Official 2012 Sony S Series Owners Thread

Discussion in 'VAIO / Sony Owners' Lounge Forum' started by Petrov, Jun 9, 2012.

  1. Petrov

    Petrov Notebook Deity

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    PLEASE READ THIS FIRST POST, AT THE VERY LEAST, BEFORE YOU START ASKING QUESTIONS IN THE MAIN THREAD.

    I HAVE ATTEMPTED TO KEEP THIS POST REASONABLY UP TO DATE WITH THE LATEST TIPS, GUIDES, ETC.

    PLEASE PM ME IF YOU FEEL SOMETHING ELSE SHOULD BE ADDED.

    LINK TO BOTH WIN 8 UPGRADE AND CLEAN INSTALL GUIDES AT THE END OF THIS POST.
    ____________________________________________________________--
    I thought it would be worth starting a new thread for owners of the new 2012 version of Sony's S series (13" and 15"), including the Premium versions.

    The UK model number is SVS13A1C5E. The US model number is SVS13A190X. These model numbers are independent of whether you go for the i5 or i7 versions. I bought the S13 Premium (1600x900), i7 3520M, 8Gig RAM, 256Gb Samsung SSD 830 shipped with 640gb HDD, replaced with SSD myself), 640M LE (2 Gb DDR3 RAM - Kepler core).

    In order to minimise cost, many users on here have recommended buying the cheapest HDD from Sony and also going for the minimum 4 gb RAM and then subsequently replacing the HDD with a SSD of your choice (commonly recommended ones are the Samsung 830 and the Crucial M4) and supplementing the 4Gig RAM with an additional stick of your choice of size (one 4 gb stick is soldered on to the motherboard so you max out at 12 gb by using the second non-soldered RAM slot). Note the RAM operates at 1333mhz only. For ALL your RAM compatibility questions answered, see orionz's excellent summary here.

    It is not clear whether replacing the RAM or HDD voids your warranty and it may depend on your jurisdiction - please check this for yourself. For what its worth, the UK Sony rep told me it voided the warranty - but then again there are no warranty stickers that need removing or tampering with to replace the SSD or RAM...you can join the dots.

    From ordering to shipping was 2 weeks in total (to the UK).

    Here's a great review from pdagal: MobileTechReview S13 Video Review and the Non Video Review

    HDD replacement with SSD

    - I've removed the old HDD and tried a Samsung 256GB 830 SSD. Even though the bay is for a 9.5mm height drive and the Samsung is a 7mm drive, I believe you DO NOT NEED THE SPACER. The cradle that holds the hdd/ssd in place is structured so that whether you use a 7mm or 9.5mm drive you don't need a spacer in my view - the very cradle itself obviates the need for one.

    - Removing the HDD and replacing it with a SSD was very easy, took 5-10 mins max. There were no warranty stickers that I found that had to be removed or tampered with to replace the HDD with a SSD. My primary hdd score on WEI went up from 5.9 to 7.7 as a result of using an SSD.

    Replacing the ODD with a HDD

    - Wizzardexe has prepared a really helpful video of how to replace the ODD with a second HDD on the S15, here's the posting and the youtube link: Wizzardexe's Thread on Replacing the ODD and his Youtube Video Guide. This also briefly covers replacing the original HDD and RAM.

    Win 7 Clean Install and Sony Drivers, Utilities, etc

    - Before you start doing a clean install of anything, you might want to seriously consider creating a "Restore Media" Backup on DVD or USB from the Vaio Care application. If all else fails, this should save you some heartache. If you don't, and you start mucking around with boot partitions and UEFI/Legacy BIOS, then you might end up losing some preinstalled software (most, but not all, of which can be reloaded from the Sony site - see elsewhere in this post for more details).

    - I reinstalled Win 7 Pro and made a bootable USB drive from the ISO. I downloaded the S13 Premium drivers/software from the US Sony site that is linked below. Everything installed fine except for some Media Galleries stuff which I didn't want anyway. I didn't install the Ps3 Remote Keyboard software (as I don't have a PS3).

    - Hit F2 to enter the BIOS setup screen at boot-up - you have to be quick as it only stays on the bios screen for a split second!

    - I got the Sony drivers/software from this page on the Sony website: Sony S13 Drivers and Utilities - US Site and here is the UK Site Drivers and Utilities

    - I installed the various device drivers first, the Sony Shared Libary after the drivers were installed, and the Vaio software after the device drivers and Sony Shared Library were all installed. I have no more exclamation marks in Device Manager. Thanks to NicholFD who recommends this order of installation: NicholFD's Recommended Order of Installation

    - For people having an issue with the battery being recognised properly after reinstalling the drivers, daddycewl has suggested that you "Go to devicemanager, there should be one device with questionmark, make sure you are connected to the internet, select update drivers online, problem should be solved after that. The name of the device changed to Sony Firmware Extension Parser Device."

