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Home > Ultrabook Reviews & Notebook Reviews > Sony Vaio Pro 13 (SVP13213CXB)


Sony Vaio Pro 13

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What's Hot: Incredibly light at 2.3 lbs. quality build and stunning design, latest Intel Haswell CPUs, excellent full HD IPS display.

What's Not: Inherent flex in carbon fiber and aluminum design is disconcerting to some.


Reviewed June 22, 2013 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

The first Haswell Ultrabooks are here in the guise of the Sony Vaio Pro 13 and the latest generation MacBook Air. Sony also offers the Vaio Pro 11 with an 11.6" display, but today we take a look at the more mainstream 13.3" Vaio Pro 13. The Ultrabook has a full HD Triluminos display with 10 point multi-touch, fourth generation Intel Core i5 and i7 CPUs and Intel HD 4400 graphics. This is an extremely light 13.3" machine that weighs 2.34 lbs., and it's currently the lightest 13" Ultrabook on the market. The 11" model weighs less just 1.94 pounds. The laptop is clad in carbon fiber and it's available in carbon black or silver (we'd choose black for better keyboard contrast). In some countries there's a black model (not carbon black) that lacks a touch screen. Here in the US, we have only the touch screen models as of this writing.

Sony Vaio Pro 13

Standard features include dual band Intel Wireless-N 7260 WiFi with WiDi wireless display, Intel Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, the full HD IPS display and a webcam. You can buy a variety of pre-built models or build your own via Sony's website, and for more money you can get a Core i7 CPU, 8 gigs of RAM and a 256 or 512 gig SSD drive. The Vaio Duo Pro 13 starts at $1,249 rather than the more common $999 for a Core i5 Ultrabook, and you're paying for the incredible light weight, slim design, Intel fourth generation Haswell CPU and very high quality touch screen. As we predicted, Sony is indeed first to market with a 1920 x 1080 Ultrabook touch screen that's as thin and light as a non-touch screen like that found in the Samsung Series 9 (now called Samsung ATIV Book 9). Samsung's own upcoming ATIV Book 9 Plus gained a half pound in the transition to touch screen.

There's no need to hunt for the NFC transmitter; Sony wisely placed it under the trackpad rather than somewhere on the back. Here in the US, there's currently no 3G/4G option, nor can you get the machine with the slightly quicker Intel HD 5000 graphics as you can with the high end Sony Vaio Duo 13 configuration.

Sony Vaio Pro 13

Design and Ergonomics

As you'd expect from a high end Sony laptop, the Sony Vaio Duo 13 is quality gear with tasteful and understated lines that reveal their Sony Vaio Z and Vaio X heritage. Sony was making incredibly thin and light machines years before the MacBook Air and Ultrabooks hit the market, and they're well practiced at making extremely good looking ultraportables using metal alloys and carbon fiber. This is no MacBook Air clone, and the notebook has Sony's signature rectilinear design rather than the smooth aluminum, curved sides of the MacBook Air, Dell XPS 13 and Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A. The carbon fiber by design bends and it isn't incredibly rigid like metal-clad Ultrabooks. Like it or not, it's intentional and it's designed to deflect blows and go with the flow bend rather than break or dent. Having reviewed and owned a few Sony carbon fiber laptops, I don't have a problem with this, but it's somewhat a matter of personal preference.

The laptop's ports are on the right hand side, while the charging port and fan exhaust vent are on the left. The Vaio Pro 13 has a full size HDMI port, two USB 3.0 ports (one with charging), 3.5mm combo audio and a full size SDXC card slot.

The Vaio Pro has a very good backlit keyboard that's much improved over the Vaio Z in terms of key travel and tactile feel. Yes, it's an Ultrabook so you won't get deep key travel like that of the Lenovo ThinkPad X230, but I found it very comfortable to type on at length. Those the chassis by design flexes, it doesn't introduce annoying keyboard flex, and I've enjoyed using it to type 10,000 words/week. Backlight is controlled by the ambient light sensor and you can set backlight duration when plugged in and unplugged, but you can't manually set backlight brightness.

The ever so slightly textured, large glass trackpad is responsive and supports multi-touch gestures. The trackpad sometimes missed finger taps, but a driver update from Sony's website improved things. We noticed that taps nearer to the edges still didn't work at times, and we found the culprit was the Synaptics palm rejection software which has settings for detecting clicks and taps near the trackpad's edges. We disabled that SmartSense feature and taps were registered perfectly and the trackpad wasn't any more prone to register unwanted trackpad input when typing. The fairly large palm rest tapers to wafer thin at the front, so the transition from palm rest to table isn't jarring. That said, the front is so thin that if you put a finger underneath the trackpad, you can feel the click action on the laptop's underside!

