Sony VAIO F13 review

4 Oct 2010

A superb desktop replacement, but poor battery life and a medicore screen dent its appeal

Sony VAIO F13
Price when reviewed: 
1,200£1200 inc VAT
5

It's that time of year when Sony's VAIO laptops queue up for a specification bump, and Sony's F Series has now reached its third generation. You'd be hard-pressed to tell from looking at it, though. From the outside, Sony's 16.4in desktop replacement hasn't changed a bit.

It isn't that it's in dire need of a ground-up redesign. It's no match for Apple's MacBook Pro in the looks department, but it's still a fine-looking laptop, and the F Series has an air of quality that many would do well to emulate. Its chassis feels stout and flex-free, and is worth paying the weight penalty for - this 3kg laptop is unlikely to be a welcome travelling partner on all but the shortest of journeys.

That sturdy build is matched with superb ergonomics. The Scrabble-tile keyboard is simply superb, with a spacious layout, great feel and, unlike Asus' similarly sized N53JN, not even the slightest hint of undue squish. Spreadsheet fans will be mighty glad of the numeric keypad alongside.

Sony VAIO F13

Despite appearances, Sony has made a few tweaks here and there, the most interesting of which is the introduction of USB 3 on the F Series. The two ports on the laptop's left-hand side now reach up to USB 3's nippy transfer speeds, which is a welcome sight for a desktop replacement. Now, at least, backing up the 500GB hard disk won't be a painfully slow process.

The processor and graphics chipset have been upgraded too. The processor in question remains one of the older 45nm Core i7s, namely the 1.73GHz i7-740QM. It's quick, but despite having four cores to the two of the newer Core i5 and Core i7 models, it lags a little behind the newer generation. Still, a result of 1.54 in our benchmarks is still pretty fast by any standard, and few are likely to find themselves limited by the amount of power on tap.

Details

Price ex VAT £1,021
Price inc VAT £1,200
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 4
Performance 5

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

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

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i7-740QM
Motherboard chipset Intel HM55
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 16.4in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,600
Resolution screen vertical 900
Resolution 1600 x 900
Graphics chipset Nvidia GeForce GT 425M
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 466GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Optical disc technology Blu-ray reader
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) 2
FireWire 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 Touchpad
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Above keyboard
Hardware volume control? yes
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 2hr 30min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 20min
Overall application benchmark score 1.54
Office application benchmark score 1.23
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.83
Encoding application benchmark score 1.47
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.65
3D performance (crysis) low settings 71fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition