Vaio FE 14.1 review: not the Vaio you remember

Vaio FE 14.1

MSRP $949.00

“The Vaio FE 14.1 is old-fashioned, and never in an excellent way.”


  • Excellent keyboard
  • Decent battery life
  • Display had good contrast
  • Entry-level model attractively priced


  • Relatively slow performance
  • Flexible construct quality
  • Old-school 16:9 display
  • Display colours were below average
  • Tiny touchpad

The Sony Vaio was once an revolutionary and competitive laptop brand that offered a compelling lineup. In 2014, Sony spun off the Vaio division, and the brand has grow to be a stand-alone laptop maker. Its selection is more limited, with the Vaio Z and SX lines firmly available in the market’s premium segment and the Vaio FE representing the budget and mid-range lineup. Vaio recently introduced an update to the Vaio FE 14.1 with Twelfth-gen Intel CPUs, and I used to be able to provide it a workout.

In some ways, the Vaio FE 14.2 is a throwback to laptop designs made several years ago — and never in an excellent way. On top of that, its performance and construct quality aren’t anything to write down home about, making it a problematic laptop to recommend.

Price and configuration

I reviewed the top-end model priced at $949 with a Twelfth-gen Intel Core i7-1255U and a 14.1-inch 16:9 Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS display, making it more of a mid-range than a budget laptop.

There are three configurations of the Vaio FE 14.1. The entry-level model is $699 for a Core i5-1235U, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a 14.1-inch 16:9 Full HD IPS display. All models share the identical display option. The mid-level machine is $799 for a Core i5-1235U, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD. Finally, my review configuration is $949 for Core i7-1255U, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD. The $699 configuration might be the perfect value.

Several other laptops can be found in the identical price range, including the HP Pavilion Plus 14 and the Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1. The Pavilion Plus 14 is especially attractive at $1,000 for a faster 45-watt Core i7 CPU and a spectacular 14-inch 16:10 OLED display running at 90Hz.


VAIO FE 14.1 front angle view showing display and keyboard deck.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The Vaio FE 14.1’s most striking aesthetic attribute, a minimum of on my review unit, was the brilliant blue color scheme on the lid and keyboard deck. Most coloured laptops have more subdued hues, but Vaio went for a color that’s sure to face out. There’s also a pink available that seems as shocking, in addition to more subtle silver and dark grey colours. In the event you want your laptop to shout, then the Vaio FE 14.1 is for you.

Other competitive laptops, just like the HP Pavilion Plus 14 and the MSI Prestige 14, are much quieter of their designs. Outside of the colour, the Vaio FE 14.1 is way less elaborate, with easy lines and angles and just some venting along the left-hand side that seems misplaced.

One oddity with the design is the dedicated hard disk drive activity light at the highest of the keyboard. I don’t remember seeing considered one of those in quite a while, and it’s one other of those old-school qualities that makes the laptop feel dated.

The Vaio FE 14.1 has some bending within the lid and flex within the keyboard deck.

The plastic display bezels are reasonably thin on the edges but quite thick on the highest and bottom. That matches the old-school 16:9 aspect ratio and makes a laptop that’s wider than another 14-inch machines and as deep as those with 16:10 aspect ratios. The Vaio FE 14.1 can also be thick at 0.78 inches and heavy at 3.5 kilos. The HP Pavilion Plus 14 is 0.72 inches thick and weighs 3.09 kilos, and the Asus Vivobook S 14X is 0.70 inches and three.23 kilos. The Vaio FE 14.1 isn’t the thinnest or lightest 14-inch laptop around.

Regarding its construct quality, the Vaio FE 14.1 displays some bending within the lid and flex within the keyboard deck because of a mix of aluminum and plastic in its construction. It’s not egregious for a laptop under $1,000, but it surely’s not the perfect I’ve seen.

The Pavilion Plus 14 is way more rigid, while the Vivobook S 14X is analogous to the Vaio. It’s not bad enough to make you lack confidence within the laptop’s durability, but it surely doesn’t scream quality, either.

