Prestigio Nobile 1590W / Uniwill 259EA1 Review (pics, specs)

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by Ivan Kovac, Zagreb, Croatia

Overview and Introduction:

The Prestigio Nobile 1590W notebook is sold in Europe and can be found on the Prestigio website where it is descrbed in the following way:

“Notebook Prestigio Nobile 1590W has 15.4” WSXGA wide screen display with 1680×1050 resolution and external MXM video card and based on newest Intel Centrino chipset. This slim designed model has wide range of features as Bluetooth, Intervideo InstantOn, remote control and Intel High Definition Audio (Realtek ALC880, 7.1 Multi-channel compatible through S/PDIF). “ 

The Prestigio Nobile 1590W notebook is actually based upon the Uniwill 259EA1 barebones model notebook (many manufacturers will use a barebone notebook made in Taiwan by such Original Design Manufacturers as Uniwill and then configure and resell the notebook under their own brand, so Prestigio is therefore the Original Equipment Manufacturer — OEM).  There are actually other notebooks that use this Uniwill barebones model platform (Nexoc, and some Forcebook models). The advantage of the Prestigio Nobile 1590W machine is that you can configure the notebook to serve as a midrange business oriented machine by switching it to integrated graphics mode or a gaming beast by switching to using the MXM type 2 card inside (an ATI X700 card in this case).  A simple switch on the notebook allows you to flip between integrated and dedicated graphics.  The Prestigio 1590W comes with the following standard specs:

  • Intel Alviso-G i915GM chipset (with GMA900 VGA)
  • Realtek RTL8169/8110 Gigabit Ethernet
  • Motorola SM56 modem
  • DVD-RW TSST TS-L532A Optical Drive
  • Realtek ALC880 sound.
  • 15.4″ WSXGA+ screen
  • Multicard reader
  • Firewire
  • 3 powered USB 2.0 ports

At the time the below options could be configured and were left to my choice:

  • Pentium M 750J @ 1,86 GHz
  • Memory 2x1GB Kingston (max. configuration)
  • Wireless Intel ProWireless 2915a/b/g
  • MXM ATI X700 128MB (MXM type I)
  • MSI Bluetooth dongle inside on the internal USB
  • HD Toshiba 60GB 5400 rpm.

Reasons for Buying:

I used to have an old Asus M6800N and was very happy with it. I work for a small IT company that does a lot of work with databases, localization of web pages and programming. A friend of mine and a programmer needed a new machine for his C/C++ programming, so I figured it was a good idea for me to let him have the Asus as I was searching something new for myself. I wanted to buy another Asus notebook or maybe try an Acer — but I was open to any brand that had a desktop replacement for a reasonable price. I wanted the Intel 915 chipset and a dedicated graphics card. Since I am in an IT company I have an access to distributors and can choose what to buy. That is how I found this notebook model that (at the time) was the only available platform with an switchable graphic card for that price. That was the reason I purchased it. In fact, there was no other option for me once I saw the specs and got the price I wanted!

Where and How Purchased:

I bought my notebook a few months ago at a Croatian Asbis dealer. It is sold over here as a barebone machine that can be configured to your needs. That includes being able to configure CPU, Memory, Hard Drive, Wireless, Operating System, Graphics Processing Unit, stickers etc.  My configuration was around $1,700 USD, including 22% VAT (tax), which is way cheaper in comparison to the closest competitors over here.  It didn’t have an OS installed, but this was not a problem as my company is already a Microsoft partner and we have access to their software.

Build & Design:

Prestigio Nobile 1590W / Uniwill 259EA1 notebook front view  (view larger image)

This notebook is built quite strongly. The case uses sturdy plastic and it is overall well made. The design is silver combined with black and this looks decent — there is no poor finish anywhere on the body of the machine.  I didn’t buy this notebook for the looks though, for me it’s what’s inside that is great.

The screen frame is solid, and I didn’t see any effects of bending or twisting of the frame or of any lid opening problems. The screen hinges are pretty firm and there is no wobble.