Sony Vaio Pro 13

Sony’s high end smaller laptops have oddly been lacking in sound volume, but the Vaio Pro 13 has very good volume and audio quality from the built-in stereo speakers that fire from underneath the keyboard. They’re every bit as good as the latest 13” MacBook Air (watch our comparison video to hear for yourself) and are fairly loud without being shrill.

IPS Display is Sure to Please

Unless you hate glossy displays, you'll likely love this display. Touch screens are glossy so the Vaio Pro 13 has glare; that's the bad part. The rest is all good: at 1920 x 1080 this is a very sharp panel with clear text and crisp graphics. Color saturation is superb and Sony offers several saturation options in their Vaio Control Center (including no enhancement). The color gamut is also excellent and the display covers 95% of sRGB and 72% of Adobe RGB. In comparison the 13" MacBook Pro with Retina Display covers 99% of sRGB and 74% of Adobe RGB. The MacBook Air mid-2013 model covers just 67% of sRGB. The 2012 Sony Vaio Z third generation still beats the crowd at 96% of Adobe RGB, but the tradeoff for the Z is its narrow viewing angles that cause color shift and inversion when viewed off angle. The Vaio Pro 13's color balance out of the box is quite good on the default "Vibrant" setting, and our Spyer4 Pro colorimeter made modest changes to achieve calibration. Sony offers their X-Reality software feature that's supposed to sharpen video, though in some cases when streaming HD Amazon Prime video, it actually seemed to add noise. X-Reality uses processing power and thus consume battery, so it's turned off on battery power and enabled when plugged in. You can turn X-Reality on and off in the Vaio Control Center.

Sony Vaio Pro 13

Sony Vaio Pro 13

Brightness is just a bit better than average, measuring 250 nits in our tests with Sony and Intel display auto-brightness disabled. It's perfectly fine and bright looking for indoor use, but between glare and the not very high brightness, I wouldn't recommend it for frequent outdoor use. Indoors it looks lovely, though I really didn't want to run it at less that 50% brightness (my eyes aren't good enough for dim display settings). Contrast is excellent at 940:1 and blacks are rich and text is sharp. Touch works perfectly and viewing angles are very wide since this is an IPS display. The display layers are fused, much as with recent high end smartphones to allow for a thinner panel and less light refraction.


Deals and Shopping:


Sony Vaio Pro 13 Video Review


Sony Vaio Pro 13 vs. mid-2013 MacBook Air 13" Comparison


Sony Vaio Pro 13 vs. Sony Vaio Duo 13 Comparison


Sony Vaio Pro 13 vs. Acer S7 Comparison: Haswell Ultrabook Showdown

Cooling and Temperatures

Like Mac laptops, the air intake vents line the back edge, facing the bottom edge of the display lid. Though there are no vents on the bottom, Sony's optional sheet battery has a riser at the rear that provides ventilation space for the bottom panel to prevent it from getting too hot. With normal use, the Ultrabook doesn't get burning hot, and it only exceeded human body temperature when playing Diablo III and Civ V (both are asking a lot of an Ultrabook with integrated graphics). The fan is quiet but not silent when doing productivity work, and it's slightly louder but not loud by any means when streaming HD video. When playing the afore mentioned games, the fan roared, just like our mid-2013 MacBook Air with Haswell. Sony offers different cooling plans (quiet, normal and active cooling) for those who like to tweak such things. When the laptop is plugged in the fans are louder since it allows the CPU and GPU to work at full power more often (we appreciate this and don't like it when notebooks are throttled and hobbled by overly cautious thermal and acoustic management). That said, Sony is more conservative than usual here and the fans kick in audibly when the CPU temperatures exceed 50C, which isn't hot (100C is max allowed). We've seen Sony notebooks that run their CPUs to 60C before the fans kick up to medium. Still, a cool notebook is a long-lived one, so we won't complain.

Battery Life and Performance

We don't usually combine these two sections, but Intel's fourth generation platform ties both in for some significant changes. Is Intel's new Haswell CPU/GPU much better than Ivy Bridge in terms of performance? No. But battery life is much improved, and our Core i5 easily ran for 6.5 hours of actual use time (not standby) on its not very high capacity 4,470 mAh battery using the Balanced performance profile with WiFi on and brightness at 50% (with auto-brightness turned on in Vaio Control Center). For a fast machine with a full HD touch screen, that's a lot of runtime from a small battery. In fact, it's enough to get through an entire workday without plugging in since most of us let the machine idle here and there and take a lunch break. Thank Haswell for that. Though Haswell is only a few percentage points faster than Ivy Bridge, the impressive thing is that it actually manages to improve performance slightly while very significantly improving battery life.

