Gaming Performance

I've gone ahead and run whatever benchmarks I could on Intel's IGP, but understand that since we recently refreshed our mobile benchmark suite, these charts are going to seem pretty spare. To make things worse, Intel's HD graphics drivers still leave something to be desired in the way of compatibility, as some of our tests just plain wouldn't run on them. Likewise, the AMD Radeon HD 6650M in the Sony VAIO Z2's dock had issues with running our DiRT 3 test: if you tried to run the game in full screen, the system would lock up, and if you left it running windowed you'd get roughly the same performance as if you were just running it on the IGP.

Batman: Arkham City—Value

Battlefield 3—Value

Civilization V—Value

DiRT 3—Value

Elder Scrolls: Skyrim—Value

Portal 2—Value

Total War: Shogun 2—Value

While Intel's HD 3000 IGP was fine for our last set of benchmarks, our current suite is almost exclusively DirectX 11 populated and far more stressful to boot. In certain situations you can also see the HD 6650M clearly isn't up to snuff; even at our lowest benchmark settings in Battlefield 3, the GPU seemed hamstrung by the PCIe x4 bandwidth afforded by the Power Media Dock. Meanwhile, DiRT 3 sees no improvement by switching to the 6650M, undoubtedly due to driver issues.

Batman: Arkham City—Mainstream

Battlefield 3—Mainstream

Civilization V—Mainstream

DiRT 3—Mainstream

Elder Scrolls: Skyrim—Mainstream

Portal 2—Mainstream

Total War: Shogun 2—Mainstream

Bottom line, at our mainstream settings the VAIO Z2's HD 6650M is utterly overwhelmed. 900p was already going to be a hair too much for a 128-bit DDR3 memory bus, and the results confirm it. The GTX 560M grossly outmatches the Radeon (and it ought to), but remember that the G74SX is a 17" desktop replacement and not an ultraportable. It's an unfair comparison, but it's the only one we have at present.

Application and Futuremark Performance Battery, Noise, and Heat
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  • JarredWalton - Monday, February 13, 2012 - link

    Original post deleted for spam-like content. Thanks! Reply
  • DoctorG - Monday, February 13, 2012 - link

    Usually I read AnandTech's reviews and hold them in high regard, but this time I feel the quality was not quite up to par. And so, like any good Internetizen, I felt I must complain. ;)

    I purchased the Z2 after being unable to find any other notebook that met all of my requirements -- no optical drive, full voltage processor, good screen, USB3, SSD, very light weight, etc. The Vaio piqued my interest because of the innovative LightPeak dock and thin design, which is very important for me as I carry my laptop around for usually more than 8 hours per day.

    I just typed a 24-page report using the Z's built-in keyboard, because I was on the go and couldn't use my ergonomic keyboard attached to the dock and my 24" monitor at my desk. The Z's keyboard is not the best, of course, but definitely not as horrible as it sounded in the review. And that whole "sweet spot for both typing and visual comfort" thing is sheer bull. Without the hinge, the keyboard would simply be flat -- like *every other* laptop on the market. So, you're complaining about an adjustable angle, when every other laptop's keyboard angle is fixed? Wow. Plus, the design of the hing means the keyboard angle only changes slightly when the screen angle is changed significantly, so that "sweet spot" is pretty easy to find. I can understand being particular, but to me, this sounded like nit-picking an innovative design simply for the sake of complaining.

    If it helps, I ordered the Z without all of Sony's bloatware on it -- a *free* option you neglected to mention in the review. It came installed with only the Sony utilities necessary to access everything on the Z, like fan speed controls, which you also forgot to mention in the review. I set the "Viao" button to change the fan profile, so if I want the laptop to be quiet, I tap the button and the fan noise is decreased, even under load.

    For just about everything else that I have to say, see MarkColby's comment above -- props on that. Pretty much sums it up. I have enjoyed using this computer, and while there are definitely things about it that aren't perfect (the USB ports being too close together, for example, is a problem with larger USB dongles).

    P.S. I've had this laptop since August. And now it's February . . . hmmmm . . .
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, February 13, 2012 - link

    I wouldn't call the hinge "innovative" -- it's different from what others have done, and in this case we feel it is a step backwards. You're welcome to disagree, naturally, which goes for the keyboard as well. How a keyboard feels is quite subjective, but most reviews of the Z2 have complained about the keyboard to various degrees. Dustin really disliked it. I played with it a bit at CES and found it to be flexy and shallow, and my overall impression of build quality was not good. For a $1600+ laptop, that's a pretty serious concern. As for the "lateness" of this review, see my comment above. We have only just started getting Sony laptops for review, and hopefully we can get new models around the time of launch going forward. Of course, if we aren't particularly enamored with a product, that may not happen, but we'll see. Reply
  • joel4565 - Monday, February 13, 2012 - link

    When you design a product, isn't the first thing you do is to decide a market for the product?

    With that in mind, who exactly is Sony making this laptop for? The screen is beautiful, but with the keyboard being horrible, no one will want to use it for long period of typing.

    The external graphics card is cute, but borderline useless. You will never have up to date drivers and it is no where near powerful enough to drive anywhere near native resolution on any modern game.

