CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Sony VAIO VGN-NR17G review: Sony VAIO VGN-NR17G

Sony's NR17G has a distinctive look, and while it doesn't stand out in the performance stakes, it's still a worthwhile desktop replacement candidate, as long as your needs are modest.

Alex Kidman
Alex Kidman is a freelance word writing machine masquerading as a person, a disguise he's managed for over fifteen years now, including a three year stint at ZDNet/CNET Australia. He likes cats, retro gaming and terrible puns.
Alex Kidman
3 min read




The Good

Excellent keyboard and display. Distinctive finish. Thin profile.

The Bad

Uses both memory slots. Quirky DVD playback. Poor graphics performance.

The Bottom Line

Sony's NR17G has a distinctive look, and while it doesn't stand out in the performance stakes, it's still a worthwhile desktop replacement candidate, as long as your needs are modest.
Sony's Vaio NR17G is aimed at those wanting a desktop replacement laptop, and while it's somewhat thin for a desktop replacement -- its maximum thickness is only 37.9mm with the lid closed -- its other dimensions (360 x 31.4-37.9 x 269.1mm, 2.8kg) put paid to any serious considerations of long-term portability. It's also wrapped in a rather unusual finish.

While most mid-range notebooks tend towards very plain designs, the NR17G has a textured silver finish, rather than the smooth and sleek finish that most notebooks sport. It's purely a matter of taste whether you like or dislike the finish, as it adds nothing in a practical sense. Then again, Sony's been rather specialising in stylish notebooks purely for the sake of style lately, and the NR17G certainly isn't an ugly creature.


The NR17G runs on an Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T5450 (1.66GHz) with 1GB of memory. It's capable of supporting up to 4GB of memory, but the bad news is that the preconfigured memory comes in the form of two 512MB SO-DIMMS, so those who want to jump to 2GB or beyond will need to junk the existing memory entirely.

The hard drive is a 120GB internal SATA drive. The DVD rewriter supports +/-, RW and Dual Layer discs -- but not unsurprisingly at this price point, not Blu-Ray -- and not HD DVD either, but then this is a Sony notebook.

Graphics performance is handled by Intel's inbuilt Mobile Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100, which will utilise up to 251MB of internal memory. The display is a 15.4" WXGA (1280*800) TFT. 4 USB ports, 1 Firewire, 1 Ethernet and a memory stick/SD card reader make up your primary interfaces, and the whole shebang runs on Windows Vista Home Premium Edition.


A 1.66GHz Core 2 Duo isn't the speediest beast in the notebook world, but it's not exactly a slug, either. The NR17G scored 3222 PC Marks in PCMark '05, and an unsurprising 528 3DMarks in 3DMark '06. The PC Mark score is pretty much what we expected; if you're a desktop user looking to churn documents, you'll have few worries. If you're a hardcore gamer looking to lay serious pwnage on some poor unsuspecting pixels, however, think again; the NR17G's 3DMark score is quite woeful, and you'll suffer quite a bit for it.

Battery benchmarking of Vista notebooks has proven challenging, and the NR17G decided to throw us an extra curveball, often refusing to finish playing back our test discs. We averaged around an hour on looped playback with our best shot at test disc, but this left us with around 20% battery capacity left. Whether that meant we'd get another fifteen minutes or so is debatable; as a review sample we were prepared to let the spotty DVD playback slide a little, but we'd undoubtedly be wanting a repair or replacement if we'd purchased this particular NR17G.

The raw benchmark scores don't tell the entire performance picture, however. In its assigned role as a entry-level/mid-range desktop replacement, some of the raw physical features do make the NR17G stand out. The keyboard has an excellent level of travel on it, and the keys are nicely spaced and positioned, making this a comfortable keyboard to work at for extended periods of time. The display screen is clear and bright, and while we did hit problems with our DVD playback, we couldn't fault the quality of the displayed images. It is worth noting that the NR17G doesn't have a number of features that are becoming far more common in this price range -- an integrated Web camera, or a fingerprint scanner for a start -- but it is well suited to the task at hand, as long as that task is replacing a not too heavily worked desktop PC.