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Sony VAIO F12 review

Verdict

Sony's latest VAIO laptop is a high-end entertainment machine that looks the business

Review Date: 13 Jul 2010

Reviewed By: Darien Graham-Smith

Price when reviewed: £1,173 (£1,378 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
6 stars out of 6

Value for Money
3 stars out of 6

Performance
5 stars out of 6

We’ve already seen the first of Sony’s F Series – the high-spec Sony VAIO F11. Now comes the F12. With its generous 16.4 in display, grey-brown finish and faux-leather wrist-rest, it looks like a serious machine – an impression the price does nothing to dispel. Yet this sober notebook is in fact the company’s “ultimate entertainer”, and a closer look reveals a 1080p TFT, a Blu-ray drive and – as with the F11 – dedicated media playback controls set directly below the screen.

There’s plenty of power inside, too. Sony offers a range of processors, RAM from 4GB to 8GB and a selection of hard disks; but our review model was based on an Intel Core i7-740QM quad-core CPU with 8GB and a 500GB, 7,200rpm drive.

That combination achieved 1.58 overall in our desktop benchmarks – a strong score, but then at this price you’d expect that. If you step down to an i7-720QM, halve the RAM, swap the Blu-ray drive for a regular DVD writer and make do with a 320GB hard disk, you can expect performance only around 10% slower for a slightly more digestible £927 exc VAT.

Sony VAIO F12

3D performance is creditable too, thanks to a powerful Nvidia GeForce GT 330M. This helped the VAIO F12 motor through our low-detail Crysis test at an average of 81fps, and hold up a fairly playable 28fps with medium settings. Be warned, though, that 3D gaming causes the system fan to spin up to some very noisy speeds.

If gaming isn't your priority, you can order the F12 from Sony Style with a GeForce GT 310M card (and a much-reduced spec elsewhere too) for a mere £595 exc VAT.

But buying the economy version of the F12 is a little like ordering an Audi R8 with a 1.2-litre engine. It just isn’t the point.

If the VAIO F12's premium credentials aren’t already apparent, they will be once you start to use it. Even by Sony’s usual high standards, this feels like a beautifully assembled laptop, with a sturdy chassis and clearly separated keys that are a joy to type on.

The trackpad’s comfortable and responsive too, though the numeric keypad is a mixed blessing: not everyone likes their keyboard and pointer controls shunted over to the side.

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User comments

Sony F12 review

Many thanks for the interesting review. In respect of your comments regarding the screen looking washed out under certain circumstances, there is a huge thread on this machine on Notebook Review web site. Several UK & Eu subscribers have recommended deselecting the auto brightness feature and adjusting it manually. The UK/EU matte screen is believed to be one of the best for the high end versions of this laptop. The main complaints are re the USA/Canadian glossy screen. Search the notebook review site for further info re UK or Eu screen under the F11/F12 thread using the search bar. http://forum.notebookreview.com/sony-owners-lounge
-forum/487213-official-sony-vaio-f-series-i5-i7-ow
ners-thread-part-3-a-226.html

By superbike999 on 22 Jul 2010

Sonystyle....still dissapoints

Finally we can order vaio owner made like in japan and America.......but it still doesn't mean choice! I ordered my f12 from america where I was able to have a backlit keyboard and 840qm for the same price delivered with 1 year guarantee as the Sony flagship model. I didn't know about tue gloss vs matte screen when I ordered - I do prefer my old z matte screen, but the gloss is still a great screen - I notice I angle it slightly more to get the best out of it. A great pc stifled by Sony uk's Limited customising options. Btw why is Sonystyles shop so sparse and why don't they sell a. Case for the f is a complete mystery.

By Virtuatw on 18 Aug 2010

Backlit keyboard and i7840qm

Sorry I should have made it clearer - these specs are not available to uk consumers. With a customisable model available this is not acceptable.

By Virtuatw on 18 Aug 2010

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