Sony VAIO VGN-SR41M/S review

Price when reviewed

The world of notebooks is one of extremes: tiny, weakling netbooks squat at the bottom of the food chain, while giant gaming laptops and portable workstations loom above with their daunting price tags and performance figures. But there are precious few laptops capable of walking the knife-edge between portability, practicality and sheer power. Sony’s VAIO VGN-SR41M/S is one of that rare breed.

Its vital statistics don’t give its ultraportable cousin, the VGN-Z31MN/B, much to worry about, but this laptop still has a svelte allure all of its own. The rounded hinges, tapered lid and the large logo plastered across it give bags of character, and if you fancy something even more extrovert, you can also get that lid finished in white or pink. Whichever colour you choose, the interior remains all-silver, interrupted only by the Scrabble-tile keys.

Float like a butterfly

Cajole the Sony onto a set of scales and it’s impressively light. Other 13.3in laptops might be lighter – Apple’s MacBook Air or Lenovo’s IdeaPad U350, for example – but few can match the Sony’s feat of weighing 1.83kg without sacrificing its optical drive. Factor in the 6hrs 27mins of light-use battery life, and you have an ideal travelling partner.

There is a thorn in the Sony’s side, though, and that’s its insubstantial build quality. Pick it up by the corner and you can feel the chassis droop slightly under its own weight. The slim lid doesn’t afford the display much protection either, and pressing down on the right-hand wrist-rest sees it give way all too easily. The flexibility might help the Sony shrug off lighter blows, but we’d make sure to invest in a well-padded laptop bag if you intend to travel with the VGN-SR41M/S as a constant companion.

It is a real shame, as it is generally a pleasure to use. The 13.3in display keeps weight and size to a sensible minimum. Image quality is punchy thanks to the panel’s strong contrast but, as with the VGN-FW41E, somewhat muted colours and pale skin tones failed to make the very best of our test photographs. The 1,280 x 800 pixel resolution is ample, though, and marks a good compromise between a spacious desktop and easy legibility.

The isolation-style keyboard is a pleasure to use, too. Each key has a light, positive action and the unfussy layout makes it easy to tap away comfortably for long stretches.

Sting like a bee

The VGN-SR41M/S teeters right on the brink of the £1,000 mark, but scanning quickly through its specifications might leave you wondering why. The 2GHz Intel processor and 4GB of DDR2 memory is par for the course in many cheaper machines, and a result of 1.03 in our real-world benchmarks is equally unremarkable.

Fire up a game on the Sony, though, and it has a surprise in store. The ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4570 graphics chipset is pretty nippy by any standards, but particularly so for a sub-2kg notebook. Of course it’s no match for the likes of the Nvidia Geforce GTX 260M in the Asus G60Vx, but an average of 57fps in our lowest quality Crysis benchmark isn’t bad at all. Up the ante to a more challenging test – run at 1,280 x 1,024 and medium detail – and it still manages 18fps.


There are faster laptops on the market, but none of them blend power and portability quite like the 1.83kg VGN-SR41M/S. Indeed, if it weren’t for the iffy build quality and high price, we might have been tempted to honour the Sony with an award. As it stands, though, while the VGN-SR41M/S might impress with its technical achievements – we know of few, if any, 1.8kg laptops with any significant gaming prowess – we just can’t bring ourselves to completely forgive its flaws.


Warranty1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions316 x 234 x 37mm (WDH)
Travelling weight2.3kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core 2 Duo T6400
Motherboard chipsetIntel PM45
RAM capacity4.00GB
Memory typeDDR2
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total2

Screen and video

Screen size13.3in
Resolution screen horizontal1,366
Resolution screen vertical768
Resolution1366 x 768
Graphics chipsetATi Mobility Radeon HD 4570
Graphics card RAM512MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs1
HDMI outputs1
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs0


Hard disk usable capacity298GB
Spindle speed5,400RPM
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Hard diskSeagate Momentus 5400.5
Optical disc technologyDVD writer
Optical driveMatshita UJ862AS
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0


Wired adapter speed100Mbits/sec
802.11a supportno
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Integrated 3G adapterno
Bluetooth supportyes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchyes
Wireless key-combination switchno
ExpressCard34 slots1
ExpressCard54 slots0
PC Card slots0
USB ports (downstream)2
FireWire ports1
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
3.5mm audio jacks2
SD card readeryes
Memory Stick readeryes
MMC (multimedia card) readerno
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readerno
Pointing device typeTouchpad
Audio chipsetRealtek HD Audio
Speaker locationAbove keyboard
Hardware volume control?no
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating1.3mp
Fingerprint readerno
Smartcard readerno
Carry caseno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use6hr 27min
Overall application benchmark score1.03
Office application benchmark score1.05
2D graphics application benchmark score1.16
Encoding application benchmark score0.89
Multitasking application benchmark score0.83
3D performance (crysis) low settings57fps
3D performance settingLow

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows Vista Home Premium 32-bit
OS familyWindows Vista
Recovery methodRecovery partition, burn own recovery discs

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