In this article, I give you my Vaio Z (2021) review with specs included. I’ve reviewed VAIOs before since Sony basically separated them off into their own independent company several years ago and this is the highest-end one.
And I would say it’s different yet the same, it’s a very unusual 3D carbon fiber 14-inch ultrabook with a mighty CPU in it for an ultrabook kind of machine, but the Vaio Z is an old name in the industry.
In fact, if you look at this website I mean it’s an old article, but like eight years ago I reviewed the VAIO Z which at the time was unusually powerful. It had like you know a workstation level processor inside and its own proprietary external GPU back before things like thunderbolt made that possible on a more universal scale so it was a pretty neat machine and it was pretty pricey it was carbon fiber back then too so they’ve reinvented it now and it’s nice to see a redesign here this is a little different from some of the other values that we’ve reviewed but it’s also very expensive.
So, in the united states, we only get the signature black edition which is the more expensive one those who are overseas might be able to get the one that has like a core 5 or a full HD display for less money. And there are less expensive Vaio laptop models out there.
This one starts at like $3579 and the most expensive configuration is $4179. You get a core i7 for that not just any chorus and we’ll talk about that. A 4K wide gamut matte non-touch display windows hello ir scanner and some of that accouterment you would expect for a higher-end or businessy laptop and that’s still their focus with bios is business-like uh presence detection which we’ve seen hp do and Lenovo do.
So, if you walk up to the laptop it wakes up, and then it can use the windows hello ir camera to automatically log you in. Likewise, if you step away it can lock the machine. So good for security stay see that’s pretty nice there. We have fast oh my god so fast m1.2 nvme SSD that is upgradable.
And your choice of 16 or 32 gigs of ram. You can see the specs on screen that is fast ram that is soldered on board. So why is the SSD so fast. It’s not that they’ve sourced some miracle ssd is that because of this new intel 11th gen 35-watt chipset.
We have pcie 4 here so a much faster interface to the SSD. So the SSD speed that we see is about twice as fast as the fastest SSD we’ve seen before. Will this make your life very different. Probably not. If you’re doing lots and lots of file writes and whatever you’re doing all the time as part of your workflow then yes.
Otherwise no. But still it’s pretty nifty to see such a jump in performance here. Especially on the intel side of things lately. Speaking of intel this is the new Intel 11th gen 35-watt CPU. So ultrabooks have 15-watt CPUs. And in fact, the competing Lenovo ThinkPad x1 nano we recently reviewed uses a kind of lower end of the 15 watts.
So this is sort of like a nano but way more powerful and way more expensive too. But anyway. It’s this is competing with the AMD ryzen 35-watt hs CPUs. For those of you who are geeky enough to follow that. Which is a compelling chipset both the intel and the ryzen versions.
And in fact, we’ll see these in some of the mid-tier gaming laptops like the Asus rogue tough series of gaming laptops. But where ryzen has eight cores this intel CPU has four cores. They’re quite powerful cores and the single-core speed which is something intel is always proud of is very good on this. But the multi-core score obviously is going to be limited by the fact it has four cores.
Still, it’s a lot faster than your average ultrabook with the 15-watt CPU. And we have intel iris xe integrated graphics here. Which were a big jump up from older intel integrated graphics so that’s nice. You’re not going to be playing cyberpunk on this sort of thing but well.
But with this CPU and obviously, this is not meant to be a gaming laptop it’s more of business and productivity. You could play civ 6 and have a great time of it because the CPU is pretty powerful on this. So a lot of power a super-thin laptop.
This laptop is about a kilogram in weight which is 2.32 pounds right. They do have dual fans inside and they’re fancy pants nice metal cage fans and all that sort of thing and it does help. But if you’re pushing the machine you will hear the fans believe me.
Uh the surface temperatures, because carbon fiber doesn’t get super hot to the touch, aren’t that bad which is a good thing. And the way the lid lifts up helps with a little bit of elevation on the bottom. But um you know this is for people who are doing a lot of number crunching for example you might need more cpu performance.
