Review Sony Vaio VPC-F22S1E/B (FHD) Notebook
Master of contrast. Premium range or low-cost Full HD? The 16.4 incher from the F series can already be yours for 875 euros. However, we can only confirm that the higher priced test device has superb colors. Is the F22 suitable as a workplace and HD studio?
Sony's F series is treated as the HD Studio range since the beginning of 2010 (F21) depending on the configuration. Strong CPU, performance, feasible graphics performance and a first-rate screen (display model according to Sony: VAIO Display Premium) are to ensure lively entertainment on the one hand and efficient working on the other.
The high-end 3D model, Vaio VPC-F21Z1E/BI with a 240 Hz 3D screen and shutter glasses, was the first test device from the 2011 F range. 3D effects and screen quality impressed us, but the case's high-gloss finish quickly covered with fingerprints wasn't appealing. Especially not at today's price of 1700 euros (August 2011) and 1999 euros back then (May 2011).
Now the manufacturer remedies this with the F22 because these models not only have (as usual) a matt screen, but also a matt, uncoated case. An important question: Does the lower priced F22 have the same high-end screen? Sony leaves us in the dark since the “VAIO Display Premium” labels both the F22S1E/B (this review) and the F21Z1E/BI (3D device).
The answer for this and other questions can be found in this review. Due to the extreme technical similarities (only screen and looks differ) of both test devices, F21 and F22 (present), we would refer to the review of the F21 in matters of input devices, interfaces, communication and audio. All other topics, such as display, performance and ergonomics, will be described anew.
The F22 shows up as a bulky block of 3.17 kilograms. The looks mimic two overlapping, inward tapered plates. The base unit is as stiff as a board and we can only provoke evident denting beneath the optical drive. In return, we can depress the lid's surface easily. Moreover, the construction clearly distorts when it's picked up at its corners.
The 16.4 incher's rigidity and workmanship is absolutely equal to that of the F21. The lack of paint on the lid and work surface is new. The F21's greasy fingers look is gone and with it the drawbacks such as fingerprints and soon visible scratches. This creates a laptop with looks so sober and resistant that we are confident that it can cope with longer periods of office work.
All interfaces and their positioning remain the same as in the predecessor, F21. Thus, demanding users will be forced to switch to USB 3.0 peripherals. Conventional connections, such as eSATA and ExpressCard34 are, as usual, not installed. We refer to the review of the Vaio VPC-F21Z1E/BI for more details.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The manufacturer doesn't risk anything and keeps the good input devices of the predecessor, Vaio VPC-F21Z1E/BI. The light rubber coating on the keys (mouse keys too) again looks slip-proof and the key light (adaptive, can be turned off) ensures the best visibility in dark living rooms.
The pad, placed in the elevated wrist-rest, is covered with tiny knobs, which relieves the fingers from slipping and prevents unsightly signs of wear on the surface. Although both input devices are absolutely identical with the predecessor's, an office suitable look is created due to the lack of a high-gloss work surface.
Many fans of premium laptop screens will have followed the review of the predecessor, Vaio VPC-F21Z1E/BI, with interest. The anti-glare FHD display's color spectrum and contrasts had a high, professional-suitable standard. The case's high-gloss looks and the 3D feature (with shutter) in line with a very high price (currently 1720 euros) was likely not according to everyone's taste, though.
Can the cheaper successor model, with a matt look and a current price of 1400 euros supply the same, high-end screen? It can, even if there are positive and negative differences in detail. We consider the higher contrast of 1007:1 (rather than 396:1 - F21) as beneficial. Colors are bright and crisp, and the edges are deep black when watching movies.
The F22 is still equipped with 1920x1080 pixels (Full HD). Thus, the 16 incher is suitable for HD movie fans (BluRay burner) as well as display screen workers looking for a lot of overview.
The color spectrum measurement shows a tight sRGB (t) color space. It isn't completely covered, as shown in the comparison of the F21 and F22 (picture 3). The good FHD screen, for consumer relations, in the cheaper Vaio EB4X can't reproduce quite as many colors. However, the Asus G74 gaming notebook, which covers the sRGB a bit better, can.
The backlight illuminates the display to an average of 286 cd/m2. This is equal to the predecessor, F21, and is still a very high rate. We even measure 324 cd/m2 selectively. The sectors' varying brightness can't be seen with the naked eye (homogeneity 75%; F21: 86%). The screen has deteriorated in this point.
No difference. The high brightness and anti-glare screen are an option for the summer. 3.17 kilograms aren't ideal for the beer garden, but it's perfectly suitable for the reflection-free computer workplace.
The F21 3D screen's viewing angles (predecessor) made us look enthusiastically onto the display. They were at about 85 degrees horizontally and vertically. That corresponded to the TFT screen model IPS (in plane switching). The usual TN displays (twisted nematic) don't go beyond 45 degrees horizontally and 15 degrees vertically.