Port and connectivity

VAIO FE 14.1 left side view showing vent and ports.

vaio fe 14 review 1 right side

Connectivity is decent, with one omission. There’s a single USB-C 3.2 port, a USB-A 3.1 port, and a USB-A 2.0 port to go together with a full-size HDMI port, a 3.5mm audio jack, and an Ethernet connection. The latter is unusual on modern 14-inch machines, and the shortage of Thunderbolt 4 is disappointing but forgivable at the worth. There’s also a full-size SD card reader, which is welcome.

Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 provide wireless connectivity, which is only a step behind other laptops shipping with Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2.


VAIO Fe 14.1 rear view showing lid and logo.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The Intel Core i7-1255U is a 15-watt, 10-core (two Performance and eight Efficient), 12-thread CPU geared toward thin and light-weight laptops and intended to offer higher efficiency than Intel’s 28-watt P-series CPUs. We’ve reviewed a couple of laptops with the CPU, and its performance has varied depending on the benchmark and the machine. Basically, though, the chip has been fast enough for demanding productivity tasks but not as fast for creative workflows. Of the laptops we’ve tested with the CPU, the Vaio FE 14.1 has been the slowest, and it’s only marginally quicker than Intel’s Eleventh-gen processors.

Within the Geekbench 5 benchmark, the Vaio FE 14.1 was just barely faster than the MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo with its Eleventh-gen Core i7-1185G7. That’s a 28-watt CPU, but the opposite laptops we’ve tested with the Core i7-1255U were considerably faster. Unlike most other laptops I’ve reviewed, the Vaio doesn’t have a thermal management utility, so there’s no performance mode to ramp up performance.

In our Handbrake test that encodes a 420MB video as H.265, the Vaio FE 14.2 was the slowest amongst our comparison group, and within the Cinebench R23 rendering benchmark, it was the second slowest. Finally, within the PCMark 10 Complete benchmark that measures a mixture of productivity, multimedia, and artistic tasks, the Vaio again got here in next-to-last place.

I noticed no throttling with the laptop, with it hitting a maximum of 91 degrees C in probably the most CPU-intensive benchmarks. It simply didn’t run very fast and, more often than not, kept temperatures within the 70s. The Vaio FE 14.2 will meet your productivity performance needs, but faster laptops can be found for around the identical price.

(single / multi)
Cinebench R23
(single / multi)
PCMark 10
Vaio FE 14.1
(Core i7-1255U)
Bal:1,682 / 5,167
Perf: N/A
Bal: 208
Perf: N/A
Bal: 1,562 / 5,045
Perf: N/A
Lenovo Yoga 7i Gen 7
(Core i7-1255U)
Bal: 1,652 / 8,194
Perf: 1,692 / 8,443
Bal: 200
Perf: 141
Bal: 1,679 / 7,176
Perf: 1,748 / 7,701
Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1
(Core i7-1255U)
Bal: 1,703 / 6,520
Perf: 1,685 / 6,791
Bal: 153
Perf: 141
Bal: 1,729 / 6,847
Perf: 1,773 / 7,009
Acer Swift 3 2022
(Core i7-1260P)
Bal: 1,708 / 10,442
Perf: 1,694 / 10,382
Bal: 100
Perf: 98
Bal: 1,735 / 9,756
Perf: 1,779 / 10,165
Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7
(Core i7-1260P)
Bal: 1,717 / 9,231
Perf: 1,712 / 10,241
Bal: 130
Perf: 101
Bal: 1,626 / 7,210
Perf: 1,723 / 8,979
Asus ZenBook S 13 OLED
(Ryzen 7 6800U)
Bal: 1,417 / 6,854
Perf: 1,404 / 7,223
Bal: 112
Perf: 111
Bal: 1,402 / 8,682
Perf: 1,409 / 8,860
MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo
(Core i7-1185G7)
Bal: 1,352 / 4,891
Perf: 1,518 / 5,310
Bal: 207
Perf: 188
Bal: 1,360 / 4,391
Perf: 1,385 / 4,909

Gaming on the Vaio FE 14.1 won’t be much fun, given its below-average performance in our lightweight gaming benchmarks. It scored poorly within the 3DMark Time Spy test and only managed nine frames per second (fps) in Fortnite and 1080p and epic graphics. Intel’s Iris Xe isn’t good for greater than casual gaming on the fastest laptops, and on the Vaio, it’s not going to maintain up in any respect.

