For performance testing the SV61VN was put through our usual set of benchmarks, including PC Mark 05, our in-house Photoshop Elements and Virtual Dub tests and a subjective light usage battery test. In addition the notebook was used for prolonged periods in normal working conditions to provide subjective impressions, including some gaming.
Thanks to the high specification of the SV61VN it proved to be one the best notebook performers we've seen of late. An overall PCMark score of 4,704 is impressive and only eclipsed by the Acer Aspire 5920 thanks to the performance boost of having 1GB Turbo Memory, while a CPU score of near 6,000 demonstrates well how much quicker the 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo T7700 is compared to oft used 2.0GHz T7300. Our in house further solidified these results and in general use the SV61VN was just as quick as the results suggested, simply breezing through regular day-to-day tasks with no problems.
By way of comparison I also ran PC Mark 05 in Speed and Stamina modes to see the difference in performance. Here, when using the 8400M GS in the Speed mode, the Graphics was a full 1,000 higher, at 2,888 compared to 1,876 when using the integrated Intel X3100 graphics. However, it must be stressed that the gaming capabilities of the 8400M GS are still relatively limited. To play any recent games you'll need to turn down detail and effects, and even there are no guarantees of success. Less demanding games such as World of Warcraft and The Sims shouldn't be a problem, but beyond this compromises will certainly need to be made.
Battery testing was performed using the notebook on the Balanced profile, with Wireless enabled and screen brightness set to its maximum. Using the notebook for basic word processing and web browsing, the SV61N managed a creditable three hours and 12 minutes. Given this was on the highest brightness setting this is an impressive result, and reducing screen brightness should allow for close to four hours, or possibly more, of battery life.
Overall this makes the SV61VN a truly inspired performer. It's 2.4GHz CPU provides plenty of performance, but this is matched by above average battery life. When you add in its sleek design and portability, a superb display and a wealth of wireless network connectivity thanks to embedded HSDPA, you're left with a stunning mobile working powerhouse.
But, you pay a price - a £1,899 price to be precise. Is it worth it? For the average user, most certainly not and for them a lower specified version, or Samsung's keenly priced Q45, would be a better bet. However, for the demanding mobile worker, a power user if you will, the SV61VN could well prove a godsend thanks to its combination of high performance, portability and mobility. If this sounds like you then the only other option may be Dell's XPS M1330, which seems perennially struck with production problems. As such the SZ61VN is well placed if performance is high on the agenda.
Expensive it may be, but the Sony VAIO VGN-SZ61VN combines unrivalled performance, portability and mobility thanks to high performance components and a sleek and light chassis. Thus, for the power user only, this comes highly recommended.