From a gaming perspective, we had positive results with both Crysis 2 and the older, but more demanding, shooter Metro 2033. We were able to play both games at 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution, although with Metro 2033 we had to dial down the image quality settings to their lower values. We don't expect any all-in-one to compete with dedicated gaming tower systems, much less a PC like this Sony with laptop hardware, but we're still happy to see that it can handle modern PC games.
Like previous Sony all-in-ones, and systems from a few copycat vendors, the Vaio L21SFX allows you to input HDMI video sources to use on this system's display. That means this PC can serve as a digital media anchor for a cable box, a game console, or other external video devices, which makes it particularly well-suited for a den or a dorm room. It also includes an HDMI output for connecting a second monitor or for output to an HDTV.
Other ports on the system include composite video inputs, a digital TV tuner, two USB 3.0 jacks, three USB 2.0 ports, and a mini FireWire port. We're glad to see USB 3.0, but we'd also like to see eSATA, FireWire, or, even better, Thunderbolt. We won't ding Sony for leaving off the still-new Thunderbolt, but we think it will become more common by the end of the year. We also like that Sony has included a complete set of dedicated display and volume buttons on the outside of the system. Not enough all-in-ones include them.
|Sony Vaio L21SFX||Average watts per hour|
|Off (60 percent)||0.62|
|Sleep (10 percent)||1.75|
|Idle (25 percent)||25.59|
|Load (5 percent)||93.19|
|Annual energy cost||$13.96|
Although the Sony's laptop components don't deliver blistering performance, they do lend some power efficiency. Of course, with no battery in an all-in-one, the power savings here may be overkill, but, unlike recent AMD CPUs, if the laptop chip is going to be slow, at least it isn't also a power hog.
Support for this system is relatively typical, although some of you might appreciate the dedicated "Assist" button on left side of the button that brings up Sony's built-in system diagnostic tools. You also get a standard one-year parts-and-labor warranty, as well as 24-7 toll-free phone support. Online you'll find live Web chat, driver downloads, and FAQ pages.
While the Vaio L21SFX isn't the most impressive performer for its price, it does offer Sony's typically wide breadth of digital media features, making this system a powerful addition to any home entertainment setup. We also commend Sony on this PC's charming, well-conceived design. You could reasonably consider one of the less expensive L Series PCs and enjoy a nearly identical computing and entertainment experience, but if you feel like spending, this $1,999 model is an impressively capable computer with a ton of storage space.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Acer Aspire Z5700-U3112
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 3.2GHz Intel Core i5 650; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 64MB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 integrated graphics chip; 1TB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive
Apple iMac 21.5-inch (Summer 2010)
Apple OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.4; 3.06GHz Intel Core i3; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 256MB ATI Radeon HD 4670 graphics card; 500GB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive
Dell Inspiron One Z2305
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.4GHz AMD Phenom II X4 610e; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5470 graphics card; 1TB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive
Gateway One ZX6951-53
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 3.2GHz Intel Core i5 550; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 integrated graphics chip; 640GB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive
HP Omni 200-5380qd
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Core i5 760; 6GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB AMD Radeon HD 5570; 1TB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive
Sony Vaio L21SFX
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.0GHz Intel Core i7 2360qM; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 540M; 2TB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive