Notebooks Guide

Sony Vaio Pro 13 (Core i5) review

Sony Vaio Pro 13 - Start of a Promising Comeback

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Launch SRP S$1999

Overall rating 8.5/10
Design:
8.5
Features:
8
Performance:
8
Value:
7.5
Mobility:
9
THE GOOD
Lightweight
Good design
Premium materials
Large trackpad
THE BAD
Flexing in certain areas
Shallow (but rigid) keys
Expensive


Performance and Benchmarking

Performance and Benchmarking

On the surface, the Vaio Pro 13 does look plenty like the Sony's previous flagship notebook, the Sony Vaio Z. However, that’s where the similarities end. Underneath the hood, the Vaio Pro 13 is an Ultrabook through and through, as you can tell from its processor type. Our test unit sports a fourth generation, dual-core Intel Core i5-4200U (1.6GHz, 3MB cache with hyper-threading), which is a consumer-ultra-low-voltage processor made for Ultrabooks (maximum TDP is rated at just 15W). Processors of this class are are designed to consume as little energy as possible, while providing enough power to let you run most mainstream programs such as basic productivity applications (word processing, using the internet and other such tasks). Graphics intensive games are mostly out of question as slim notebooks like this lack discrete GPUs. Should you choose to dial down the graphics quality settings, the built-in graphics engine of the CPU can afford you entry to basic gameplay needs, but it's more then sufficient for everyday tasks, watching HD videos and the likes.

As with most new Ultrabooks, SSD is the main choice of storage for speedy data storage and retrieval. Compared to traditional notebooks with a HDD, boot and resume times are also greatly improved. However, take note that there are now a few types of SSD implementations in the market. The latest are those that use the PCIe interface, which offer far greater data throughput. For example, a notebook like the latest MacBook Air (which employs a PCIe-based SSD) can enjoy data transfer speeds of up to 700 MB/s, while regular SATA-based SSDs typically top out at around 500 to 550 MB/s. But there are other factors besides SSD interface type that affect performance of the SSDs. However, what you should take away is that as long as there is an SSD on your Ultrabook, it will definitely save you a lot of time on any disk-based activity, regardless of the SSD properties.

To give you a gauge on how the Sony Vaio Pro 13 performs, we’ve selected a handful of notebooks such as the Sony Vaio Duo 13, which is a convertible Ultrabook with very similar specifications save for its Core i7 processor and larger 256GB SSD. There's also the Apple 2013 Macbook Air which mainly differs by its PCIe-based SSD and a lower clocked processor but with a better Intel HD Graphics 5000 integrated GPU, as well as the Aftershock Halo, which is a notebook that is decked out like an Ultrabook, but has a much more powerful quad-core mobile processor (Intel Core i7-4750HQ, 6MB cache, 47W maximum TDP) instead of a low-voltage Ultrabook processor. While the mix of notebooks vary, we hope this will also give you an expectation of where the Sony Vaio Pro 13 sits among some of the new notebooks in the market.

