Sony VAIO VGN-NW11S/S - 15.5in Laptop - Sony VAIO VGN-NW11S/S

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell



Our Score:


Internally the NW11 is no slouch, bringing together a powerful set of components. Admittedly the Intel Core 2 Duo T6500, which runs at 2.1GHz on an 800MHz FSB with 2MB L2 Cache, isn't as fast as Intel's latest offerings, but it's still very capable and it's matched to 4GB of DDR2 RAM and a 512MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4570.

It's the latter that's particularly important, since it means you can play moderately demanding games on the NW11 quite easily. In Track Mania Nations we managed to crank things up to high detail and still get a playable 33.3 frames per second, while adding 4x anti-aliasing and switching to medium detail produced a silky smooth 46.3fps. It's just a shame the provided Windows install isn't 64-bit, rendering a portion of the system memory redundant. Still, it's a problem that could be solved by going 64-bit when Windows 7 arrives.

For storage there's a 320GB, 5,400rpm hard drive, which is about what you'd expect and more than sufficient for most needs. Draft-N Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet and Bluetooth are all present, too, so the NW11S ticks most of the boxes where basic features are concerned. While this version comes with a DVD writer, a Blu-ray ROM/DVD-RW combo drive version is also available, though given the lack of a Full HD display option we'd advise against it unless you absolutely must have Blu-ray.

Since we're on the topic of the display, Sony describes this as a 15.5in laptop - not 15.6in like everyone else. We're not sure whether there's a real physical difference or whether Sony is just being perverse (more on the latter), but it has the same 16:9 aspect, 1,366 x 768 native resolution as every other laptop of its type, so the argument is moot. And, while the 'X-Black' finish has always been 90 per cent canny marketing and 10 per cent truth, the NW11 does deliver richer colours and deeper blacks than many. This makes it an above average effort, but on the other hand viewing angles are narrower than some contemporaries, so it's not the best laptop for watching a DVD with a few friends.

If there's a chink in the NW11's multimedia amour, however, it really lies with the speakers. Unlike the similarly priced and featured Dell Studio 1555, the NW11 doesn't have a mid-range woofer, so relies entirely on a couple of largely underpowered speakers. These are passable for the occasional online video and might even suffice for a TV show, but they're too tinny and lacking in body for anything more serious.

Simon Treacy

August 19, 2009, 9:32 pm

I bought one of these on Saturday for my son's forthcoming 18th. His is the 'tan' coloured version, which I thought would look a bit odd, but I have to say it's more of a bronze colour and looks really very smart. It works very well, but we haven't managed to get the rapid internet access to work at all. I paid £615 inc VAT for it from Tronix Computers (http://www.tronixcomputers...., though it was at a computer fair so I paid a lot less than indicated on their web site. It's worth mentioning I think that it currently comes with a free upgrade to Windows 7 under the Vaio rollout programme, for which you have to register. Angles of view are perfectly OK - who buys a 15.5" laptop for viewing from the side? personally, I'd rather the guy next to me can't see what I am working on on the train! You don't get the option to install Vista 64bit, so I guess you can't use all the Ram unless things change under Windows 7 (I don't think they will). The main thing though is that my son is delighted with it - quality is hugely better than his old Acer, and although it may not play the very latest games at top settings, it is hugely capable. I too would have liked to see an eSATA port, but USB2 is perfectly good for most things. Very happy bunny!

Steve Cooke

October 23, 2009, 4:48 pm

I've just purchased the VAIO VGN-NW11S/S, partly on the strength of this review. It's pretty good generally, but there are a couple of annoyances.

The first annoyance is the location of the USB ports. The two on the right-hand side are placed next to where any right-handed person would naturally use their mouse. With USB cabling attached to one or both of these ports, you have to operate the mouse some distance away from the computer itself, which is very awkward if space is limited. The situation is no better on the left-handers, as the single USB port provided there is in the equivalent position. Surely, these would be better placed towards the top of the sides or at the back, where they're less likely to get in the way.

The second annoyance is that neither of the two right-side USB ports appear to provide sufficient bus power for the external hard drive I want to use with it. Curiously, the left-sided port does provide enough power. There's no mention of the specification being different in the manual, however.

Ben 12

November 11, 2009, 4:27 pm

Agree with the above!

Just bought the Vaio two weeks ago and love the silky smoothness of it, but I do miss my 4 USB ports on one side of my old laptop.

Another annoyance is the inconsistency in the volume levels for the chassy speakers. One music track played through WMPlayer can be heard across the room, but a DVD is virtually inaudible if a kettle is running on the back-ground. Could be a tweak in my settings, but havent discovered a workaround just yet.

will be installing Win7 later this week, so hopefully no other hiccups shall arise (fingers crossed)

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