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Customer Review

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sony F Series (i5) review, 26 July 2010
This review is from: Sony VAIO F Series VPC-F11M1E/H - Core i5 520M / 2.4 GHz - RAM 4 GB - HDD 500 GB - DVD±RW (±R DL) / DVD-RAM / BD-ROM - GF GT 330M - Gigabit Ethernet - WLAN : 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1 EDR - Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit - 16.4" Widescreen TFT 1920 x 1080 ( Full HD ) - camera - grey (Personal Computers)
I've had my Sony F-Series laptop for about 3 weeks now, and I feel compelled to put pen to paper (or fingers on keyboard, as it stands) to let you guys know how it performs and what it's like to use.

My particular one was bought direct from Sony so I could use the configurator to get the specs exactly as I wanted (or as good as I could financially afford them to be) and it taken about 2 weeks for it to be delivered, so my specs are as follows:

Intel i5 430M (2.27Ghz with turbo boost up to 2.53Ghz)
4Gb DDR3 1066Mhz RAM
nVidia GeForce GT330M Graphics Card
320Gb 7200rpm Hard Disk
Full HD (1920x1080) LCD Display
DVD Rewriter
Built-in Webcam

Build Quality:
In terms of build quality, the first thing I noticed about the VAIO F-Series is that keyboard. It's one of those new-style 'island' keyboards (which Sony actually pioneered long before Apple nicked it for their MacBooks) and I've got to say that it has to be the best laptop keyboard I've ever used. There is no keyboard flex at all when I type and it's great that it's a 'full' keyboard with the numberic keypad intact on the right side of it. The rest of the laptop is equally well built and doesn't feel at all flimsy; the screen hinges feel substantial and there are no unsightly gaps or obvious weaknesses to the chassis.

The Display:
I decided to go for a full 1080p display on my VAIO, so that's a whopping desktop area of 1920 by 1080 pixels, meaning that there's plenty of space to comfortably have two (or more) windows open side by side and that video playback looks awesome on it. I'm slightly disappointed that it's not a LED backlit screen and rather the slightly old school bottom-lit LCD type so viewing angles aren't great. However, when looking at it straight on it's very bright, super sharp and the colours are vibrant. It appeared to be slightly dim at first, but I soon realised that this laptop has a light sensor on it which adjusts the screen brightness according to the environment that it's in, but this can be turned off.

Day-to-day performance:
I would've loved to have gone for an i7 processor but sadly I was restricted to about £900 for my new laptop so I had to opt for the Intel i5 430M. Jumping from the Core 2 Duo (2.0Ghz) on my last machine, this new processor blows it clean outta the water. Multitasking is a breeze and it's never slowed down or jittered with anything so far.

Gaming performance:
Now, I bought this laptop to be my 'gaming rig' as I've not got the space for a bulky desktop machine and prefer the mobility of a laptop. Armed with a DirectX-11 capable GeForce GT330M, it's got plenty of graphical firepower to please most gamers. I'm playing Warcraft at full native resolution (1920x1080) on 'Ultra' settings and getting about 23FPS, this is improved to 60FPS by dropping the shadow quality slider down to half-way though. Everything looks great, the effects look amazing and its very smooth indeed.

Sound:
In my experience, laptops always tend to have rubbish sound quality. Sadly, this also applies to the Vaio F series. Even after fiddling around with the audio settings the sound quality is tinny and lacks bass so I'd recommend connecting it up to some speakers if you care about such things. I bought a set of Music-Studio 'Stripy' speakers which are miniscule in size but very big on sound to accompany my VAIO and am really impressed with 'em.

Heat/Noise:
Coming from an old laptop on which the palm rest area got so hot that I got sweaty hands, the VAIO F series is a dream to use. The palm rest area stays super cool, even after a marathon Warcraft session and it seems to stay cool all over which is impressive for a laptop. Running speedfan to determine internal temperatures, it also runs cool on the inside too with the processor and hard disk sitting at about 30 degress Centigrade and the Graphics card at about 50 when gaming. It's also very quiet - when browsing the web the fan is barely audible and only spins up every now and then to push the hot air out of the laptop. When gaming, it's obviously louder but still impressively quiet. Please make sure that you sit your laptop on a cooler though to keep those temperatures low and to increase its life; I've got my VAIO sitting on a Zalman ZM-2000b which pumps out an impressive amount of cool air and I highly recommend it.

Bundled software:
Asides from Windows 7 (64-Bit), the F-Series comes with a small amount of software on it; the usual McAfee trials and such but they're easily uninstallable. What I'm really impressed with is the support software - there are applications that defrag the hard disk, a registry cleaner and various other diagnostic tools which are simple to use but very effective. There's also a cool 'VAIO Gate' toolbar which pops down from the top of the screen and some swanky multimedia software too.

Overall impression:
My socks are appropriately blown off by this laptop - it ticks all of the areas I wanted it for and has the power and ability to run everything I throw at it. The only downsides are the slightly poor screen and the sound quality but they're easy to live with. I can't comment on the touchpad as always tend to turn them off in favour if a gaming mouse but it seems to work really well and supports multitouch gestures. The webcam is something else that I'm unlikely to use but after a play around with it, it seems to be of good quality. All in all, I'd definately recommend the F-Series to anyone; it rocks.
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