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Sony Vaio VPCS117GG review: Sony Vaio VPCS117GG

Sony's latest notebook fails to really stand out in performance or battery life terms.

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


Sony Vaio VPCS117GG

The Good

Decent performance. . Inoffensive style. . Nice range of bundled software.

The Bad

A bit expensive. . Design is plain. . Battery life is low for a 13" notebook.

The Bottom Line

Sony's latest notebook fails to really stand out in performance or battery life terms.


The Vaio VPCS117GG has, like all of Sony's notebooks, a near unpronounceable name. To save time, we started to refer to it as the horsey, as it's a GG. Equine gags aside, the VPCS117GG is a black, mostly business-styled 13.3 inch notebook with a generously proportioned and spaced keyboard that's a little lacking in additional frills in terms of extra buttons.

To quote directly from Sony's style guidebook, the VPCS117GG's "black exterior offers a soft, calm and reserved image that is accented with a subtle green pearl pigment." Which is a marketing way of saying it's a black notebook with bits that are slightly green, most notably the power light on the right hand side, which glows green. As designs go, it won't offend anyone, but we'd be surprised if it particularly enticed anyone either.

One tiny design oddity we noticed was that the eject button for the DVD tray isn't on the tray itself, as virtually every other laptop tray tends to be. Instead it's front-mounted, and, as this isn't immediately apparent, there's a dedicated sticker on the case to point out that it's there. We can't quite work out why Sony's done this. It doesn't impact usability significantly, but it's quite a change from the norm.


The Vaio VPCS117GG's big selling point is that it comes with an Intel Core i5 processor, specifically a Core i5-520M 2.40 GHz chip. 4GB of DDR3 SDRAM (upgradeable to 8GB) comes on board, as does a 500GB 5400RPM SATA hard drive. Graphics are provided by a 512MB Nvidia GeForce 310M GPU, driving the 1366x768 pixel 13.3-invh LCD display screen. The optical drive with the unusual eject button is a DVD Multi-Writer. On the networking side it supports gigabit ethernet, 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 2.1.

Sony provides Windows 7 Professional 64-bit edition with the VPCS117GG along with a bevy of applications that go a little further than the standard bundleware that most vendors offer. These include Media Gallery, PMB VAIO Edition, Adobe Premiere Elements 8, Adobe Photoshop Elements 8, Roxio Easy Media Creator, VAIO Media plus, a 60 day trial version of Microsoft Office Professional 2007, Evernote for VAIO, Adobe Reader 9, VAIO Gate, VAIO Control Center, Protector Suite 2009, WebCam Companion, Magic-i Visual Effects, a 30 day trial version of McAfee PC SecurityCenter, 90 day trial version of Webroot Spy Sweeper and a 60 day trial version of Norton Online Backup. So once again after either 30, 60 or 90 days, you'll have to pick a backup and/or security vendor to stick with, and several others to dump, a pattern we're seeing in a lot of bundled notebook offers.


The Vaio VPCS117GG resisted all efforts to extract a PCMark score from it, but anecdotal testing suggests that the combination of a decent Core i5 and 4GB of RAM should give it plenty of oomph for most notebook tasks. The Nvidia chip helped it to a respectable but not stunning 3DMark06 score of 3913. For a system that starts north of the two thousand dollar mark that's OK but not great, and it's well worth keeping in mind that cheaper Core i5 systems, such as the recently reviewed Samsung R580 have tested with higher scores.

There's a reasonable expectation that a 13.3 inch laptop might see some mobile work thrown its way, but the Vaio VPCS117GG's battery performance doesn't suggest that you'll be able to do that for terribly long. We ran the Vaio VPCS117GG through our full screen, full brightness DVD playback test with all battery saving features disabled, and it lasted a scant two hours and nineteen minutes before exhausting itself from a full charge. With a little careful management you'd get more than that in most real world tests, but then you can get a lot more than that on competing 13.3 inch laptops, not to mention most netbooks.