custom builds use a much higher performing native PCIe SSD.  We were a bit confused as Sony was clearly advertising ‘PCIe solid state drive’ in its configurations worldwide, and even stating that the PCIe ‘booted-up faster, launched apps at lightning speeds and enjoy snappier overall performance capabilities versus a traditional mSATA SSD drive’  In the case of pre-configured SATA PCIe SSD systems, this marketing is incorrect.

This situation affected us directly as the Sony VAIO Pro 13 we received from Sony was a pre-configured model and contains a SATA based PCIe SSD, actually resulting in lower performance than the previous gen mSATA configuration.  We spoke with Sony.  Sony marketing confirmed to us that pre-configured models may or may not contain a SATA PCIE SSDs and that one of Canada’s VAIO Pro 13 pre-configurations contain a SATA PCIe SSD.  Although Sony wouldn’t confirm such, we were well aware that there was no way to identify one configuration from the next.  We knew this because the system we received for evaluation is SATA PCIe SSD based.  The perfomance difference between both systems is significant.  Later in our report, we will provide actual performance metrics and speak further on the difference between configurations.

UPDATE:  VAIO Pro 13 Native M.2 PCIe Review Posted!

SPECIFICATIONS

Getting away from PCIe SSD performance for just a moment, Sony has definitely put alot of time and effort into making the Haswell based Sony VAIO Pro 13 one of the best ultrabooks on the market.  Measuring 12.68″ x 8.5 x .68″ and weighing a mere 2.34lbs, the VAIO Pro 13 takes its place on the podium as the lightest 13″ ultrabook in the world.  It is available in silver or black and constructed of very durable carbon fiber which provides flex that some like and some do not.  The screen is one of the first IPS ultra screens available and has a 1920 x 1080p touchscreen with TRILUMINOS display.

Vaio Open Screen On

The Sony VAIO Pro 13 can be configured with a 4th gen Intel® Core™ i5-4200U (1.60GHz / 2.60GHz) or i7-4500U (1.80GHz / 3.00GHz) processor, 4 or 8GB DDR3L-1600MHz memory, a 128, 256 or 512GB SSD, along with a ‘no touch screen’ option and standard or pro versions of Windows 8.  Important to note is that the memory is integrated into the system board which means that it cannot be upgraded down the road.  We might suggest that the 8GB upgrade is one of the wisest decisions right off.

Vaio Left Side With FanVaio Right Side PortsOnly the power port can be found on the left side of the Pro 13 along with the fan vents. Our testing consisted of a period of just over 16 hours and we found the fan to be on at all times and loud in comparison to other systems, as well as the unit becoming relatively hot when being used in ones lap.  On the right side, there is a HDMI port, 2 x USB 3.0, a headphone jack and SD card slot.  It is always great to see a SD card slot, especially where future storage needs can be solved with a 64/128GB SD card quickly and at a decent price.

Vaio Screen Angle

BACKLIT KEYBOARD AND BATTERY LIFE

The Sony  VAIO Pro 13 Touchscreen ultrabook contains very shallow island style backlit keys that are silent to the touch.  Ww found the trackpad to be easy to manipulate and smooth, just as we did the touchscreen.  Along the top of the screen is a protective rubber seal that prevents metal to metal (or glass) contact when the system is closed.  Sony also includes an ‘Assist’ button that is held down when starting the VAIO Pro 13, should they need to reset or check the stability of the system for any reason.

Vaio Keyboard

We were able to pull just over 6 hours battery life from the VAIO Pro 13 in normal use which is very good for a Windows based ultrabook.  Even when we compare the Apple MBA  which will surpass the 12 hour mark in OSX, it doesn’t get anywhere near that when we are running the same system in Windows mode.

About Les Tokar

is a technology nut and Founder of The SSD Review. His early work includes the first consumer SSD review along with MS Vista, Win 7 and SSD Optimization Guides. Les is fortunate to, not only evaluate and provide opinion on consumer and enterprise solid state storage but also, travel the world in search of new technologies and great friendships. Google+
  • fez

    great review bro. is it possible to upgrade the pcie SSD manually? saving a fortune on the sony website upgrading SSD?

    • http://thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      Absolutely…. I have seen one or two on eBay but thats it.

      • Shamsudheen

        Bro,thanks for your review abot PCIE SSD,
        i just to want to that, in vaio 13 pro can we upgrade the SSD from 128GB to 256 or 512GB?
        because,im having VAIO 13 Prom with 128SSD, iwant to upgrade with 512 is it possible ?

      • http://thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

        They can be upgraded, so long as you can find the proper form factor M.2 SSD to fit your system with the capacity you need. If it is a SATA M.2, you must upgrade with a SATA M.2.

  • Vaibhav Sharma

    will you please tell what does this code word for vaio pro part relates to with a pic.
    MBX516-GT2

  • Jameel Baig

    Hi, I understand that Sony Vaio Pro 3 comes with Intel 7260-N WIFi card (Model# 7260NGW AN).

    I am wondering if I can upgrade the WiFi card to Intel 7260-AC (Model # 7260NGW).

    Has any one tried it?

    • Sean

      Bought it with AC installed today from Sony.no

  • Helge Sverre

    I might be interested in upgrading the SSD of my Sony vaio pro 13, could you point me in the right direction for buying a bigger one over 200~ gb?

    Did my own review on this ultrabook on my blog:
    http://helgesverre.com/blog/sony-vaio-pro-13-review/

    • http://thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      You can upgrade this SSD with same higher capacity type at RAMCity in Australia (linked in SSD review) as they are the only presently that have them.

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