The Vaio F22 facing us can unfortunately only keep up with the F21 screen's strong impression in horizontal deviations (85 degrees). The usual contrast changes and color inversions start at 15 to 20 degrees vertically. Please see our video.
The Core i7-2630QM with 4x2.0 GHz (Turbo: 2.9 GHz) isn't the only CPU options available for the F22 models, but it is the strongest. The Core i5-2410M (2x2.30 GHz) is the lowest priced option (starts at 865 euros, also FHD). The quad core 2630QM is currently a often used processor in strong multimedia and gaming laptops. Turbo Boost 2.0 adds a plus on performance with the "Dynamic Range @Turbo Frequency Limits". Providing that the cooling is sufficient (temperature limits), the Turbo can go beyond 2.9 GHz.
The graphics chip, HD Graphics 3000, in the processor is disabled (no Nvidia Optimus). The Geforce GT 540M can therefore not be disabled. Our F22 is equipped with an 8192 MB RAM (2x4096 MB PC3-10600) and a 640 GB hard disk from Toshiba (7200 rpm).
The CPU benchmark, WPrime (314s), determined rates clearly below those of the 2010 720QM (483s) and 740QM (427s). The fewer seconds, the better is true for this multi CPU test. Thus, the 2630QM is 25 percent faster than its 740QM predecessor. The 2630QM has never reached such a good WPrime score in newer laptops. But, the Acer Aspire 7750G (318s) and the Dell Inspiron Queen Q15R (321s) follow very close. A "bad" 435s, as in the Samsung RF511-S05DE, are rare.
The Cinebench 11.5 CPU test (multi, 64bit) strikes strongly with 4.92 points. That is considerably more than a 740QM (3.4; MSI GX660R) reached. However, the "identical" i7-2630QM in the Aspire 7750G could score even better with 5.0 points, which could be due to a better utilization of the Dynamic Frequency (Turbo 2.0).
PCMark Vantage records 7488 points (F21: 7312). A remarkable figure that is even on a par with an (older) workstation with i7-820QM (1.7 GHz, 3.0) from 2010 (HP Elitebook 8740w 820QM/FX2800M, 7491 points). 7500 points is a typical rate for this configuration. In comparison, an Aspire 7750G with the same processor manages 7402 points (HP 6850M). Only Packard Bell's EasyNote TS11-HR-158GE and Samsung RF511 lag behind with 6530 points, which is possibly due to a slower rotating HDD and possibly due to a weaker cooling system (lower Turbo 2.0 utilization). The CPU benchmarks are also lower in both notebooks (Cinebench R11.5: 4.7/4.4 instead of 4.92).
The MSI GT780R can achieve 9314 points in PCMark Vantage with a stronger GPU (GTX 560M). Laptops equipped with an SSD, such as the Alienware M17x R3 (GTX 460M, i7-2630QM) or the XMG A701 (identical), reach considerably betters scores (12700 / 14000).
We additionally executed PCMark 7, which finishes with 2211 points. Current Core i5 systems, such as the Toshiba Satellite Pro L770 achieve about 5500, respectively 1850 points, if they don't have an SSD. Previous 2630QM test systems could reach higher PCMark 7 scores only when an SSD and /or stronger GPU were installed. This was, for example, the case in the Alienware M14x (GT 555M, SSD, 3595 points) and in the MSI GT780R (GTX 560M, 5400 rpm HDD, 2516 points).
|PCMark Vantage Result||7488 points|
|PCMark 7 Score||2211 points|
The GeForce GT 540M's 3D performance (1024 MB DDR3) from Nvidia's midrange didn't improve/deteriorate a bit despite the driver update (F21 in review: ForceWare 266.64 -> F22: 267.80). Why should it? The clock of 672/900 MHz (core/memory) alike the DDR3 video memory hasn't changed, either.
3DMark2006 (1280x1024) finishes with 8263 points (F21:8318). A Radeon HD 6850M (~9700) can even top that with the same memory unit. Just like the current HD 6770M (10786) in the HP Pavilion dv6-6008eg.
The 3DMark Vantage score (P4440, F21: 4589) improves slightly by 150 points. The new 3DMark 11 (P1027, F21: P1033) doesn't make a difference despite the driver update.
|3DMark 06 Standard||8263 points|
|3DMark Vantage P Result no PhysX||4440 points|
|3DMark 11 Performance||1027 points|
HD Tune (84 MB/s read) and Crystal Disk Mark 3.0 (92 MB/s read) attest this Toshiba HDD (640 GB) very good throughputs. CrystalDiskMark 3.0 is a lot higher than HDTune, which can be explained by a different routine. PCMark Vantage's HDD score records good 4379 points (F21: 4293), which is adequate for a 7200 rpm HDD.
