Review Sony Vaio SV-F15A1S2ES Notebook

Sascha Mölck (translated by Liala Stieglitz), 07/05/2013

Slim all-rounder. Sony's latest coup follows current laptop trends in the way of a slim casing and Full HD touchscreen. That is accompanied by a gaming-suitable graphics core and a hard drive with a high memory capacity. Seen as a whole, Sony should have a good all-round laptop in its range. Our test report clarifies whether this is true.

For the original German review, see here.

One distinctive feature of ultrabooks is their casing's maximum thickness of 21 mm. That not only makes the devices handy but also usually lets them look good. The slim casing seems to appeal to users because even conventional laptops are becoming increasingly thinner. The Vaio Fit SV-F15A1S2ES, which Sony provided us with, belongs to these devices. Our test review will reveal whether the computer has more to offer than just its good looks.

We used Asus' VivoBook S550CM-CJ038H (Core i5-3317U, GeForce GT 635M) and Acer's Aspire TimelineU M3-581PTG (Core i5-3337U, GeForce GT 730M) for classifying the laptop.

Case

Sony relies on a 22.5 mm slim, handy and fairly lightweight casing (2.3 kg) for its Vaio SVF15A1S2ES. Apart from the display's black frame, the casing's surfaces are all matte-silver. The laptop is also available in all-over black. Sony uses a mix of materials. The lid's back and wrist rest are made of metal. The other parts are comprised of plastic. The Aspire and VivoBook are based on a similar concept. Acer and Asus both rely on a mix of metal and plastic.

The base unit's stability should be better in a 1000 Euros (~$1287) computer. Applying pressure on the casing's left and right causes it to yield a bit. The same is true for the area below the touchpad. The stiffness is also unsatisfactory. The base unit can be warped a bit too strongly and occasionally creaks. It is possible to twist the lid without much effort despite its metal back. Also, some areas on the back can be dented to such an extent that image distortions become visible. The hinges keep the lid securely in position. Opening the lid with one hand is not possible.

The lid also serves as one of the laptop's footrests. As soon as the opening angle reaches or surpasses 90 degrees, the lid makes contact with the surface and lifts the base unit's rear area. Sony attached two rubber feet on the lid's lower edge to protect it from scratching.

The Vaio is clad in silver.
The Vaio is clad in silver.
The lid's back is metal.
The lid's back is metal.
There are no maintenance covers.
There are no maintenance covers.

Connectivity

The three laptops used for comparison all feature today's common interfaces. They come with at least one USB 3.0 port. The Aspire and Vaio do not sport a VGA out. Users who need such a port can fall back on an HDMI-to-VGA adapter (from 20 Euros, ~$25). Sony incorporates NFC technology (near field communication) in its Vaio. It enables wireless data sharing between two devices within a few centimeters. This technology is mainly known from cashless payments via a smartphone.

Sony places all interfaces on the casing's left. Most ports are located in the rear area of this side. Only the memory card reader and Kensington lock slot are on the wrist rest's level. The Kensington lock's placement is unfavorable because the cable lock runs along the laptop's left and will be interfering.

Left: Power socket, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, 2x USB 3.0, USB 2.0, combo audio, memory card reader (SD, SDHC, SDXC), Kensington lock slot
Left: Power socket, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, 2x USB 3.0, USB 2.0, combo audio, memory card reader (SD, SDHC, SDXC), Kensington lock slot
Only the DVD burner is located on the right
Only the DVD burner is located on the right

Communication

As for Wi-Fi, Sony installs a chip from Broadcom. It supports the Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n standards. The chip also provides Bluetooth 4.0 besides Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi signal strength fluctuated greatly. At a distance of approx. 3 meters to the router, the Windows display often only indicated 2 to 3 bars. This dropped to just one bar when moving away from the router. We think that the weak signal is due to the Wi-Fi antennas' position. They are located on both sides of the wrist rest in the base unit. As soon as the hands were placed on both sides of the wrist rest, the Wi-Fi signal's strength decreased. The signal increased when the hands were removed.

A RTL8168/8111 Gigabit Ethernet chip from Realtek can be used for cabled network connections. The integrated, 0.9 megapixel webcam shoots very blurry pictures with a resolution of up to 1280x720 pixels.

Accessories

Sony only includes a quick start poster and a few thin leaflets for the laptop. They contain safety guidelines, warranty information and a recovery manual.

Operating System and Recovery

Sony preinstalls Windows 8 64-bit on the Vaio. An installation DVD is not included. Therefore, it is recommendable to create recovery media in order to reinstall the system after e.g. replacing the hard drive (for example, due to a defect). The preinstalled Vaio Care tool (desktop) provides the function for creating recovery media.

