Sony VAIO F Series review

A heavy hulk that's capable of stunning 3D visuals

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Sony vaio vpc f21z1e

Glance at the benchmark results and you'll see the big problem with the Sony VAIO VPC-F21Z1E: 3D. The numbers don't lie: the GeForce 540GT just doesn't have the brawn to handle stereoscopic 3D work. In games it doesn't quite cut the frame rate in half as it did with 3DMark, but 3D is certainly a detriment to quality. Frame rates drop significantly, anti-aliasing switches off and, honestly, you start noticing the edges. It's not the quality experience we were hoping it would be.

Blu-ray movies are great, of course, but again we felt underwhelmed by their fancy 3D effects, no matter where we put the software 3D slider. At its recommended point, the depth was shallow and almost felt pointless. Meanwhile, higher up the scale our brains took over, which made the 3D image on the Sony VAIO VPC-F21Z1E quite difficult to look at, even with the shuttered 3D goggles.

Switch off the stereoscopic view and things get significantly better. The 540GT can handle itself, even if it's not the highest end card. You're unlikely to be too disappointed by the combination of CPU, GPU and RAM on offer, and the screen has an impressive dot pitch.

It does get a bit fine and fiddly for desktop use, but you can tweak Windows' settings to get past this if it's an issue.

Sony vaio vpc f21z1e

Desktop performance is predictably unfaultable. The Sony VAIO VPC-F21Z1E is a machine that stands up to every mundane task without even the tiniest complaint, and it will stand up for a long time.

The real issue isn't with its ability to handle everyday use – that's something a low-end Core i3 can manage without much trouble – but with its inability to act like a £1500+ notebook.

The Sony VAIO VPC-F21Z1E's many slick features – the environment-sensitive backlight on the full-size keyboard, the pair of USB 3.0 ports, the touch-sensitive media playback buttons, for example – are very nice, but not over-£1500 nice. We feel like we're being ungrateful (this is a very first-world review, certainly) but that's a lot of money to spend on something that might leave you cold.

It won't leave your legs cold, mind; dial it up and the Sony VAIO VPC-F21Z1E could fry an egg on its underside (figuratively, at least), and it has the desktop-esque fan noise to match.


3D on
3DMark03: 4902
3DMark05: 8831
3DMark06: 4257

3D off
3DMark03: 21054
3DMark05: 15744
3DMark06: 8226

Tech Specs

Product TypeNotebook
Green CompliantYes
Hard Drive Capacity640 GB
Processor ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ManufacturerNVIDIA
Graphics Controller ModelGeForce GT 540M
Wireless LANYes
Optical Drive TypeBlu-ray Writer
Backlight TechnologyLED
Product FamilyVAIO F
Operating System Architecture64-bit
Processor Modeli7-2630QM
ColourPremium Black
Operating SystemWindows 7 Home Premium
Brand NameSony
Processor Speed2 GHz
Processor TypeCore i7
Screen Size40.6 cm (16")
Screen Resolution1920 x 1080
Standard Memory8 GB
Cache6 MB
Processor CoreQuad-core
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityENERGY STAR
64-bit ProcessingYes
Chipset ManufacturerIntel
Chipset ModelHM65 Express
Optical Media SupportedBD-R/RE
Dual-Layer Media SupportedYes
Graphics Memory CapacityUp to 1 GB
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 3.0
Ethernet TechnologyGigabit Ethernet
Total Number of USB Ports3
Memory StandardDDR3-1333/PC3-10600
Height45.5 mm
Width398.3 mm
Depth271.3 mm
Screen ModeFull HD
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
Product SeriesF
ManufacturerSony Corporation
Product ModelVPCF21Z1E/BI
Product NameVAIO VPCF21Z1E/BI Notebook
Pointing Device TypeTouchPad
Product LineVAIO
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberVPCF21Z1E/BI.CEK
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

There's something unique about every VAIO notebook. Constantly evolving, each model in the lineup features innovative design elements and a rare blend of colors and textures that cannot be overlooked.

Maximum Memory8 GB
Battery ChemistryLithium Ion (Li-Ion)
Package Contents
  • VAIO VPCF21Z1E/BI Notebook
  • Lithium Ion Battery
  • AC Adapter
  • 3D Glasses