Apple MacBook Pro Vs. Sony VAIO Z Comparison

If you’re looking for a high end performance 13” portable laptop then you might have both the Apple MacBook Pro 13” or Sony VAIO Z in your crosshairs.  Both are 13-inch screen performance oriented laptops offering serious power on the go.  They are also premium laptops that come with a price tag to match, the question is which of these deserves your hard earned pennies?  After all, spending $2K on a laptop deserves a bit of research and thought, we’re here to help with this particular comparison!

Apple MacBook Pro 13 Vs. Sony VAIO Z

We can’t get started until we know what we’re comparing, so here are the specs of the Apple MacBook Pro and Sony VAIO Z under review:

 

Apple MacBook Pro 13”

Sony VAIO Z

Processor

2.8GHz Intel Core i7 dual-core

2.5GHz Intel Core i5 dual-core

Screen

13.3” 1280×800 glossy

13.1” 1920×1080 glossy

OS

Apple Mac OS X

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

Graphics

Intel integrated graphics

AMD Radeon HD 6650M 1GB (in Docking Station); laptop itself has integrated Intel HD graphics

Memory

4GB

4GB

Storage

128GB SSD

128GB SSD (64GB x2 RAID 0)

Optical Drive

Slot-load DVD burner

No internal optical drive; DVD burner in Docking Station

Weight

4.5 lbs.

2.57 lbs.

Thickness

0.95 in.

0.66 in.

Ports

2x USB 2.0, FireWire 800, Thunderbolt, SDXC card slot, Ethernet, mini-DisplayPort, Kensington lock slot, audio in/out

1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, HDMI out, Gigabit Ethernet, headphone, Kensington lock slot, SD and MS Pro slots; Docking station features 1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI out, VGA out

Battery Life

7 hours

7 hours

Web Camera

FaceTime HD camera

Built-in HD camera

Audio

Stereo speakers w/ subwoofer

Internal stereo speakers

Price as Configured

$1,599.00

$2,049.99

Screenshots for the pricing on the above configurations are shown below:

MPB_13 VAIOZ

Price

I configured both notebooks to be as close as possible in specifications while keeping the prices within a few hundred dollars. The VAIO Z commands a $450 premium though it’s worth noting it includes a higher-resolution display, dedicated graphics option, a separate docking station, and is thinner and lighter. Whether that’s worth $450 is ultimately up to the buyer, however in the comparison, the Apple wins this round with its $1,599 price tag.

Advantage: Apple MacBook Pro 13”

Design

The Apple MacBook has a clean if almost bland-looking design now, given its mainstream popularity and ubiquity of copycat designs. The VAIO Z on the other hand continues to evolve and this latest iteration is a work of art. The build quality and workmanship is superb – it has a carbon fiber casing and is available in several different colors (black, gold and silver). Additionally it is much slimmer than the MacBook Pro, which is beefy by comparison. Overall the VAIO Z has a more elegant and sophisticated appearance.

Advantage: Sony VAIO Z

Battery Life

Both notebooks yield up to seven hours of battery life during normal usage. The VAIO Z is available with a “slice” battery that fits underneath the notebook for an additional $150; it effectively doubles the battery life to 14 hours at the expense of making the notebook heavier and thicker (making it essentially the same as the MacBook Pro 13”).

Advantage: Neither

Screen

Although both notebooks have the same 13” size screen, only the VAIO Z includes a high resolution screen. The MacBook Pro’s screen is 1280 pixels wide by 800 pixels tall; the VAIO Z by comparison has an astounding full HD display with 1920 pixels horizontal and 1080 pixels tall. That gives it more than double the space of the MacBook Pro’s screen, which translates to much less scrolling and the ability to comfortably use two windows side-by-side. A high-resolution screen is an undeniable advantage from a productivity standpoint.

Advantage: Sony VAIO Z

Processor Options and Performance

The processor difference between the two notebooks is not noticeable enough to give any real advantage to either, but the MacBook Pro includes a faster dual-core i7 processor. The i5 in the VAIO Z is essentially the same except it just does not run as high of a frequency. As I said, most users will never notice the difference in performance. The i7 is available on the VAIO Z for a few hundred more though that upgrade is not even remotely worth it from a price/performance perspective.

Advantage: Apple MacBook Pro

Graphics Card

The Sony VAIO Z has a hidden advantage in its docking station: a dedicated graphics card. When plugged into the docking station (Power Media Dock, as Sony calls it), the VAIO Z can tap the power of the AMD Radeon HD 6650M graphics card, which is good enough to play the latest games.

