Modded Sony VAIO UX does everything – and then some. Is this the fastest, most versatile UMPC in the world?

Posted on 22 November 2009 by



boot screen Sony might have stopped updating the VAIO UX series UMPC a while back, but the amazing guys over at MicroPCTalk certainly haven’t. In what is being championed as the masterpiece of the forum, a modded UX490 (the lastest UX model from Sony, released November 2007) features nearly every major mod that the community has come up with over the last several years. [original thread here]

  • The original 48GB SSD has been swapped out with a 128GB RunCore Pro IV SSD. runcore
  • The original Core 2 Solo U2200 @ 1.2GHz has been replaced with a much more powerful Intel Core 2 Duo U7700 @1.33GHz and is overclocked to 1.438GHz.chip-2
  • The insides have been carefully maneuver to fit the E169 Huawei terminal which offers HSDPA/UMTS (900/2100MHz) 3G data up to 7.2mbps, GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850/900/1800/1900MHz) voice calling and texting.
    sim
  • The original Intel 3945ABG WiFi card has been swapped for the Intel 4965AGN card which offers WiFi A/B/G/N and functions under OSX.intel4965agn

Pretty intense right? But wait, there’s more!

  • The UX490 quad-boots Mac OSX Leopard 10.5.7, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows Vista Business, and Windows XP Professional (the words “incompatible software” don’t exist for this UX490.)quad boot
  • The Huawei terminal even works under OSX making it probably the smallest 3G capable Mac in town!

I’m waiting on some benchmarks and will update this post when I get them, but this UX490 is said to be able to hit 57k in Crystal Mark, which would make it the fastest UMPC in the world, and almost certainly the fastest for it’s size (524 grams/1.1 pounds).

I’m absolutely impressed with what a small but dedicated community can do with a device that they love. Honestly, who thought a computer this small would be this moddable?

Major props to everyone at MPCT who collectively worked out all of the tweaks and mods over the years which have made this possible. Huge shout-out to Ahn who pioneered the first U7600 mod, and did all of the mods on this UX490. Also a giant shout-out to MPCT forum member darkerx who endeavored to create this monster of a mobile machine.

I think we can officially dub this unit the, community created, MPCT UX590.

Maybe the guys at Sony will catch wind of this and become again interested in the UX series!

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52 Comments For This Post

  1. Mobile Ninja says:

    Modded Sony VAIO UX does everything – and then some (voice, 3G, quad-boot, Core 2 Duo). Is this the fas.. http://bit.ly/08qgFFI
    #mobile

  2. wasd says:

    it’s a shame that sony didn’t continue their ux-umpc-series. imagine an improved (i.e. thinner, better keyboard etc.) ux-slider powered by 2ghz intel atom. would be cool :D

    raimondo Reply:

    I don’t think intel 4965 works in OSX as you can see in the iwi project and the project camphor. Do you have developed the right kext? I don’t think because all the hackintosh community it’s working to realize this effort…If you have developed the kext, please sent it to the community. Thank you

    darkerx Reply:

    You are right, the wifi card is not the 4965 that was intended… it’s a Dell 1490 for OSX purpose (and I didn’t check the wifi card when I received the 490… so I didn’t update the thread… my mistake…)

  3. Tech Flypaper says:

    Modded Sony VAIO UX does everything – and then some. Is this the fastest, most versatile UMPC in the world? http://bit.ly/5ASd4A

  4. darkerx says:

    Yes, it’s a shame to have discontinued this product line… anyway, this one blasts any atom’s based computer, even at 2ghz… ;)
    Anh has gold-fingers… it’s even the smallest Touchscreen/Tablet-Mac with embedded cellphone and 3,5g… and in fact the only one in the world…you know, the one Apple just didn’t do… :P

    ian Reply:

    @darkerx

    how much did you spend for modding ur UX490?

    darkerx Reply:

    Hum… insane amount… as a 280 has been also made, as a prototype, except wifi-n and it uses a e169 through external usb… I funded some tries to have 2gg ram also (failed…)…

