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  • Soon Kai Hong

Vaio SX14 (2021) Review: Probably Our Favorite Laptop Yet

The first thing that popped into my head when I got this laptop was, wow, this looks really beautiful. And the second thing, that’s quite the number of ports. Pretty amazing.

Vaio is a name that I’m sure quite a few of you guys know about. Back in the day, they were kind of like a gold standard. Fast forward to today and Vaio is now their own company and competition is way tougher now.

But even so, their laptops today still have a trickle of that legacy and it’s just enough to make them pretty unique.

We have the latest revision of their SX14 today, essentially the 2022 model and it does feature quite a number of changes compared to the previous.

First up, the colour.

It is now available in this beautiful white with a polished silver accent across the bottom of the hinge and that brushed stainless steel look on the inside. It does make for a really beautiful two-tone look and I’m liking it far more than I thought I would. The white colour scheme even extends down the keys themselves and that really just ties it all together.

It’s also available in other returning colours such as Bronze, Black and Silver, as well as an All-Black Edition and their flagship Kachi-Iro Special Edition. I’ve seen them all briefly in person and I have to say that the White is definitely still my favourite.

The second difference. The ports selection.

You now get two Thunderbolt 4 ports, two USB 3 ports, RJ45 Ethernet, HDMI and your 3.5mm jack. Compared to the previous generation, you lose the barrel plug for charging, you lose VGA and the SD card reader. Using Type-C for charging now is definitely way better, and losing the VGA port isn’t too much of a hassle. But I would’ve wished they kept the SD card reader, that would’ve been nice.

The next difference is somewhat small but does make for a huge impact.

The size of the trackpad is now much larger and much more comparable to the competition out there. It does have a glass surface, it uses Windows Precision and even features dedicated left and right clicks. Now of course it can still be larger, but compared to the previous generation, I’ll take this any time of the day.

And the last main difference is the display. You now have the option to go with a touchscreen that also supports a pen using the Wacom AES 2.0 standard.

Now unlike before, there doesn’t seem to be a 4K option for the panel. It might differ depending on where you are, but in general, there should be two main options, a 1080p non-touchscreen panel and a 1080p touchscreen panel.

So now since we’re on the topic of the display, let’s talk more about that. As the SX14 name suggests, you’re getting a 14-inch panel with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 with a standard 60Hz refresh rate. It’s an IPS panel, covers 100% sRGB and can get up to a respectable max brightness of about 400 nits. And of course, as mentioned, you can get it either with or without touch support.

It’s a fantastic display in all regards. I’ve used the laptop extensively for both work and entertainment and it performed admirably. 1080p is honestly still a really great resolution at 14-inches because you’re still getting a really sharp image from a comfortable viewing distance and you don’t really need to mess around with Windows Scaling at all.

The touchscreen is also really responsive and you can also tilt the display all the way flat which would make it easier for you to take notes and such with the pen. Vaio even includes a quick shortcut to flip the display around to make it easier to do so. It is actually kind of interesting that they thought of such things and while it definitely isn’t the best, I would say it’s good enough of a workaround and is pretty neat.

Above the display, you’ll get your 1080p webcam that looks great and sounds decent. It also features a privacy shutter and fully supports Windows Hello. If you aren’t keen on facial recognition, you can also use your fingerprint for authentication which can be found on the power button itself.

Now as for specs, you’ll mainly be able to choose from either a Core i5-1155G7 or a Core i7-1195G7 with varying RAM and SSD sizes. We have the Core i7 model with us today, along with 16GB of RAM, the standard soldered LPDDR4X variant, and as well as 1TB of SSD storage running at PCIe 4.0.

Utilising Vaio Control Centre, you’ll be able to choose between 3 different power settings. Silence, Standard and Performance. The settings will mainly affect the all-core boost, the amount of power the CPU will draw and the accompanying fan speed.

In Cinebench R23, you can expect really great performance out of that Core i7-1195G7, basically performing on par with the competition out there. Additionally, thermals on any of the profiles are also well under control, generally staying in the mid 80 degrees celsius.

In terms of gaming, we ran our usual two games of CS:GO and Genshin Impact at 1080p Medium settings. Despite not featuring a discrete GPU, Vaio has managed to tune and allow the Iris Xe graphics in the Core i7 to flex as much as it can. CS:GO was fully playable and enjoyable, achieving an average of 90 frames per second, and even a more demanding game like Genshin Impact was able to hit nearly 60 frames per second. Not bad at all.

One thing I would like to note was the fact that throughout any of the testing and even after a couple of hours of gaming, the keyboard deck stayed relatively cool to the touch which made it really comfortable to use. How Vaio managed to squeeze out that amount of performance with a fully enclosed bottom chassis while still managing thermals is actually quite impressive.

If you’re someone who’s constantly plugged in at your desk or you require everything that the Core i7 has to offer, performance is definitely the way to go and it really does deliver. But if you’re constantly on the move, using the Silence profile would be my recommendation. You don’t really lose much in performance for the average task and you’re going to get over 8 hours of battery life easily with that 53 watt-hour battery. Not to mention, it really is a silent experience, which is awesome.

Honestly, overall the Vaio SX14 has been really impressive and I really do quite like it. The design and especially this white colour, the performance, the battery life, the lightweight at just under 1.1 kilograms, the overall feel… everything about it.

It really is just a solid laptop with all the features you’ve come to expect from a high-end premium ultrabook that’s great for business users, professionals, casuals and the like. It really does bring back the essence of Vaio. But just like the Vaio of yore, it has a premium price as well.

As configured and at the time of review, our model comes in at S$3,299, while the equivalent SKU in the US will cost US$2,299. Do note however that the Touch Pen is not included in the US, while it is included here in Singapore.

As expected, it is way past the affordable territory. But given its design, features and performance, it might actually be well worth it. But again, of course, that’s up to you to decide.

Personally, I really like it and I think Vaio is back in the game.

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