Advantage: Sony VAIO Z

Weight and Thickness

At 2.57 pounds and 0.66” thin, the VAIO Z is a featherweight next to the MacBook Pro’s 4.5 pounds and 0.95” thickness. Some of this credit goes to the VAIO Z not including an internal optical drive (instead locating it in the docking station) and extensive use of carbon fiber in the construction. The MacBook Pro has a comparably heavy aluminum shell.

Advantage: Sony VAIO Z

Ports Selection

Both notebooks include a similar number of ports, but the MacBook Pro is the only notebook that includes an internal optical drive. The VAIO Z has one, but it’s only available when the notebook is plugged into the docking station.

Advantage: Apple MacBook Pro

Speakers

The MacBook Pro’s speakers have a much fuller sound the extra-small units inside the VAIO Z; additionally it has a dedicated subwoofer for some measurable bass.

Advantage: Apple MacBook Pro

Warranty, Support and Return

The MacBook Pro and the VAIO Z come standard with a one-year warranty, which is less than ideal given the price of both notebooks (the expected lifespan is beyond a year for most users). The upgrade prices are steep on both notebooks; both companies charge $249 for a warranty extension to three years. Only Sony offers an accidental damage protection plan (another $150 on top of the three-year extended).

Both Sony and Apple have dedicated stores, but Apple stores are far more common. It’s convenient to take your notebook in for service and get assorted help.

In the end, neither notebook has the advantage here given they both have unique advantages. If accidental damage protection is a must then the VAIO Z is a good bet; if seeing people in person to get your notebook fixed is paramount, then the MacBook Pro offers that.

Advantage: Neither

And the winner is?

Sony VAIO ZIt was a tough decision but the edge goes to the Sony VAIO Z. It’s $450 more the way we configured them, however it has many notable advantages. First off is portability; the VAIO Z is only 0.66” thin and 2.57 pounds whereas the MacBook Pro 13” is 0.95” and 4.5 pounds. Performance is about the same but the Sony VAIO Z has a dedicated graphics card when hooked up to its included docking station (the Power Media Dock), allowing it to play 3D games. The full HD resolution display of the VAIO Z is a huge advantage over the ho-hum 720p-only display on the MacBook Pro. And lastly there’s battery life; both notebooks get 7 hours, but the Sony offers an additional slice battery for a total of up to 14 hours.

The Sony VAIO Z offers the best portability, most chic design, nicest display, and longest battery life in this segment. Its only real disadvantage next to the Apple MacBook Pro 13” is the several hundred dollar-higher price tag.

Here are links to the latest Sony Laptop Deals!



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6 Responses to Apple MacBook Pro Vs. Sony VAIO Z Comparison

  1. Tsuki February 9, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

    I would like to see a MBP13 vs SA review since, unlike the Z, Sony advertises the SA/SB as MBP competitors.

  2. J.R. February 9, 2012 at 3:32 pm #

    This is a ridiculous comparison. Either spec the Vaio Z down by $400, or spec the MacBook Pro up. You could do either, and it would make so much more sense.

  3. J.R. February 9, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

    For that matter, why not compare a maxed out MacBook Air? The Sony would still win on a number of areas – namely screen and graphics performance. It’s certainly a better fit in terms of weight and dimensions.

    Then do a second comparison with the MBP and VAIO S. You could even do two of them: the 13-inch models and the 15-inch models, and the computer that wins one may or may not win the second bout.

  4. Charles P. Jefferies February 9, 2012 at 7:29 pm #

    J.R., thanks for the feedback; your concerns have been noted. Pricing wasn’t a huge deal in this particular comparison, the MacBook Pro would lose even if the prices were identical (it would be worse off if it was priced closer to the Z).

  5. J.R. February 9, 2012 at 9:43 pm #

    Oh, agreed. For what’s it worth, the 13-inch MacBook Pro is clearly the black sheep of the current Mac lineup, and I would be surprised if it’s still around by this time next year.

  6. Chris April 2, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

    1) There is a clear advantage to having both user swappable battery and an optional extended battery.
    2) If you want to argue optical drives, do so under a specific heading, and not under ports.
    3) HDMI and VGA ports allow simple, no dongle connection to everything you own. Z series supports up to 4 unique monitors. Display Port (I have to buy another accessory?) adds 1 monitor, Thunderbolt adds 1 more if you want to pay a grand for a propriatary 27″ MONITOR (that doesn’t support any other input format)

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