    - I chose not to install some of the bloatware Sony software. Specifically I avoided installing Vaio Update, Vaio Gate or the Vaio Location Utility

    - However, I do recommend installing the Vaio Control Centre, Vaio Smart Network, Vaio Hardware Diagnostics and Vaio CPU Fan Diagnostics.

    - To get the laptop to recognise the USB flashdrive with win 7 on it, I had to switch to Legacy boot mode in the bios rather than UEFI mode. Now my laptop only boots in Legacy boot mode, no O/S is found using UEFI mode. There is a pretty easy workaround for getting a USB stick to boot in UEFI mode: Getting a Win 7 USB Boot Stick Booting in UEFI Mode. I redid a clean install using uefi mode, but please note I had to swap the USB stick into the second USB 3.0 port for it to work - the first usb 3.0 port I tried installing from kept causing a 'missing driver' type error at the start of the win 7 installation process.

    - Wondering what the difference between UEFI and Legacy BIOS modes are? Orionz has collated lots of good information in a single post in this very thread! Thanks Orionz.

    - Note, some users (eg Fruban) have reported that they needed to set the bios to boot in "legacy" mode even when doing a clean win 7 install using a DVD, otherwise you may receive an "operating system not found" error message at boot-up.

    - Overall, the laptop seems a lot snappier after a clean Win 7 install compared to the traditional HDD/bloatware install that it arrived with. I boot to Win 7 desktop from pressing the power button in around 10 seconds!

    - I've updated the BIOS from the shipping version (R0140C5) to the latest version at the link above (R0142C5)

    - I've updated from stock Sony gfx driver to the latest Nvidia release drivers. Thanks to Faceless Rebel for his tips how to do it here: Faceless Rebel's GPU Driver Guide. However, I've found the Sony drivers to be a little smoother in real world gameplay than the Nvidia release or beta drivers - ymmv.

    - If you want to reload some of the preloaded software that is NOT available on the Sony support website (eg PowerDVD, Acrobat, Photoshop Elements, etc), then darxide_sorcerer's guide to reinstalling preloaded software should be of assistance!

    - If you, like me, am a bit bugged by the small lag when right clicking on the Win 7 desktop, Blitz has found a registry cure provided by Intel that eliminated any lag on right-click-on-desktop

    - For those of you who don't want the screen to flash black when going from Speed to Stamina, a permanent fix summarised by tmckenn2 is reportedly to go into the advanced power settings native to windows and then click the Vaio Power Management tab. (note: be sure to flip the switch to power saver then open the menu and change it. then do the same with speed. this ensures you are altering the power plans you are using. alternatively you could just make the change on all of the power plans)

    General Observations

    - The screen is terrific, except that vertical viewing angles aren't great (horizontal are very good). There is also some backlight bleed across the bottom of the screen - noticeable in dark scenes. I have not found any stuck/dead pixels

    - The bezel around the screen is slightly larger than I'd have hoped for - it's not massive, but a bit wider than you'd hope for such a sleek machine

    - The laptop feels pretty thin and light - not ultrabook-thin, but certainly ultraportable. The metal (I think!) body is really slick, although the lid is a fingerprint magnet. The battery/hdd plate is plastic (I think) but feels very similar to the metal body.

    - The fan is very, very quiet when in normal model, such as typing etc. It is louder when gaming of course, but not quite a 747!

    - I enjoy typing on the chiclet keyboard, very firm and I don't really notice the slight flex on the left hand side while typing. I wish there was a full size Return key and LHS Shift key. Note the US keyboard apparently has a full sized LHS Shift key and Return key. The UK one does not, as you'd expect with a UK keyboard I suppose!

    - Path of Exile - the REAL successor to Diablo 2 - plays smoothly at native res (1600x900) with AA on (>50fps). Yes, that other Action RPG also plays smoothly

    - I got 9530 in 3dmark06 (1280x800). P1383 in 3dmark11 (at 720p, gfx score 1250). This is using the Nvidia 304.48 beta drivers rather than the stock Sony drivers (Sony stock drivers got me 9,300 in 3dmark06). Overclocking to 540mhz Clock/1150mhz RAM using MSI Afterburner delivered c.10,300 in 3dmark06 and P1479 in 3dmark11 (gfx score 1340). The GPU never got above 64C. The GPU core appears to be locked at 540mhz at this stage. The overclocking in any case seems to add about 10% performance without even pushing GPU thermal limits at all.

    - I've also tested Elder Scrolls: Skyrim and generally get 30-45 fps at high quality default settings at native res (1600x900) - I was impressed by this!

