Sony VAIO Z12 review

£1683
Price when reviewed

Rivalling the slimmest, lightest laptops on the market for sheer portability is no revelation in itself, but the Z12 speeds ahead when it comes to performance. Our basic model came with a mere 2.4GHz Core i5-520M processor, 4GB of memory and twin 64GB SSDs in a RAID0 array. Needless to say, it flew through our benchmarks with an overall score of 1.57.

And thanks to the switchable graphics, there’s even a modicum of gaming ability for when the occasion demands it. The Nvidia GeForce GT330M manages an almost playable average of 24fps in our Medium-detail Crysis test.

And for when battery life is more important than all-out power, changing to the Intel HD graphics embedded on the processor is as simple as flicking a switch. It’s not quite as elegant a solution as Nvidia’s Optimus – as employed by Alienware’s M11x R2 – but being able to swap between maximum power and maximum efficiency in an instant is probably a better solution for the professionals this laptop seeks to attract.

Indeed, stick with Intel’s HD graphics, and Sony’s Z12 displays uncanny reserves of stamina for such a powerful laptop. Our light-use test is, admittedly, a best-case scenario, with the system sat completely idle, screen set at 50% brightness and Windows’ power scheme set to Power Saver, but the Sony’s 9hrs 2mins is still impressive. Our intensive-use test shows quite how much brute power lies in reserve, however. With the CPU working flat-out and Nvidia’s GT330M enabled, the Z12 died after just 1hr 19mins.

Sony VAIO Z12

Those unfamiliar with Sony’s luxurious ultraportable may be surprised to hear that this but, at £1,432, the Z12 is the cheapest of the three models in the range. That’s expensive enough for most, but the priciest in the range effortlessly soars over the £2,000 mark by combining a Core i7-620M processor with four 64GB SSDs in RAID, 8GB of memory, a 1080p display and an upgraded carbon fibre lid. If you’ve got nearer £4,000 to burn, Sony’s website allows you to configure models with optional extras such as 512GB SSD arrays – an extra £1,140 over the standard 128GB model – or a Blu-ray writer for another £550.

All things considered, though, there’s precious little missing from this lowliest model. The whole gamut of wireless networking is supported with 3G, Bluetooth and dual-band 802.11n, and security is at the forefront thanks to a fingerprint reader and a TPM 1.2 chip.

Needless to say, precious few will be able to afford the price of admission, but Sony’s VAIO Z12 is probably the finest ultraportable in existence. Justifying such an extravagant price would be difficult for most laptops but, frankly, not for the Z12: it’s ergonomically perfect, physically gorgeous and blessed with the kind of performance that would make most laptops weep. If we had the money, we’d buy two.

Warranty

Warranty 2yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 314 x 210 x 33mm (WDH)
Weight 1.380kg
Travelling weight 1.8kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-520M
Motherboard chipset Intel HM55
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 Nvidia GeForce GT330M / Intel HD graphics
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 64GB
Hard disk usable capacity 61GB
Spindle speed N/A
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Toshiba THNS064GG2BNAA
Optical disc technology N/A
Optical drive N/A
Battery capacity 5,200mAh
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 yes
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) 3
FireWire ports 0
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? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 0.3mp
TPM yes
Fingerprint reader yes
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 9hr 2min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 19min
Overall application benchmark score 1.57
Office application benchmark score 1.29
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.71
Encoding application benchmark score 1.49
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.80
3D performance (crysis) low settings 70fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

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

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