Thinner display screen bezels are a just right factor, however they have made a once-popular pc class—the 12.Five-inch ultraportable—an endangered species. The 12.Five-inchers are being changed by way of laptops that squeeze a 13.Three-inch show right into a compact chassis. (A major instance? How the Lenovo ThinkPad X280 was once succeeded by way of the ThinkPad X390.) Dell nonetheless sells the 12.Five-inch Latitude 5290 and 7290, however their displays have cringeworthy 1,366-by-768-pixel solution. Alternatively, VAIO’s new SX12 (begins at $1,199, as examined) presentations there may be existence but within the 12.Five-inch phase. It combines a crisp 1,920-by-1,080-pixel show with a slew of ports in a mini pocket book that is a featherweight 1.97 kilos. If you are enthusiastic about touring mild, and have a lot of equipment to plug in, test it out.
VGA (Yea), Thunderbolt Three (Nay)
The SX12 isn’t reasonable. Clad in crowd pleasing purple aluminum, my $1,199 base style includes a 1.6GHz (Three.9GHz turbo) Core i5-8265U processor, 8GB of reminiscence, a 256GB NVMe solid-state force (SSD), and Intel UHD Graphics 620 built-in silicon. The non-touch 1080p display screen and Home windows 10 Professional are same old.
An additional $100 will get you a silver unit with a 512GB SSD. Black Core i7-8565U fashions with 16GB of RAM are $1,599 or $1,899 with 512GB or 1TB drives, respectively. A $2,199 restricted version wears “kachi-iro”—a lustrous deep indigo that VAIO says harks again to the satisfaction and honor of the samurai.
At zero.71 by way of 11.Three by way of eight inches, the SX12 is much more of a space-saver than the Dell XPS 13 (zero.46 by way of 11.nine by way of 7.eight inches), whilst weighing significantly not up to that 2.7-pound ultraportable. It is dwarfed by way of the ThinkPad X390 (zero.7 by way of 12.Three by way of eight.6 inches, Three kilos).
Additionally it is a good-looking design, with the flowing VAIO brand in chrome at the lid and tabs at the again edge that prop the keyboard at a to hand typing attitude when open. I would love to really feel a extra stable construct, although, at the higher part: There may be notable flex if you happen to grab the display screen corners, although now not a lot if you happen to press into the keyboard deck. A petite fingerprint reader at the palm leisure works with Home windows Hi to avoid passwords, although it isn’t built-in with the ability button, so you’ll’t transfer on and log in with one press.
Two USB Three.zero Kind-A ports and an audio jack are at the pc’s left edge, along side a safety lock slot and the socket for the AC adapter. At the proper is a veritable panoply of ports: an SD card slot, an Ethernet port, HDMI and VGA video outputs for screens or projectors, and USB Three.1 Kind-A and Kind-C ports. The remaining two are marked with lightning-bolt icons, to not point out that the USB-C port has Thunderbolt Three capability however to turn that they are able to price hand held gadgets.
We frown on over-$1,00zero notebooks that lack Thunderbolt Three, however VAIO nonetheless merits credit score for cramming such a lot of ports into this sort of small package deal. This factor is equipped extra like a mini desktop than an ultraportable.
Laborious to Listen
The 720p webcam is good enough sufficient, and less. It captures moderately shiny, reasonably soft-focus photographs with slightly of grain however correct colours. The ground-firing audio system, although, are merely less than snuff: slightly audible, and not able to fill a small room even if cranked to best quantity. Even with my ear pressed to the keyboard, I could not make out overlapping tracks or locate any bass within the far-off, muffled sound.
One plus is the keyboard format. Regardless of the pc’s trim length, the SX12’s keyboard isn’t cramped—the A thru apostrophe keys span the law eight inches—and it has a handy guide a rough typing really feel in spite of shallow shuttle. It earns issues for having the cursor-arrow keys in the right kind inverted T quite than a row, and for placing the Ctrl and Delete keys of their correct reverse corners. But it surely additionally loses some issues: first, for the just about invisible key backlighting, and 2nd, for the keys’ reasonably stiff really feel and noisy comments.
Like on many ultraportables, the format right here pairs the cursor arrows with the Fn key for House, Finish, Web page Up, and Web page Down. It additionally permits you to toggle the serve as keys between their F1 thru F12 utilization and to management device settings corresponding to display screen brightness and quantity. At the cursor-control facet of items, additionally some caveats: The touchpad is just too small for expansive gestures, and each the pad and its two buttons require a company rap as a substitute of a steady faucet to click on.
With Home windows 10’s zoom set to 125 p.c out of the field, the show’s 12.Five-inch diagonal length and 1080p solution make for quite small textual content and icons, calling for sharper eyes than maximum 13.Three- or 14-inch laptops do. Thankfully, the display screen makes ins and outs very transparent, with just right distinction and a matte end that wards off glare. The brightness is suitable if now not good, and colours are decently saturated. The display screen does not, alternatively, tilt again reasonably so far as I would like.
VAIO backs the SX12 with a one-year guaranty and offers a Keep an eye on Middle application that permits you to modify CPU and fan modes, customise the serve as keys (designating devoted House, Finish, Web page Up, and Web page Down keys, if you happen to like), and management USB charging.
Evaluating Quad-Core Compacts
I could not in finding present 12.Five-inch ultraportables to benchmark the VAIO in opposition to, so I went with 13.Three-inch fashions. Two, the Lenovo ThinkBook 13s and Asus ZenBook 13, have the similar Core i5 processor as my SX12. Some other two, the Dell XPS 13 and Lenovo ThinkPad X390, have the Core i7 chip present in upscale variations of the VAIO. All depend on Intel’s built-in graphics, as you’ll see within the comparability desk beneath.