    Then, now that it has been made once, it costs the components+work:
    100$ for the modem/cellphone
    http://cgi.ebay.com/Unlocked-Vodafone-K3520-3G-USB-Modem-Worldwide-7-2-Mb_W0QQitemZ320452862646QQcmdZViewItemQQptZPCC_Modems?hash=item4a9c7aa2b6#ht_1314wt_958
    4 U7700 for 290$… means 72$/U7700
    http://cgi.ebay.com/LOT-OF-4-Sony-VAIO-VGN-TZ-Motherboard-MBX-168-A1454467A_W0QQitemZ330372946546QQcmdZViewItemQQptZMotherboards?hash=item4cebc31a72#ht_933wt_958
    Runcore pro IV 128gbssd, 420$
    http://www.mydigitaldiscount.com/ProductDetail.jsp?LISTID=80000AD6-1246485054
    4965 agn, wifi-n, 16$
    http://cgi.ebay.com/NEW-Genuine-Intel-4965-4965AGN-wireless-card-802-11-AGN_W0QQitemZ170406733362QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item27ad086632#ht_2405wt_862

    Then comes the crazy amount of work, to have it done, I let you ask Anh on http://www.micropctalk.com for a quote…

  5. deriuqer says:

    battery life > thinner

    I wonder when people will stop thinking thin is cool,maybe when those devices are so thin that they brake apart while unboxing.

  6. turn_self_off says:

    i am surprised the cpu was not soldered to the board.

    blaster Reply:

    it is soldered. he had to desolder it using what i am guessing is this special solder that stays liquid longer so you can remove stuff like this. when i get the money i am going to do it my self

    darkerx Reply:

    Hum… I think Anh used a hot air soldering station…

    blaster Reply:

    hum interesting. i havn’t looked into thees, i think we might have have one at school. how can i contact this guy. i want to try this my self. does any one know where i can get the blue aus one that had a cf slot instead of the sim card?

    darkerx Reply:

    You can contact Anh on http://www.micropctalk.com (it’s a forum dedicated to UXs).
    Blue UX are rare… they have nothing special except color… they can be found on ebay… sometimes.

  7. Brook Zerihun says:

    It was, he had to remove it first, not for the faint of heart.

  8. darkerx says:

    lol…don’t do it at home.. :)
    Desolder a cpu, reball an other one, and solder it on the motherboard (without killing anything…) is why I say Anh has gold-fingers… and you have to see it by yourself… there is no sign of handy work left… :)

  9. lanlanb says:

    Wow incredible job!

    Terms of thin, I am a fan, but yes, there is a limit, you still need something to grab, you know what they say, |ya’ll always need some cush’n for the push’n”.

  10. Britman says:

    Brilliant.

    Kind of show that the people that develop these things don’t have much vision and a community of fans have more.

  11. ben says:

    how about the battery life? if we need sacrifice battery life, i won’t do that…

    Ben Reply:

    Changing the original CPU out with the U7700 doesn’t seem to be impacting battery life very much at all according to people who have had the mod done.

    admin Reply:

    There’s an argument that says more CPU power results in less system usage. (Jobs done quicker, system idles quicker. Screen/radio/disk sleep sooner.) Intel calls it Hurry Up Get Idle. More info here.
    http://www.umpcportal.com/2009/06/intels-moorestown-platform-from-smartphone-through-smartbook-and-beyond/2/

  12. Vakeros says:

    When are they going into production ;-)

  13. promet says:

    A superhuman feat of modding, really; bravisimo!

    But, three different Windows installations…really? This level of technical achievement deserves at least one Linux OS, does it not? I would love to see this little guy run the Ubuntu 9.10 Netbook Remix…

    skitzo Reply:

    I have one and it took Gusty without doing any additional hacking, just load and go.