Like all Windows 8 laptops, the Vaio features a recovery system. The operating system can be repaired or reset to default with it. The "Assist" button has to be pressed when the laptop is off to start the recovery system. The laptop turns itself on and immediately launches the recovery system.

It is also possible to use Windows 7 when preferred. Sony provides drivers for Windows 7 and Windows 8 on its website.

Maintenance

When looking at the laptop's bottom, we noticed that there is no maintenance cover. The base unit's bottom plate has to be removed for accessing the innards. However, this is no major problem. First, the DVD burner has to be taken out by removing a screw, which is roughly in the bottom's center. The DVD burner can be pulled out easily. Three flat head screws are then revealed, which also have to be removed. The same applies to all other screws on the casing's bottom. The bottom can then be carefully levered off. A putty knife from a home improvement center is recommendable for this. It is also advisable to start with the base unit's rear right area.

The working memory, hard drive, BIOS battery, battery, Wi-Fi module and fan are accessible after removing the bottom. The latter can be taken out for cleaning purposes. The laptop sports one working memory bank that is equipped with a 4 GB module. When the module is removed, another 4 GB of working memory is found, which is soldered to the motherboard. Replacing the hard drive is no problem either. All conventional 2.5-inch hard drives with a height of 7 mm and 9.5 mm fit in the laptop. The battery could also easily be replaced in case of defect. It is secured by four screws. It is plugged to the motherboard. The Wi-Fi module is underneath the battery.

Warranty

Sony includes a 12 month warranty on the Vaio. Another twelve months are added when the laptop is registered at Sony. Both the VivoBook and Aspire come with a 24 month warranty. The Vaio's warranty can be upgraded by one or two years for roughly 90 Euros (~$115) or 130 Euros (~$167).

Input Devices

Keyboard

Sony installs a backlit chiclet keyboard in its Vaio. The main keys feature a size of almost 15 x 15 mm. The single keys have a short drop and a clearly palpable pressure point. The key resistance is also acceptable. The keyboard teeters a bit while typing on it, but we did not find that annoying. Generally, the keyboard offers the typist a pleasant typing feel. The keyboard's backlight has three levels: on, off and enabled when pressing a key. Regrettably, there is no function key for changing the brightness and the Vaio Control Center always has to be started.

Touchpad

A multi-touch supporting ClickPad is installed as the mouse replacement. That is a touchpad that does not feature dedicated mouse keys, but the entire pad is a key. It has a size of approximately 10.5 x 6.5 cm. Different multi-touch gestures can be enabled or disabled individually in the pad's configuration menu. The pad's sleek surface makes gliding with the fingers convenient. However, the pad could be a bit more sensitive. It was sometimes necessary to tap with more force in order to prompt an action. The pad's configuration menu does not have an option for altering sensitivity. The pad features a short drop and a clearly audible and palpable pressure point.

Touchscreen

Another input option is the touchscreen. It responded immediately to entries and is set neither too sensitive nor too insensitive. However, the same is true for the Vaio as for all other normal laptops featuring a touchscreen. The touchscreen does not permanently allow comfortable use because the arm always has to be held in the air. In our opinion, it is more of a gimmick. Every user has to decide for themselves whether the touchscreen is useful and whether its worth the surcharge.

Sony installs a chiclet keyboard
Sony installs a chiclet keyboard
The ClickPad supports multi-touch
The ClickPad supports multi-touch

Display

Sony relies on a glossy, 15.5-inch screen with a native resolution of 1920x1080 pixels. Both contenders only feature HD screens with 1366x768 pixels. The Vaio screen's average brightness of 269.3 cd/m² is within a good range. The screens in the VivoBook (198 cd/m²) and Aspire (203.1 cd/m²) cannot compete with that. However, the Vaio screen's illumination of 74% is not exceptionally good. The contenders do a better job here (VivoBook: 83%; Aspire: 86%).

305
cd/m²
269
cd/m²
268
cd/m²
294
cd/m²
280
cd/m²
253
cd/m²
282
cd/m²
247
cd/m²
226
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 305 cd/m²
Average: 269.3 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 74 %
Center on Battery: 280 cd/m²
Black: 0.55 cd/m²
Contrast: 509:1
Sony Vaio SV-F15A1S2ES vs. sRGB
Sony Vaio SV-F15A1S2ES vs. sRGB
Sony Vaio SV-F15A1S2ES vs. AdobeRGB
Sony Vaio SV-F15A1S2ES vs. AdobeRGB

The screen's contrast of 509:1 and black value of 0.55 cd/m² are also within an acceptable range. The screen in the VivoBook (170:1; 1.26 cd/m²) lags far behind these rates. The Aspire's screen (495:1; 0.42 cd/m²) is on a par with the Vaio's screen. The Vaio's screen cannot reproduce the AdobeRGB or sRGB color spectrum.

