Tweak3D - Your Freakin' Tweakin' Source!

Posted: October 18th, 2002
Written by: Adam Honek

Hardware limitations

A wealthy feature set doesn't mean an ideal one as we intend to point out. A maximum of 512MB RAM isn't on the lower end of the memory scale however why does Sony state this if the Intel 845MP chipset supports a full 1GB? The answer lies in the memory modules themselves, given the two slots available each module would need to hold 512MB to make a full 1GB when combined together. Such RAM sticks have only just become main-stream allowing the GRX316MP to overcome the 512MB RAM barrier which resides in the product documentation. Things looks worse in the media bay category where Sony fails to build into the design room for a second battery or hard drive, this undoubtedly limits the upgrade potential which is bound to not please everyone particularly those wanting to pack their portable with plentiful extras. Notebooks are not by default intended for the hardcore gamer and thus we won't push the envelope too much concerning this next limitation, namely video RAM. 32 megabytes is enough for most games you'll care or better said want to throw at this machine but would supplying 64MB cost oh so much? The Radeon 7500 Mobility is definitely not a poor performer and the extra 32MB (64MB total) would be put to good use in some if not all visual applications. Our last point in criticizing (albeit only just) Sony's attempt to produce the best big boys toy refers to the supplied hard drive. The GRX series is sold as the top of the range prime performer in Sony's notebook collection so we are somewhat disappointed to find a 4200rpm hard drive instead of a faster 5400rpm unit. The company obviously wants to kill two birds with one stone, reduce costs and extend battery life. Whether longer battery uptime means higher performance we'll leave up to the end user to decide, we personally care to think a little of both.

The Jog Dial

One interesting and helpful one might say aspect of this Sony notebook is a hardware component going by the name of the Jog Dial. Simply put it is a roller with a back button enabling swift selection of activating given applications or options not to forget volume control. Software that supports the hardware in full naturally makes most use of it but standard programs also benefit albeit in a lesser sense. For the less designed from the ground up utilities there is still the standard window scrolling or size adjustment.

On the road

Given the GRX316MP being a power notebook the further weight due mainly to the added size poses an extra strain when being transported. No notebook carry bag is ever only filled with just the portable and so it's pretty easy to leave yourself with one generously heavy piece of luggage. We found flying with the GRX316MP tolerable but certainly not comfortable. In fact where possible you will probably wish to locate a luggage trolley, more so on bigger airports requiring more walking from place to place. Worrying about the LCD screen flexing and thus hitting the keyboard when on travel is a non issue, as stated already before in this review the chassis is very much solid whereas the titanium inserts behind and below the screen definitely help in keeping the overall design firm. The good thing in closing is that you are left with stronger muscles in long term use so not only do you become truly mobile with this Sony but athletic too.


The bootstrap process is handled by a Phoenix BIOS slightly changed for Sony's own intentions. It is very much easy to navigate in with easy menu headings and a clear layout. There are options for displaying a Sony logo upon turning the machine on as well as a device boot order selection, but little more than what has just been mentioned. It would be good if Intel SpeedStep and possibly some RAM configuration settings where included but this is very much at the discretion of the manufacture and thus is common for them to be hidden from user interaction. No battery information status is provided through the BIOS; instead you need to rely on Windows XP. The BIOS is certainly has a nice feel but lacks features, something too common in notebooks except for only a handful of true mobile notebook manufactures.

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