Sony Vaio E17 review: Windows 8 laptop without the touch

Sarah Tew/CNET

The 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7-3632QM CPU in our configuration is top of the line, and will handle just about anything you throw at it. There are several other pricing configurations as well, if you choose to customize. The base $650 Vaio E171290X on Sony’s Web site starts with a Core i5-3210M processor. From there you can get a slightly faster Core i5-3320M for $50 more, or go all the way to this quad-core for $120. RAM starts at 4GB, but can be upgraded to 8GB for $80. Upgrading the base 320GB hard drive to our 750GB costs $50, or you can go up to 1TB for $70 (all 5,400rpm). The base system starts with only Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics, but you can add 1GB or 2GB AMD Radeon HD 7550M graphics for $50 or $80. You can even upgrade the optical drive from DVD to a Blu-ray player ($50) or BD player-burner ($150).

That’s a lot of upgrades, but even with all those upgrades selected, our unit came to a little over $1,000, which isn’t bad at all.

However, in our benchmark tests, neither the quad-core CPU or AMD graphics performed up to snuff when compared with recent high-end competitors. Particularly in terms of gaming, the E17 was sluggish, even with the highest-end AMD graphics configuration. Street Fighter IV ran at 30.3 frames per second at native resolution. Metro 2033, a more demanding game, ran at only 12.3 fps at 1,366x768 pixels and graphics settings on high. DIRT 3 anecdotally tested at 26.3 fps at 1,920x1,080 pixels and high graphics settings. Games will be playable, but hardly beautiful.

The base 4,000mAh battery in the Vaio E171290X lasted only 2 hours and 45 minutes in our video playback battery drain test. Sony only estimated 2 hours and 30 minutes using this battery, so credit it for honesty. Larger batteries can be added at purchase (5,300mAh for $20 or 7,950mAh for $120), but we didn’t test those. You’ll want to keep that charger handy; I had to plug in pretty quickly after some movie playing and gaming.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Sony offers a standard one-year warranty with the Vaio E17, but it can be extended to three years for $179, or three years plus accidental damage protection for $279. Sony’s Web site does a good job of handling service needs and pointing the way to needed drivers and software.

Is the Vaio E17 a good laptop? As a budget-esque big-screen machine, yes. As a laptop to show off the wonders of Windows 8, no. It depends on what your needs are. This 17-inch machine isn’t for everyone, and I think Sony already knows that. This is a good computer at a good price with lots of upgrade options, but it won’t be a top-notch Windows 8 experience, unless you don’t plan on using the new Windows 8 apps and features much.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Digital Storm P170EM
328 
Razer Blade
346 
Sony Vaio E17
439 

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Digital Storm P170EM
154 
Razer Blade
157 
Sony Vaio E17
160 

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Digital Storm P170EM
101 
Razer Blade
102 
Sony Vaio E17
147 

Street Fighter IV
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Native resolution, 2X AA, V Sync Off  
Digital Storm P170EM
138.2 
Razer Blade
100.8 
Sony Vaio E17
30.3 

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Razer Blade
211 
Digital Storm P170EM
184 
Sony Vaio E17
165 

Average watts (load test)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Sony Vaio E17
40.21 
Razer Blade
48.48 
Digital Storm P170EM
62.14 

System configurations
Sony Vaio E17
Windows 8 (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-3632QM; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz; 2GB AMD Radeon HD 7650M / 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 750GB Western Digital 5400rpm

Maingear EX-L 15
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-3820QM; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz; 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 675M / 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 750GB Seagate 7200rpm

Samsung NP700Z7C7-S01
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.3GHz Intel Core i7-3615QM; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz; 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 650M / 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 1TB Seagate 5400rpm

Dell Inspiron 17R SE - 2051BK (7720)
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.3GHz Intel Core i7-3610QM; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz; 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 650M / 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000;; 1TB Western Digital 5400rpm

Digital Storm P170EM
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.3GHz Intel Core i7-3610QM; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz; 2GB AMD Radeon HD 7970M / 2GB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 750GB Seagate 7200rpm

Razer Blade
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-3632QM; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz; 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 660M / 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 500GB Hitachi 7200rpm

What you'll pay

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    Where to Buy

    Sony Vaio E (17in)

    Part Number: E171290X
    Pricing is currently unavailable.

    Quick Specifications See All

    • Regional specs shown for US. AU specs are unavailable.

    • Weight 6.6 lbs
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