Sony VAIO SA3 Series VPCSA35GX/BI 13.3-Inch Laptop (Jet Black)


  1. D. Lao "Domin8r" says:
    10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Excellent Laptop, December 29, 2011
    D. Lao “Domin8r” (Beckley, WV) –

    This review is from: Sony VAIO SA3 Series VPCSA35GX/BI 13.3-Inch Laptop (Jet Black) (Personal Computers)

    Sony Vaio VPC-SA390X CTO Review:

    Let me start off by saying the SA3 model I own was customized and bought directly from Sony for 1299.99 during black Friday. At that time they were offering a free i7 upgrade. I added 4 gb of RAM for less than 20 bucks that I purchased from amazon. My current specs are as follows:

    Intel® Core(tm) i7 2640M, AMD Radeon(tm) 6630M, Toshiba 128 GB SSD, 8 GB DDR3 SDRAM, CD/DVD player/ burner, Windows® 7 Professional 64-bit, Jet Black

    (So to sum up the differences, my build has the i7 2640m, and 4 gb of additional RAM. The SA35GX has mobile broadband built in.)

    Pros: Fast performance
    Light weight yet sturdy design
    Capable graphics
    Great screen
    Excellent battery life
    Good heat management

    Cons: Weak speakers
    Loud high-pitched fan when under load
    Screen has some areas of flex
    Awkward location of fingerprint reader
    Poor implementation of multi-touch functions

    There seems to be an abundance of negative reviews about this laptop elsewhere on the internet. Some are complaining that the new bios is not SATA 3 compatible or that the screen is not up to par. I do not completely disagree with these complaints; however, I believe the good drastically outweigh the bad when everything is taken into consideration.

    The Good: The i7 processor (i5 should be very capapable as well) and the toshiba SSD do not disappoint. My boot and shutdown times have consistently been around 20 and 10 seconds respectively. Performance overall is just ridiculous (in a good way). This is the first time I’ve experienced the performance of an i7 and SSD together, and everything is just incredibly smooth and snappy. The 6630m is a great mid-range gpu. I don’t have many games installed, but it can run Risen and Trine very well on high detail. CPU temp when under load average in the low to mid 70s.

    The screen is great IMHO. The increased resolution of 1600 x 900 is a perfect fit for a 13.3 inch laptop. The contrast could be better, but the saturation is adequate. The overall color of the display is rather cool (bluish), as expected with led screens, but this can be easily tweaked and corrected.

    The build quality and layout of the SA3 are top notch, and are by far the best aspects of this laptop. The entire laptop has a sleek matte black finish which is complimented by the polished gunmetal touchpad keys and screen hinge. The magnesium alloy body is apparent due to its rigidity and lack of flex. The backlit keyboard is phenomenal – spacing and depth are perfect.

    The Bad: Though the screen is also constructed out of metal, it’s integrity comes into question if it is manipulated by either edge. The screen deforms maybe a degree or so but does not feel compromised when handled this way. I still feel more comfortable opening and closing the screen by holding it near the center.

    The heat management is indeed praiseworthy, but there is a cost. When the exhaust fan kicks into the highest rpm it sounds like a miniature jet engine. This sound is not bothersome to me, but I think the average person would consider this to be rather annoying. Keep in mind that the fan almost never kicks into full gear when in stamina mode. I’ve only heard it while in speed mode, especially while playing a game or watching an HD movie. It’s not the loudest fan I’ve heard in a laptop, but it does have a distinct high pitched turbine sound. If you’ve heard a videocard with a direct exhaust (radial fan) then you know what to expect.

    The speakers are downright terrible. They are sufficiently loud, but their inability for bass reproduction causes any sound to become distorted when the volume is above 50%. The fact that the mono speaker on my HTC EVO has more clarity than these speakers clearly demonstrates their lack of quality. Fortunately, I’ve been relying on a very capable portable speaker which makes this shortcoming easily ignored.

    In regards to the sata 3 compatibility, I honestly have no idea if this is still a problem. Considering that the laptop I purchased and the SA35GX comes with a sata 2 SSD installed, I and anyone purchasing this laptop shouldn’t worry if these compatibility issues exist. I am not looking to replace the existing hard drive with a faster sata 3 SSD since it is already blazingly fast.

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