The Core i7-4500U option won't have a huge impact on battery life since it's only 200MHz faster and adds an additional megabyte of level 3 cache. Both the Core i5 and i7 are dual core CPUs; there are no quad core Intel ULV CPUs. Battery life will depend on what you're doing with the laptop: streaming HD video uses more power than editing MS Word documents and processing HD video will consume more power than web browsing or doing email. This is even more pronounced with Haswell because it exhibits huge battery improvements for low demand tasks and idle, while using a similar amount of power when seriously tasked by demanding tasks like HD video playback, video editing/export and 3D gaming. For our streaming HD video test using Adobe Flash video in Internet Explorer with brightness set to 65% and WiFi on, the Vaio Pro 13 lasted 5.7 hours. Lower brightness settings will increase runtimes when streaming video. If you're using the Vaio for productivity tasks and wish to stretch runtimes with lower brightness and power plan settings, you will likely exceed Sony's quoted 6.5 hours of battery life by an hour. And for those who need really long runtimes away from the power outlet, Sony sells a $149 sheet battery that clips on the bottom (much like the extended battery for the Sony Vaio Duo 11 and Vaio X) that doubles runtimes. One could argue that Sony gives you the choice between extreme portability and extreme battery life via the optional sheet battery that brings total weight up to a more standard Ultrabook 3 pounds.

Being an Ultrabook, the Vaio Pro 13 runs on ULV (ultra low voltage) CPUs that use less power and generate less heat than the full mobile processors used in large notebooks and desktops. They're also not as fast, though they're more than adequate for those who don't have a special need for very strong computing power (professional video editors, CAD pros and those who work with multiple VMs and software IDEs compiling large apps). Though you might think of the Pro as the replacement for the Sony Vaio Z, the Z's claim to fame was its full mobile processor (including a quad core i7!) crammed into what looked like one of the thinnest and lightest Ultrabooks on the planet. And the Z had an optional external dedicated graphics processor (Sony's PMD) for even more smarts. The Vaio Pro is not the Sony Vaio Z. If you bought or coveted a Z because of its looks and portability and fantastic display, then the Vaio Pro could certainly work for you. If you need all kinds of heavy lifting that usually requires a large laptop or desktop, then this isn't your machine. Our guess is that few folks actually needed all that computing power since Sony discontinued the Vaio Z after the third generation release of 2012. RIP, Z: we'll miss you.

The Vaio Pro 11 and 13 are available with Intel Core- i5-4200U and i7-4500U dual core CPUs with Intel HD 4400 integrated graphics. There's no option for HD 5000 graphics, and we suspect there won't be because the Vaio Pro is too thin to allow for adequate cooling for the somewhat hotter GPU. Sony has the Vaio Duo 13 for those who crave slightly faster integrated graphics. RAM is soldered to the motherboard, so you can't upgrade it later. The machine is available with 4 and 8 gigs of DDR3 1600MHz RAM. You can get the Vaio Pro with a 128, 256 or 512 gig SSD drive and it uses the new, faster PCIe standard rather than mSATA for extremely fast storage performance (our 128 gig SSD is made by Samsung). This SSD will likely be the only upgradeable part in the machine.

To access internals, you'll need to remove three screws: one under the sheet battery connector rubber cover and two covers near the back edge of the machine. You can then remove the bottom cover, which wraps around the sides of the laptop. Since the CPU and RAM aren't upgradable, the only part of interest is the PCIe SSD drive, once aftermarket drives are available.


(Core i5-4200U, 4 gigs RAM and 128 gig SSD)

PCMark 7: 4549

3DMark 11: P636 (performance, 720p test setting) 556 graphics, 2711 physics

Geekbench 2: 7666

wPrime: 22.73 sec.

Windows Experience Index:
Processor: 6.9
RAM: 5.9
Graphics (for desktop): 5.6
Gaming Graphics: 6.2
HDD: 8.4

PCMark 7 Benchmark Comparison Table

Sony Vaio Pro 13 (Core i5 Haswell) 4549
Sony Vaio Flip 13 (Core i5 Haswell) 4434
Sony Vaio Duo 13 (Haswell Core i7) 4800
Samusng ATIV Book 9 Plus 5050
Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro 4737
Acer Aspire S7 (Core i7 Haswell) 5075
Asus Transformer Book TX300 4495
Acer Aspire R7 3981
Samsung Series 7 Ultra 4469
Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Touch (Core i5) 4670
Dell XPS 12 (Core i5) 4678
Asus Taichi 21 (Core i7) 4952
Acer Aspire S7 (Core i5, 11.6") 4728
Microsoft Surface Pro 4657

CrystalDiskMark SSD Scores

crystaldiskmark results


Sony always adds bloat, but in this case it's mostly a variety of Live Tiles for various web-based services and shortcuts like Kindle rather than full blown programs that consume lots of disk space. Sony includes Art Rage, which is a great app for painters, but it doesn't make as much sense here as it does on the convertible slate Vaio Duo line unless you're good at finger painting.