We assessed the screen in its default state (target color space: sRGB). The DeltaE 2000 deviation of most colors is below the rate of 10. A few also achieve the target range of DeltaE smaller than 5. The screen has an evident bluish cast.

CalMan - Color Checker
CalMan - Color Checker
CalMan - Grayscale
CalMan - Grayscale
CalMan - Saturation Sweeps
CalMan - Saturation Sweeps

The screen's brightness would basically suffice for outdoor use. However, the glare-type surface prevents any such intentions. A shady place is a must when the laptop is to be used outdoors.

The viewing angle stability is not much better than we know from much lower priced laptops. Changing the vertical angle quickly leads to image distortions. It looks better horizontally; the content can still be recognized from the side although the image dims with an increasing angle.

The Vaio outdoors
The Vaio outdoors
Viewing angles: Sony Vaio SV-F15A1S2ES
Viewing angles: Sony Vaio SV-F15A1S2ES

Performance

With the Vaio Fit SVF15A1S2ES, Sony offers a slim all-round laptop in a 15.5-inch size. Routine tasks, such as internet communication, office tasks or rendering videos, are no big challenge for the laptop. The GeForce graphics core also allows playing up to date 3D games. Video editing is also fun due to the high definition screen. Sony includes the corresponding software (Movie Studio Platinum 12) on the device. Our review sample's current price ranges from 1000 Euros and 1100 Euros (~$1287 and ~$1416).

At the time of writing, other configurations of the Vaio were available. For example, approximately 100 Euros (~$128) more was demanded for the top model with a Blu-ray burner and a larger, 1 terabyte hard drive. Users who are satisfied with a Core i5-3337U processor can save about 100 Euros (~$128). The laptops are available in both silver and black.

System information: Sony Vaio SV-F15A1S2ES

Processor

Sony installs an Intel Core i7-3537U processor in our review sample. This dual-core is a member of the Ivy Bridge processor generation. Its default clock is 2 GHz and can be increased to 2.9 GHz on both cores and 3.1 GHz on one core via Turbo. The CPU is a ULV processor, i.e. it runs on a low voltage and its power consumption is low. Intel specifies the Core i7 with a TDP of 17 watts.

The CPU processes the single thread tests of the Cinebench benchmark at 2.9 GHz. It is rare that a core is boosted to 3.1 GHz. The processor also mostly runs through the multi-thread tests at 2.9 GHz. The cores are recurrently slowed down to 2.4 to 2.8 GHz. The scores from the VivoBook (Core i5-3317U, GeForce GT 635M) and Aspire (Core i5-3337U, GeForce GT 730M) are behind those of the Vaio in the CPU tests. This is not surprising because the Core i7 in the Vaio runs with a higher Turbo speed and also has a larger level 3 cache. The Vaio wins the GL tests. It sports the strongest GPU.

Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
4306
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
9092
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
6272
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit
5429 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit
11002 Points
Cinebench R10 Shading 64Bit
6371 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.28 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
2.88 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
33.91 fps
Help
Cinebench R11.5 - OpenGL 64Bit
Sony Vaio SV-F15A1S2ES
GeForce GT 735M, 3537U, Toshiba MQ01ABD075H
33.91 fps ∼31%
HP Spectre XT TouchSmart 15-4000eg
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Samsung SSD PM830 256 GByte mSATA
12.28 fps ∼11% -64%
Schenker XIRIOS B502 i7-3632QM
HD Graphics 4000, 3632QM, Samsung SSD PM841 MZMTD128HAFV mSATA
20.91 fps ∼19% -38%
Asus VivoBook S550CM-CJ038H
GeForce GT 635M, 3317U, Hitachi HTS545050A7380 + Kingston SMSM150S324G 24 GB SSD Cache
28.06 fps ∼26% -17%
Acer Aspire TimelineU M3-581PTG-53334G25Makk
GeForce GT 730M, 3337U, TOSHIBA THNSNS256GMCP
33.75 fps ∼31% 0%
Lenovo IdeaPad Z500-MBYG2GE
GeForce GT 645M, 3632QM, Seagate Momentus SpinPoint M8 ST1000LM024 HN-M101MBB
39.24 fps ∼36% +16%
Samsung 770Z5E-S01DE
Radeon HD 8870M, 3635QM, Seagate Momentus SpinPoint M8 ST1000LM024 HN-M101MBB
54.48 fps ∼50% +61%
Cinebench R11.5 - CPU Multi 64Bit
Sony Vaio SV-F15A1S2ES
GeForce GT 735M, 3537U, Toshiba MQ01ABD075H
2.88 Points ∼16%
HP Spectre XT TouchSmart 15-4000eg
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Samsung SSD PM830 256 GByte mSATA
2.36 Points ∼13% -18%
Asus VivoBook S550CM-CJ038H
GeForce GT 635M, 3317U, Hitachi HTS545050A7380 + Kingston SMSM150S324G 24 GB SSD Cache
2.38 Points ∼14% -17%
Acer Aspire TimelineU M3-581PTG-53334G25Makk
GeForce GT 730M, 3337U, TOSHIBA THNSNS256GMCP
2.49 Points ∼14% -14%
Lenovo IdeaPad Z500-MBYG2GE
GeForce GT 645M, 3632QM, Seagate Momentus SpinPoint M8 ST1000LM024 HN-M101MBB
5.35 Points ∼30% +86%
Schenker XIRIOS B502 i7-3632QM
HD Graphics 4000, 3632QM, Samsung SSD PM841 MZMTD128HAFV mSATA
5.84 Points ∼33% +103%
Samsung 770Z5E-S01DE
Radeon HD 8870M, 3635QM, Seagate Momentus SpinPoint M8 ST1000LM024 HN-M101MBB
6.38 Points ∼36% +122%

