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Sony VAIO S Series 13 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £769
inc VAT

A well equipped business centric laptop that struggles to compete with similarly-priced Ultrabooks


13.3 in 1,366×768 display, 1.7kg, 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-3210M, 4.00GB RAM, 500GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

The refreshed VAIO S 13 is the first laptop we’ve seen from Sony with the new mobile Ivy Bridge Core i5-3210M processor. Running at 2.5GHz and with Turbo Boost available in reserve, it doesn’t produce a significant performance improvement over the older Sandy Bridge architecture but an overall score of 53 in our multimedia benchmarks proves it’s still good enough to handle all your everyday applications. It’s a dual-core chip with Hyper Threading, meaning Windows sees four processor cores, and with 4GB of RAM on board multitasking shouldn’t be a problem.

Sony VAIO S Series 13

Where the new processor architecture makes most difference is in graphics-intensive applications such as games. The integrated HD 4000 GPU managed to finish our Dirt 3 test with an average of 14fps – this isn’t exactly smooth, but disable anti-aliasing and you should be able to play most games at reasonable levels of detail. Sony also lets you configure the VAIO S with Nvidia dedicated graphics – adding a GeForce GT 640M with 1GB of dedicated memory will add a further £110 to the cost of the system, but will make it far more suited to playing modern games.

Ivy Bridge is considerably more energy-efficient than Sandy Bridge, making a huge difference to battery life – in our light-use test, the VAIO S managed an amazing nine hours away from the mains. On a full charge, you’ll easily be able to go an entire working day without having to reach for a power adaptor.

Sony VAIO S Series 13

The 13.3in screen is a step above the similarly priced competition, thanks to the matt surface which eliminates unwanted light reflections, even if you’re working in bright light. It’s brighter and more vibrant than most matt screens, with particularly accurate rendition of natural colours and skin tones. The 1,366×768 resolution is fairly average for a screen of this size, and you can only upgrade to a higher pixel density 1,600×900 screen if you opt to add a dedicated graphics card to the laptop.

Sony VAIO S Series 13

The integrated speakers are underpowered and tinny – they’re okay for system sounds, spoken word audio and fairly simple music without much bass, but more complex recordings with lots of instruments and a wide frequency range suffer from tinny treble tones, a muddy mid-range and non-existent bass. There’s only a combined 3.5mm headset port – you can still plug in an ordinary stereo headphone or speaker connector, but if you want to use a mic as well, you’ll need a headset with the right three-ring jack.

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Basic Specifications

Rating ****
Processor Intel Core i5-3210M
Processor clock speed 2.5GHz
Memory 4.00GB
Memory slots 2
Memory slots free 0
Maximum memory 16GB
Size 330x212x24mm
Weight 1.7kg
Sound Realtek ALC275
Pointing device touchpad


Viewable size 13.3 in
Native resolution 1,366×768
Graphics Processor Intel HD Graphics 4000
Graphics/video ports HDMI, VGA
Graphics Memory 512MB


Total storage capacity 500GB
Optical drive type DVD+/-RW +/-DL

Ports and Expansion

USB ports 3
Bluetooth yes
Wired network ports 1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support 802.11n
PC Card slots none
Supported memory cards SD, SDHC, SDXC, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo
Other ports none


Carrying case No
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Operating system restore option restore partition
Software included ArcSoft Webcam Suite, CyberLink PowerDVD, Microsoft Office Starter 2010
Optional extras none

Buying Information

Warranty one year RTB
Price £769