Sony VAIO F11 review

21 Apr 2010

Plenty of power, a great screen and a plethora of features make the VAIO F11 a solid all-rounder

Price when reviewed: 
1,110(£1,100 inc VAT)
5

There's a nice continuity to much of Sony's VAIO line-up, with the same grey styling applied to ultraportables and desktop replacements alike. The VAIO F11 is ostensibly an entertainment laptop, but its 16.4in Full HD screen and Core i7 processor make it just as capable of workstation duties.

The wide chassis allows for an excellent Scrabble-tile keyboard, with light key travel and a rigid backing. There's a useful number pad to the right; a minor complaint is that the touchpad sits skewed to the left half of the base - a design choice that's more a matter of preference than a major flaw. Above the keyboard sit quick playback controls, and there's a programmable function button too.

Sony VAIO F11

The entertainment focus is strengthened by a Blu-ray reader, and the 500GB hard disk is plenty for a video library. Should you need extra storage Sony has added a combined USB and eSATA port, along with two further USB ports, and there are HDMI and D-SUB outputs for hooking up external displays.

With a quad-core Core i7-720QM and 6GB of RAM inside this model (the VPCF11S1E/B), we expected great things from our benchmarks, but that's one of the older 45nm processors. As a result, it proved slower than laptops we've seen with the newer 32nm dual-core Core i5. Nevertheless, a score of 1.52 shows its potential, and its four cores and eight threads will come into their own when editing video or rendering 3D.

The 16.4in Full HD display is vibrant enough to bring those videos to life, the backlight is even and bright, and the lid offers ample protection for slinging the F11 into a bag. The tones are a touch oversaturated for accurate colour work, but they're perfect for Blu-ray movies or gaming.

The Nvidia GeForce GT 330M graphics drove our Crysis test at 1,280 x 1,024 and Medium settings with an average frame rate of 29fps. Whether that's worth the trade-off depends on your usage - battery life was merely average, lasting 3hrs 39mins under light use.

The Sony isn't cheap at £945 exc VAT, and doesn't quite commit fully to either the role of workstation or entertainment monster. But if you want a laptop that can do a bit of both in a manageable 3.1kg chassis, the F11 is ideal.

Details

Price ex VAT £945
Price inc VAT £1,110
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 6
Value for Money 5
Performance 4

Warranty

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 387 x 262 x 43mm (WDH)
Weight 3.050kg
Travelling weight 3.5kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i7-720QM
Motherboard chipset Intel PM55 Express
RAM capacity 6.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 16.4in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,920
Resolution screen vertical 1,080
Resolution 1920 x 1080
Graphics chipset Nvidia GeForce GT 330M
Graphics card RAM 1.00GB
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 453GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Hitachi HTS545050B9SA00
Optical disc technology Blu-ray reader
Optical drive Optiarc BC-5500H
Battery capacity 5,000mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

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 no
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
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
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 Multitouch 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 no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 3hr 39min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 31min
Overall application benchmark score 1.52
Office application benchmark score 1.14
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.83
Encoding application benchmark score 1.45
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.65
3D performance (crysis) low settings 93fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition
Software supplied None