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Vaio's new fully 3D printed carbon fiber build laptop skimps on almost nothing (Updated)

By Rhyn Chan - on 21 Mar 2021, 9:34am

Vaio's new fully 3D printed carbon fiber build laptop skimps on almost nothing (Updated)

Note: This article was first published on 24 Feb 2021 and it was updated on 9 Mar 2021 with local availability and pricing details.

Front view of the new Vaio Z ultraportable and premium laptop.

Vaio recently released the FE series of notebooks that fall under the affordable category but the Vaio Z is their first foray into the premium segment of the ultra-thin and lightweight laptop market without compromising on power.

What’s remarkable about the Vaio Z is that its entire chassis is 3D printed using carbon fiber, making it the world’s first contoured carbon fibre laptop. That construction contrasts with their Vaio SX14, which uses a combination of carbon fiber and magnesium alloy which is easier to manufacture instead.

 

A powerful, lightweight  beast

That construction also lends credence to the featherweight properties of carbon fiber while delivering greater performance in this slim chassis; at just 1.06kg, it’s also the first ultraportable laptop that houses Intel’s new high-powered Tiger Lake class processor, the Intel Core i7-11375H.

The Vaio Z's internals, showing the fan, heat pipes and other electrical components.

This is quite notable as this quad-core, eight-thread processor has a higher 35W TDP than usual ultraportable notebook class processors and is officially capable of hitting a 5GHz clock speed on a single core. To put it simply, there are a few variants of the Tiger Lake processors differentiated by their prefixes. The processor in the Vaio Z with the “H” prefix is meant to go into gaming-class notebooks which require higher and more consistent clock speeds to deliver high frame rates while gaming and thus are designed with higher power consumption in mind to deliver the required experience. Traditionally speaking, ultraportable laptops that resemble the Vaio Z go with either the “G” or “U” processors as they’re sufficient for day-to-day use and have a lower thermal design power profile.

In fact, Vaio is one of the first laptops to equip an 11th-gen Intel H-series Core i7 (Tiger Lake) processor in an ultraportable form factor. An additional benefit of this processor is the support for PCIe Gen 4, which means that storage speeds will be much faster than the PCIe Gen 3 specification which we’ve detailed and reviewed here.

Side profile of the Vaio Z, shows an HDMI port, Thunderbolt 4 Type-C port and the exhaust for the heat.

New design, new features

The thickest part of this laptop is just 16.9mm and that’s where the two USB Type-C ports sit. They also triple as a Thunderbolt 4, DisplayPort 1.4 and charging port. There’s also a full-sized HDMI output, with a headphone and microphone combo jack.

The Vaio Z incorporates a number of well-engineered ideas that contribute to the notebook's usability, durability, and security considerations. One of the many examples is the hinge; it is designed to open with one-hand and it can be lifted until it lays flat on the table.

The Vaio Z's screen lying horizontally flat on the table.

At the top of the 14-inch, 4K display houses a webcam that comes with a slide cover for privacy and a pair of stereo microphones. That webcam also works in tandem with the smart proximity sensor to trigger facial recognition login, and when it senses the owner has moved away, locks the laptop. On top of that, there are enhanced security features like the ability to use FIDO2 security keys or fingerprint authentication.

The Vaio Z has also been through a gauntlet of military-grade testing from the MIL-STD-810H, where the laptop is exposed to extreme temperatures, rain, and transport shock, which are just a few of the rigorous tests the laptop had to undergo.

Compared to the SX14, the Vaio Z’s brand-new keyboard is designed for quiet typing and to be more responsive. To accomplish this, the keycaps resemble a dish rather than a flat surface, and that is supposed to fit the curve of a fingertip.

Close-up of the Vaio Z's keyboard with showcases the font and curved keycaps.

In addition, these keys are backlit illuminated and that is paired with a trackpad that’s also "190% larger than its predecessor", with two physical buttons for right and left-click.

Other notable features include Wi-Fi 6, the ability to instantly wake from sleep, and smart charging functionality, where the “battery protection” mode kicks in to stop charging once it reaches a certain level. This will reduce the stress on the battery as it is not ideal to keep it fully charged.

When it comes to price though, the Vaio Z commands US$3,579 for the base model, which includes 16GB of RAM and 512GB of NVMe PCIe Gen 4 storage, while the top-tier model goes at US$4,179 for 32GB of RAM and 2TB of NVMe PCIe Gen 4 storage. We'll update this space once we get word of local availability and pricing.

Meanwhile, you can browse their online catalogue; they’ve got an online store for the Singaporean market and see what other products that they carry as well.

 

Local availability and pricing

The Vaio Z will be available for pre-order starting tomorrow on 10 Mar 2021 and customers who pre-order can expect to receive their Vaio Z notebooks at the end of the month.

Only a single configuration will be available and it comes with the following headline specs:

  • 14-inch 4K display
  • Intel Core i7-11375H processor
  • Intel Iris Xe graphics
  • 32GB memory
  • 2TB SSD

The Vaio Z with the above-mentioned specifications is priced at S$5,899. For more information, visit Vaio here. To pre-order, head over to the Vaio Nexstmall.

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