System Performance

The hard drive's scores in the PCMark benchmarks as well as the transfer rates are good. The specs indicate a swiftly working laptop. The subjective impression contradicts this. Only booting Windows 8 takes a long time. Also, opening programs often seems sluggish. We cannot say whether this is due to the hard drive or the operating system. We installed an older Crucial Real SSD C300, 64 GB solid state drive and installed Windows 8 for testing purposes. The system ran fast and smooth right away. As said, the PCMark scores are good. The VivoBook (Core i5-3317U, GeForce GT 635M) is defeated. The Aspire (Core i5-3337U, GeForce GT 730M) achieves better scores as it features a swift SSD.

We ran both PCMark benchmarks after installing the SSD and Windows 8 in the Vaio. The PCMark 7 score increased by almost 17% to 4749 points. The PCMark Vantage score even improved by approx. 69% to 13184 points. These scores should improve even more by using a newer solid state drive (e.g. Samsung SSD 840).

5.6
Windows 8 Experience Index
Processor
Calculations per second
7.1
Memory (RAM)
Memory operations per second
7.9
Graphics
Desktop performance for Windows Aero
5.6
Gaming graphics
3D business and gaming graphics
6.4
Primary hard disk
Disk data transfer rate
5.9
PC Mark
PCMark Vantage7835 points
PCMark 74054 points
Help
PCMark 7 - Score
Sony Vaio SV-F15A1S2ES
GeForce GT 735M, 3537U, Toshiba MQ01ABD075H
4054 Points ∼61%
Asus VivoBook S550CM-CJ038H
GeForce GT 635M, 3317U, Hitachi HTS545050A7380 + Kingston SMSM150S324G 24 GB SSD Cache
2700 Points ∼41% -33%
Lenovo IdeaPad Z500-MBYG2GE
GeForce GT 645M, 3632QM, Seagate Momentus SpinPoint M8 ST1000LM024 HN-M101MBB
2805 Points ∼42% -31%
Samsung 770Z5E-S01DE
Radeon HD 8870M, 3635QM, Seagate Momentus SpinPoint M8 ST1000LM024 HN-M101MBB
3970 Points ∼60% -2%
HP Spectre XT TouchSmart 15-4000eg
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Samsung SSD PM830 256 GByte mSATA
4414 Points ∼67% +9%
Schenker XIRIOS B502 i7-3632QM
HD Graphics 4000, 3632QM, Samsung SSD PM841 MZMTD128HAFV mSATA
4682 Points ∼71% +15%
Acer Aspire TimelineU M3-581PTG-53334G25Makk
GeForce GT 730M, 3337U, TOSHIBA THNSNS256GMCP
4791 Points ∼72% +18%

Storage Devices

HD Tune
HD Tune
CrystalDiskMark
CrystalDiskMark

Sony uses a hybrid hard drive from Toshiba in its Vaio. Hybrid means that an SSD cache is additionally integrated in the hard drive. In the case of Toshiba's hard drive, it has a capacity of 8 GB. The SSD is a buffer for write and read access and increases the drive's write and read speed.

The actual hard drive features a capacity of 750 GB and rotates with 5400 revolutions per minute. The hybrid hard drive works quite swiftly. CrystalDiskMark recorded a read speed of 146.3 MB/s. This rate is good but not exceptional. We have measured much faster transfer rates in other laptops with a combination of a conventional hard drive and separate SSD cache, for example 224.7 MB/s in HP's Pavilion Sleekbook 15-b004sg.

