Sony VAIO VPC-EB1S0E review

2 Feb 2010

A powerful performance from the Core i3 chip, but this high-end VAIO fails to make the best use of it

Price when reviewed 
626
4

As the first of Sony's new E Series laptops to reach PC Pro, the VAIO VPC-EB1S0E didn't have to do much to grab our attention. But as well as a box-fresh design and new graphics chipset from ATI, there's one component that makes this laptop truly exciting: Intel's Core i3 mobile processor.

With the quad-core mobile Core i7 making a triumphant debut a few months back, we were eager to find out how its budget dual-core sibling would stack up. It lacks some of the fancy features found on the pricier models, such as the excellent Turbo Boost technology, which dynamically overclocks certain cores at the expense of others when a task would benefit. But it does support hardware virtualisation, and we're pleased to see Hyper-Threading present, allowing the two cores to handle as many as four threads at once in appropriate applications.

Sony VAIO VPC-EB1S0E

While the 2.13GHz Core i3-330M model at the Sony's heart is the cheapest of Intel's Core i3 range, you're not likely to find that a problem in everyday use. An overall score of 1.35 in our application benchmarks makes the Core 2 Duo look geriatric, and a closer look at the numbers only reinforces the i3's superiority. In particular, its score of 1.61 in our multitasking test puts it in a different league from its predecessors.

The Core i3-330M's strength isn't only its speed, though. The 32nm die and TDP of just 35W theoretically make it efficient too, so we were keen to put the VAIO through the wringer away from the mains. With this in mind, a light-use battery life of just 3hrs 16mins is disappointing; pushing it to the limit reduced this further to 1hr 12mins.

It isn't the result we'd hoped for, but there are other factors in play than just the processor. Rather than making use of the Core i3's on-chip graphics to keep power draw to a minimum and maximise battery life, Sony has seen fit to pair the Core i3 with discrete graphics in the form of ATI's entry-level Radeon HD 5470. Graphics chips guzzle power, so it's tough to gauge the Core i3's real-world efficiency on this showing.

Details

Price ex VAT £533
Price inc VAT £626
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 3
Performance 5

Warranty

Warranty 1yr on-site

Physical specifications

Dimensions 369 x 250 x 40mm (WDH)
Weight 2.600kg
Travelling weight 3.0kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i3-330M
Motherboard chipset Intel HM55 Express
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3

Screen and video

Screen size 15.6in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5470
Graphics card RAM 512MB
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 500GB
Optical disc technology DVD writer
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 no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 1
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 4
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel 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 Intel HD Audio
Integrated webcam? yes

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 3hr 16min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 12min
Overall application benchmark score 1.35
Office application benchmark score 1.26
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.35
Encoding application benchmark score 1.18
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.61
3D performance (crysis) low settings 55fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows 7