Time Spy
(1080p/1200p Epic)
Vaio FE 14.1
(Intel Iris Xe)
Bal: 1,368
Perf: N/A
Bal: 9
Perf: N/A
Lenovo Yoga 7i Gen 7
(Intel Iris Xe)
Bal: 1,790
Perf: 1,716
Bal: 18
Perf: 18
Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1
(Intel Iris Xe)
Bal: 1,492
Perf: 1,502
Bal: 12 fps
Perf: 12 fps
Acer Swift 3 2022
(Intel Iris Xe)
Bal: 1,967
Perf: 1,967
Bal: 19
Perf: 19
Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7
(Intel Iris Xe)
Bal: 1,658
Perf: 1,979
Bal: 12 fps
Perf: N/A
Asus ZenBook S 13 OLED
(Radeon graphics)
Bal: 2,110
Perf: 2,213
Bal: 19 fps
Perf: 19 fps

Display and audio

VAIO FE 14.1 front view showing display.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

There’s just one display option with the Vaio FE 14.1, a 14.1-inch 16:9 Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS panel. As I used the display during my testing, it wasn’t terribly shiny, and its colours didn’t seem that dynamic, but its blacks seemed deep enough.

In accordance with my colorimeter, my eyes weren’t deceiving me. Brightness was lower than we prefer to see at 280 nits, just under our 300-nit threshold. You’ll probably do high-quality in most indoor settings, but outside within the shade can be difficult. Colours were narrower than the mid-range to premium average, at 66% of sRGB and 49% of AdobeRGB, where the common is closer to 95% and 75%, respectively. And the colour accuracy was poor at a DeltaE of three.46, where 2.0 or less is the minimum for creative work. Only the Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1’s colours were equally poor. Nonetheless, the Vaio FE 14.1’s contrast was high-quality at 1,070:1, exceeding our 1,000:1 standard.

The display is nice enough for productivity work, but media consumers and creators can be unhappy with the colours. It’s a budget-level display that might be high-quality in a laptop costing $600 or less, but it surely’s not acceptable at $949.

Contrast sRGB gamut AdobeRGB gamut Accuracy DeltaE
(lower is healthier)
Vaio FE 14.1
280 1,070:1 66% 49% 3.46
HP Pavilion Plus 14
398 27,830:1 100% 95% 0.78
Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1
288 1,330:1 63% 48% 3.35
Acer Swift 3
368 1,330:1 98% 75% 1.51
MSI Summit E14 Flip
516 1,320:1 100% 89% 1.10
Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon
397 27,590:1 100% 96% 0.88

Two upward-firing speakers above the keyboard provide adequate audio, with barely enough volume for watching the occasional YouTube video. Mids and highs were high-quality without distortion, but there wasn’t much bass. You’ll desire a pair of headphones for music and Netflix binging. The speaker placement can also be unlucky because it steals away space from the keyboard deck and contributes to the touchpad’s small size.

Keyboard, touchpad, and webcam

VAIO FE 14.1 top down view showing keyboard and touchpad.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The Vaio FE 14.1’s keyboard has large keycaps and excellent key spacing to go together with a convenient row of navigation buttons on the right-hand side. The switches have plenty of travel with a quick bottoming motion that gives loads of feedback. It’s a precise and comfy keyboard that competes with the perfect Windows has to supply, including those on the Dell XPS and HP Spectre lines.

One other old-school attribute of the Vaio FE 14.1 is the presence of dedicated touchpad buttons (which were a bit harsh and loud). I don’t see them often, and it took me somewhat while to get used to pressing them slightly than using more of the touchpad as a clickable surface. It’s the other of the fashionable haptic touchpad, where your entire surface responds to input. While some people might prefer separate buttons, the largest problem is that they make a tiny touchpad even smaller.

It’s considered one of the smallest touchpads I’ve tested and the smallest on a 14-inch laptop. Compounding the difficulty is the fingerprint reader embedded within the upper left-hand corner which takes away even extra space. That is such a tiny touchpad that I’m tempted to call it cute. It really works well enough, supporting Windows 11 multitouch gestures with no problem; it’s just way too small.