Toshiba MQ01ABD075H
Transfer Rate Minimum: 3.6 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 113.7 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 61.9 MB/s
Access Time: 18.7 ms
Burst Rate: 79.9 MB/s
CPU Usage: 1.2 %

Graphics Card

Both Intel's HD Graphics 4000 GPU and the GeForce GT 735M graphics core take care of video output. Intel's grapihcs core is usually used for routine tasks and in battery mode. The GeForce GPU is always enabled in high graphics demand, for example when rendering 3D computer games. The GT 735M is a member of the GPU midrange. According to GPU-Z, the edition installed in our review sample runs with a default clock of 575 MHz, which we also measured during our stress test using Prime95 and Furmark simultaneously. The speed can be increased to 941 MHz, which is achieved when only Furmark is performed.

The Vaio scores lower than the Aspire (Core i5-3337U, GeForce GT 730M) in the 3DMark benchmarks, although the Vaio sports a marginally better graphics chip. The main difference between the GT 730M and GT 735M is their speed. The GT 735M is faster than the GT 730M. However, Sony has set the graphics core's default speed much lower than specified by Nvidia. Consequently, the default clock of the GT 735M core is lower than that of the GT 730M core in the Aspire. The Vaio is also much more conservative with the GPU's Turbo. The reason for this is likely the laptop's cooling system in both cases. The CPU and GPU cannot work at full speed at the same time and thus the benchmark scores are lower than those of the Aspire. The results from VivoBook (Core i5-3317U, GeForce GT 635M) clearly lag behind its contenders.

3D Mark
3DMark 0516640 points
3DMark 06
 1280x1024
8924 points
3DMark Vantage5709 points
3DMark 111816 points
3DMark Ice Storm40561 points
3DMark Cloud Gate5142 points
3DMark Fire Strike937 points
Help
3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance
Sony Vaio SV-F15A1S2ES
GeForce GT 735M, 3537U, Toshiba MQ01ABD075H
1816 Points ∼14%
Asus VivoBook S550CM-CJ038H
GeForce GT 635M, 3317U, Hitachi HTS545050A7380 + Kingston SMSM150S324G 24 GB SSD Cache
1223 Points ∼9% -33%
Acer Aspire TimelineU M3-581PTG-53334G25Makk
GeForce GT 730M, 3337U, TOSHIBA THNSNS256GMCP
2135 Points ∼16% +18%

Gaming Performance

The Vaio's hardware configuration allows rendering most up to date 3D games using medium quality in the default resolution of 1366x768 pixels smoothly. Many games still run smoothly even in high quality settings. Only a few, undemanding games, like editions from the FIFA series, run smoothly in maximum quality and the Full HD resolution of 1920x1080.

Basically, the laptop does not use its full potential. The combination of a Core i7 and GeForce could supply higher frame rates. However, the components cannot run simultaneously at full speed for cooling reasons. We recorded the CPU and GPU speed in the Sleeping Dogs benchmark using Full HD and maximum quality. The test ran for approximately 10 minutes in the selected settings. The CPU ran with 800 MHz for the first 7 minutes and then with 2 GHz. The GPU ran with 941 MHz from the outset.

Users with priority on computer games will find much more suitable laptops for below 1000 Euros (~$1287). For example, the entry-level version of the One K56-3F (15.6-inch) with a GeForce GT 750M GPU is available for prices starting at 800 Euros (~$1030). Acer's Aspire V3-771G (Core i7-3630QM, GeForce GT 650M, Full HD screen) is worth considering in the 17-inch sector. It is available for almost exactly 1000 Euros (~$1287).

low med.high ultra
World of Warcraft (2005) 31.116fps
Crysis - GPU Benchmark (2007) 69.633.98.76fps
Crysis - CPU Benchmark (2007) 57.428.227.77fps
Trackmania Nations Forever (2008) 61.521fps
Colin McRae: DIRT 2 (2009) 77.634.116fps
Need for Speed Shift (2009) 36.125.6fps
Resident Evil 5 (2009) 54.528.2fps
Risen (2009) 49.231.620.3fps
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (2010) 58.642.919.1fps
Metro 2033 (2010) 33.916.8fps
Just Cause 2 (2010) 23.6fps
Mafia 2 (2010) 56.846.926.7fps
Civilization 5 (2010) 57.312.9fps
Total War: Shogun 2 (2011) 34.3fps
Dirt 3 (2011) 81.848.316.2fps
Deus Ex Human Revolution (2011) 101.341.618fps
Battlefield 3 (2011) 46.53224.8fps
CoD: Modern Warfare 3 (2011) 83.442.524fps
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011) 38.529.719.3fps
Anno 2070 (2011) 8134.822.4fps
Alan Wake (2012) 31.116.8fps
Mass Effect 3 (2012) 55.635.621.8fps
Risen 2: Dark Waters (2012) 372418.7fps
Diablo III (2012) 7163.538.2fps
Dirt Showdown (2012) 57.540.914.8fps
Max Payne 3 (2012) 39.235.415.5fps
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier (2012) 3120.6fps
Darksiders II (2012) 42.624.7fps
Sleeping Dogs (2012) 6649.419.5fps
Counter-Strike: GO (2012) 107.176.332fps
F1 2012 (2012) 776030fps
Borderlands 2 (2012) 37.729.518.6fps
Fifa 13 (2012) 137.981.4fps
Medal of Honor: Warfighter (2012) 46.430.224.8fps
Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012) 5432.922.6fps
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (2012) 54.730.5fps
Hitman: Absolution (2012) 40.827.712.2fps
Assassin´s Creed III (2012) 37.931.28fps
Far Cry 3 (2012) 55.535.816.6fps
Dead Space 3 (2013) 54.243.124.9fps
Crysis 3 (2013) 30.418.1fps
Tomb Raider (2013) 83.439.522.5fps
SimCity (2013) 50.820.916.1fps
BioShock Infinite (2013) 63.132.627fps
Metro: Last Light (2013) 27.218.8fps
GRID 2 (2013) 58.846.212.5fps
Company of Heroes 2 (2013) 26.120fps

Emissions

System Noise

It pays off that Sony installs a ULV processor. The Vaio runs relatively quietly in idle mode. We measured a noise level of 31.5 dB. The VivoBook can undercut this rate with 30.3 to 30.9 dB. We ascertained higher rates of 31.7 to 34.8 dB in the Aspire. All three laptops exceed 40 dB during medium load via 3DMark06 and full load during the stress test using Prime95 and Furmark. This is not surprising since all devices feature a thin casing and a gaming capable graphics chip. Intense cooling is required in tight spaces and it gets loud. The Vaio reached rates from 43.5 to 45 dB, which is higher than the Aspire's 41.2 and 41.4 dB or the VivoBook's 40.6 and 42.4 dB.

Noise Level

Idle 31.5 / 31.5 / 31.5 dB(A)
HDD 32 dB(A)
DVD 36.1 / dB(A)
Load 43.5 / 45 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:    Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)

Temperature

Sony's Vaio SV-F15A1S2ES in the stress test
Sony's Vaio SV-F15A1S2ES in the stress test

We measured temperatures ranging from 28.3 and 35.3 °C on the case during idle mode. These temperatures are acceptable. The temperatures of the VivoBook (25.6 to 34.1 °C) and the Aspire (25.2 to 33.9 °C) are a bit lower. The Vaio's temperature slightly increases to 27.2 to 43.6 °C during full load. 40 °C is surpassed in the vent's area. The casings of both the VivoBook and Aspire get much warmer. We measured over 50 °C in some areas.

The stress test via simultaneous Prime 95 and Furmark for at least one hour ran on the CPU with 2.7 to 2.8 GHz for the first five minutes in AC mode. One core is repeatedly slowed down to 2.2 GHz. After that, the CPU ran permanently with 2 GHz. That is the case from the offset in battery mode. The GPU ran with 575 MHz in both AC and battery mode. Both components remained below their potential. The laptop's cooling system seems to be insufficient for allowing both computing cores to run at full speed. The components only achieved their maximum clock when working separately.

We reran the 3DMark06 benchmark immediately after the stress test. The score of 7348 points (CPU: 2541 points) was much lower than in the laptop's cold state (8924; CPU: 3645 points). The CPU's temperature settled to roughly 70 °C in AC mode.

Max. Load
 39.2 °C43.6 °C27.2 °C 
 39.6 °C43.4 °C29.5 °C 
 32 °C35.4 °C32.3 °C 
Maximum: 43.6 °C
Average: 35.8 °C
27.7 °C43.3 °C34.7 °C
31 °C37 °C33.6 °C
32.7 °C33.6 °C33.5 °C
Maximum: 43.3 °C
Average: 34.1 °C
Power Supply (max.)  53.2 °C | Room Temperature 23.7 °C | Voltcraft IR-360

Speakers

The Vaio's stereo speakers are located on the base unit's rear edge. They produce an acceptable sound without bass. The sound gets very tinny when the volume is turned up to max. This is much less intense in lower volumes. Connecting headphones or external speakers is advisable for a better sound experience.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The Vaio's idle power consumption of 9.8 to 15.7 watts is rather high. This becomes more than evident when directly compared with the Aspire (6 to 7.7 watts) and the VivoBook (7.9 to 10.2 watts). The energy requirement of the processors and graphics cores in all three laptops is quite similar so that this is not the reason. The most striking difference between the devices is found in the screen. The Vaio screen has a higher resolution and is much brighter than the screens of its contenders. The Vaio's power consumption climbs to 49.7 during medium load via 3DMark06 and 47.4 watts in full load during the stress test via Prime95 and Furmark. The full load rate is lower because the CPU and GPU do not run at full speed. The Aspire (56.5 and 67.4 watts) and the VivoBook (57 and 64 watts) consume more power than the Vaio in both cases.