Test Systems Compared
  Sony Vaio Pro 13 (Core i5) Sony Vaio Duo 13 (Core i7) Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (128GB) (2013) Aftershock Halo (128GB SSD + 750GB HDD)
Processor and Chipset
  • Intel Core i5-4200U (1.60 GHz)
  • Intel Core i7-4500U (1.80 GHz)
  • Intel Core i5-4250U (1.3GHz dual-core, Turbo Boost up to 2.6GHz, 3MB shared L3 cache)
  • Intel Core i7-4750HQ
Operating System
  • Windows 8
  • Windows 8 Pro
  • OS X Mountain Lion
  • Windows 8
System Memory
  • 4GB DDR3
  • 8GB DDR3
  • 4GB 1600MHz LPDDR3
  • 8GB DDR3
Video & Display
  • Intel HD Graphics 4400
  • 13.3 inch, full HD (1920 x 1080),
  • Triluminous TFT colour display,
  • LED backlight,
  • 10-point capacitive touch screen
  • Intel HD Graphics 4400
  • 13.3 inch, full HD (1920 x 1080),
  • Triluminous TFT colour display,
  • LED backlight,
  • 10-point capacitive touch screen
  • N-Trig digitizer technology
  • Intel HD Graphics 5000
  • 13.3-inch, LED-backlit glossy widescreen display (1440 x 900)
  • Intel Iris Pro 5200 Graphics
  • 14 inch full HD Matte Display with Advanced Hyper Wide Viewing (AHVA) technology and wide gamut
Storage
  • 128GB SSD
  • 128GB SSD + 750GB HDD
  • 128GB SSD
  • 128GB SSD, 750GB HDD (7200RPM)
Connectivity
  • IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n*7
  • Bluetooth standard Ver. 4.0 + HS
  • EEE 802.11a/b/g/n*7
  • Bluetooth standard Ver. 4.0 + HS
  • LTE
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi networking, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n compatible
  • Bluetooth v4.0
  • Intel Wireless N Advanced 6235 + Bluetooth combo card
Audio
  • Intel High Definition Audio
  • Internal Stereo speakers
  • Internal Dual microphone
  • Intel High Definition Audio
  • Internal Stereo speakers
  • Internal Dual microphone
  • Stereo speakers
  • Support for Apple iPhone headset with remote and microphone
  • Internal Stereo speakers (2W)
I/O Ports
  • 2 x USB 3.0 ports
  • 1 x card reader
  • 1 x HDMI output
  • 1 x audio combo jack
  • 3 x USB 3.0 ports
  • 1 x card reader
  • 1 x Memory Stick Duo reader
  • 1 x mini Display port
  • Two USB 3 ports (up to 5 Gbps)
  • Thunderbolt port (up to 10 Gbps)
  • MagSafe 2 power port
  • Headphone port
  • SDXC card slot
  • 3 x USB 3.0 ports
  • 1 x card reader
  • 1 x mini Display port
Miscellaneous
  • NFC function
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Gesture touchpad
  • NFC function
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Gesture touchpad
  • Accelerometer
  • Gyro
  • Digital Compass
  • Front: 2MP, Exmor R for pc, 1920 x 1080
  • Rear: 8MP, Exmor RS for pc, 3264 x 2448
  • 720p FaceTime HD camera
  • 2 x Mini Card slot
  • 1 x WLAN Combo Half size Mini Card with PCIe and USB interface
  • 1 x mSATA SSD Full size Mini Card with SATA interface
Battery Type
  • 4 Cell VGP-BPS38
  • 37.5WH
  • 4 Cell VGP-BPS38
  • 47.4WH
  • Built-in, 54W-hour lithium-polymer battery
  • 53.28WH
Dimensions
  • 322 x 216 x 12.8-17.2 mm
  • 330 x 210 x 9.2 - 19.5mm
  • 325 x 227 x 3~17mm
  • 340 X 253 X 20.9mm
Weight
  • 1.06kg
  • 1.348kg
  • 1.35kg
  • 1.8 kg

 

PC Mark 8

As you can see, the performance differences in PCMark 8 are somewhat consistent with what processor each machine is running. The CULV processors on the Duo and Pro 13 machines aren't as powerful as the regular quad-core processor on the Halo. The only odd one out is the MacBook Air (2013), due to its faster PCIe-based SSD, which gives it a performance boost despite its much slower 1.3GHz processor.

However, the results indicated by the benchmarks aren’t indicative of the user experience associated with the machine. Users would need to pay extremely close attention before they can discern the subtle differences between Core i5 and Core i7 CULV machines. The Halo on the other hand, because of its much more powerful quad-core CPU, performed noticeably better, thanks to its two extra cores and better onboard GPU. Read on to find out just how much better the Intel Iris Pro 5200 integrated GPU is compared to the Intel HD Graphics 4400.

 

Gaming benchmarks

As far as graphics performance goes, both the Vaio machines are reliant on the onboard Intel HD Graphics 4400 that come with lower-end Haswell chips. The graphics performance of Intel HD Graphics 4400 is revealed to be much less powerful than the new generation Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200 on the Halo, which is expected.

However, according to our benchmark scores, it seems that the Vaio Duo's Core i7 chip and additional RAM offers a slight speed boost in terms of gaming performance. The MacBook Air also managed to keep up with the Vaio Duo 13 thanks to its PCIe-based SSD. It’s not enough to let you play the latest graphics intensive games, but as you can see from our Far Cry 2 game test, you stand to gain more than 50% speed boost if one settles for a lowered graphical quality and there's more to gain if you tone down the resolution. Even so, the takeaway from the results here is that you shouldn't expect to play 3D games on your Vaio Pro 13 (unless you're willing to compromise on some graphical parameters). If gaming is a priority, you might have to look at machines like the Aftershock Halo, which are armed with the newer, more powerful Intel HD Iris Pro Graphics 5200 integrated GPU, or better yet, true 14-inch mobile gaming notebooks with discrete graphics.