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Sony VAIO F11 review

Verdict

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

Review Date: 21 Apr 2010

Reviewed By: David Bayon

Price when reviewed: £945 (£1,110 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
6 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
4 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

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.

Author: David Bayon

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User comments

Not bad!

Not bad at all, i think that the price is just the right one, could have done with better graphics card, although the benchmarks for it are prety good, Blu-ray combined with 1080p screen, is obviouse price markup, along with sony brand name on it. you article does not mention speed of processor, but from research i gather Intel Core i7-720QM, has a minimum of 1.6 to maximum of 2.8 and since you say performace was a bit slow, i think it would be in the lower quantile of those figures. i think perhaps this is not for gaming enthusiasts but for average user who combines work and home, along with theatre media (bluray), this is a good option.

By mobilegnet on 26 Apr 2010

Very nice...

I bought one a few weeks ago. There was a story today about overheating problems and Sony have brought out a BIOS update.

The model I bought (VPCF11C4E came with 8GB RAM, Core i720QM) has a DVD burner, I didn't think the extra for Blu-Ray was worth it, I have a BD player and only have 2 BD discs.

So far, it has been a great machine. The keyboard is great, better than my MacBook Pro.

Apropo MacBook Pro, I was looking for a new MacBook Pro. I had held out for a Core i7 QM model, but Apple don't have any in their range, the high end 17" machine has the Core i7 M. Speccing a MacBook Pro 17" up to the same spec as the Sony, without the quad core processor, was over twice the price of the Sony!

Fortunately for me, all the apps I use on the Mac are available under Windows, so I have no problems chopping and changing - and with Windows 7, there really isn't any difference between them, in terms of usability, I switch between the two without thinking about it.

By big_D on 1 Jul 2010

@big_D

Don't you find the 1900x1080 resolution too high for this screen size? I mean it's no doubt great for the movies but what about everyday use? Don't you find yourself squiting your eyes a bit too often? I like the laptop but I guess I'd definitely go for the 1600x900 version myself.

By areluc on 26 Oct 2010

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