  14. Xion says:

    @Promet
    You already get OSX – a proper Unix OS; so there’s no need for “amateur” solutions like Ubuntu :)

    auntieNeo Reply:

    @Xion
    How is Ubuntu “amateur” compared to OS X? Besides, why not BSD, Slackware, or a dozen other operating systems? That’s some strong flamebait you’ve got there. :(

    For all practical purposes, the inclusion of three versions of Windows is just silly because of 7′s XP emulation mode.

    dave Reply:

    Seriously? Maybe you should look up the word ‘amateur’ in the dictionary :) It’s not necessarily an attack. But considering OS X does pretty much anything anyone would want to do under Linux, and apart from that runs apps most people want to use, it seems pretty idiotic to go for Ubuntu over it, or even along side it.

    Sam Reply:

    Absolute rubbish. The differences between a true linux build and the OSX bastardization of BSD are vast.

  15. Dankoozy says:

    nice work de-soldering the cpu. should have got it to run linux though or some other *nix OS besides OS X

  16. Randall Jouett says:

    Nice job, although I have to agree that BSD (or a variant) and/or Linux would have been preferable over OSX for me, dudes. OTOH, this looks like a no-holds-barred umpc, so why not OSX :D. Not only that, but a true hack wouldn’t bitch about making those operating systems work on the thing and would just spend the time and make em work. Awesome job!

  17. gary says:

    Great work, I was wondering however cant you un solder and re-solder cpu’s with special equipment that make it much easier? I mean completely by hand is possible but not efficient. – and i would have dropped vista from the OS line up and went with maybe “back track”/ just personal option. – also i wanted to add that some nice people have added functionality to win7 to enable wifi sharing / acting as a router, yes it does kill some bandwidth but this could also be called a wireless repeater, router ect. You should make and re-sell these =)

  18. markus says:

    I did get an UX380 a few weeks ago, you can get them now for 500-600 usd on ebay, and they are way more powerful, even without the modding, than all the current atom umpcs around, the core 2 solo is so much better, and they use a real GPU like the GMA950 and not the bastard child that is GMA500. Also you can get the extended battery quite cheap on ebay too. It’s an amazing device, incredibly small and powerful.

    blaster Reply:

    well the gma500 is more powerful. faster clocked gpu(gma950is allways underclocked), derect x 10.1 vs 9, opengl2.0 vs 1.4. the only think the 950 has is better drives and a hiyer ramn asces speed but that only works when you have dule chanal ram that no laptop or smaller has

    darkerx Reply:

    The gma950 runs at 200mhz in a stock UX… but @400mhz in this one. Exept for some video decoding, the gma950 remains faster than any gma500 (heats more power too…).

    Thanks to the U7700, this device can read any HD video… :)

    blaster Reply:

    so do the gma950′s speed very across the different ux models or was this one over clocked (or relay re clocked) to 400? if they do very wich ones have the 400

    i still have the problem with the lack of support ie direct x 10 and opengl 2.0

    remember clock speed isn’t everything

    darkerx Reply:

    This one is overclocked to 400mhz with a simple app. (gmabooster). The cpu speed remains the key for those ‘integrated graphics chips’ anyway (so overclocking x2 will only give an averaged 10% increase).

    Every UX have the same motherboard/gpu/gpu speed.

    blaster Reply:

    gma booster is gone now and the guy made it so you had to re dl it every few weeks or something. and yeah as i said clock speed isn’t everything

  19. Sascha Pallenberg says:

    Modded Sony VAIO UX does everything – and then some. Is this the fastest, most versatile UMPC in the world? http://bit.ly/59N8Pb

  20. Corvida Raven says:

    RT @sascha_p: Modded Sony VAIO UX does everything – and then some. Fastest, most versatile UMPC in the world? http://bit.ly/59N8Pb

  21. Scottsy says:

    What would it cost to have one made?! I likes it…

  22. OldSchoolHardwareHacker says:

    What is so amazing about this, and why did it take 2 years? A mediocre tinkerer can do all this at home in a day. Including CPU replacement without soldering station.

    darkerx Reply:

    Hum… it’s the fastest netbook in the world, and/or the most little laptop, whatever the OS.