    - Here's a helpful youtube video from Malmer with the S13 booting and playing D3: Malmer's S13 SSD boot and Diablo 3 Gameplay video and exProphecy's video of TES: Skyrim on the S13

    - Incidentally, I've found the 301.42 Nvidia release drivers and even Sony stock drivers to be smoother than the Nvidia Verde beta 304.48 drivers in real world gameplay, despite the beta drivers giving better benchmark results. I've found the beta drivers to be somewhat "choppy" in actual gaming.

    - The laptop runs very cool. Even when on heavy gaming it's not super hot (but it is more than luke warm) and it could sit on your lap without threatining your manlihood (or ladyhood?!). The GPU RAM can be overclocked to at least 1150mhz (vs 900mhz default), but the GPU core clock appears to be locked at 540mhz max (vs 500mhz default) at this stage - at least until MSI Afterburner works out a workaround for this card...

    - To ensure the CPU/GPU don't throttle or revert to the HD4000 when gaming, open Vaio Control Centre and go to Power Management. Within the Power Management settings, under Cooling Fan Control, set the "Speed" setting to "Priority to Ventilation"

    - The speakers seem a bit quiet. Apparently (PM me whoever suggested this first) this can be improved by going to Control Panel -> Hardware and Sound -> Sounds -> Select Realtek High Definition Audio -> Configure -> Next -> Check the box "Front left and right" -> Next -> Finish. However, even after this they are not that loud.

    - Regarding the screen, in the 15" S series, people have reported that "orangegate" still exists - ie that the screen tends to show reds as slightly orange. Apparently there are some ways to mitigate the impact by increasing the blue/green hues of the screen. This colour issue has not been noted to-date on the 13" screen as far as I am aware.

    - If you want to improve the framerates of the webcam, papabari suggests a fix: "Turning off the "low light compensation" (webcam settings, camera control tab, uncheck the box) I noticed a monster improvement in framerate."

    Temperature under load

    - To simulate load testing, I ran Prime 95 at the same time as running the GPU DX10 test that comes with OCCT. I had to manually set OCCT (in Settings) to raise the temperature threshold for terminating the test to 95C from 85C (default).

    - Under load of Prime 95 *and* OCCT's GPU test being run simultaneously, the GPU maxed out at 76C at stock speeds (500mhz core/900mhz memory), and the CPU was at 93-94C (sometimes hitting 95C for a second). 95C for CPU temps struck me as high, but I did not see any throttling even at those levels

    - darxide_sorcerer had another useful tip for anybody wanting to downclock their CPU and hence limit temps: Control Panel > Power Options > (whatever plan you have selected) Change plan settings > Change advanced power settings > Processor power management > Maximum processor state > set to 99% instead of 100%; and also set minimum processor state to 99%, as the default setting is 100% for that too. When I did this I capped my i7 at 2.9ghz (rather than 3.2ghz with full turboboost), which reduced my CPU max temp to 90C down from 95C, and no visible impact on gaming performance.

    GPU overclocking through BIOS mod
    - Loading the modified BIOS may void your warranty!! Do it at your own risk and responsibility!!

    - Courtesy of Amal77 and a modder from another forum, it's been discovered here that the 640M LE can be unlocked and overclocked very substantially and stably!

    -With his modded bios and using the MSI Afterburner overclocking utility, the GPU can:
    1. Increase its core clock from 500mhz to 705mhz
    2. Utilise Nvidia Boost to increase GPU clock rates up to 950mhz (650M speeds!)
    3. Increase the GPU DDR3 memory clock rate to >1050mhz

    - The result of this is to increase FPS radically. 3dMark11 increases from c.1200 GPU points to c.2200 points. 3dmark06 from c.9000 pts to almost 14000 pts.

    - The GPU temperature still never goes above 85C in my own testing, and that's with Prime 95 running at the same time for the CPU.

    - Here's a great video with real life gaming benchmarks from ComradeNF following the bios unlocking.

    Windows 8 Upgrade

    heywhitmarsh has kindly put together a short guide on how he has upgraded from Win 7 to Win 8 on his S15, here. It should apply equally well to the S13. I haven't tried it myself, so any comments on it should be added in this thread.

    ole22 has put together a more detailed Win 8 clean install guide, please see it here. Thanks Olee22!

    Petrov.
     
    olee22, ethan829 and Tenken-Md like this.
  2. jeremyshaw

    jeremyshaw Big time Idiot

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    Sounds like a good idea, now that it's actually out. Just waiting a few more facts, first :D


    EDIT: IF Petrov ever runs into the charactor limit, my post is open for use.
     
  3. Petrov

    Petrov Notebook Deity

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    One tidbit, I was able to order a 3G WWAN card through the UK sales team on my S series Premium (13"). Is this option available in all/other geographies?

    Petrov.
     
  4. UltimusXI

    UltimusXI Notebook Guru

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    It is available in Holland as an option. :)
     
  5. jamesman32

    jamesman32 Notebook Consultant

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    I just purchased my first Vaio last night, the S 15" with the 3612QM, 8Gb DDR3, GT640m, etc. Got the student discount (this will be my college laptop) and the free PS3 promotion too!

