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Sony Vaio Z Has External Radeon Light Peak GPU

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 25 comments

The best of both worlds for the roadwarrior and desktop replacement.

Sony has taken the wraps off its new high-end premium notebook, the new Vaio Z Series with some pretty interesting expansion options.

The Vaio Z is super-travel-ready with a weight of about 1.18 kg or 2.6 lbs and a thickness of 16.65 mm or just under 0.66 of an inch. Despite its small size, it is sturdy thanks to a carbon fibre composition.

The 13.1-inch screen has a 1600x900 resolution with an anti-reflective coating. Various configurations include Intel Core i7 processors and fast SSD storage as well as an optional secondary sheet battery gives up to 14 hours of use.

While roadwarriors will love the Vaio Z for portability and speed reason, this fancy notebook can shine with some added power thanks to a docking expansion called the Power Media Dock.

Notable about the Power Media Dock  is that it contains an AMD Radeon HD 6650M with 1GB DDR3, which takes over the graphical duties from the integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000. The discrete GPU can an additional three external displays with a maximum resolution of 1920x1200 through VGA and HDMI outputs.

Besides just packing a GPU, the Power Media Dock also sports an optical drive bay that can be specified with a Blu-ray Disc or SuperMulti combo drive.

The Power Media Dock obviously has big I/O requirements with the laptop, and that is all facilitated by the architecture codenamed 'Light Peak'. Apparently, it can't be called Thunderbolt because it uses a USB connector interface rather than the DisplayPort that Apple first implemented earlier this year. When the optical-based Sony proprietary cable isn't plugged into the notebook, the port can function as a regular USB 3.0/2.0 one.

As for pricing, the premium Vaio line has never been cheap. Expect prices starting in the $2000 range and into the $3000 range depending on configuration and Power Media Dock.

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  • 19 Hide
    burnley14 , June 29, 2011 12:44 PM
    nebunnot bad....now put the gpu inside the machine...you can do it

    The whole point is to make it thin, then have GPU power back at home if you so choose.
  • 13 Hide
    GreaseMonkey_62 , June 29, 2011 12:28 PM
    Way cool. I've been waiting for some to make a way to add an external video card to a laptop. If AMD's APU line makes it way onto more laptop however, this won't really be needed.
Other Comments
  • -9 Hide
    nebun , June 29, 2011 12:13 PM
    not bad....now put the gpu inside the machine...you can do it ;) 
  • 13 Hide
    GreaseMonkey_62 , June 29, 2011 12:28 PM
    Way cool. I've been waiting for some to make a way to add an external video card to a laptop. If AMD's APU line makes it way onto more laptop however, this won't really be needed.
  • 1 Hide
    brickman , June 29, 2011 12:31 PM
    13 inch screen? Thats torture, unless you are an eagle :p 
  • 7 Hide
    Anonymous , June 29, 2011 12:33 PM
    love it!
  • 19 Hide
    burnley14 , June 29, 2011 12:44 PM
    nebunnot bad....now put the gpu inside the machine...you can do it

    The whole point is to make it thin, then have GPU power back at home if you so choose.
  • 9 Hide
    whysobluepandabear , June 29, 2011 12:45 PM
    I don't know why they haven't done this much earlier. Use desktop grade GPUs in external inclosures, and have them run off of a separate power supply. Create a link a method to output the device so no motherboard attachment is needed, and there you go.


    It would work for upgrades, temporary gaming and for desktops that lack the PSU.
  • 2 Hide
    warmon6 , June 29, 2011 1:12 PM
    If it wasn't the fact that gigabyte already had something close to this about 1.5 years ago, i would be more impressed.

    http://www.gigabyte.us/products/product-page.aspx?pid=3233#kf

    As for you whysobluepandabear, both this old model and it's succesor have desktop grade gpu's. Although neither are mind blowing for there times.

    http://computingforever.com/archives/2634

    Although i do like the idea of a docking station with a gpu in it for games and gpgpu intensive stuff while having IGP for battery life on the road.
  • 0 Hide
    zorky9 , June 29, 2011 1:20 PM
    Pricing will be interesting. The PMD will be bottlenecked by the Radeon which is rather anemic for gaming. Maybe you can buy a high-end desktop GPU for the price of the PMD.

    But hey, this is a start.
  • 0 Hide
    hang-the-9 , June 29, 2011 1:29 PM
    warmon6If it wasn't the fact that gigabyte already had something close to this about 1.5 years ago, i would be more impressed. http://www.gigabyte.us/products/pr [...] id=3233#kfAs for you whysobluepandabear, both this old model and it's succesor have desktop grade gpu's. Although neither are mind blowing for there times.http://computingforever.com/archives/2634Although i do like the idea of a docking station with a gpu in it for games and gpgpu intensive stuff while having IGP for battery life on the road.


