Sony VAIO F12 review

Price when reviewed

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.


Warranty1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions387 x 263 x 41mm (WDH)
Travelling weight3.8kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core i7-720QM
Motherboard chipsetIntel PM55 Express
RAM capacity8.00GB
Memory typeDDR3
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total2

Screen and video

Screen size16.4in
Resolution screen horizontal1,920
Resolution screen vertical1,080
Resolution1920 x 1080
Graphics chipsetNvdia GeForce GT 330M
Graphics card RAM1.00GB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs1
HDMI outputs1
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs0


Hard disk usable capacity465GB
Spindle speed7,200RPM
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Hard diskSeagate ST9500420AS
Optical disc technologyBlu-ray drive
Optical driveOptiarc BD-5730S6
Battery capacity5,000mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0


Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a supportyes
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)3
FireWire ports1
eSATA ports1
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports1
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 chipsetDolby Home Theater
Speaker locationAbove keyboard
Hardware volume control?no
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating0.3mp
Fingerprint readerno
Smartcard readerno
Carry caseno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use3hr 7min
Battery life, heavy use1hr 25min
Overall application benchmark score1.58
Office application benchmark score1.21
2D graphics application benchmark score1.88
Encoding application benchmark score1.49
Multitasking application benchmark score1.75
3D performance (crysis) low settings81fps
3D performance settingLow

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS familyWindows 7
Recovery methodRecovery partition, burn own recovery discs
Software suppliedMicrosoft Office 2010 Starter

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