Toshiba X305-Q725: Quad-Core Gaming Notebookby Jarred Walton on March 11, 2009 1:00 AM EST
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The X305 is a 17" chassis, like most DTR offerings. We were a bit surprised to see Toshiba stick with a maximum native resolution of 1680x1050 instead of 1920x1200, but not everyone likes the small text on WUXGA displays. We'd prefer to have a choice, but Toshiba goes the route of having numerous SKUs based off the same core design instead of allowing custom ordering a la Dell. The X305 design has been around for a while now, sporting support for Penryn CPUs, dual NVIDIA GPUs, and dual hard drives. The X305-Q725 may be one of the most recent versions, but it's not the fastest - for gaming or other purposes. We'll have more on that in a moment; first, here's a quick look at the base specifications.
|Toshiba X305-725 Specifications|
|Processor||Core 2 Quad Q9000 (Quad-Core 2.00GHz, 2x3MB Shared L2, 1066FSB)|
|Chipset||Intel PM45 + ICH9M|
|Graphics||NVIDIA GeForce 9800M GTX 1024MB|
|Display||17.0" WSXGA+ (1680x1050) Glossy|
|Hard Drive||1 x 64GB SSD
1 x 320GB 7200RPM 8MB
|Optical Drive||8x DVDR SuperMulti|
|Networking||Realtek Gigabit Ethernet (RTL8168/8111C)
Intel WiFi Link 5100
|Audio||2-Channel Realtek ALC272 HD Audio (4.0 Speakers)|
|Front Side||WiFi On/Off Switch
Optical Drive (DVDRW)
|Left Side||1 x eSATA/USB 2.0
1 x USB 2.0
|Right Side||Volume Dial
Headphone/SPDIF Out and Microphone Jacks
2 x USB 2.0
Flash Reader (MS (Pro), MMC, SD, xD)
|Back Side||Kensington Lock
1 x Mini Firewire
|Operating System||Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit|
|Dimensions||16.2" x 12.0" x 1.7"-2.5" (WxDxH)|
|Weight||9 lbs (with battery)|
|Warranty||1-Year Toshiba Warranty; Extended warranties available from various retailers|
|Price||Starting at ~$2700 online|
As stated, this is a gaming laptop, which is obvious with one glance at the 9800M GTX graphics chip. While this was the fastest single-GPU mobile solution from NVIDIA when we received the laptop, NVIDIA just launched several updated mobile solutions. NVIDIA hasn't launched a new top-end mobile GPU for almost a year, and the current 9800M is just a minor revision of the previous 8800M. Long story short, the 9800M GTX is slightly slower than the desktop 8800 GT 512MB that launched in late 2007. With the new GPUs, that makes this laptop last year's technology, right? Well, not necessarily.
Similar to the renaming of the 9800M GTX+, the new GT 100M/200M are rebadged versions of the older GPUs. NVIDIA states that they use "a highly-refined 55nm variant of the G92 graphics core", but it's still essentially the same G92 core at heart. NVIDIA's own documentation suggests that the GTX 280M will be on average 22% faster than the 9800M GTX utilized in the Toshiba X305, so it's not a dramatic difference in performance. However, if you are looking for maximum performance, clearly you would now want the GTX 280M - preferably in SLI. Of course, there are plenty of other X305 models available, with or without SLI, and we suspect that Toshiba will soon have an updated model utilizing the latest GPUs. As it stands, even without the newly launched mobile GPUs, a single 9800M GTX is going to end up being slower than dual 9800M GTS SLI solutions, though it will also use less power.
Looking at the chassis, we are immediately struck by the sheer size of the X305. It feels about as large as the Clevo D901C DTR, the difference being in the choice of processor technology. The D901C uses desktop CPUs whereas the X305 is designed for mobile GPUs. While that may reduce power requirements for Toshiba yielding better battery life, as we've already outlined battery life isn't really a concern. Frankly, we'd be more inclined to purchase a full-blown desktop replacement and live with the extra few pounds - plus up to 50% faster CPU performance and twice the GPU power (give or take).
Besides being very large, the chassis feels somewhat cheap because of the plastic materials used for construction. It's no worse than most other laptops, but pick up a notebook with a nice aluminum - or even partial aluminum - exterior and you'll immediately notice the difference. When you're spending this much money on a notebook, it would be nice to feel like you're getting the absolute best in materials and workmanship, and we honestly can't say we feel that way. What we'd really like is something that looks and feels more like a larger, more powerful MacBook Pro.
It's not all bad news for the Toshiba, though. Some people will like the bling and styling of the chassis, and we certainly will agree that the chassis is striking. The chassis also comes with four speakers that manage to produce what is arguably the best sound we've encountered in a laptop. That's not saying a whole lot, of course, when many laptops come with tiny, tinny speakers that are barely sufficient for watching YouTube videos. The large chassis also manages to deal with hot components quite well, and temperatures for the exterior of the chassis were typically cooler than many other laptops - even those that may not target the gaming sector.
As you would expect, Toshiba offers plenty of expansion ports on the X305. Users get three USB ports, plus one more that can function as either a USB or an eSATA port. FireWire, gigabit Ethernet, ExpressCard/54, and audio ports are present. A small cover on the right side at the integrated flash reader (xD, SD, or MS), along with a modem. HDMI and VGA ports provide the external video connectivity; we feel all notebook manufacturers could improve the video options, as we would like to see two digital video ports (HDMI and DVI) - VGA support could be provided via a DVI dongle. Considering the size of the notebook, we also have to mention that there seems to be plenty of space where Toshiba could have added a couple more USB ports. This isn't a critical problem, as we don't expect most users will need more than four USB devices on a laptop, but it certainly wouldn't hurt.