SONY VAIO PRO 13 PCIE CONFIGURATIONS EXPLAINED
Worldwide, Sony is presently marketing two completely different Sony VAIO Pro 13 ultrabooks under the same configuration and, but for our article today, the consumer hasn’t any idea what system they will get until they do tests similar to that of which we have done here. The internet is filled with very unsatisfied customers that received their ‘pre-configured’ Sony VAIO Pro 13 with a SATA PCIe SSD, whereas Sony’s own literature led them to believe that the PCIe SSD installed in these systems is a step up from last gen’s mSATA performance standard. We have addressed this with Sony who are considering our concerns and have guaranteed us a custom built native PCIe SSD for review soonest.
The difference between a pre-configured Sony VAIO Pro 13, and that which was custom built, is significant when we consider that, in one instance, performance of 1.2GB/s is achieved through a native PCIe (Samsung XP941) that is set into a native PCIe connector within the system board, which feeds the PCIe Ver. 2.0 x4 lanes. On the other, SATA 3 performance of over 500MB/s is achieved through a SATA PCIe SSD that passes data through a different and compatible connector on the system board and to the SATA bus. SATA 3 bottlenecks the performance to roughly half of what the native PCIe achieves. Even more significant a fact than the two PCIe SSDs have completely different interfaces (connectors) is the fact that the connectors of the system boards have to be different as well. Examine the difference:
The result on the left is our testing of the XP941 PCIe SSD (present in the VAIO custom build) we have on hand while that on the right is from the Sony VAIO Pro 13 we were sent. While we recognize that capacity alone (512GB vs 128GB) will contribute to a performance difference, we believe these results demonstrate the performance of native PCIe on the left, while at the same time demoinstrating first hand the SATA 3 bottleneck on the right.
VISIBLE PERFORMANCE IMPLICATIONS
The most obvious question brought forward is that of how much visible difference will one see between the system that has 1GB/s transfer speeds and the other at 500+MB/s. The answer here is a resounding “None!” for 99% of the population who don’t push their systems to the absolute edge, as many media professionals do. Most will never see any difference whatsoever. If we can let you in on a bit of a secret, it is next to impossible to observe any ‘visible‘ difference whatsoever in ANY SSD when comparing the SSDs in typical user scenarios.
Sony should be concerned with this, however, as there are many media professionals that have relied on the Sony name and VAIO for years. These are the professionals that manipulate and transfer terabytes of data to and from their systems and for them, time is money so faster data transfer is vital. These are the customers that you don’t want to lose to Apple and such marketing has the ability to do just that.
REPORT ANALYSIS AND FINAL THOUGHTS
There are things that we absolutely love about the Sony VAIO Pro 13 and that includes its light and durable carbon fiber construction, resulting in the worlds lightest 13″ ultra at just over 2lbs, and the fact that Sony went all out with an IPS 1920×1080 Touchscreen. We were the first to say that we had considered one of these systems for a test bench and, if our configuration had included a native PCIe SSD, that just may have been a great purchase.
Our receipt of a SATA based PCIe system was an eye opener and one that caused us to explore further if this may have been an isolated incident or one that had been experienced by others as well; it was. Let’s face it. A SATA based PCIe SSD is no different than the previous generation mSATA SSD that it replaced for any typical user. Our discussions with Sony have somewhat clarified that one would only be seeing the lesser performing SATA PCIe SSD in pre-configured systems.
As well, Sony has assured us that a ‘custom design’ Sony VAIO Pro 13 will be on its way to our facility soon enough and this means that it will contain the biggest and baddest SSD on the market today, the Samsung XP941. Although we have had some misgivings about the system received, the Sony VAIO Pro 13 will once again be given its opportunity to prove that it is the best of the best in ultrabooks available today.