Underside view of the Prestigio 1590W (view larger image)

In the above view is a picture of  underside of the 1590W you can see 9 screws on one plate open the whole interior. There are 3 screws to access the external VGA card, 4 for the CPU compartment, 1 additional for the HD, 1 for Bluetooth module and finally 1 for the optical drive. This is by far the easiest opening case I have ever seen.

This notebook has a built in microphone on top of the widescreen, which is a nice feature to have. I carry the notebook around in a backpack and with a battery it weighs around 3.2 kg (7.05lbs).

Screen:

(view larger image)

The screen is excellent!  The resolution is WSXGA+ (1680×1050).  That’s better than most other notebooks on the market that are much more expensive than this one. I found no dead pixels on my screen, although I have heard about some problems regarding this with the same model.  I would recommend checking the screen at the store before buying if you can. The back lighting for the screen is even and bright and the viewing angle is respectable. The lid can be pushed back around 120 degrees from the closed position. The screen is good for gaming and there is no colour or luminosity changes in the corners.  The brightness can be adjusted between 6 different levels and the overall color contrast is good.

Speakers:

The speakers are small and located under the screen. They are covered in a textile fabric material.  Overall the speakers are not so good in a comparison to other built-in notebook speakers I have heard, but they do produce decent middle and high frequencies.   The amount of bass is too weak, but this can be partly fixed through the ALC880 equalizer. On a scale 1-10 I’d give the speakers a 6. I recommend buying external speakers or headphones to get better audio.  This notebook has the ALC880 HD audio system and can be connected to a 7.1 system through the digital SPDIF connector.

Processor and Performance:

This notebook offers very good performance in both basic Windows usage and Office applications along with games. The processor I got in this notebook is an Intel Pentium M 1.86 GHz that can be overclocked to 1.96 GHz in BIOS. It takes about 45 seconds to boot up and load all services and drivers.  The fact the notebook is configured with 2GB of RAM helps to speed things along a lot in my work. I usually have an allocation of 1.3 GB of RAM.  When not using the notebook I’ll usually put it into hibernate 99% of the time instead of shutting down, that way it needs only 25 seconds to get back up and working.  With the processor and amount of RAM I have the notebook has never shown any sign of lack of resources or power in my usage. I play games like FEAR on it with decent frame rates on high at 800×600. On medium-high I can play it at 1024×768. Older games are just great on high at 1280×800 or even 1680×1050.

Benchmarks:

Below are the results gained from running Super Pi (ftp://pi.super-computing.org/windows/super_pi.zip), a program that forces the laptop’s processor to calculate Pi to 2 million digits of accuracy.  I timed it when on normal processor speed settings and when overclocked:

Notebook Time
Prestigio Nobile 1590W (1.86GHz Pentium M / overclocked @ 1.96GHz)  1m 41s / 1m 34s
 Dell XPS M140 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)  1m 41s
 Sony VAIO FS680 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)  1m 53s
 IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)  1m 45s
 IBM ThinkPad Z60m (2.0 GHz Pentium M)  1m 36s
 Fujitsu LifeBook N3510 (1.73 GHz Pentium M)  1m 48s
 Dell Inspiron 6000D (1.6 GHz Pentium M)  1m 52s
 Dell Inspiron 600M (1.6 GHz Pentium M)  2m 10s
 HP Pavilion dv4000 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)  1m 39s
 HP DV4170us (Pentium M 1.73 GHz)  1m 53s
 Sony VAIO S380 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)  1m 45s

Below are the results gained from running 3DMark05 on the Prestigio (using default CPU speed, GPU, voltage settings):

