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Sony Z Series Review (i7, Bluray, 1080p, Raid SSD, AMD HD6650, dual battery)

Sony supply a ton of proprietary software with their machines and the Z Series is no different. We like the fact they have included a trial of Office 2010, but we aren’t so keen on Bing Bar, McAfee and Skype being installed ‘out of the box’. We deinstalled some of the software and used Kaspersky anti virus as it has a much lower overhead.

The machine rates a 6.3 out of a possible 7.9 with the media dock disconnected. This rises to 6.8 as both graphics and gaming graphics capabilities are improved thanks to AMD’s HD6650.

With the Media Dock operational, Catalyst Control Center becomes available and you have the choice of using extra external displays, or to accelerate the onboard graphics capabilities of the internal 1080p screen. The maximum supported external resolution is 1920×1200, which is obviously limited by the HDMI interface.

Sony supply a ton of programs to help improve the functionality of the laptop, and we particularly like the update application which ensures you are never running outdated software.

An overview of the system courtesy of CPUz and GPUz. The Sony Z we are testing today uses the highest option of Core i7 2620M processor which is clocked at 2.7ghz and has 4MB of cache. It can turbo to a maximum of 3.4ghz. It often runs at 3.2ghz in this machine with all cores active which is impressive. It was launched in Q1 2011, is built on the 32nm manufacturing process and is a 2 physical 4 logical design (via Hyperthreading). The 8GB of DDR3 memory is running at 1333mhz with 9-9-9-24 1T timings.

The Sony Z series has onboard Intel HD3000 graphics, and via the power media dock also can use the excellent, low power HD6650 graphics with 1GB of onboard GDDR5 memory running at 725mhz core. It is connected via a 128 bit memory interface with 8ROPs and 480 Unified shaders.

While many people would prefer the HD6650 to be inside the main unit, we like the fact that it can be added when needed, as using the Intel HD3000 will still offer video acceleration on the move, while demanding as little power as possible … therefore improving battery life.

System validation is available here.

We are testing today with the AMD HD6650 enabled via the power dock as the Intel HD3000 is unable to power many of the modern games at decent high definition resolutions.

Comparison Systems (for specific synthetic test compares):
Asus G74SX (featuring Intel Core i7 2630QM)
Dell XPS 14z (featuring Core i7 2640M processor).
AlienWare M18X (featuring Core i7 2960XM Extreme Edition).
MSI CX640 (featuring Core i5 2410M).
Intel Core i5 2500k desktop processor.

Software:
3DMark 11
3DMark Vantage
PCMark 7
Cinebench 11.5 64 bit
FRAPS Professional
Unigine Heaven Benchmark
CrystalDiskMark
HD Tach
Cyberlink PowerDVD Ultra 11
Cyberlink MediaEspresso
Resident Evil 5
Dead Island
F1 2011
Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Technical Monitoring and Test Equipment:
Lacie 730 Monitor (Image Quality testing)
Thermal Diodes
Raytek Laser Temp Gun 3i LSRC/MT4 Mini Temp
Extech digital sound level meter & SkyTronic DSL 2 Digital Sound Level Meter
Kill A Watt Meter
Nikon D3X with R1C1 Kit (4 flashes), Nikon 24-70MM lens.

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