A random test with Battlefield: Bad Company 2 confirms the first F21 test device's good, but not overwhelming gaming performance. Smooth game play is possible as long as the gamer doesn't switch to the native 1920x1080 pixels. The GT 540M is too weak for high details beyond WXGA especially with a DDR3 video memory. A better choice for eager gamers would be an HD 6770M (HP Pavilion dv6-6008eg, high: 48 fps) or a GTX 560M (MSI GT780R, high: 68 fps) at the moment.
|Battlefield: Bad Company 2|
|1920x1080||high, HBAO on, 4xAA, 8xAF||15.8 fps|
|1366x768||high, HBAO on, 1xAA, 4xAF||31.3 fps|
|1366x768||medium, HBAO off, 1xAA, 1xAF||44.3 fps|
|Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (2010)||44.3||31.3||15.8||fps|
Sony solves the quad core laptop's waste heat problem quite successfully. The noise level increases to 44 dB (A) during normal load, such as a computer game or 3DMark06. But the level drops to 34 dB (A) after a while. These fluctuations aren't very annoying because they happen slowly. If you surf on the Internet or write in Word, you'll always hear the fan because it's never off - not even after very long idle periods in energy saving mode.
The stress test, where the processor and the graphics card are put under full load, tickles out the maximum 49 dB (A) of the 16 incher. The noise isn't constant here, either. The fan repeatedly reduces its speed to 34 dB (A) after a few minutes (for about 20 seconds). This fan behavior can get annoying in the long run. A constant noise of 42 dB (A) would be more endurable. Sony could remedy this by changing the fan tables in the BIOS. We have to note that this level only turned up in a state of unrealistic maximum load.
31.9 / 33 / 34.7 dB(A)
||35.3 / dB(A)|
||44.3 / 49.4 dB(A)|
min: , med: , max: Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)
The temperatures really get down to business during load. This doesn't apply as much to games, but rather more for the stress test (processor and graphics card). We measure 51 degrees Celsius on the bottom in the fan's area. It is 42 degrees on the top in the keyboard's center. The stress test is however not a reference for normal use. If you watch YouTube videos or write emails, you'll only experience lukewarm temperatures of 25 to 30 degrees (see idle: ~25 degrees).
There was no throttling recorded during the stress test (Prime95+Furmark, see screen) over several hours (clock 4/8x2.2 GHz). The Turbo even remained active at 4/8 cores (Hyper Threading) during full load because it was slightly above the default clock of 2.0 GHz. An indication for a throttling-free laptop was also the constant stress power consumption of 126 watts (Prime95 solo: 103w, Furmark solo: 83w).
Somehow, Sony has managed to make the Vaio F22 a bit more economic despite the almost same hardware. The F22 needs a minimum (idle min-max) 16 to 28 watts (F21: 22 to 35 watts. However, the 16-incher is still above the level of similar sized laptops, such as the Alienware M17X R3 with 17/26 watts or Acer Aspire 7750G with 13/19 watts. Both have the same processor and even a bigger size with 17 inches.
The power consumption increases constantly to 126 watts during maximum load. Now it becomes apparent why the user won't get around the bulky and 660 gram heavy 150 watt power adapter. Only 84 watts are consumed during 3DMark 2006, which also applies to games. The power adapter doesn't get as hot as in the stress test anymore (53 watts).
|Off / Standby||0.3 / 0.6 Watt|
|Idle|| 15.8 / 26.8 / 28.4 Watt|
83.7 / 126 Watt|
Key: min: , med: , max: Voltcraft VC 960
The battery runtimes are, alike the F21 predecessor, rather tight, but they have increased despite the maintained battery capacity (54 Wh, lithium ion, 5400 mAh). The battery is drained after only 3:15 hours (F21: 2:28) when surfing on the Internet via WLAN. The DVD movie, Lord of the Rings, came to its end after 2:11 hours (F21: 1:58). A very similar runtime is achieved with a BluRay: 1:56 hours. The screen ran with 100 cd/m2 in this test.
|Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)||4h 28min|
|WiFi Surfing||3h 15min|
|Load (maximum brightness)||1h 47min|
Sony doesn't use the greasy finger look, but fortunately maintains a high-end Full HD screen. The Vaio VPC-F22S1E/B is still neither a bargain nor the perfectly equipped Studio laptop at a price of 1400 euros. The connectivity is too Spartan for this notebook category (USB 3.0, but no eSATA, ExpressCard) and the plastic look doesn't support the manufacturer's demanded high price.
In return, the display as well as the system performance is undoubtedly impressive. The premium Full HD screen bids wide (horizontal) viewing angles and contrast rich colors (1007:1) and almost an sRGB color space. The CPU performance isn't in danger of throttling and the 640 GB hard disk is comparatively fast. Newer games aren't the midrange GeForce GT 540M's specialty, though. Games are remote from smooth in Full HD and high details.
The high performance partly takes its toll on the ergonomic figures. The F22 gets very loud during maximum load (fluctuates) and the temperatures selectively come close to 50 degrees.