 Notebook  3DMark 05 Results
 Prestigio Nobile 1590W (1.86GHz, ATI X700 128MB)  2296 3DMarks
 Lenovo ThinkPad Z60m (2.0GHz Pentium M, ATI X600 128MB)  1659 3DMarks / 3426 CPUMarks
ThinkPad T43 (1.86GHz, ATI X300 64MB graphics)  727 3DMarks / 3414 CPUMarks
 Asus V6Va (2.13 GHz Pentium M, ATI Radeon Mobility x700 128 MB)  2530 3D Marks / 3749 CPU Marks
 Quanta KN1 (1.86 GHz Pentium M, NVIDIA GeForce Go 6600 128mb)  2,486 3DMarks / 4106 CPUMarks
 HP dv4000 (1.86GHz Pentium M, ATI X700 128MB)  2536 3D Marks / 3557 CPU Marks
 Dell Inspiron XPS 2 (2.0GHz Pentium M, NVIDIA GeForce Go 6800 Ultra with 256MB)  5112 3D Marks / NA

 

 Everest Results (version 2.20) default settings / enhanced performance setting
 Memory read: 2693 MB/s | 3065 MB/s
 Memory write: 745 MB/s | 824 MB/s
 Latency: 110.4 ns | 99.0 ns

Heat and Noise:

This notebook is very silent — the fan turns on at 56 C, following speeds at 60, 65, 70, 75 C.  The normal working temperature is around 54 C. Using the Intel GMA900 integrated graphics is better for using Office applications, DVD playing and Windows work on battery. When using the integrated graphics the fan almost never turns on. Using the ATI X700 is of course far better in modern 3D games at the cost of increased temperature and less battery time. Temperature inside is around 50 C and that produces evenly warm upper surface of the notebook after few hours of work. Sometimes I find this warmth unpleasant.  When playing games the right side gets quite warm without a cooling pad.  The fan is positioned on the bottom and it takes the air in there so I don’t believe it can be used well in the lap as this would block the vent. The Disk is silent and never goes over 35 C (and that’s after extended use and without using a cooler pad). The optical drive is reasonably quiet.

During gaming with the ATI GPU the notebook can reach temps around 85 C. Here you can see the effects of under and overclocking on  the ATI x700.

Keyboard and Touchpad:

Prestigio 1590W / Uniwill 259EA1 top row buttons on the keyboard (view larger image)

The keyboard is a standard full-sized keyboard, it is available in US English only. It has an FN button that is located before the left Ctrl. Overall the keyboard is stable and well built, but I find that the arrow buttons sometimes make squeaky sounds, like something is not in place right. The keyboard does not bend or flex except for the upper right corner. I have spoken to another person that bought this notebook who confirmed the same issue with flex in the upper right corner.

At the top of the keyboard are three shortcut buttons — Internet, Windows Media Player and Wireless on/off. There are also three LEDs — Wireless, Sleep and Battery.

The Pointing device is good, but it lacks horizontal scroll.  There are left and right mouse buttons, no “wheel” button.  The On/off power button is blue when you’re using GMA900, and green when using the external graphic card.  Some functions that can be performed with the FN button are: Sleep, Speaker on/off, LCD/CRT, Volume up and down, Brightness up and down. I would really like a touchpad on/off button, but there is no such thing on this notebook.

Input and Output Ports:

MIC in, Line in, Spdif/Speaker out. Multicard reader (view larger image)

PC Card (with a XD reader inside on this picture), Firewire, 3 powered USB 2.0, Power, S-video out (view larger image)

VGA, and the battery can be seen in the middle (view larger image)

1Gbit Ethernet, 56K modem (view larger image)

Wireless:

I have an Intel 2915a/b/g wireless card inside this notebook, so it is a true Centrino machine. I used to have problems with it — all the usual stuff, but I finally solved the problem. It is a quite an interesting story. The first 2915 card I had didn’t work on either my notebook or on the same barebone notebook that a friend of mine has. I thought the card must therefore be broken. Then I took a 2915 card from my brothers notebook – the same brand, manufacturer, and series (only the production date was different) and put it into my notebook. Guess what? It worked. Now here is the funny part — I put my old Intel 2915 into my brother’s Prestigio 13″ screen notebook and the card works flawlessly!  Very strange.

Bluetooth is solved with an inside USB dongle. The BlueTooth dongle is made by MSI and comes with the excellent BlueSoleil software. There is no infrared built-into this notebook.

Battery:

The battery life is not so good, it uses a 4400mAh Panasonic Li-Ion battery. It lasts around 2.5 hours when using the integrated Intel GMA900 mode and doing simple windows work, and around 1:45 when using the dedicated ATI graphics card.  This is just enough time to watch a whole DVD on it. I think it is a 4 cell battery, and a better battery with more cells can be purchased. The standard battery slots in completely and does not stick out of the back.

Operating System and Software:

You can choose to take Windows XP Pro with this notebook. I didn’t because I already have my own version of Windows XP Pro (my company being a Microsoft partner). There are no system restore disks, no hidden partitions (it is obviously a power user notebook). Instant ON software, and drivers are included.

Customer Support:

I really can’t say much about what the support is like because it is sold through distributor channels. The warranty is two years.  I will soon know more about the dead pixel policy. Upgrades are available with a delay. Service on the notebook is handled through another company — they were quite good and professional when I called for some information.

Conclusion:

After the all mentioned above I would like to point out some more interesting details:

  • The notebook has the Instant ON ability for playing multimedia without booting into Windows. It works well except that it cannot access any partitions besides the primary and optical drive. It can be used via remote control.  I actually purchased an additional IR remote control for $20 USD. It fully supports Instant ON and many controls in Windows.  It looks very good though and can even be placed inside the PCMCIA card slot for storage!  The Prestigio 1590W notebook has no IR port as I mentioned before, but with this remote comes a little USB IR sensor on a cord.  The good thing is it can be used on desktops and other notebooks too!


    Remote purchased to work with Prestigio 1590W — it comes with its own IR receiver


    The remote can be easily stored in the PCMCIA slot!
  • BIOS has an option called “Enhanced performance” that actually overclocks FSB speed to140MHz, making the CPU speed 1.96GHz.  It doesn’t produce much extra heat when doing this (I didn’t notice any) and performance is better. Especially in memory marks.  The good thing is the overclocking automatically turns off when on battery!
  • There’s a switch for external (dedicated) or internal (integrated) graphics.  You can flip the switch, but you have to reboot for the change to take effect. Beware of hibernating and then changing the graphics adapter used as you can’t recover from hibernate on a different graphics configuration!
  • This notebook has the High definition audio based on Intel ICH6 with Realtek ALC880 as an interface. Line in makes wonders for my electric guitar hum, and effects that I use have 1ms delay which is excellent. It is possible to have even a 7.1 system through the digital spdif connector.

Note: My marks points out of 10 are at the end of each statement.

Complaints:

  • Not a very attractive design, but I don’t mind 6/10
  • Not the best battery and I do mind 4/10
  • There is no button or FN combo for the touchpad on/off — I really don’t see the reason why 1/10
  • Can be warm after long gaming without a cooling pad, fan is below 6/10
  • Puny speakers for such audio potential behind 6/10

Praises:

  • Excellent WSXGA+ screen 10/10
  • Good and strong build 9/10
  • Possibility to upgrade and install even MXM type II cards 10/10
  • 3 powered USB ports + 1 internal 9/10
  • 2 VGA cards and external VGA switch 10/10
  • HD audio, line in and digital SPDIF out (up to 7.1 surround) 10/10

This is the best purchase I have ever made.  The price of the notebook is comparable to much weaker models.  It always has at least one better component or completely outclasses its competitors in the same price class, at least here in Croatia.

It is absolutely recommended for the future upgraders, gamers and power users. Paired with a cooling pad it can be overclocked to yield 30% better marks (over 3100 3dmark05) and undervolted to deliver it at 10 C lower temp. Now that makes it a very good gaming machine too.

You can read more about my experience in overclocking and undervolting this machine by going here: http://www.thegamebooks.com/notebook-review:-prestigio-nobile-1590w-t88.html. There are also pictures of the inside and an Ati x700 BIOS for download.

The Uniwill 259EA1 is a known platform and many brands are using it and make it quite popular in Central and Eastern Europe. The names known to me under which it is sold are Forcebook and Nexoc. I see that many of these models also come with 1280×800 screen and are thus cheaper.


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