Sony VAIO Z Series (2011) review

Price when reviewed

Performance and Battery life

Even without the aid of the Power Media Dock, the VAIO Z is highly competent. Our review unit – the lower specified of Sony’s two VAIO Z models – came with a mid-range Core i5-2410M processor, and the overall result of 0.66 in our benchmarks proves there’s more than enough oomph for any application. The 128GB SSD helps create a wonderful feel of responsiveness too: with Sony’s Fast BIOS boot enabled, a cold boot to the Windows desktop takes just 20 seconds.

Sony VAIO Z Series - left-hand side

Push the Z flat-out for any length of time, and you’ll soon hear the whine of the cooling fan as it ramps up to full speed. But even after several hours of looping our benchmarks, the Sony kept its cool: the hottest point on the keyboard, on its left-hand edge above the main cooling vent, measured 46c.

While the disappearance of switchable graphics will cause some consternation, it’s not the critical loss it might look at first glance. Where the older VAIO Z models needed to partner Intel’s first generation Core processors with an Nvidia GPU to boost performance, the GPU built-in to the second generation of Intel Core processors is much more capable. Where the original Nvidia-equipped model, the Sony VAIO Z13, averaged 55fps in our old Low quality Crysis test – run at 1,024 x 768 resolution – the new model running on integrated graphics managed 39fps at the same settings (in our new tests, run at 1,366 x 768 it achieved 32fps). There isn’t much in it.

Sony VAIO Z Series - internal components

The loss of dedicated graphics also allows the VAIO Z to survive impressive stretches away from the mains. Sony claim seven hours of battery life with the internal 4,000mAh battery, and our testing bore this out. It achieved 7hrs 48mins in our light use battery test, with the screen brightness set to 75cd/m2, wireless off, scrolling through a selection of offline web pages. Add the optional battery slice, and those figures should double.

Get back within reach of the Power Media Dock, however, and there are multiple benefits. The first is gaming performance, which improves quite considerably. Using the integrated Intel GPU the Z managed 13fps at 1,600 x 900 and Medium quality; connected to the dock it breezed to a playable 28fps. It doesn’t quite transform the VAIO Z into a desk-bound gaming monster, but it’s good enough for all but the most demanding of games enthusiasts. The second benefit is that it’s possible to power four displays simultaneously: two connected to the laptop, and two more to the Power Media Dock.


Warranty 2yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 330 x 210 x 17mm (WDH)
Weight 1.150kg
Travelling weight 1.5kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-2410M
Motherboard chipset Intel HM67 Express
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 13.1in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,600
Resolution screen vertical 900
Resolution 1600 x 900
Graphics chipset Intel HD Graphics 3000 / AMD Radeon HD 6650M
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0


Capacity 128GB
Hard disk usable capacity 119GB
Spindle speed N/A
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Optical disc technology External DVD writer
Battery capacity 4,000mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0


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 yes
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch yes
Wireless key-combination switch no
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 1
FireWire ports 0
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 1
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 Underside
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
TPM yes
Fingerprint reader yes
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 7hr 48min
3D performance (crysis) low settings 32fps
3D performance setting Low
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.66
Responsiveness score 0.82
Media score 0.67
Multitasking score 0.50

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition
Software supplied N/A

Disclaimer: Some pages on this site may include an affiliate link. This does not effect our editorial in any way.

Todays Highlights
How to See Google Search History
how to download photos from google photos