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.1 / 0.5 Watt
Idle 9.8 / 13.7 / 15.7 Watt
Load 49.7 / 47.4 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Runtime

The Vaio shuts down after 5:19 h of idle use. The VivoBook (4:20 h) turns off an hour earlier. Neither laptop can compete with the Aspire (7:35 h). The idle runtime is ascertained using Battery Eater's Reader's test with minimum brightness, enabled energy saving mode and disabled wireless modules. Sony's laptop lasts for 1:20 h in load. The VivoBook (1:29 h) has a slight lead and the Aspire (2:16 h) again clearly surpasses both. The load runtime is determined via Battery Eater's Classic test with maximum brightness, high-performance mode and enabled wireless modules.

The Vaio finished the Wi-Fi test after 3:01 h. The VivoBook lasts for almost forty minutes longer (3:39 h). Again, the Aspire leaves both contenders behind with 6:17 h. Websites are opened automatically every 40 seconds in the Wi-Fi test, the energy saving profile is enabled and the screen's brightness is set to approximately 150 cd/m². The Vaio plays DVDs for 2:13 h. The VivoBook (1:44 h) doesn't even last for two hours and the Aspire manages a whole 3:55 hours. The DVD test is performed using enabled energy saving mode or a higher profile should the DVD not run smoothly, maximum screen brightness and disabled wireless modules.

The Aspire manages the longest runtimes because it has the highest battery capacity (54 Wh) and excels with the lowest idle power consumption. The batteries in the Vaio (41 Wh) and VivoBook (44 Wh) have a much lower capacity. Sony demands a steep price for its laptop at around 1000 Euros (~$1287). We would have expected better battery runtimes and a larger battery for this.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
5h 19min
WiFi Surfing
3h 01min
DVD
2h 13min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 20min

Verdict

Sony's Vaio SV-F15A1S2ES comes with a decent application performance and acceptable gaming power. Beyond that, it comes with a viable, high-definition screen and an agreeable keyboard. It also offers a lot of storage capacity. The battery runtimes are not particularly good due to the battery's relatively low capacity. We would have expected a lot more from a 1000 Euros (~$1287) laptop here. The hard drive is not the fastest of its kind either. We have seen swifter SSD-HDD combinations in much lower-priced laptops.

Asus' VivoBook S550CM-CJ038H (approx. 800 Euros, ~$1030) and Acer's Aspire TimelineU M3-581PTG (approx. 900 Euros, ~$1159) generally offer the same range of functions as the Vaio but cost less. However, compromises have to be made with the CPU and GPU and their screens have a lower resolution. The Aspire is superior to the Vaio in some areas despite its lower price. For example, it sports a solid state drive and achieves much better battery runtimes.

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In Review: Sony Vaio SV-F15A1S2ES
In Review: Sony Vaio SV-F15A1S2ES

Specifications

Sony Vaio SV-F15A1S2ES

:: Processor
:: Mainboard
Intel HM76 (Panther Point)
:: Memory
8192 MB, DDR3, 4 GB soldered, 1 bank
:: Graphics adapter
NVIDIA GeForce GT 735M - 2048 MB, Core: 575-941 MHz, Memory: 900 MHz, ForceWare 311.46, Optimus
:: Display
15.5 inch 16:9, 1920x1080 pixel, multi-touch, ChiMei N156HGE-LB1, TN LED, glossy: yes
:: Harddisk
Toshiba MQ01ABD075H, 750 GB hybrid hard drive, internal SSD cache (8 GB), 616 GB free
:: Soundcard
Intel Panther Point PCH - High Definition Audio Controller
:: Connections
1 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: combo audio jack, Card Reader: SD, SDHC, SDXC, NFC
:: Networking
Realtek RTL8168/8111 Gigabit-LAN (10/100/1000MBit), Broadcom BCM43142 (b g n ), 4.0 Bluetooth
:: Optical drive
Matshita DVD-RAM UJ8D3
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 22.5 x 379 x 255
:: Weight
2.3 kg Power Supply: 0.212 kg
:: Battery
41 Wh Lithium-Ion, 11.1 V, 3650 mAh
:: Price
1099 Euro
:: Operating System
Microsoft Windows 8 64 Bit
:: Additional features
Webcam: 0.92 MP, 1280x720 video, Speakers: stereo, Keyboard: chiclet, Acid Music Studio 9, Cyberlink PowerDVD, Cyberlink Power2Go 8, DVD Architect Studio 5.0, McAfee Internet Security (trial), McAfee Parental Controls, Microsoft Office 365 (trial), Movie Studio Platinum 12, Sound Forge Audio Studio 10, 24 Months Warranty