The SX12 did not set any velocity information nor topple the Core i7 methods, nevertheless it confirmed itself a succesful productiveness spouse. Neither it nor any of the opposite ultraportables proved able to taking part in video games, however I anticipated no much less from their built-in graphics.
Productiveness, Garage, and Media Exams
PCMark 10 and eight are holistic functionality suites evolved by way of the PC benchmark consultants at UL (previously Futuremark). The PCMark 10 take a look at we run simulates other real-world productiveness and content-creation workflows. We use it to evaluate general device functionality for office-centric duties corresponding to phrase processing, spreadsheet paintings, internet surfing, and videoconferencing. The take a look at generates a proprietary numeric ranking; upper numbers are higher.
PCMark eight, in the meantime, has a Garage subtest that we use to evaluate the velocity of the boot force. The end result may be a proprietary numeric ranking; once more, upper numbers are higher.
The VAIO completed in the course of the pack right here, simply shy of the four,00zero issues we believe very good in PCMark 10—it is going to don’t have any downside with Phrase, Excel, or PowerPoint. All 5 laptops’ solid-state drives earned best marks in PCMark eight’s garage workout, standard of laptops with present rapid PCI Specific SSDs.
Subsequent is Maxon’s CPU-crunching Cinebench R15 take a look at, which is totally threaded to use all to be had processor cores and threads. Cinebench stresses the CPU quite than the GPU to render a posh picture. The result’s a proprietary ranking indicating a PC’s suitability for processor-intensive workloads.
The Core i5 Asus was once a stunning overachiever whilst the SX12 was once an underachiever, however nonetheless throughout the decent vary for spreadsheet paintings. It does not fake to be a mobile workstation.
Cinebench is frequently a just right predictor of our Handbrake video-editing trial, some other tricky, threaded exercise that is extremely CPU-dependent and scales smartly with cores and threads. In it, we put a stopwatch on take a look at methods as they transcode a normal 12-minute clip of 4K video (the open-source Blender demo film Tears of Metal) to a 1080p MP4 document. It is a timed take a look at, and decrease effects are higher.
The Core i7 ThinkPad and XPS 13 have been predictably fastest, with the VAIO copping the bronze medal. I do not await customers doing numerous video enhancing on a 12.Five-inch 1080p device with out a Thunderbolt Three port, however I give the SX12 credit score.
We additionally run a customized Adobe Photoshop image-editing benchmark. The use of an early 2018 unencumber of the Ingenious Cloud model of Photoshop, we follow a sequence of 10 complicated filters and results to a normal JPEG take a look at picture. We time every operation and, on the finish, upload up the whole execution time (decrease instances are higher). The Photoshop take a look at stresses the CPU, garage subsystem, and RAM, however it may possibly additionally profit from maximum GPUs to hurry up the method of making use of filters, so methods with robust graphics chips or playing cards would possibly see a spice up.
The ThinkPad X390 was once the quickest to finish the duty, with the VAIO and ThinkBook mentioning the rear. Nonetheless, occasional photograph touch-u.s.must be no bother.
3DMark measures relative graphics muscle by way of rendering sequences of extremely detailed, gaming-style 3-D graphics that emphasize debris and lighting fixtures. We run two other 3DMark subtests, Sky Diver and Fireplace Strike, which might be fitted to various kinds of methods. Each are DirectX 11 benchmarks, however Sky Diver is extra fitted to laptops and midrange PCs, whilst Fireplace Strike is extra challenging and made for high-end PCs to strut their stuff. The effects are proprietary ratings.
Low ratings around the board, simply as now we have noticed 1000 instances from notebooks with built-in graphics. Your after-hours leisure might be restricted to informal or browser-based video games or video streaming, now not hardcore gameplay.
Subsequent up is some other artificial graphics take a look at, this time from Unigine Corp. Like 3DMark, the Superposition take a look at renders and pans thru an in depth 3-D scene and measures how the device copes. On this case, it is rendered within the corporate’s eponymous Unigine engine, providing a special 3-D workload situation than 3DMark, for a 2nd opinion at the device’s graphical prowess. For lower-end methods, keeping up a minimum of 30fps is the sensible goal, whilst extra robust computer systems must preferably reach a minimum of 60fps on the take a look at solution.
Did I say 30 frames consistent with 2nd? Neatly, one-sixth that tells you all you want to find out about ultraportables as gaming rigs.
Battery Rundown Check
After totally recharging the pc, we arrange the device in power-save mode (versus balanced or high-performance mode) the place to be had and make a couple of different battery-conserving tweaks in preparation for our unplugged video rundown take a look at. (We additionally flip Wi-Fi off, hanging the pc into plane mode.) On this take a look at, we loop a video—a in the neighborhood saved 720p document of the similar Tears of Metal film we use in our Handbrake trial—with display screen brightness set at 50 p.c and quantity at 100 p.c till the device conks out.
True, the VAIO positioned subsequent to remaining—with the one worse finisher, the Dell, handicapped by way of its power-hungry 4K show—however its 11 hours of stamina is not horrible for this sort of small device. It must get you thru a median workday.
A Miracle of Miniaturization
The VAIO SX12 is a surprise of area potency, proper all the way down to its full-size SD as a substitute of microSD slot (which, to its credit score, does not go away playing cards sticking out to snag for your briefcase as some do).
If I hesitate to endorse it, it is basically as a result of the typos I made on its company keyboard and the fierce festival from a number of effective 13.Three-inch ultraportables, which might be reasonably more uncomplicated at the eyes and reasonably extra inexpensive, albeit a tad heavier. However not anything beats it for admiring glances consistent with ounce.