Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sony Vaio VPC-SA2Z9E/B

Multi-talent. Work, play and even a mobile light weight. Is the 13.3 incher overestimating itself? The specs are awesome: strong Radeon graphics, Core i7 and turbo SSD. But the price is too: just under 2400 euros.

The SB and SA models belong to Sony's Vaio S range. While SBs are positioned as affordable business all-rounders, the equally built SA is to cover the high priced sector. Almost 2400 euros is a lot of money for a 13 incher. But, the luxury-savvy customer is offered a lot - at least on paper.

Core i7 Dual Core, Radeon HD 6630M with de-activatable graphics, a 256 GB SSD in RAID0 and a matt WXGA++ screen. It is debatable if the price for this handy powerhouse is justified. However, it can't be denied that it is a very interesting test device due to the awesome combination of highest performance and portability. Our comprehensive review will reveal all information about the luxury 13.3 incher.

Specifications Sony Vaio VPC-SA2Z9E/B
  • Processor : Intel Core i7 2620M 2.7 GHz
  • Mainboard : Intel HM67
  • Memory : 8192 MB,
  • Graphics adapter : AMD Radeon HD 6630M - 1024 MB, Core: 485 MHz, Memory: 800 MHz, Switchable Intel HD 3000 (IGP), 8.823.0.0
  • Display : 13.3 inch 16:09, 1600x900 pixel, unbekannt, glossy: no
  • Harddisk : Samsung MZRPA128HMCD 256GB, 256GB 4x SAMSUNG MZRPA128HMCD 256GB (RAID0/SATA)
  • Soundcard : Realtek ALC275
  • Connections : 2 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, 1 Docking Station Port, Audio Connections: line out, Card Reader: Memory Stick Duo, SD, 1 Fingerprint Reader, battery slice port
  • Networking : Realtek PCIe GBE Family Controller (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205 (abgn), 2.1 + EDR Bluetooth, UMTS, HSDPA
  • Optical drive : Matshita BD-MLT UJ242AS
  • Size : height x width x depth (in mm): 23.3 x 331 x 224.5
  • Weight : 1.652 kg Power Supply: 0.286 kg
  • Battery : 49 Wh Lithium-Polymer, VGP-BPS24 4400mAh 11.1V
  • Price : 2399 Euro
  • Operating System : Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64 Bit
  • Additional features : Webcam: 1.31MP 1280×1024 Exmor, Office Starter 2010, Transfer Support, Update, Smart Network, 24 Months Warranty.
Sony's 13.3 incher weighs 1652 grams and the 90 watt power adapter adds 286 grams. The case has a good torsional stiffness for mobile usages. The smooth wrist-rest convinces with a high stiffness and can't be dented even a bit anywhere. The work surface's matt and to the largest extent fingerprint resistant surface is very suitable for working on the go. Sony hasn't used any kind of glossy surfaces.

A clattering battery was a typical Sony characteristic for a long time. This is no longer the case because it can be found underneath a cover on the bottom. It's tightly locked there, but it can be removed.

The surfaces above the keys and the base plate fit tight and don't yield anywhere - not even over the optical drive (only marginally below). The aluminum magnesium alloy, which makes up the case, has a positive impact here. The material is stiff and looks high-end due to the hard, metallic cool surface (painted).

The matt lid is acceptably rigid in view of its flat design. We can twist the display by a few degrees when held at the corners. Nevertheless, light pressure on the lid's surface doesn't cause denting. The hinge has a firm grip on the lid, but it has a peculiarity. As of an 80 degree opening, the needed force lessens for the distance of about 20 degrees just to bid the known grip at 100 degrees again. This behavior, mechanically induced in the hinge, lets the lid open to the usually desired 130 degrees almost "by itself".

The lid's teetering that we reproached in the equally built SB range (German) hasn't completely, yet almost ceased. The lid's stop at the maximum opening is now also firmer than in the SB test device.

Almost all interfaces are located on the case's right. While front and rear don't supply any ports, we only find the headphone jack on the left. Three USB ports (among them 1 USB 3.0), VGA, HDMI and Ethernet are gathered on the right. The dual card reader (Memory Stick, SD) is standard on all Vaio notebooks. The port positioning allows a good cable routing to the right rear. The desk's left is spared from a cable mess.

Wireless communication is up to date: Gigabit LAN, draft n WLAN, Bluetooth and a Qualcomm Gobi HSDPA module for mobile Internet access. The SIM card for the latter is inserted into the base plate underneath a hard rubber cap.

The hardware security features don't go beyond a Kensington lock, a fingerprint reader and the shock-proof SSD.

The SB models' docking solution, VGP-PRS20 (about 129 euros) also fits on our SA device. Please see our detailed review of the docking station and battery slice. In addition to HDMI, VGA and 2 RJ45s (LAN), it supplies four USB ports. The HDMI, VGA & RJ45 on the laptop can no longer be used when the 13 incher is on the station. The battery slice, VGP-BPSC24 (lithium polymer), costs 130 euros and is clicked on underneath the chassis.

The manufacturer's warranty is 24 months. The customer, however, only receives this period at registration subsequent to purchase. An according warranty extension (plus one year) is adhered to the box. If you'd like onsite repair, you can buy the service pack, VGPE-VPPSL/3, valid for three years (270 euros).

The dual Core i7-2620M (2x2.70 GHz, 32nm) has already provided power in business machines, such as HP's EliteBook 8460p. The processor's Turbo Boost 2.0 can clock up to 3.4 GHz (one core) and the "Dynamic Range @ Turbo Frequency Limits" can even add a bit of clock providing there is a sufficient cooling. We will devote ourselves to the themes clock rate and throttling in "Temperature".

The dual core 2620M (TDP 35 watts) is always installed when a 45 watt 2630QM (quad core) goes beyond the cooling limits as it would be the case in 13 inch devices. It is frequently used in high performance 13 inchers, e.g. Acer's Aspire TimelineX 3830TG-2628G12nbb or Dell's Vostro 3350, due to the CPU's low idle power consumption.

The Radeon HD 6630M isn't actually designed for subnotebooks because of its strong performance (and high power consumption). Nevertheless, Sony installs it into the SA, SB and CA range. Moreover, there is adequate 8 GB of RAM and an extremely fast Samsung RAID0 SSD that bids a memory capacity of 256 GB. Again, the S range typical Speed Mode switch that disables the HD 6630M is present.

The i7-2620 scores 9452 points in Cinebench R10 Multi. That is a bit more than an i5-2540M with 9154 points (also 4 threads). Its quad core brother, 2720QM (8 threads), manages 14273 points (+35%) in test notebooks. We see: The processing speed's difference compared with a Core i5 is low.

Is the slim and light 13.3 incher's cooling efficient enough to keep the CPU performance upright during consistent load? We look at the i7-2620 in various other devices. Almost all 2620M candidates reach about 9450 points (+/- 150) in Cinebench R10 Multi. Only the Apple Macbook Pro 13 inch 2011-02 MC724LL/A fails this rate due to throttling.

Four of eight laptops achieved 3.1 points in the Cinebench R11.5 CPU 64 bit test. The Vaio SA2 test device doesn't belong to them because it is on the same level as the Vostro 3350 and XMG A501 with 3.0, respectively 2.9 points (-3%). Again, it is only the aforementioned MacBook that merely reaches 2.6 points due to throttling (-16%). Short: The i7-2620M calculates on the expected level in pure CPU performance. The cooling seems sufficient for normal load scenarios.

Related Posts by Categories