Having gently bemoaned the relatively conservative design, internally the TT’s superiority over the TZ can’t be doubted. This isn’t exactly difficult, though, given that even earlier this year when we reviewed the TZ31MN it was still using what is now a two generation old chipset. As a consequence its integrated graphics was pretty lousy, something that’s somewhat improved upon with Intel’s GMA X4500M HD. A powerhouse it isn’t but one thing it can do is offset video processing, a feature that allows Sony to make a Blu-ray writer drive an option through its ‘VAIO by you’ configuration tool. Just budget a piffling £330 for that upgrade.
Since we’re on the topic of the ‘VAIO by you’ service, we couldn’t help noticing yet more evidence of Sony’s bottom line maximisation. For instance, upgrading a hard drive from 120GB to 160GB costs a hilarious £110; a fact that, when announced in the office, almost caused Riyad to choke on his lunch. Similarly, an upgrade from 2GB to 3GB of RAM will cost £80 and 4GB a further £110 on top of that.
Joining the move to the Centrino 2 chipset are new processors, the 1.2GHz SU9300 and the 1.4GHz SU9400. Our model has the former of the two while the latter is a relatively modest, by the above standards at least, £50 upgrade. Both are what Intel terms ultra-low voltage processors, feature an 800MHz front side bus, 3MB L2 Cache and operate within a 10W thermal envelope. This might not mean blistering performance, but you can still use applications like Adobe Photoshop within reason and multi-tasking office applications don’t pose a problem.
This said, returning to an earlier theme, a comparison between this spec with a 160GB mechanical hard drive and the Samsung X360 with an identical processor but a 128GB SSD shows there’s quite a gulf in performance. In PCMark Vantage, which does typically favour SSDs, the Samsung produces a 40 per cent higher overall score and an even heftier 50 per cent in the Productivity segment.
Accepting that PCMark is slightly biased in this regard, however, our more CPU limited in-house benchmarks also show significant differences in performance. In the batch image editing segment the X360 was around 18 per cent faster, while the even more CPU limited video rendering test showed an eight per cent difference in favour of the Samsung.
Now this isn’t to say the TT in this configuration is woefully slow, it isn’t, but side-by-side the gulf in performance is quite marked; both in synthetic tests and real-world use. In general use an SSD equipped machine delivers a level of responsiveness that can’t be matched, not to mention the improvement in boot-up times and battery life an SSD will provide.