 

The DVD burner reads and writes all kinds of DVDs and CDs
The DVD burner reads and writes all kinds of DVDs and CDs
A number pad is available.
A number pad is available.
The keys feature a short drop.
The keys feature a short drop.
Accessing the innards is possible after removing the casing's bottom.
Accessing the innards is possible after removing the casing's bottom.
Only one working memory bank is available.
Only one working memory bank is available.
4 GB of working memory is soldered to the motherboard.
4 GB of working memory is soldered to the motherboard.
It would be possible to easily replace the hard drive.
It would be possible to easily replace the hard drive.
The fan can be taken out for cleaning purposes.
The fan can be taken out for cleaning purposes.
The processor...
The processor...
and graphics core are soldered.
and graphics core are soldered.
The BIOS battery can also be accessed.
The BIOS battery can also be accessed.
Good: Two Wi-Fi antennas are available.
Good: Two Wi-Fi antennas are available.
Sony installs the Wi-Fi antennas in the base unit.
Sony installs the Wi-Fi antennas in the base unit.
The battery weighs 217 grams and can be removed. It is secured by four screws.
The battery weighs 217 grams and can be removed. It is secured by four screws.
It supplies a capacity of 41 Wh.
It supplies a capacity of 41 Wh.
A plug...
A plug...
connects the battery with the motherboard.
connects the battery with the motherboard.
The power supply weighs about 212 grams...
The power supply weighs about 212 grams...
and supplies a maximum of 65 watts.
and supplies a maximum of 65 watts.
The lid also serves as a footrest.
The lid also serves as a footrest.
The rubber feet protect the lid from scratching.
The rubber feet protect the lid from scratching.
The hinges keep the lid securely in position.
The hinges keep the lid securely in position.
The keyboard is illuminated.
The keyboard is illuminated.
Sony's Vaio outdoors.
Sony's Vaio outdoors.
The Vaio Control Center.
The Vaio Control Center.
Sony includes various apps.
Sony includes various apps.
Pressing the "Assist" button when the laptop is off..
Pressing the "Assist" button when the laptop is off..
opens this menu.
opens this menu.

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» Review Acer Aspire S3-392G Ultrabook
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» Review Sony Vaio Fit SV-F14A1M2E/S Notebook
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» Review Sony Vaio SV-E1511V1EW Notebook
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Links

Compare Prices

Amazon.com

Show results on Amazon.com
Vikuiti MySunshadeDisplay Screen Protector DQCM30 from 3M for Sony Vaio Fit 15 SVF15A1S2ES (Anti-reflective (matte), Hard-coated, Dirt-repellent, Very simple assembly, Residue-free removal)
» 41.12 GBP (lowest price)
41.12 GBP Amazon Marketplace UK

The displayed prices can be up to one day old.

Pro

+High memory capacity
+Good application performance
+Gaming suitable
+Full HD screen
+Satisfactory keyboard
+Aluminum components
 

Cons

-Poor battery runtimes
-Relatively slow hard drive
-Poor WLAN range
-Intense bluish cast

Shortcut

What we like

The good screen and decent application performance.

What we'd like to see

Better battery runtimes.

What surprises us

Sony installs a relatively low-capacity battery in a 1000 Euros (~$1287) laptop and thus does not achieve awe-inspiring battery runtimes.

The competition

Asus VivoBook S550CM-CJ038H, Acer Aspire TimelineU M3-581PTG, Schenker Xirios B502, HP Spectre XT TouchSmart 15-4000eg, Lenovo IdeaPad Z500, Samsung Series 7 Chronos 770Z5E-S01DE, Sony Vaio SV-T1511M1E/S, HP Pavilion Sleekbook TouchSmart 15-b153sg.

Rating

Sony Vaio SV-F15A1S2ES
07/02/2013 v3
Sascha Mölck

Chassis
81%
Keyboard
82%
Pointing Device
82%
Connectivity
67%
Weight
84%
Battery
78%
Display
69%
Games Performance
84%
Application Performance
92%
Temperature
82%
Noise
82%
Add Points
82%
Average
80%
80%
Multimedia *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review Sony Vaio SV-F15A1S2ES Notebook
Author: Sascha Mölck, 2013-07- 5 (Update: 2013-07- 8)