    We were waiting for good 128gbssd… without jmicron controllers, and without stuttering… the runcore pro IV boots W7 in 15s, and have 6mbps at 4k random write.
    We tried for a very long time to make a 2gb mod… but the motherboard would have to be rebuilt, to cope with compliant chips (took 6 moths to source…).
    Last, the modem was not that easy to install.

    Now that it has been done, I think most can be done in one day (but I’ll let you try the pleasure of soldering the flexible circuitry…)

  23. Steve 'Chippy' Paine says:

    Slashdot effect! http://twitpic.com/qnkjf Thanks to @benz145 for the story: http://bit.ly/59GpyB

  24. Alessandro Tucci says:

    RT @benz145 Modded Sony VAIO UX does everything – and then some. Is this the fastest, most versatile UMPC in the world? http://bit.ly/59GpyB

  25. markus says:

    For a very affordable 2700 usd you can get one with some of those mods here: http://cgi.ebay.com/Sony-VAIO-VGN-UX490N-UX490-UX490n-UX-490-64GB-SSD-BOX_W0QQitemZ120452784450QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLaptops_Nov05?hash=item1c0b8ba142

    darkerx Reply:

    Hum… you should ask Anh how much it should cost to upgrade a UX280P instead (as the motherboard/ram is the same, and the cpu/hdd will change anyway…). I used a brand new UX490 because I like my computers and cars black…

    Based on a used 280P, such a device should cost 1600$ (without the useless extra OSs).

  26. UMPCmodder says:

    Some people have said they had trouble with the Runcore Pro IV being recognized by the UX at full speed. Something about the POI mode or UDMA mode being confined to 33MB/sec. How did you get past this and you may want to post it on Runcore’s forum on http://www.tweaktown.com as I have seen a number of complaints about it during my research. Also if you tell people how to unlock the speed I am sure it will cause a frenzy of buying old UX’s on eBay and you will have plenty more people to converse with hehe.

    darkerx Reply:

    You won’t be able to boot (I use XP, so far…) at full speed with a runcore pro IV, but then you can use hdparm and have it forced at udma6 (for reading at least). I use a little .bat to do it fast after coming back from a ‘resume’ and/or having it launched during the boot. (Anyway, Anh has windows 7 boot in 15 seconds… and the native 6mbps at 4k random write gives a very reactive system)

    @echo off
    cd\
    cd “c:\Program Files\hdparm\bin\”
    hdparm -X udma6 /dev/sda

    UMPCmodder Reply:

    True I bet with those high random #’s the sequential read and write speeds would be negligible.

    I still wish it could be perfect in the UX like it is in like all other computers so far.

  27. Tripcreator says:

    http://tinyurl.com/yda3cmv wow really nice sony ux vaio

  28. Gav Brining says:

    Modded Sony VAIO UX does everything – and then some. Is this the fastest, most versatile UMPC in the world? http://glb.me/33

  29. Panther1262 says:

    Wow …. where can I get one of these bad boys!

    darkerx Reply:

    Well… you can try asking the guy who made it: Anh at http://www.micropctalk.com.

    He made this one for me, exactly as I wished. I provided all the components and he handled the design, the hardware modifications of the components and the unit itself, and worked out the software issues…

    I think he can create whatever you wish (and even source the components), and/or have TV and/or GPS instead of 3.5g+voice (<which I wanted…).

  30. 橋本 新義 says:

    改造VAIO UX? CPUのCore 2 Duo化に、4OSセレクタブル……? http://bit.ly/7uaZA3

  31. santyan says:

    何がなんだか分からない・・・ RT @Shingi 改造VAIO UX? CPUのCore 2 Duo化に、4OSセレクタブル……? http://bit.ly/7uaZA3

  32. sak says:

    ほお!面白い事やるネェ RT @Shingi: 改造 VAIO UX ? CPU の Core 2 Duo 化に、 4OS セレクタブル……? http://bit.ly/7uaZA3

  33. dan says:

    I want one!

