Sony VAIO VPCS11V9E/B review

12 Feb 2010

Ergonomically excellent, powerful and with solid battery life, it's a business winner

Price when reviewed: 
1,120inc VAT
5

Intel's innovation has allowed Sony to refresh several of its most popular families, and the VAIO S Series is no exception. Aimed at the business user who also likes a little entertainment here and there, the S11V9E is a tough but lightweight 13.3in laptop that also packs a discrete graphics chip.

The big step forward is the move to Intel's HM55 Express chipset and Core i5 processor. The Core i5-520M in this machine runs at 2.4GHz, with the Turbo Boost feature dynamically pushing either of the two cores up (to a maximum of 2.933GHz) or down depending on your needs. It's one of the new batch of 32nm processors, and supports Virtualisation Technology and Hyper-Threading.

Sony VAIO VPCS11V9E/B

Paired with 4GB of DDR3 memory, the VAIO S Series coasted through our application benchmarks with a score of 1.55 – just a fraction short of the 45nm Core i7-720QM inside the Dell Studio 15, which demonstrates just how advanced these latest CPUs are.

But speed isn't the only intended benefit. The 32nm Core i5s have a TDP of just 35W, and Sony has opted for a six-cell, 5,000mAh battery in the S11V9E, so we were hopeful of good battery life to go with that performance.

We had to disable Sony's Battery Saver option, which restricts the charge to 80% of capacity to prolong the battery's life – we'd rather get the extra 20% and take our chances in the long run – and without this limit, the Sony managed more than five hours in our light-use battery test, and 1hr 24mins under full load.

The latter figure is partly down to the more power-hungry GeForce 310M graphics chugging away – Sony hasn't made the graphics switchable, despite the latest Core i5 processors having Intel graphics built into the chip. It does give the Sony another dimension as an entertainment system – it effortlessly decodes HD video and managed an acceptable 56fps in our Low quality Crysis test – so it's perfect for a bit of light gaming after work.

Details

Price ex VAT £953
Price inc VAT £1,120
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 6
Value for Money 5
Performance 5

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 328 x 228 x 34mm (WDH)
Weight 1.970kg
Travelling weight 2.4kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-520M
Motherboard chipset Intel HM55 Express
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 13.3in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset Nvidia GeForce 310M
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
Hard disk usable capacity 458GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Toshiba MK5055GSX
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical drive Optiarc AD-7930H
Battery capacity 5,000mAh
Replacement battery price ex VAT £117
Replacement battery price inc VAT £137

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
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 no
ExpressCard34 slots 1
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 3
FireWire ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type touchpad
Audio chipset Nvidia HD Audio
Speaker location Above keyboard
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 0.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader yes
Smartcard reader no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, heavy use 1hr 12min
Overall application benchmark score 1.55
Office application benchmark score 1.31
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.68
Encoding application benchmark score 1.49
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.74
3D performance (crysis) low settings 56fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
OS family Windows 7