Sony includes a Control Center for basic settings including display auto-brightness, Vaio Care for recovery and maintenance and Vaio Live Updater for driver updates. Since the Vaio Pro is so new, the updater program didn't find updates though there are actually quite a few available on Sony's website. These include NFC, an audio driver that improves volume and sound quality and display updates that improve performance and are well worth hunting for until the updater finds them for you.

One exception was Intel WiFi: Sony has no driver update at of this writing, so we downloaded the latest drivers for the Intel Wireless-N 7260 direct from Intel's website and got much more stable wireless connections as a result. Before the Intel wireless update, we noted the 2.4GHz channel sometimes had an intermittent connection to our router and on the 5GHz band it sometimes lost the connection. Cycling airplane mode using the Windows Charms wireless control caused a blue screen error, which was shocking. After the Intel update, WiFi works perfectly. Update: Sony now has WiFi and Bluetooth driver updates available via the Sony updater and their website. These also worked well for us in terms of stable connections.


Granted the Sony Vaio Pro 13 is the first Windows Haswell Ultrabook to hit the market and its only Haswell ultraportable competition is the mid-2013 MacBook Air. I have a feeling that even under competition, the Vaio Pro will hold up well. We know about several other Windows 8 touch screen Haswell Ultrabooks already since Acer, Dell and Lenovo have announced some models that are basically the same as their outgoing Ivy Bridge counterparts except the updated CPU/GPU. Samsung's Series 9 (now called ATIV Book 9) would be strong competition for those looking for the lightest full HD Ultrabook possible, but the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus with touch screen gains weight and will weigh in at 3 pounds. Other competing models were just launched with Ivy Bridge and may not see a revision for several months (Samsung Series 7 Ultra / ATIV Book 7, Asus Transformer Book TX300), so we have a feel for the landscape. If you're looking for a fast new Haswell Ultrabook that's absurdly light, super stylish and perfectly put together, the Sony Vaio Pro 13 is easy to recommend. We adore the rich and sharp display and we appreciate the backlit keyboard. Battery life for a machine this thin and light is great. If you don't mind bringing the weight up to 3 lbs. with the optional battery slice, you'll have one of the longest running laptops on the market.


Price: starting at $1,249


Sony Vaio Duo 13 Review

Sony Vaio Flip 13 Review

Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus Review

Acer Aspire S7 Review (2013 Haswell)

mid-2013 MacBook Air 13" Review

13" MacBook Air with Retina Display Review

2012 Sony Vaio Z Review

Samsung Series 9 / Samsung ATIV Book 9 Review

Samsung Series 7 Ultra / Samsung ATIV Book 7 Review


Sony Vaio Pro 13


Sony Vaio Pro 13


Sony Vaio Pro 13


Sony Vaio Pro 13


Sony Vaio Pro 13


Sony Vaio Pro 13

The Sony Vaio Pro 13 and 13" MacBook Air.


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Display: 13.3", full HD 1920 x 1080 Triluminos IPS touch screen with 10 point multi-touch. Intel HD 4400 integrated graphics. HDMI port.

Battery: 4740 mAh Lithium Ion rechargeable, sealed inside.

Performance: 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U dual core 4th generation Haswell CPU with Turbo Boost to 2.6GHz. 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-4500U with Turbo Boost to 3 GHz 4th gen Haswell CPU also available. 4 or 8 gigs of DDR3L 1600MHz RAM soldered to motherboard (not upgradable). 128, 256 and 512 gig PCIe SSD drives available.

Size: 12.68 x 8.50 x 0.68 inches. Weight: 2.34 pounds.

Camera: 1.0MP webcam.

Audio: Built-in stereo speakers, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack. Intel HD audio with Sony ClearAudio+.

Networking: Integrated dual band Intel Wireless N-7260 WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 + HS. Has NFC.

Software: Windows 8 64 bit.

Expansion and Ports: Two USB 3.0 ports (one with charging), full size HDMI port and 3.5mm combo audio jack. 1 SDXC card slot.

Security: TPM module with Intel Anti-Theft technology.



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