  34. eli says:

    where can i buy it ?

    darkerx Reply:

    hum… well… I don’t have in mind to sell it…

    But you can ask Anh at http://www.micropctalk.com to make one for you…(I wanted 3.5g+voice and wifi N, but you can ask for TV and/or gps, etc.)

    I don’t know who wll hire this guy someday… but they won’t pay him enoug…. :)

  35. umpcwannabe says:

    I just bought a 390N from Ebay. I was planning to do it myself, but after reading Ahn’s post on the processor upgrade, I’ll just have him do it. I’m confident enough to do the rest.

    darkerx Reply:

    Congrats!
    The cpu upgrade was too tough for me…Anh didn’t miss one so far…
    The ssd upgrade is ‘easy’ there is a video on youtube showing how to do it (and the runcore is packed with everything required to ghost your drive and even the screwdrivers… I have done it myself on the prototype…)
    The wifi N should be very easy too.
    The modem seems very dangerous… I wouldn’t have done it myself…

    Have fun, and be carefull of badly written apps. that put the cpu at 100% for nothing (firefox sometimes… I use chrome now…) and suck the battery…

  36. たび says:

    .@hisagi そういやVAIO UX改造して・・・ってのを思い出した。 http://bit.ly/7uaZA3

  37. yves says:

    euh… Huawei E169 terminal? The E169 is a USB-stick!

    darkerx Reply:

    Yes… good point :)
    That’s why it was fun to explode it, find some usb signals within the UX, find some 5v, find some room… wire it to the UX antenna and wire a new simcard reader to keep the possibility of changing the simcard without having to open the UX… Anh is really a kind of gemius… go see here for all the details ( I defined the features of this computer, but Anh is the one who did everything…), you should read at least the first page
    http://www.micropctalk.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6960

  38. Cyprien says:

    ive got a few question :)

    i got a Ux1N it got a cpu of 1.33

    1 . but doesnt have a 3g modem can i put one in ?
    2 . can i put in a new hard drive ? if so witch one it has a 32 gb flash drive says on the box.

    3.is overclocking save ? if so what program is easy to handle ?
    4. were can i get a better battery in europe or how can i better te battery life ?

    ope you can awnser it THANKS IN ADVANCE :)

    darkerx Reply:

    1- I suggest you put a k3520/e169 inside (it’s an usb key, so it has to be exploded and deeply buried in the UX… as the UX1XN hasn’t a case with a simcard slot, there would be some Sony’s casing parts to buy (same as all US models). Either you are a very experienced expert in modding UXs, or I would suggest you contact Anh (www.micropctalk.com) to do the job. Hum… I even think it should be best for you to buy a k3520(e169 flavor) and keep it as a usb key, it will be MUCH cheaper for the same feature.
    2- you can put any hdd or ssd that is 1.8″ zif pata. Or keep your 32gb ssd and use MS Pro Duo 16gb for storage.
    3- Overclocking is safe, but changing the cooling is almost impossible, so you won’t get much higher than 1500mhz with your U1500. The only way is to use setfsb (with ics9lpr321bkl as clock generator).
    4- You can buy extended battery from e-bay, there is little risk with trusted sellers (and check it with BatteryBar V3.1 which will tell you if it has signs of wear or not). Any laptop will have his battery drained faster when: radios are ON, applications with high cpu load, high screen brightness… It’s the only weakpoint of the UXs…pay atention to apps that waste cpu cycles…(I don’t use firefox anymore, as it often overloads at 100% my two cores when idling…)

    You are welcome :)

  39. Mr. Mck says:

    Can someone make one of these for me i would pay quite a sum for it im just not good enough with my hands to build it my self

  40. darkerx says:

    It’s easy, as written in this thread, the guy who did it can be found on http://www.micropctalk.com. His nickname is Anh (well, he is called Anh Nguyen).

