VGN-FZ

From VAIO Library
A VGN-FZ with its original factory stickers
VGN-FZ with its original factory stickers

Overview

The Sony VAIO FZ Series is a range of mid-high-end laptops released by Sony in 2007 and replaced in 2008. It replaced its predecessor, the FE Series. The FZ was later replaced by the FW Series.

They included features like a bigger 15.4“ screen, better dedicated GPUs and on higher-end models, Blu-Ray drives. Even though most models had a 1080p Full HD sticker, their displays only were 1280x800, and they were criticized for being too low resolution. To truly enjoy the FZs movie-playing capabilities, one was able to use the HDMI port to connect the device to an external monitor, for the ultimate Blu-Ray experience.

Another VGN-FZ
VGN-FZ

The FZ Series also featured a wide range of ports, including three USB 2.0, FireWire, ExpressCard, Memory Stick and an SD Card slot. The FZs biggest drawbacks where it’s short battery life, lasting only 1 hour and 38 minutes while watching DVDs. The other big issue was the NVIDIA 8000 series video cards, which are 100% guaranteed to fail (see more in Problems section).

Today you can easily find many FZs with broken 8400 or 8600 GPUs, which is something that is very hard if not impossible to fix for unexperienced users. Alternativly an iGPU model was offered, which used Intel's GMA X3100 iGPU. These models are rarer nowadays since they don't fail, at least not the GPU.

Specs

Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo T7100, T7250, T7500, T7700, T8100, T8300, T9300, T9500 (not soldered)

Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 8400M or 8600M GS or GT, or Intel GMA X3100 (IGP is disabled on models with dedicated GPUs)

Display: 15,4“ 1280x800 CCFL

Memory: DDR2 (2 slots, not soldered)

Storage: 2.5" SATA

Weight: 2.6 to 2.8 kg

Problems

The FZ series all have a very unfourtunate problem. Most models contain an NVIDIA 8 series GPU. The NVIDIA 8 series of GPUs are known for their 100% failure rate because of a manufacturing problem from NVIDIA, and the FZ is not an exception to that. All NVIDIA 8 series chips on every single FZs with dedicated GPUs are affected by this problem. You do not have a graphics switch on the FZ, so you always run on the dedicated GPU.

Symptoms of this problem are:

  • black screen when turning on the device (device is not booting up, it has not passed the power-on self-test)
  • artifacts on the display
  • not being able to successfully install GPU drivers
  • unable to boot into Linux (distros with proper GPU drivers)

There is no real permanent solution to this problem. One temporary solution would be a reflow (see our upcoming NVIDIA 8 series reflow guide), one more permanent but still temporary solution is a reball or chip replacement. However, all of these methods requires a precise hot air station, BGA No-Clean flux, and some experience (practicing on a junk board is a good start).

Daily Usage Today

Thanks to its powerful hardware for the time, it is still pretty useful for current day usage. Web browsing and text editing is easily doable on these devices. Older games will also run fine on dedicated GPU models (when they work), though modern games will struggle or outright not work. iGPU models will struggle to run old games, but it's better to have a working laptop that is less powerful, than a broken device.

Resources

Sony JP VAIO VGN-FZ Series Presentation Page

Sony VAIO VGN-FZ Series Startup Guide

Sony VAIO VGN-FZ Series User Manual

Sony VAIO VGN-FZ Series Operation Guide

Sony VAIO VGN-FZ Series Warranty Summary

Sony VAIO VGN-FZ Series Accessories Guide

Sony VAIO VGN-FZ Series Safety Information

Sony VAIO VGN-FZ Series CPSC Tips on Notebook Computer Use

Sony VAIO VGN-FZ Series Instant Mode Guide

Sony VAIO VGN-FZ Series HDD Replacement Guide

Sony VAIO VGN-FZ Series Schematics (MBX-165 Foxconn MS90 REV 1.0)

Sony VAIO VGN-FZ150E Specifications Sheet

Downloads

Sony VAIO VGN-FZ Recovery Discs

You can bypass the model checks of these discs by using SVRP.

Follow our guides to download and install drivers.

Sources

NotebookCheck, Sony and Wikipedia