    The CPU power is nice except it kills the battery life (when running on one battery) and makes the laptop loud & hot. I personally think we have reached the point where the performance of the 17 watt CPU is probably good enough for most people while mobile.

    The worst part is the price. For the cost of this laptop you could probably buy a ultrabook or 13 mac book air and build a desktop computer for gaming.

    As configured: $2,499
    So you could get a 13" macbook air for $1,299.00 and have 1,200 left over to build a very nice desktop.
    Reply
  • Metaluna - Monday, February 13, 2012 - link

    I agree about the confusing design decisions. The inclusion of an analog VGA port seems to argue that this is aimed at businesses where you are giving presentations and hooking up to projectors, which is one of the few places where VGA still seems to be common (that and multi-way KVM switches in server racks). But why would someone like that need an external GPU (with yet another analog port)?

    And the lack of a decent keyboard is simply mind-boggling on a premium-priced product.

    I do think the reviewer's criticism of the hinge design was kind of over the top though. It's unusual to be sure, but I have a hard time getting worked up over slight changes to the keyboard tilt. If the hinge were to, for example, rotate on its own while you were typing or something like that, then that would be much more serious.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, February 13, 2012 - link

    I don't think the problem is so much the tilt but also the "resting on the back of the LCD while the laptop slides around a bit". It's not the worst thing ever, but it's not a great design decision either IMO. Reply
  • MarkColby - Monday, February 13, 2012 - link

    > with the keyboard being horrible, no one will want to use it for long period of typing.

    Bear in mind that keyboards are a very personal thing and it depends how much you type versus how much you think :-) I have no big issue with it other than the lack of dedicated home, end, page up and page down keys, which there was room for at the side.

    > The external graphics card is cute, but borderline useless. [etc]

    Agreed. the external dock ("PMD") is fine but I could care less about the graphics card in it...

    > The CPU power is nice except it kills the battery life

    Plain wrong unless you're talking about constant load like gaming. My usage model is periods of low load (editing, document referencing etc) and less frequent periods of very high demand (chip simulations etc) where I want maximum performance. I appear to be getting very good battery life even on a single battery (which I have tried once or twice just for comparison). And I'll take the fan noise on those occasions over the alternatives (back ache from a heavy machine or less productivity).

    > The worst part is the price. For the cost of this laptop you could probably buy a ultrabook
    > or 13 mac book air and build a desktop computer for gaming [...] you could get a 13"
    > macbook air for $1,299.00 and have 1,200 left over to build a very nice desktop.

    Except that the macbook and ultrabooks to date won't do what I want and a desktop is no good to me.

    I'm not trying to argure your points - just pointing out that there are some people that Sony's design choices have matched quite well. Yes if I could get this performance and screen and size and weight cheaper I would, but who wouldn't? This is my first Sony, bought entirely based on the configuration of the machine and despite the badge (badges put me off, truth be told) and I'm just hoping my experience will not be as bad as you're all leading me to believe :-)
    Reply
  • wwwcd - Monday, February 13, 2012 - link

    Sony Vaio Z2 - sh|t, but expensive sh|t, external and docking shIt? Be different for all peoles horror! Low volume of RAM...Only SSD's significance as a, hmm, good component capable...
    "13.1" LED (Matte -good!) 16:9 1080p(?)"I have like microscope look and I see a pixels ;)
    Reply
  • AssBall - Monday, February 13, 2012 - link

    It looks like a hell of a laptop, hardware-wise, and great screen. But a few things don't make sense from my perspective.

    Great screen, but on a 13"??? Can't see jack at high res on them.

    Great processor, but again, why have a i7 in a 13", what are you going to do, CAD?

    The shitty keyboard and pad are deal breakers. Sony tech support also sucks.

    Just my opinion.
    Reply
  • MarkColby - Monday, February 13, 2012 - link

    Oh come on. Don't complain about the screen size/resolution combination just because you've got poor eyes. I'm absolutely fed up with people dissing my primary requirement as being stupid just because they don't want it or can't cope with it. I mostly bought this laptop *because* it had a 13" 1080 screen and I run 8 point font in editors to see more text at once. Perhaps Sony support will indeed turn out to be awful (here's hoping I never need to find out) but at least they made what I wanted when noone else did.

    > Great processor, but again, why have a i7 in a 13", what are you going to do, CAD?

    Er, yes I am thanks. And matlab calculations. And silicon design simulations. What's your issue exactly? Some of us do technically tough jobs on the move.

    > The shitty keyboard and pad are deal breakers. Sony tech support also sucks.

    The keyboard is not great but it's far from the worst I've had to use. Most of the keys even produce the letters printed on them when you hit them. I carry around a wireless logitech trackman because it's better for work (as opposed to gaming) than a mouse or pad. Some of us are happy with the compromises made here to get the features we really need.

    > Just my opinion.

    Do us a favour - stump up the cash and live with the thing for a bit before being so opinionated.

    By the way someone here said the keyboard was 'flexy' or some such? How the heck hard do you type? The key travel is short for sure but this is one of the most solid laptop keyboards I've owned, and I've had more than my fair share over the years...
    Reply

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