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For our testing we had to make a few changes to our normal procedures due to Windows Vista and the compatibility issues that new operating systems inevitably create. Currently MobileMark 2005, which we use to test battery performance, doesn’t work on Vista. The same applies to SYSmark 2002, though PC Mark 2005 does work and we were also able to run our in-house 2D tests for real world testing.
With PC Mark we’ve compared the C2SL to the cheap but impressive Lenovo 3000 N100 and Samsung’s Q35 Red Core 2 Duo, which is slightly smaller but similarly specified and priced.
As one might expect, the C2SL sat somewhere in the middle in most of the tests – though it did lag a little behind in the graphics tests where its integrated graphics struggled. As previously noted, however, Sony does provide an nVidia powered solution if this is a concern.
Overall though the C2SL performed admirably and at times came very close to equalling the Q35. The only real concern is whether 1GB RAM, which is considered the bare minimum for Vista, is really enough for reliable performance over a long period of time? Moreover, the memory is configured as two 512MB sticks, meaning you’ll need to purchase two new sets of memory to upgrade the system. That said, the two 512MB modules will operate in dual channel mode and give slightly better performance.
If Vista doesn’t appeal to you just yet then older Windows XP powered C-series notebooks, which share almost identical configurations, are still available. However, Vista is definitely a step forward from XP, and we would recommend that anyone buying new hardware go for a Vista install as part of the package.
Colourful finish excepted, the VGN-C2SL is a solid, if unspectacular notebook that one can’t fault greatly. It performs well enough, features everything you really want from a notebook and it’s typically well built and attractive to look at, making it a great alternative to a MacBook.
If there’s one fly in the ointment, it’s that the Samsung Q35 is available for roughly the same price. This makes it hard to recommend the Vaio C-series unless you’re looking specifically for something with a more personal touch.