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Sony VAIO PCV-LX2

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Pros

  • Compact, stylish design
  • good removable media facilities.

Cons

  • Uninspiring performance
  • little scope for internal expansion.

If you're space- or design- conscious but need a well-specified PC, Sony may have what you're looking for. The VAIO PCV-LX2 is an updated version of the PCV-LX1 that we reviewed in July of last year. Back then we were impressed with the stylish design, connectivity options and neat display, and we're pleased to say none of that has changed. There have been a few alterations under the covers (notably, the processor is now a Pentium 4), but the outside of the LX2 is as attractive as ever.

The LX2's compact tower case takes up very little desk space at 10.8cm x 37.0cm, although part of the unit's foot is 16.2cm wide. The case's sides are curved, so you can't lie it down, and the foot needs to be fitted in order to keep vents on the bottom of the unit clear. The right-hand side of the front panel slides to one side to reveal a Memory Stick slot, a Type II PC Card slot, a USB port and a four-pin IEEE 1394 (i.LINK) port. Between all these connections you should be able to use any form of removable media or external storage, perhaps with the use of an adapter.

The model number of the LCD monitor has been changed from that supplied with the LX1, although we can see little difference in the monitor itself. It's a 15in. TFT unit with built-in stereo speakers, PS/2 connectors for keyboard and mouse on either side of the plinth, and a single USB socket. The whole thing connects to the base unit through a single 1.3m cable, which should allow the base to be placed under your desk if you're desperately short of space. The keyboard's wrist rest folds up to form a keyboard cover when you're not using the PC.

Sony uses a 1.7GHz Pentium 4 in the LX2, supoprted by the 845 chipset, whereas the LX1 used a Pentium III and an SiS chipset. There's 256MB of SDRAM fitted, and this combination gives an improved Business Winstone 2001 score of 38.4. Even so, this is still well behind the leading edge for desktop systems.

The other main change in the hardware is the graphics. The LX1 used an integrated graphics chipset, with predictably poor 3D performance. The LX2 uses nVidia's GeForce2 MX chipset instead. Only 16MB of graphics memory has been included, which prevents this otherwise good chipset from reaching its full potential. We couldn't run the 3DMark 2001 tests with the standard settings -- instead, we reduced the Z buffer bit depth from 32 to 16 bits, which allowed the tests to run. This resulted in a distinctly moderate score of 1,386.

There's little room for expansion internally. There's a single free PCI slot, although if you have a broadband connection you could remove the Lucent WinModem to free up another slot. The compact case design also means there are no free drive bays at all. If you need additional storage, it will have to be external.

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Although Sony has reduced the price of the LX2 from the price at which the LX1 was introduced, it's still no bargain. Performance is no better than average and this level of features is becoming more common -- even on cheaper PCs than this one. However, it's one of the most compact and best looking PCs available today, and the LCD monitor is neatly designed. If space is more important than performance, or you simply hate the thought of having an ugly beige box for a PC, take a good look at Sony's VAIO PCV-LX2.

Specifications

General
Recommended Use home use
Product Form Factor Micro tower
Packaged Quantity 1
Built-in Devices stereo speakers
Processor / Chipset
CPU Intel Pentium 4 1.7 GHz
Data Bus Speed 400 MHz
Cache Memory
Installed Size L2 cache - 256 KB Advanced Transfer Cache
Cache Per Processor 256 KB
Type L2 cache
Per Processor Size 256 KB
Installed Size 256 KB
Storage
Interface Type ATA-100
Type none
RAM
Installed Size 256 MB / 1 GB (max)
Memory Speed 133 MHz
Memory Specification Compliance PC133
Features unbuffered
Technology SDRAM
Installed Size 256 MB
Data Integrity Check non-ECC
Rated Memory Speed 133 MHz
Memory
Max Supported Size 1 GB
Form Factor DIMM 168-pin
Display
Widescreen Display No
Type LCD
Diagonal Size (metric) 38.1 cm
Display Resolution Abbreviation XGA
Hard Drive
Interface Type ATA-100
Type HDD
Interface Class Parallel ATA
Installed Qty 1
Capacity 80 GB
Audio & Video
Supported Display Graphics QXGA (2048x1536), SVGA (800x600), SXGA (1280x1024), SXGA+ (1400x1050), SXGAW (1600x1024), UW-SXGA (1280x600), UXGA (1600x1200), VGA (640x480), XGA (1024x768)
Input
Type keyboard, mouse
Storage Controller
Interface Type ATA-100
Type IDE
Bus Type PCI
Installed Qty 1
Processor
Installed Qty 1
Max Supported Qty 1
Upgradability upgradable
Type Pentium 4
Manufacturer Intel
Clock Speed 1.7 GHz
Optical Storage
Drive Type CD-RW / DVD
Type CD-RW / DVD-ROM combo
Interface Type IDE
Floppy Drive
Type none
Storage Removable
Type none
Header
Brand Sony
Product Line Sony VAIO
Model PCV-LX2
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility PC
Miscellaneous
Color white
Networking
Max Transfer Rate 56 Kbps
Data Link Protocol Ethernet, Fast Ethernet
Form Factor integrated
Compliant Standards IEEE 802.3, IEEE 802.3u
Interface (Bus) Type PCI
Monitor
Monitor Type LCD
Native Resolution 1024 x 768 (XGA)
Diagonal Size 15 in
Viewable Size 15 in
System
Type personal computer
Hard Drive Capacity 80 GB
Graphics Controller
Form Factor integrated
Interface Type AGP 4x
Graphics Processor NVIDIA GeForce2 MX
Video Memory 16 MB SDRAM
Video Interfaces VGA
Dimensions & Weight
Width 4.2 in
Depth 14.6 in
Height 11 in
Chassis
Form Factor micro tower
Manufacturer Form Factor micro tower
Built-in Devices stereo speakers
Mainboard
Data Bus Speed 400 MHz
Audio Output
Form Factor integrated
Sound Output Mode Surround Sound
Compliant Standards AC '97, DirectSound, DirectSound3D, Sound Blaster 16, Sound Blaster Pro
Manufacturer Warranty
Type 1 year warranty
Printer
Type none
Telecom
Modem Fax / modem - PCI - integrated
Physical Characteristics
Form Factor micro tower
Power
Type power supply
Compliant Standards EPA Energy Star
Operating System / Software
OS Provided: Type Microsoft Windows XP Professional
OS Provided Microsoft Windows XP Professional
Type Adobe Acrobat Reader, Adobe GoLive, Sony MovieShaker, Sony PictureGear, Sony PictureToy, Sony Smart Capture, Sony SonicStage, Sony VisualFlow, Adobe LiveMotion, Adobe Photoshop Elements, Adobe Premiere LE, Apple QuickTime, Drivers & Utilities, Norton AntiVirus, RealJukebox, Sony DVgate
Video Output
Interface Type AGP 4x
Graphics Processor NVIDIA GeForce2 MX
Graphics Processor Series NVIDIA Geforce2
Video Interfaces VGA
Video Memory
Technology SDRAM
Installed Size 16 MB
Service & Support
Type 1 year warranty
Service & Support Details
Type limited warranty
Service Included parts and labor
Full Contract Period 1 year

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