This is not for multimedia type people given the integrated graphics so much you know for multimedia developers. If you’re doing something like handbrake for example because video encoding can be very CPU dependent and not even use the GPU you’ll see a performance jump there.
Um so yeah you’ll get the fan noise here. This is not a Lenovo ThinkPad x1 nano which is much quieter and cooler running because it’s a lot less powerful too. So let’s talk a little bit about the build quality. Baguette since bios were sony values they’ve been using carbon fiber.
And the flex on this is quite reduced. It is 3d molded carbon fiber they say similar technology is what’s used in airplanes. So the lid can be torsion but not a whole lot. The whole thing feels reasonably rigid. And of course it makes it very light and it doesn’t conduct a lot of heat.
So all that stuff is very nice. Now carbon fiber can maybe crack more easily than other materials. So i even though they say it’s past some mill spec test and all that sort of thing i would be a little careful with with it. In terms of ports we have an hdmi 2.0 port two thunderbolt 4 ports and headphone jack.
So it could be worse but again for something this thin and this light that’s all they could fit on here and they do make other bio models that have a miraculous number of ports actually for the size of the machine. And finally we are seeing thunderbolt on a bio which is nice.
The keyboard on this is pretty good. 1.5 millimeters of travel. Again being a business-oriented laptop they pride themselves on the keyboards. Whereas before i found vaio keyboards a little bit cramped not as kind of modernized as some others this one feels like it has more spread.
I still feel like the keycaps are a little smaller than average though with quite a bit of space between them. Is something you can adjust to though. The tactile feel is pretty nice on this. It doesn’t feel that deep in terms of travel but the feedback’s nice.
And the trackpad on it works well too it’s a Microsoft precision so no complaints there. The display on this is quite lovely. We do have that 4k display so well it should be in its wide gamut you can see the specs on screen for that. I it’s natural-looking it’s ips so it’s not garish and all that sort of thing.
So if you were doing something that required some degree of color accuracy it’s pretty good the color calibration is nice on it too. So it also gets quite bright which is important for business users of all kinds even small business owners because you might be taking this out somewhere in the field and need to be able to see it.
And because it’s matte yeah it’s quite visible good stuff there. Other goodies of course is intel wi-fi 6 which is standard for this platform. We have thunderbolt 4 here which is the USB-C connector base and that’s also usb c the vast kind 20 gigabit per second.
Supports display out supports charging. In fact the charger is a USB-C charger and charging out to the charger devices. We have a fingerprint scanner integrated into the power button. It works okay. It’s a narrow slit sort of like we’ve seen on some phones and i like the bigger scanner better but hey you also have the windows hello ir camera.
And the usual vaio touches things like if you don’t want to charge to 100 to preserve overall battery life over the years you’ve got that available to. You when it comes to upgradable internals you’re looking at the m.2 SSD. I i didn’t open this up because typically it’s a little bit of a challenge with vios.
You actually unscrew the bottom usually and then lift up the keyboard deck this is very expensive machine we have carbon fiber which is a little more delicate. So I didn’t mess with it. But m.2 SSD pretty much that’s it. And of course you could replace the 53 watt-hour battery.
Speaking of the battery that’s a pretty decent capacity as you’d expect to have in a premium ultrabook. And you get a compact 65-watt fast charger. And battery life from this obviously is going to depend on what you do.
But our test of mixed productivity which includes office some streaming video and social media that sort of stuff with the display set at 200 nits of brightness and we averaged about nine hours which is not bad considering how powerful the CPU is.
Now if you’re pushing that CPU and you know you can’t that’s a powerful high wattage CPU then expect lesser battery life. So that’s for light work. Medium work more like five six. So that’s the vio z for 2021 and I know for most of you this is going to be something that you watch with interest but you’re probably not gonna actually go out and buy one of these given the price tag on it.
And as always Vaio does their own thing. I mean nobody makes a one kilogram 3d molded carbon fiber laptop with incredibly fast cpus inside and a lush 4k display and they’ve gone ahead and done it.
VAIO Z (2021)