03 September, 2012

Sony Vaio SVS15116GGB

a.k.a. "15.5 inch VAIO S Series 15 (Black)"

There doesn't seem to be many articles on this laptop. Maybe there are too many models of laptops to review. So, hopefully this post will be useful to someone. My G580 post is quite popular (compared to my other posts), probably for this reason.

So, the S series is Vaio's Mobile/Business category's more powerful line, with the Z series being highly portable and the T series for Ultrabooks. The S series has 3 x 13" and 1 x 15" models (varies by country). From what I can tell, the model number can be broken down into:
  • SV - Sony Vaio
  • S - S series
  • 15 - 15"
  • 116GGB - model code

Killer features

  • Full HD (1920x1080) screen - when looking for laptops, I found most 15" laptops only had 1366x768 screens. This was the only resolution in Lenovo's entire 15" lineup! In comparison, my MBP's 1440x900 seems high resolution, even 3 years later.
  • Apparently, the screen is IPS as well
  • Metal body (some say it's magnesium alloy)
  • Only 2 kg - lighter than the Retina MBP - even though it has an optical drive!
  • 23.9 mm thick - thinner than the MBP at 24.1 mm! Retina MBP is still thinner though
  • Dual (Nvidia Optimus) graphics
  • Comes with Photoshop Elements 10 and MS Office starter (Word and Excel)

Other features

  • Windows 7 Professional
  • Core i7 3612QM
  • 12 GB of DDR3 1333 MHz RAM
  • GeForce 640M LE (Light Edition) with 2 GB DDR3
  • Backlit keyboard (this seems very common on Vaios - even the "normal" E series has them)
  • Sleep and charge (also common)
  • Fingerprint reader


  • Packaging isn't as nice as Apple's, but I think it's more practical (see the notches at the top and bottom to lift the laptop out)
  • Airflow seems to be like the Retina MBP's, with air intakes on the left and exhaust at the back.
  • LCD doesn't show the "ripples" when you press it as easily as the G580, but still easier than the MBP.
  • I think the MBP is heavier because of the full glass front. The Dell XPS 14 is heavier than the 14z (both Ultrabooks), even though the 14z has an optical drive while the XPS 14 does not, probably for this reason.
  • Software also has a function to not fully charge the battery, to increase battery cycles, like the G580. Unlike the G580, this gives 2 options - charge to 50% or 80%. Manual does not recommend operating without the battery.
  • Comes with lots of Sony software. I wouldn't say it's "bloatware", since they aren't trial versions, but some don't seem very useful (there's one that just seems to be a program launcher? And one to play music, movies and pictures, like OS X's Front Row, and one that tries to import files when you connect your camera).
  • Power adapter is just a normal 100W adapter, but it has an LED on the "brick", which should help with troubleshooting. It comes with 3 countries' power cords, which is nice.
  • Comes with reinstallation DVDs for Win 32-bit, but you still have to burn your own for 64-bit.
  • Maybe 1920x1080 is too high resolution for 15", normal text is VERY small. I'm now using it at 150%, but it makes windows and icons look blurry.
  • Every place says it's a 15.5" screen, but I put a 15.6" (344.5x193 mm) screen protector on it and it fit perfectly. (15.4" is 16:10, the old ratio, 15.6" is 16:9, the new ratio, also used in 720 and 1080 i or p)
Screen test. Bottom right is a bit purple, otherwise the colour looks uniform.

Testing the Engadget comments' colour problem. On this screen the comments show up as a different colour!


  • SCREEN - Full HD
  • HARDWARE - bottom is flat and has no air intakes, like the MBP. Actually, it's more like the older (2008) unibody MBPs, where the back panel was separated into 2 for easy access to the battery and HDD.
  • HARDWARE - proper indicators for HDD activity, caps lock, num lock and scroll lock!
  • HARDWARE - fingerprint reader works quite well - I can swipe my finger quite fast and it still recognises
  • KEYBOARD - keyboard doesn't have much flex it doesn't flex much around the G-H keys, but it flexes around the Enter key
  • KEYBAORD - entire keyboard surface, from palm rest to between the keyboard keys, is one piece of metal
  • SOFTWARE - there's a function to disable any startup programs, including those not by Sony


  • SCREEN - quite flexible - if you open it from one corner, it twists
  • SCREEN - if you press the LCD at the edges, a gap opens between it and the frame
  • KEYBOARD - keys are "soft" - there's no feeling when a key has been pressed
  • KEYBOARD - backlight has lots of light bleed around the edges of keys, unlike MBP's KEYBOARD - must enter Sony settings to turn on/off keyboard backlight, backlight cannot be adjusted
  • HARDWARE - indicator lights don't seem to tell if the computer is off or asleep
  • HARDWARE - USB ports too close together (G580 has 1 on 1 side and 2 on the other) 
  • HARDWARE - power connector can move, feels weak 
  • SOFTWARE - no function key to turn off wireless

Compared to MBP

  • Cheaper
  • Higher resolution screen
  • IPS screen
  • Lighter
  • Thinner
  • Numeric keypad
  • HDMI and VGA ports
  • Can buy power adapters of different brands (I think)
  • HDD activity light
  • Weaker construction
  • Keyboard isn't as nice to type on
  • Keyboard backlight not done very well
  • No battery indicator

Update 30 Nov 12
And now the screen is broken. The build quality of this laptop is very poor.

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