There are countless trends competing for attention in the gaming notebook and laptop space but not all of them are either useful or benefit the core gaming experience.
Toshiba Qosmio X300
It's too bloody red!
- Good for playing the latest games, reasonably powerful speakers, good screen
- Main speakers are on the palm rest, keyboard does not illuminate, hard drive transfers were slow, lacks a high-definition drive
It's fast and not overly expensive compared to other gaming laptops, but almost everyone who saw this thing commented on how ugly it looks. Take a look at the pics and judge for yourself.
Price$ 3,350.00 (AUD)
There's probably nothing worse than a laptop that stands out from the crowd, especially one with as much flare as Toshiba's Qosmio X300; unless you love the attention, of course. The flame design on the lid, the red trim and LEDs are all imagery for speed, and that's exactly what this unit has plenty of. It's aimed directly at gamers, especially ones who want to stand out at LAN parties.
Because it's so powerful, it's also big — after all, it does require a roomy chassis to keep its high-end graphics card and CPU cool — and it's not a notebook you'll want to cart with you on the bus or train. It weighs 4.2kg on its own, and almost 5.3kg with its power brick. In any case, you won't get much more than an hour out of its battery, so you'll want to always use it while in the vicinity of a power outlet.
Its 17in screen is glossy, but possesses good contrast and brightness and doesn't suffer much from reflections. Its native resolution is 1680x1050, and, of course, a powerful graphics card is needed to run games smoothly at that resolution. The Qosmio X300 uses the most advanced gaming card currently available for a notebook: NVIDIA's GeForce 9800 GTX. It will let you play most recent games smoothly at the notebook's native resolution. You can expect frame rates between 25 and 30 for newer games such a GRID, while older games, such as Battlefied 2, will roll along at over 80 frames per second. In 3DMark06, the notebook scored 9155, which is impressive for a notebook with a price tag of $3350.
In fact, to get a notebook with comparable gaming performance you'd have to pay more than twice as much (Alienware's Area-51 M17X, for example). The downside of the Qosmio is that it's not fully decked out to be a premium, high-end notebook. Sure, it has a 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9400 CPU with a 1066MHz front-side bus and 4GB of DDR3 memory, but it's lacking in the area of high definition. Not being able to watch Blu-ray movies on your big-screen TV, using the notebook's HDMI port, is a definite drawback, especially when Acer, ASUS and Lenovo, just to name a few, all equip their notebooks with Blu-ray drives. If the format war was still being fought, you bet your arse there would be a HD-DVD drive in this thing instead of a plain old DVD burner.
As for its performance in office and productivity applications, it was predictably quick. It finished our MP3 encoding test in 1min 07sec, which is what we were expecting, and in WorldBench 6 it recorded 94, which means it won't have trouble running anything from Microsoft Office, to Adobe Photoshop and 3dsMax. A time of 1min 11sec was recorded in the Blender 3D rendering test, which is only seven seconds more than what we'd expect from a super-high-end notebook equipped with a 2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme X9000 CPU.
Despite the powerful CPU and graphics, and the fully stocked RAM department, the unit doesn't get overly hot during prolonged periods of use. This is due to the 45 nanometre-based CPU, which runs cooler than its predecessors, and also because of the cooling fan which pumps air through copper heat sinks and out through the massive vent on the notebook's spine. The fan gets its fresh air from the bottom of the notebook, so you'll definitely want to keep it on a hard, flat surface when you use it.
It has a storage capacity of 520GB (475GB formatted capacity), which is implemented via two hard drives (one 200GB and the other 320GB). The system drive is 200GB (178GB formatted) and runs at 7200rpm. It recorded a transfer rate of 22MBps in our tests, which is a much slower result than we were expecting. Usually we'd expect a 7200rpm drive to achieve a rate of 27MBps.
The usability of the notebook is good overall, especially if you'll be using the notebook extensively for typing. However one problem with the unit's design is the location of the main speakers. They sit directly on the palm-rest; this means that if you type for long periods of time, your left hand will be left with an imprint of the left speaker grill — not to mention if you're listening to music while typing, the left side will be muddled. It might also cause some slippage of your hand after extended periods of gameplay.
The rest of the palmrest is bumpy, which provides traction against slippery, sweating palms. The keyboard has a standard layout, but some of the gamers who used this unit said that the WSAD keys were a little cramped. The keys have a glossy look and feel and they travel well. Shortcut keys at the top of the keyboard are illuminated in red, so you can manipulate your media player software easily while in the dark.
While it's disappointing that the Qosmio X300 lacks a high-definition drive, it's nevertheless full of modern connectivity: HDMI, eSATA, ExpressCard/54, Sleep-and-Charge USB ports, Gigabit and 802.11n networking, and an FM tuner are all present. You still get one throwback to the old days: a D-Sub port. Four USB 2.0 ports, FireWire, an SD card slot and the ExpressCard slot all allow the notebook to be expanded and fitted with many external devices; we also love the inclusion of a manual volume knob.
Overall, considering all the glitz that's been tacked onto this notebook, it's baffling that Toshiba hasn't gone further and given the unit an illuminated keyboard and avenues for personalisation. It's definitely not in Alienware's league in this respect — nor in price, mind you — so make sure you love the red design of the unit before you buy it, as you might grow sick of it after a while.
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