A very powerful, and very expensive, laptop
Sony has a reputation for producing expensive computers in its Vaio range, and the Vaio VPCF21Z1E/BI is a more powerful computer than most we review, hence the £1800 price tag.
Though it's heavy at 3kg and wide (40cm across the front) we've seen larger screens on previous ‘desktop replacement' models, and the 16in widescreen display here sometimes felt a little small.
It uses the Intel Core i7-2630QM processor, which is one of Intel's newest models optimised for mobile computers, and it has a whopping 8GB of memory, more than we have seen on almost any other computer in the Computeractive lab. It also has an Nvidia Geforce GT 540M graphics card which has 1GB of its own memory. There is a 640GB 7200rpm hard disk.
Despite the large amount of memory, the processor and graphics card are not the fastest available. Still, they are pretty speedy: we ran our standard DVD-copying test, which replicates the real-world activity of compressing a DVD movie for watching on a portable device. It took 19 minutes on this laptop, which compares well with the 13 minutes on the fastest desktop computer we've tested this year.
Other than this, the fastest laptops we've tested recently clocked in at around 40 minutes for the same amount of work. So the computer is fast for general tasks – in addition to office and internet work such tasks as photo-editing and video-editing won't tax it much.
For games it wasn't quite so hot. Although it managed respectable frame rates in our games tests we would recommend that if you are interested in games a desktop computer will be a better-value investment (see sidebar).
It has other entertainment credentials: there is a Blu-ray drive along one side for playing the latest films, along with one of the three USB ports and the headphone and microphone sockets. On the other side are the network socket, two USB 3 ports, and VGA and HDMI sockets for connecting it to a monitor and a flat-panel TV, respectively.
The front panel houses a Firewire socket, memory card reader and the switch for the wireless network connection. It also works with Bluetooth devices, and a good webcam is mounted above the screen, with a microphone. The speakers were fine – quality was fine if a touch muffled, but they didn't go very loud.
There aren't any connections on the back panel, because the screen slides down against the back when it's opened.
This led to a rather odd quirk, which was that the screen sits an inch or so lower than it might on another laptop, which meant we constantly found our eyes looking an inch too high up - not a big problem, but a disconcerting one.
Read more reviews
A very powerful laptop indeed, but it's just far too expensive. The cheaper Vaio models or a desktop PC are far better value
Very powerful; good for video editing and watching
Screen is a little small and oddly positioned; games performance below expectations
Updating your subscription status