Sony VAIO F12 review
Sony's latest VAIO laptop is a high-end entertainment machine that looks the business
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.
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.
|Warranty||1 yr return to base|
|Dimensions||387 x 263 x 41mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Core i7-720QM|
|Motherboard chipset||Intel PM55 Express|
|SODIMM sockets free||0|
|SODIMM sockets total||2|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,920|
|Resolution screen vertical||1,080|
|Resolution||1920 x 1080|
|Graphics chipset||Nvdia GeForce GT 330M|
|Graphics card RAM||1.00GB|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||1|
|Hard disk usable capacity||465GB|
|Internal disk interface||SATA/300|
|Hard disk||Seagate ST9500420AS|
|Optical disc technology||Blu-ray drive|
|Optical drive||Optiarc BD-5730S6|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|Wireless hardware on/off switch||yes|
|Wireless key-combination switch||no|
|PC Card slots||0|
|USB ports (downstream)||3|
|PS/2 mouse port||no|
|9-pin serial ports||0|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||1|
|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|
|Pointing device type||Touchpad|
|Audio chipset||Dolby Home Theater|
|Speaker location||Above keyboard|
|Hardware volume control?||no|
|Camera megapixel rating||0.3mp|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||3hr 7min|
|Battery life, heavy use||1hr 25min|
|Overall application benchmark score||1.58|
|Office application benchmark score||1.21|
|2D graphics application benchmark score||1.88|
|Encoding application benchmark score||1.49|
|Multitasking application benchmark score||1.75|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||81fps|
|3D performance setting||Low|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit|
|OS family||Windows 7|
|Recovery method||Recovery partition, burn own recovery discs|
|Software supplied||Microsoft Office 2010 Starter|