iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Bliss 501C: Intel Centrino + ATI M9 Graphics

Finally I've got a production sample of the Bliss 501C notebook PC. You have probably noticed that the scores of this model are often used for comparison in reviews of the Intel Centrino based notebooks. The last time I tested a preproduction sample. The production model doesn't have many differences but they are all considerable. Instead of the 14" matrix with the resolution of 1024x768 it has a 15.1" matrix of 1400x1050. Besides, the productin computer comes with the ATI M9 graphics adapter with 64MB memory instead of 32MB. This time we review the model Bliss 501C which you can buy in the stores. Judging by its specs, this is the strongest model of all Intel Centrino based notebooks that we tested before.

Specification of the Bliss 501C

CPU Intel Pentium-M Processor 1.3 GHz to 1.6GHz (Banias) (1.6GHz comes on the tested model)
Chipset Intel 855PM (Montara)
Memory 256 MB DDR266 DRAM expandable up to 1GB (1 x SODIMM, 512MB on the tested model)
Display 15.1" TFT LCD 1400x1050
Graphics ATI M9 64MB
Audio Built-in AC'97 sound compatible with 3D effect and full duplex support. Built-in speakers and microphone
Hard Drive Ultra DMA/100 / S.M.A.R.T. support (Toshiba MK4019GAX 40 GB on the tested model)
Optical drive DVD+CDRW Combo (Combo QSI CDRW/DVD SBW-241 on the tested model)
Interface ports
  • VGA port/Mini D-sub 15-pin
  • 2 USB ports with USB 2.0 support
  • 2 audio connectors: Line-out (S/PDIF) / Mic-in
  • CRT
  • LAN RJ-45
  • Phone RJ-11
  • 1394 B Type jack
  • Infrared port with IrDA support
  • IrDA
  • TV-Out (S-Video)

Wireless network 802.11b
  • Li-Ion, 8cells, 53Whr
  • Run-down time over 4.8 hrs (Mobile Mark 2002 with Power 4 Gear battery-saving technology enabled.)
  • Charge time: 3 hrs (Power off) / 4 hrs (Power on)

Power supply unit Output : 65W
Input : 100~240V AC, 50/60Hz universal
Dimensions and weight
  • 326 x 258 x 25.3 mm in front (min) 32 mm behind (max.)
  • 2.5 kg

The box contents:

  • notebook
  • power supply unit with cable
  • phone cable
  • S-Video-RCA adapter
  • printed user guide
  • CD with drivers and utilities
  • CD with CyberLink PowerDVD
  • CD with Nero Burning ROM 5.0

First impressions

A similar case was used in the Bliss 5065. It makes an impression of featherweight and elegance. All my friends who know little about PC equipment like it very much.

The front panel is bare. There is only a display latch.

Connectors are grouped behind. Beside the air vents the back panel features:

  • Kensington lock
  • S-Video output
  • Parallel port
  • External monitor output
  • IR port
  • USB ports

On the left:

  • IEEE1394
  • PCMCIA slot
  • LAN connector
  • phone line connector
  • mic-in
  • line-out / S/PDIF

On the right is an optical drive and a power supply source connector.

Although the case looks elegant, some of the connectors are arranged inconveniently. A parallel port looks outdated on a Centrino based notebook. I wish there were a couple of USB ports instead, or it would be even better to have here RJ-45 and RJ-11 carried from the left side and USB ports installed instead of these RJ ports.

Ergonomics and performance

There is nothing unexpected under the display lid. I didn't like though that the touchpad buttons are too smooth.

The 4-way scroller has prominent dots on top so that you don't miss it. The preproduction sample had nothing of the kind.

The keyboard is typical of notebooks. The speakers placed above the keyboard seems to have an ideal position. Two applications shortcut buttons start up browser and post client by default. In general, the case is successful. It's not new, but is it a disadvantage? I don't think so.

Guarantee and service

BLISS notebooks come with the 2-year warranty. The list of service centers is given at http://www.bliss.ru/service.shtml.


The site is in Russian. It contains addresses of its shops, information on models, specifications and drivers. Unfortunately, there are no user manuals. Phone numbers of the service centers are also provided. The online support is offered by Topaz 2M service center on week days. The pricelist can be found at Nexus's site.


You can replace the CPU and hard drive and extend the RAM size, but it's better to do it in the service center.


Performance of the Centrino platform was tested in our previous reviews. Here you will see the results of the Bliss 501C in comparison with the Samsung X10 notebook. These Centrino based platforms differ actually in the graphics controllers (the Bliss has ATI M9 64MB, the Samsung has NVIDIA GeForce 440GO 64MB) and battery capacity (68320 mWh of the Bliss, 48840 mWh of the Samsung). Frankly speaking, the ATI's controller is certainly more efficient. Let's see what the tests will show.

In the standby mode they have the same performance. The Bliss has a longer run-down time thanks to the large amount of energy. It would be interesting to check which graphics controller is more power-hungry. In future we will try to find out it.

The next test is operation from the power circuit.

The Bliss 501C is an evident leader. In business applications the advantage is the greatest.

In the ZD WinStone the scores are the same. The ATI controller copes better with business applications (even without taking into account the overall performance gain).

3D graphics. MadOnion 3DMark 2001 SE (32 bit color, 32 bit Texture Format, 24 bit Z-buffer depth, Frame Buffer - Double buffering)

The scores are excellent.

Summary. Conclusion

The overall conclusion is very pleasant - the Centrino based notebooks turn to be successful. With good graphics added, such solutions lose all disadvantages at all, like Bliss 501C (except a relatively high price). By the way, the recommended retail price of the BLISS 501C with the configuration formula of Pentium M-1.3/256/20/DVD-CDRW/WiFi is $1,595, while the tested model (Pentium M-1.6/512/40/DVD-CDRW/WiFi) is priced at $2,065.

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