    Contact him… he is the only one guy, I have heard of, having been able to do such things within a UX… (he modified deeply two UX for me…cpu+many other things). The job was perfect everytime, you can ask people on micropctalk.

    If you intend to buy a UX to have its cpu and hdd/ssd maxed out, I suggest you go for a used 280 (e-bay500$) as every UX share the same motherboard, and 280 have 1gb ram…

  41. Cyprien says:

    WOW thanks for reply :) realy helpd me :)

    but i have to dissapoint you i stil have 2 questions :P

    im running windows 7 and i installed all the drivers from microPC forums but my camera button doesnt seem to work and the programm is no ware to be found but i could seee it in the startup. after i uninstalled it and reinstalled it but now i can find the program anyware not even in the startup. (msconfig).

    so no cam for me for now.

    2nd my zoom button does work but gives me this weird trippy screen wile zooming in doesnt realy work tough it isnt that of big deal couse i never use it but when i press it exedently well it just trips :P

    ps thax in advance again you realy know alot i see ( i just bough my UX difficult to find in netherlands)

  42. Cyprien says:

    P.S Itryed setfsb with ics9lpr321bkl But it doesnt save it when i restart windows and take alook at it again it says its still on 1.33

  43. darkerx says:

    For W7 driver issues, check the threads on the forum, as I don’t have tried W7 myself (my 490 is still at Anh’s place for further upgrading).

    In every laptop, most parameters will be reset after a suspend, hibernate, and of course a boot… so, when you use hdparm or setfsb you have two solutions:
    1- create a .bat that will stay on the desk and re-activate you parameters (it’s what I do)
    2- use a windows service to re-apply the parameters if a suspend event has been made. ( I saw this somewhere on tweaktown if I remember well…)

    for example: (overclock.bat)
    @echo off
    cd \
    cd “C:\Documents and Settings\vaio\My Documents\Downloads\setfsb_2_1_87_0\”
    setfsb.exe -b1 -s144

  44. Cyprien says:

    HA thank you your fast :) ill search the forums for the rest :)

  45. Cyprien says:

    HAHAHA im sorry i got a nother question you probebly had your self.

    The mouse thumb Stick is to Sensitive when i want to move it always slects or drags or what ever i always does that i want tto disable the mouse click on the thumb stick is this possible ?

    darkerx Reply:

    I remember having found a way to disable it (and/or change sensitivity) some time ago… but I don’t remember how it was done… the driver I use now, don’t allow it…

    I suggest, for all those questions, to ask a user base much bigger than me…(www.micropctalk.com which is dedicated to UX, or some specific forums here…) :))

    darkerx Reply:

    Ok… it tickled me… something f..ed up our driver.
    Solution: control panel/mouse/hardware/Alps stick pointer for vaio/properties/driver/uninstall!

    Then after a reboot, everything went back to normal (I can now choose to set or not the ‘press to select’ through the mouse parameters…) the system re-installed the working driver all by itself (windows xp/sp3).

    I reinstalled the driver at first (by ‘updating’ the driver…)=>did nothing… then I only uninstalled=>worked

  46. Cyprien says:

    can i use the camara key as a normal keyboard key ? ( would be nice for easy agaming :)

    darkerx Reply:

    I don’t think so… some people tried on the forum, but I don’t think they made it…

  47. bomb thamrongthanya says:

    the ultimate mod, Sony VAIO UX (runs 4 OS, including OSX) http://bit.ly/5lEJnA

  48. Eduardo says:

    ola adorei
    este sony UX modificado estou no brasil são paulo
    gostaria de comprar um MPCT UX590.
    quanto pago ja falei estou em são paulo brasil
    fale valores
    e para onde mando o dinheiro
    aqui uso 3G da GSM Claro.
    preciso de GPS
    e de wnd.7 ou vista
    em Portugues, e de uma bateria a mais com um carregador só de bateria.
    grato
    aguardo seu retorno bp.eduardosilva@hotmail.com

  49. darkerx says:

    Sorry… I don’t speak spanish..

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  52. enta43 says:

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