    Sony told me my notebook should be shipping out Monday 6/11. Definitely very excited to try a Vaio after looking at them in stores. The build quality seems fantastic. I've been getting really sick of the shiny plastic laptops with thick curves. The Vaio S seems like a very good alternative.
     
  6. autosuggested

    autosuggested Newbie

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    After procrastinating for nearly a year since the motherboard on my old '08 XPS M1530 fried and died (I cried), I've finally taken the plunge and ordered myself an S13A: model number SVS13A1C5E. Nothing else in this space of the the market matches up to it at the moment, IMHO, although that might change when the U442 comes out soon. But hey, you can't just keep hanging on for the next bit of shiny tech over the horizon, eh?

    I ordered the minimum HDD spec (320 GB, 5.4 kRPM) because Sony's OEM SSD prices were extortionate: £720 for a 256 GB SSD! Sheesh! Instead a 256 GB Samsung 830 SSD is on its way to me separately, and it only cost £176.99.

    Also, I only ordered the minimum RAM spec (4 GB), so I'll probably be picking up some additional RAM once I'm able to take a peek inside and see what's going in terms of soldering and slots. I don't mind hanging on a while to make sure.

    Now I'm looking forward to getting my hands on my new personal laptop after slumming it on my bog-standard work laptop for so long! Shipping date TBC, but probably in the region of a fortnight from now.

    // Dave
     
  7. HKINGS

    HKINGS Notebook Evangelist

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    Hey everyone, just a quick heads up, I ordered a new Ivy Bridge S15 with the new Docking Station that has HD built in on 6/6.

    I called into Sony Sales to order it and got 10% off for going through a rep online (including my small educational discount) and express shipping. It's already being built.

    Im throwing in a Samsung 830 SSD 256GB Hard Drive when it arrives as well.


    *** Thanks Jamesman for the note on the Free PS3 promo... I just called up Sony again and they are shipping me a PS3 160GB free of charge also as a separate order... didn't have to cancel my current order and was able to keep my 10% & Educational discounts! SWEET!



    Here's what I got:

    Product: US-SVS151190X-LBOM
    Component: 3rd gen Intel® Core™ i5-3320M processor (2.60GHz / 3.30GHz with Turbo Boost)
    Component: 4GB (4GB fixed onboard + 1 open slot) DDR3-1333Mhz
    Component: Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium 64-bit
    Component: NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 640M LE (2GB) hybrid graphics with Intel® Wireless Display technology
    Component: 15.5" LED backlit Full HD display (1920 x 1080)
    Component: 640GB (7200rpm) hard drive
    Component: Internal lithium polymer battery (4400mAh)
    Component: Black
    Component: Blu-ray Disc™ player / burner


    Total Price: $1,108.70

    Description: VAIO 15.5" S Series Custom Laptop
    Ship Method: Express
    Estimated Ship Date: 06/15/2012
    ________________________________________
    Product: VGPPRS35 - VAIO S Series Docking Station

    Total Price: $153.89

    Estimated Ship Date: 06/07/2012
    ________________________________________

    Subtotal: $1,262.59

    Shipping Charges:$0.00
     
  8. Hummingb1rd

    Hummingb1rd Notebook Guru

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    Purchased the below! Got it with educational discount and free PS3 :)
    Adding a stick of 8GB RAM + a M4 256GB when I get it.

     
  9. dappa

    dappa Notebook Enthusiast

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    Log in or register at the Sony Education Store
    add select Sony VAIO S, T, Z, or L Series laptop or PC to your cart
    for a free PlayStation 3 Console, apply coupon code "FREEPS3" during checkout
    or, for a free PlayStation Vita Console, apply coupon code "FREEVITA" during checkout
    proceed to final checkout to see the console added to the order
     
  10. HKINGS

    HKINGS Notebook Evangelist

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    I'm going to be adding an 8GB stick of memory as well to my new S15, however my question is, which DDR3 1333Mhz memory should we be buying for the S15?

    I saw these 2 on Amazon:

    Patriot PC3-10600
    Amazon.com: Patriot Memory Signature DDR3 8 GB CL11 PC3-10600 (1333MHz) SODIMM 8 Not a kit (Single) 204-Pin SO-DIMM PSD38G13332S: Computers & Accessories

    or

    Corsair PC3-10666
    Amazon.com: Corsair 8 GB Module (1x8GB) DDR3 1333MHz PC3 10666 204-Pin Unbuffered C9 Laptop Memory CMSO8GX3M1A1333C9: Computers & Accessories

    Basically, Im just curious if either will work? Which is more compatible with these new systems, PC3-10600 or PC3-10666.

    Was thinking of buying both and just using the one that has compatible speed ratings. Amazon has easy returns.
     
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