Sony’s new VIAO touchscreen T14 arrived last week, complete with hybrid hard drive and Windows 8. Frequent readers of TSSDR understand my opinion of both, an opinion that was initially hard to contain with their teaming up in what appears to be an attractive ultra design.
Swapping out the hard drive for an SSD was a given. Stepping outside the box, we believed the analysis and replacement of ExpressCache with NVELO Dataplex might be worth the effort and worthy of report. Could it be done?
To date, we haven’t seen Samsung’s NVELO Dataplex in any ultra book or laptop design, yet it is unquestionably the highest performing caching software that we know of. Is there another that could actually see a hybrid ultra book design reach exceed data speeds above 500MB/s by twinning the performance of a caching SSD onto that of a hard drive?
THE SONY VAIO T14 TOUCHSCREEN ULTRABOOK
The Sony VIAO T14 Touchscreen ultra book (svT141290X) is constructed of a very attractive brushed aluminum finish, has a 1366×768 LED display with a 10 digit multi-touch layer fluid finger movement. The keyboard, albeit not back-lit, is very spacious with shallow island style keys that are relatively quite to the touch. Although available with Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, our Sony T14 Ultra contains a Core i3-3227U CPU, 4GB of memory, a 320GB hard drive rendered hybrid by Condusiv ExpressCache software, optical drive and Windows 8 64-Bit.
Falling in line with Intel’s Ultrabook specifications, the Sony T14 is priced well with our base model price being $789 with the optional touchscreen. It contains hybrid storage and has an ultra low voltage processor for increased battery life. The T14 contains a 3670 maH battery that ranges below the 5 hour Ultra requirement. Sony Specs list 7 hours but we couldn’t stretch passed 4.5 hours in typical consumer usage patterns. Although the screen meets minimum requirements, technology has moved ahead enough that all systems should be standard 1600×900 IPS screen.
The Sony T14 form factor reminds us of our misconception that ultrabooks should be very small and light. The Sony T14 Touchscreen Ultra, complete with Intel Ultrabook badge, measures just under 10″ long and is 4.63 lbs. It is also 0.87″ thick, bringing it just outside of Intel’s suggested requirement that it be 0.82″ (2mm) thick. Perhaps someone was standing on the ultra during Sony’s height measurement.
INITIAL STARTUP PERFORMANCE
Initial configuration of the Windows 8 took about 10-12 minutes which is typical. The start time of eight second (8 sec) was not. It was definitely impressive and remained consistent during use prior to this report. We were so impressed, in fact, that we posted our initial impression on Twitter.
This performance had to speak to the caliber of the caching SSD and we then went about the not so simple task of identifying an SSD Sony obviously didn’t want identified. Our answer was found in device identification where a model number was contained within the hardware ID of the caching SSD.
A quick check in the Device Manager brought up a model number of AXM13S2 and an internet search confirmed it to be the ADATA XM13 30GB SATA 2 SSD. Coincidentally, we had reviewed this exact SSD previously and complete description and performance results were contained within our article, “NVELO Dataplex SSD Caching Software Review – Seven mSATA SSDs Prove an Amazing Concept. The ADATA XM13 was found to be a 3Gbps ‘LSI SandForce Driven’ SSD with transfer speeds of 277MB/s read and 253MB/s write.
Our initial impressions of the VAIO T14 were that, if it had to be a hybrid system, this would be the way to go. LSI SandForce reputation and performance are a given, but more importantly, a 30GB SSD for caching was ideal. On a side note, however, we might have chosen a 6 Gbps SSD rather than the XM13 3Gbps drive and we also would have switched data connections.
In the case of SATA 3 caching SSDs, placing the main drive on the 3Gbps connection results in no performance change, however, a LSI SandForce caching solution on a 6Gbps connection results in cached data performance above 500MB/s, more than twice as fact.