Sony VAIO Z-Series Laptop Review

By on December 19, 2011
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The future of laptops.

Good: Aluminum and Carbon Fiber body; Extremely lightweight; 1080p screen in 13-inches; Separate dock for Blu-ray and external graphics card; 3 monitor setup; Decent battery life
Bad: CPU throttling; Text looks small; Backlit keys cannot be kept on permanently; Terrible speakers
Price: AED 11,999
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

Given its price and high-specs, I have compared this (almost) top of the range Z-series laptop for the ASUS NX90 and the HP Envy 17 3D. The ASUS NX90 comes with a slightly older Core i7-860 (@1.73GHz) and a weaker Nvidia GT 335M graphics card. The HP Envy 17 comes with the slightly slower Core i7-2630QM (@2GHz) Sandy Bridge processor and a much more powerful Radeon HD 6850M graphics card. None of these laptops have an SSD, and cost about AED 3.5k ($900) less than the Z-Series.

Both of these benchmarks are designed mainly to stress test the CPU, optimized to take advantage of multi-core and multi-threaded processors.

As you can see the score seems quite low compared to the seemingly weaker processors. I quickly ran the tests again just to be sure and ended up with the same results. Starting up CPU-Z, I saw that the Core i7-2640M was running at a maximum of 1.6GHz, idling around 700MHz. Under normal circumstances this processor is rated to work at 2.8GHz and turbo up to 3.5GHz. Clearly something was throttling the CPU.

I quickly checked the Power Options and made sure it was set to “High Performance” further digging into Advanced Power Settings to make sure that Processor Power Management was set to 100% on both minimum and maximum states. I double checked the BIOS and even set everything to Optimized Defaults just to be clear it wasn’t a fault there. And it wasn’t, there was nothing performance wise I could see, let alone change, in the BIOS.

And after doing all of that…

NOTE: We have contacted Sony regarding this issue; if our test unit is indeed broken, then I’ll update these benchmarks accordingly. For now, though, let’s continue with what we have.

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From auditing to editing, I now test and analyze the latest gadgets and games instead of the latest financial statements. Both jobs are equally intense and rewarding. When I'm not burning up hardware in the name of science, you'll find me nuking in DOTA 2 or engineering in TF2.

  • Blah

    Love how Pro’s are 1080P 
    Con is small text :P caused by 1080P ? hehe

    • Taimoor Hafeez

      Well, when you squeeze such a huge resolution into a puny 13″ screen, something has to suffer. So even though the text looks sharp, it ends up being too small. 

      • devx1

        Hence why there’s a 900p version and the ability to adjust text size overall.

  • devx1

    Btw, forgot to mention. There’s likely a configuration problem with your VAIO Z or CPU-Z isn’t reading it right. My Z clocks are fine according to AIDA64/HwInfo/CoreTemp with correct speed adjustments.

    CPU-Z has an error and can’t pull up clock speeds for some reason.

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