    It looks like Gigabyte has 3 US distributors, none of which I have heard of. Never even new they made laptops. Laptops have been offering graphics slots in docking stations for at least 10 years, not just 1.5. I worked with a Compaq that had a dock with multiple PCI slots that we put video cards in just fine.
  • 4 Hide
    schmich , June 29, 2011 1:30 PM
    Why the f did they put such a simple GPU in it? Put a desktop-grade GPU in it like a 6950 or 6970! Such a waste at the moment :/ 
  • 1 Hide
    DSpider , June 29, 2011 1:53 PM
    whysobluepandabearI don't know why they haven't done this much earlier. Use desktop grade GPUs in external inclosures, and have them run off of a separate power supply. Create a link a method to output the device so no motherboard attachment is needed, and there you go.It would work for upgrades, temporary gaming and for desktops that lack the PSU.

    You know, that's actually a pretty good idea. You may be onto something. Integrated solutions are good enough for desktop usage but for gaming you usually need to plug it in (meaning you're not mobile anymore). A good quad core should be enough for a couple of external GPU upgrades every year and half or so.
  • -1 Hide
    husker , June 29, 2011 2:55 PM
    Problem 1: Price) For the 2 to 3 thousand dollars I could buy both a laptop and desktop, both of which would perform better than the above.
    Problem 2: Upgrade) Ask yourself why people don't have combination TV/DVD or TV/BlueRay devices. They don't make sense because they tie one technology to another when the advances in each of these techs move at a different rate.
    Problem 3: Repairs) Ask yourself why people don't have combination toaster/blenders. Because when one half of the unit breaks, you have to repair the whole thing, replace the whole thing, or just use the part that still works and replace the broken part with a stand alone unit, which you should have bought in the first place.
  • 0 Hide
    Graham_71 , June 29, 2011 3:57 PM
    This is a great idea but I would be more interested if a non-proprietary Laptop Docking Station were developed by PCI-SIG or the group of companies that developed USB.

    Future Laptops from ANY manufacturer that are 'Universal Laptop Docking Station Compatible' could be connected to any one of a wide range of Docking Station's from ANY manufacturer, with the possibility of boosting not only GPU performance but CPU / RAM etc etc.

  • 0 Hide
    jn77 , June 29, 2011 4:23 PM
    I need a laptop that can run photoshop on the road, so having to carry around 2 pieces to make it work is completely pointless. It is another piece from someone to steal.

    And quite honestly, what is that thing than an over priced $3000 tablet, I can get a tablet for $499, and then transfer the files to my pc.
  • 0 Hide
    Darth_Kaar , June 29, 2011 6:53 PM
    Quite a notebook. Unfortunately the price is too steep, as always in case of 'exclusive' new hardware, while competition comes up with models just little less powerful but far more affordable.
  • 1 Hide
    Nintendork , June 29, 2011 8:09 PM
    burnley14
    The IGP on Llano is nearly as powerful as that HD6650 (IGP HD6620G). Bothe of the have the same specs with the 400SP. This is total failure, Llano proved this intel setups are failure. You dont this bizarra patches.

    The same notebook with Llano saves space with the same power. You just add the bd drive and make it a bit more ticker for it.
  • 1 Hide
    Nintendork , June 29, 2011 8:10 PM
    This reminds me people attaching a horse to a car.
  • 0 Hide
    fir_ser , June 29, 2011 10:21 PM
    At last there is an external VGA solution, but the price tag is very high.
  • 0 Hide
    clonazepam , June 30, 2011 12:48 AM
    They were talking about this more than 6 years ago. There was talk of using laptops' pcmcia slots, connected over a pci-express bus, to allow external upgrades to a laptop's video capabilities. I honestly dont know if it actually happened somewhere in the world. This was right around the same time they started releasing external sound cards for usb / pcmcia.

    I agree with dash dot dash guy. Our economy depends on stuff breaking or having to be replaced / upgraded often.
  • -1 Hide
    molo9000 , June 30, 2011 12:53 AM
    brickman13 inch screen? Thats torture, unless you are an eagle


    13" is a very good size for ultra portable laptops. It's just a bit bigger than a paper document (A4 or US letter or whatever) and will fit perfectly into briefcases or bags big enough for documents/folders.
    It's big enough to work on comfortably and small enough to be ultra portable.

    btw: Just 2 grand starting price? Wasn't the last gen. Vaio Z the wrong side of 2.5grand?
    Do they still offer "RAID"-0 SSDs? *drool*
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