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Sony Vaio NW20EF/S review

Sony Vaio NW20EF/S
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £462
inc VAT

Sony's design and build quality is unquestionable, but a weak processor and a dull display make the NW20 less of a great deal

The newest model in Sony’s budget NW20 range is similar in design to the £750 NW11S/S model we reviewed four month ago. However, beneath the funky silver wood-grain effect is a much more modest specification. You still get Sony’s attention to detail and exemplary build quality, but there are a number of compromises at this price.

First of all, the Pentium T4300 processor at the heart of the NW20 is fundamentally the same as the Core 2 Duo chips that we’ve seen in other laptops, but with only 1MB of cache. This was evident in our benchmarks, where the NW20 scored 56 overall. This level of performance is more than adequate for office and internet applications, and with two cores the T4300 can handle multiple applications open at one time.

Intel’s GMA 4500M is about the lowest level of graphics performance you can get in a laptop these days. The HD version of this chipset can decode 1080p Blu-ray video, but the Vaio streamed YouTube’s new 1080p content with no problems.

In our Call of Duty 4 benchmark, the NW20 scored a measly 4.5fps, which means it’s limited to playing much older games or those with 2D graphics. Neither games nor movies will be flattered by the NW20’s dull screen; despite a glossy finish, colours were muted and contrast was poor. The problem is partly the fault of the backlight, which is dim around the edges of the screen.

As ever, Sony’s keyboard is well designed. It has separated keys that have a light action with a definite feedback. Sony has also shoe-horned a numeric keypad into the case, and there’s plenty of room for all the keys in their standard positions. The translucent touchpad is large and responsive, with large, separate buttons that have a light action.

Although it has both Gigabit Ethernet and 80211.n WiFi, for the fastest of both networking worlds, the NW20 lacks Bluetooth and has only a half-sized ExpressCard slot. It managed to last an impressive four hours between charges, though. Its smart design and build quality can’t quite make up for the lack of performance and the dull display, but it’s still a decent laptop.

Basic Specifications

ProcessorIntel Pentium T4300
Processor clock speed2.1GHz
Memory slots2
Memory slots free0
Maximum memory8GB
SoundRealtek High Definition Audio
Pointing devicetouchpad
Power consumption standby1W
Power consumption idle24W
Power consumption active41W


Viewable size15.6 in
Native resolution1,366×768
Graphics ProcessorIntel GMA 4500M
Graphics/video portsVGA
Graphics Memory128MB


Total storage capacity320GB
Optical drive modelMatshita UJ880AS
Optical drive typeDVD+/-RW +/-DL DVD-RAM

Ports and Expansion

USB ports3
Total Firewire ports1
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support802.11a/n
PC Card slots1x ExpressCard/34
Supported memory cardsSD, Memory Stick Pro
Other portsminijack audio output, minijack microphone input


Carrying caseNo
Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Operating system restore optionrestore partition
Software includedMicrosoft Works 9, Roxio Easy Media Creator 10LJ, Vaio Media Plus

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB

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