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Sony Vaio VGX-TP3E review

Kat Orphanides
13 Feb 2009
Expert Reviews Best Buy Logo
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
621
inc VAT and delivery

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Specifications

2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T8100, 2.000000 RAM, N/A display, Windows Vista Home Premium

We've reviewed previous incarnations of Sony's stylish Vaio VGX Media Center PCs, and they have always impressed.

Its glossy black cylindrical chassis is compact, and although it's not among the least power-hungry PCs here, its power consumption of 60W active and 38W idle is far lower than that of most PCs.

This PC is designed to live in your sitting room, hooked up to your HD TV. Rather than a traditional mouse and keyboard, it comes with a Media Center remote control and a wireless keyboard that feels like the disembodied lower half of a laptop thanks to the built-in touchpad.

It has a Blu-ray drive and a dual digital TV tuner so you can watch one Freeview channel while recording another. The dedicated Nvidia GeForce 8400M GT graphics chip has 256MB of dedicated RAM. This can't handle new 3D games, but it provides the power needed for smooth HD video.

The Vaio VGX-TP3E has both wired and wireless networking adaptors, but lacks Draft-N WiFi and Gigabit Ethernet. The10/100Mbit wired port is fast enough for media streaming, and few people have Gigabit networks, but it's still a surprising omission for a new PC.

There's a generous 500GB hard disk, a memory card reader and 2GB of RAM. The RAM is the only part of the entire system that you can upgrade yourself, to a maximum of 4GB, through a cover on the base. The rest of the PC is not designed to be upgraded, and the case is almost impossible to open.

The VGX-TP3E comes with a better range of software than you get with most PCs, including Microsoft Works 8 and Photoshop Elements 6. Although it isn't particularly cheap, it can easily replace your set-top box, play DVD and Blu-ray movies and record TV programmes. However, there are better-value Blu-ray PCs around. Although it's no longer available, Medion's Akoya P6888 had a quad-core processor, a 1TB hard disk and a BD-ROM drive for just £500 including VAT. There are sure to be more deals like this soon.

Basic Specifications

Rating*****
ProcessorIntel Core 2 Duo T8100
Processor external bus200MHz (800MHz quad-pumped FSB)
Processor multiplierx10.5
Processor clock speed2.1GHz
Processor socketSocket P
Level 1 cache2x 32KB
Level 2 cache3,072KB
Memory2.000000
Memory typeDDR2
Maximum memory4GB
MotherboardSony Vaio
Motherboard chipsetIntel 965PM
Power consumption standby5W
Power consumption idle38W
Power consumption active60W

Ports

USB2 ports (front/rear)2/2
Firewire ports (front/rear)1/0
eSATA ports (front/rear)0/0
Wired network ports1x 10/100
Wireless networking support802.11a/b/g
Other portsantenna in, wireless LAN antenna in

Internal Expansion

Casemini PC
PCI-E x1 slots (free)none
PCI-E x16 slots (free)none
Free Serial ATA ports0
Free memory slots0
Free 3.5in drive bays0

Hard Disk

Hard disk model(s)Western Digital Caviar (WD5000AAJS-55YFA0)
InterfaceSATA 300
Total storage capacity500GB
Spindle speed7,200rpm

Graphics

Graphics card(s)256MB Nvidia GeForce 8400M GT GPU
Graphics/video portsVGA, HDMI

Sound

SoundRealtek High Definition Audio
Sound outputsstereo line out, mic in, optical S/PDIF out
Speakersnone

Removable Drives

3.5in floppy driveno
Supported memory cardsSD, Memory Stick Pro/Duo
Optical drive modelOptiarc BC-5500A
Optical drive type(s)BD-ROM + DVD+/-RW +/-DL

Display

Screen modelN/A
Native resolutionN/A
Response timeN/A
Screen inputsN/A

Other Hardware

ModemNo
KeyboardSony keyboard VGP-WKB6GB
Mousenone

Software

Software includedAdobe Photoshop Elements 6.0, WinDVD 8.0, Easy Media Creator 9, Microsoft Works 8.5
Operating systemWindows Vista Home Premium
Operating system restore optionrestore partition

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB
Price£621
Supplierhttp://www.microwarehouse.co.uk
Detailswww.vaio.sony.co.uk

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