Sony Vaio Y Series (VPC-YB2M1E) review
11.6 in 1,366x768 display, 1.5kg, 1.6GHz AMD E-350, 4.00GB RAM, 320GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit
We aren’t exactly big fans of netbooks at Expert Reviews. They lack the raw power to handle much more than a Word document or single web browser tab without grinding to a halt. Thankfully, manufacturers are starting to phase them out in favour of slightly larger, more powerful models that are still small and light enough to carry with you. Sony’s refreshed 11.6in Y series is among the first we’ve seen, and if it’s an indication of what's to come, things are looking up.
Unlike netbooks, which are usually equipped with Intel’s low-power Atom processors, the Y Series has an AMD Fusion chip. This is an APU (Accelerated Processing Unit) which combines a CPU and GPU in one chip, just like most Intel Core processors. The dual-core AMD E-350 APU runs at 1.6GHz and is paired with a generous 4GB of RAM, which helps with multitasking. Oddly, Sony has decided to install the 32-bit version of Windows 7, so it won’t be able to access the full amount of memory, but we were happy to see Home Premium rather than the basic Starter Edition that plagues netbooks.
Our multimedia benchmarks certainly made the processor sweat: it produced an overall score of 11, which puts it roughly on a par with a dual-core Intel Atom powered netbook with 1GB of RAM. This surprise result is mainly down to the E-350's lack of Hyper-Threading, which creates two extra virtual cores on some Atom chips. It puts the YB2M1E behind in our multitasking tests, but it was noticeably quicker when a single application was running. Plus, in everyday use, the Vaio was more responsive, particularly when running multiple browser tabs.
High definition video played smoothly thanks to the integrated GPU. The Radeon 6310m can also output 1080p content onto an external display using the HDMI port, but it isn’t powerful enough to play modern games at the native screen resolution of 1,366x768. It failed our Dirt 3 benchmark, but older titles should still be playable at a reasonable frame rate if you lower the image quality settings.
The Radeon graphics don’t come at the expense of battery life, as the YB2M1E managed a respectable six and three quarter hours in our light-use test. Some netbooks are capable of longer, but this should be enough for most people's needs.