The aforementioned fingerprint reader supports Windows 11 Hello passwordless login. It worked quickly and reliably during my testing.

VAIO FE 14.1 front view showing webcam.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The webcam is available in at 2MP, which must be able to 1080p video. I discovered the image quality sufficient for videoconferencing but not amongst the perfect I’ve used recently. The webcam has a physical slider for privacy.

Battery life

VAIO FE 14.1 side view showing lid and ports.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

There are 55 watt-hours of battery capability stuffed contained in the Vaio FE 14.1, which is lower than I prefer to see for 14-inch laptops. It’s not an unusual amount, though. The similarly priced Acer Swift 3 and HP Pavilion Pro 14 each had around the identical battery size. With a Full HD display and 15-watt CPU, I expected a minimum of decent battery life from the Vaio.

That’s essentially what I saw during my testing. In our web browsing test that cycles through some popular and sophisticated web sites, the Vaio FE 14.1 lasted for 7.25 hours, which is barely lower than the eight hours or so we prefer to see on this test. It managed 12 hours in our video test that loops a 1080p movie trailer, which is around average. And it managed 9.5 hours within the PCMark 10 Applications battery test, which is the perfect indication of sunshine productivity battery life. That’s about half an hour lower than average. The Acer Swift 3 lasted barely longer in each test, while the HP Pavilion Plus 14 with its 45-watt CPU and OLED display did much worse.

Overall, I’d rate the Vaio FE 14.1’s battery life as close enough to average. It should last most of a full day of productivity work if it’s not too demanding. I’ll note that the laptop ships with a proprietary power connector, which is one other throwback — every other 14-inch laptop I’ve reviewed recently has used a USB-C charger. The Vaio will charge via its single USB-C port, but after all, that limits its connectivity. I’d slightly have a second USB-C port than a proprietary charger, though.

Web browsing Video PCMark 10
Vaio FE 14.1
(Core i7-1255U)
7 hours, 14 minutes 11 hours, 57 minutes 9 hours, 32 minutes
Lenovo Yoga 7i Gen 7
(Core i7-1255U)
7 hours, 7 minutes 13 hours, 53 minutes 10 hours, 41 minutes
Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1
(Core i7-1255U)
6 hours, 42 minutes 10 hours, 6 minutes 8 hours, 43 minutes
Acer Swift 3 2022
(Core i7-1260P)
8 hours, 2 minutes 14 hours, 10 minutes 10 hours, 1 minute
HP Pavilion Plus 14
(Core i7-12700H)
4 hours, 29 minutes 7 hours, 29 minutes 5 hours, 48 minutes
 Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED
(Ryzen 7 6800U)
8 hours, 4 minutes 13 hours, 13 minutes N/A

Our take

The Vaio FE 14.1 is an old-school laptop in several ways and seems a few years behind the curve. The 14-inch laptop market has been particularly strong recently; unfortunately, the Vaio has little to recommend it amongst such a competitive group.

Performance was slower than it must be, the display was disappointing, and the tiny touchpad was a letdown. Vaio might want to bring more if it desires to compete.

Are there any alternatives?

The Acer Swift 3 is a powerful competitor, coming in at just $80 greater than the Vaio with faster performance, a significantly better display, and higher battery life. The construct quality can also be sturdier, making the Swift 3 a more attractive machine.

The HP Pavilion Plus 14 is one other solid option, costing $50 more for a machine with higher performance, a spectacular 2.8K OLED display running at 90Hz, and a rock-solid construct. Its one weakness is poor battery life.

Finally, you can select the Apple MacBook Air M1. It’s a rather dearer laptop, but its performance, battery life, display, and construct quality blow the Vaio FE 14.1 out of the water.

How long will it last?

The Vaio FE 14.1 suffers from some bending and flexing, but it surely’s still built well enough that it should last for several years with reasonable care. Its components are up so far aside from no Thunderbolt 4 support, which limits its expandability. The industry-standard one-year warranty is high-quality at this price point.

Do you have to buy it?

No. The Vaio FE 14.1 is just too slow and has too many old-school attributes to justify its price, especially against such intense competition.

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