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Sony Vaio F series (VPC-F11S1E/B) review

Barry de la Rosa
30 Apr 2010
Expert Reviews Best Buy Logo
Sony Vaio VPCF11S1E/B
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
1,059
inc VAT

With a powerful processor and graphics chip, plenty of RAM and a Full HD display, the F11S1E is an ideal image/video processor

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The Sony Vaio F11S1E is a large but sleek laptop with a powerful Intel Core i7 processor, an Nvidia GeForce GT 330M graphics chip and 6GB of RAM, which powered it to an overall score of 101 in our benchmarks. This makes it as powerful as many desktop PCs, and with its 16.4in, full HD resolution display, it's well suited for video and photo editing.

The F11S1E's design isn't as flashy as some Sony laptops, but it still has the trademark Vaio touches, such as the power button built into the tubular hinge and the large, silver "VAIO" logo inlaid on the lid. The case feels solidly built, with a firm keyboard panel, and you can open and close the lid while holding it by the corner without the screen flexing.

The keyboard takes up the entire width of the case and includes a numberpad. It uses separated keys that feel a bit stiff at first, but even with their short travel there's a definite bite in the action that provides good feedback for touch-typists. The layout is standard, with a double-height Enter key, and the numberpad has four columns of keys, with page navigation keys in a row above.

Below the keyboard is a raised wrist rest with a textured finish. The touchpad is large and responsive, and the two separate buttons have a light action. Above the keyboard are shortcut keys that launch Sony's media and support software, as well as dedicated media playback buttons and a button to turn the display on or off. There are also two speakers, and these were surprisingly loud and clear, although they struggled with heavy bass sounds.

There's a matt finish on the display to reduce reflections, and we found vertical viewing angles more forgiving than on most laptops. Image quality is superb: despite the matt finish, colours are natural yet vibrant, and contrast is sharp. It's worth noting that some image quality controls, such as brightness and colour, are adjusted automatically by default, and you'll need to go into Sony's Vaio Control Center software to change this.

The F11S1E's performance is largely due to its Core i7 processor. The four cores (doubled to eight threads by Hyper-Threading) easily coped with the multi-tasking and video-encoding tests; while in our single-threaded image-editing test, Turbo Boost kicked in to raise the clock speed of the single core running the test, resulting in a fantastic score of 119.

A score of just under 30fps in our Call of Duty 4 benchmarks means that the F11S1E will cope with most modern 3D games at lower detail settings. Although coupled with the large display and powerful processor, it's more likely to impress by speeding up GPU-accelerated applications such as Adobe Photoshop CS5. With technologies such as DirectX 11 with DirectCompute, and Adobe's Flash 10.1, able to use the graphics processor to speed up graphics applications, the F11S1E is ideal for multimedia tasks.

If you want to go the whole hog and record your own HD films on Blu-ray, you could opt for the more expensive F11Z model with its Blu-ray writer, but the F11S1E will be sufficient for most. If you're more interested in watching than editing films, Sony's Vaio EC1S1E is cheaper and has a faster graphics card more suited to gaming. Still, the F11S1E is a great portable image and video editing workstation, and so wins our Best Buy award.

Basic Specifications

Rating*****
ProcessorIntel Core i7-720QM
Processor clock speed1.6GHz
Memory6.00GB
Memory slots2
Memory slots free0
Maximum memory8GB
Size41x387x263mm
Weight3.2kg
Pointing devicetouchpad

Display

Viewable size16.4 in
Native resolution1,920x1,080
Graphics ProcessorNvidia GeForce GT 330M
Graphics/video portsVGA, HDMI
Graphics Memory1,024MB

Storage

Total storage capacity500GB
Optical drive modelOptiarc BC-5500H
Optical drive typeDVD+/-RW +/-DL BD-ROM

Ports and Expansion

USB ports3
Total Firewire ports1
Bluetoothyes
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support802.11a/b/g/n
PC Card slots1x ExpressCard/34
ModemNo
Supported memory cardsSD, Memory Stick Pro-HG Duo
Other portseSATA (shared with USB socket), minijack audio output/S/PDIF (shared), minijack microphone input

Miscellaneous

Carrying caseNo
Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Operating system restore optionrestore partition
Software includedMicrosoft Works 9
Optional extrasVGP-BPL21 extended life battery, £166

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB
Price£1,059
Detailswww.sony.co.uk
Supplierhttp://www.okobe.co.uk

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