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Sony VAIO VGN-Z51WG/B review

Verdict

Light yet powerful, gorgeous yet practical, it's the best all-round ultraportable Sony has produced

Review Date: 20 Oct 2009

Reviewed By: Sasha Muller

Price when reviewed: £1,592 (£1,831 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
6 stars out of 6

Features & Design
6 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
6 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

Details
Part Code VGN-Z51WG/B
Review Date 20 Oct 2009
Price ex VAT £1,592
Price inc VAT £1,831
Overall rating 6 stars out of 6
Features & Design 6 stars out of 6
Value for Money 5 stars out of 6
Performance 6 stars out of 6
Warranty
Warranty
Physical specifications
Dimensions 314 x 210 x 33mm (WDH)
Weight 1.490kg
Travelling weight 1.9kg
Processor and memory
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo P9700
Motherboard chipset Intel GM45/GM47
RAM capacity 6.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2
Screen and video
Screen size 13.1in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,600
Resolution screen vertical 900
Resolution 1600 x 900
Graphics chipset Intel GMA X4500MHD and Nvidia Geforce 9300M GS
Graphics card RAM 256MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0
Drives
Capacity 320GB
Hard disk usable capacity 298GB
Spindle speed 7,200RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Hitachi Deskstar 7K500
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical drive Matshita DVD-RAM UJ862AS
Battery capacity 5,400mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0
Networking
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter yes
Bluetooth support yes
Other Features
Wireless hardware on/off switch yes
Wireless key-combination switch no
Modem yes
ExpressCard34 slots 1
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 2
FireWire ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports Fail
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 1
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Above keyboard
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 0.3mp
TPM yes
Fingerprint reader yes
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no
Operating system and software
Operating system Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery disc
Battery and performance tests
Battery life, light use 10hr 1min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 33min
Overall application benchmark score 1.43
Office application benchmark score 1.41
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.62
Encoding application benchmark score 1.28
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.39
3D performance (crysis) low settings 26fps
3D performance setting Low
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User comments

What are the differences from the previous models? I'm assuming this is replacing the Z21 and Z31 models are they are no longer available, however those models can't be customised with a blu-ray drive. Tthe only models currently available to buy on the Sony Style site are the customisable Z55 models and to spec one out as above costs £1,949.00 inc. VAT - and that's without the larger battery I assume you were using to get 10hrs from it.

By simbr on 22 Oct 2009

The difference

Physically, the Z51 is no different at all. It's just Windows 7 plus a specification boost.

If you want a Blu-ray drive you just have to use the customisation option at www.sonystyle-europe.com and specify all the bits yourself.

Doing it this way means you can also save cash. By pruning the memory back to 4GB you save £140, and, if you look closely, you'll notice that choosing the larger battery actually SAVES you £80. Probably a mistake, but I'd take advantage while you still can!

Go for a 2.53GHz Core 2, 4GB DDR3, a 320GB hard disk and Blu-ray and it comes to £1769 inc VAT.

By SashaMuller on 22 Oct 2009

z51 v z55

Sonystyle seem to have a z55 model - is this the same as z51??

By derek744 on 27 Oct 2009

Z51 vs Z55

Physically they're identical.

The Z51 comes in two pre-defined specifications, but the Z55 is the version which you can customise yourself.

If you want to add Blu-ray etc, it'll be a Z55 you're after.

By SashaMuller on 27 Oct 2009

Intel VT

Does its BIOS support Intel VT?
(required for XP mode in W7 afaik).

By nifty on 27 Oct 2009

Intel VT

There were some issues with the Z series and Intel VT which I believe some people managed to solve with a workaround/hack.

Now, however, it looks like VT support is going legit:

http://www.sony-asia.com/subtype/notifications/ass
et/339736/productcategory/it+personal+computer

By SashaMuller on 27 Oct 2009

Intel VT

There were some issues with the Z series and Intel VT which I believe some people managed to solve with a workaround/hack.

Now, however, it looks like VT support is going legit:

http://www.sony-asia.com/subtype/notifications/ass
et/339736/productcategory/it+personal+computer

By SashaMuller on 27 Oct 2009

sounds like a great machine. Does it get hot like the new macs or can it be used on ones lap without burn marks?

By condor on 29 Oct 2009

Beware: Sony Service Centres

Looks like a nice laptop. I have a Z series, z550n. However it does get really hot and mine developed white patches on the screen, eventually becoming unusable - which Sony will not repair within the warranty period.
Perhaps PCPRO should survey the best and worst companies for keeping warranty agreements.

By CGreengrass on 9 Nov 2009

Beware: Sony Service Centres

Actually they have now agreed to repair it FOC. Always complain higher up is my advice! Thanks Sony after all, and sorry for jumping the gun

By CGreengrass on 11 Nov 2009

A Bargain ?

This is looking like a bargain when compared with you previous "fastest ever" laptop the Dell Precision M6400 Covet

The apps benchmark is all but the same.

Please please can you get hold of one of these Sony's with the 256gb SSD and benchmark it.

I would reall like to know how much extra oomph £660 buys you !

By MiniEggs on 25 Nov 2009

Pricing

Your price guide of £299, as of Dec 29 is way off - the link takes you to a Samsung TV, not a Vaio laptop.

By nbirbeck on 30 Dec 2009

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By atomtop on 14 Sep 2010

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