Toshiba couldn’t reap the performance benefits of an Intel Core i7 processor right away, which launched initially as a desktop processor (the company didn’t have a desktop division). It didn’t have to wait long, though. The Toshiba Qosmio X505-Q850 became one of the first laptops out of the game with the long-awaited Core i7-820QM processor, one of three mobile Core i7s introduced at the Intel Developer’s Forum this week. It’s a beast of a gaming laptop, complete with an 18.4-inch widescreen, a Blu-Ray drive (Yes, Toshiba is finally on-board), and the top of the line Nvidia graphics card.
There’s nothing revolutionary about the X505’s plastic design. It took the previous Qosmio X305-Q725 chassis and slapped on a fresh laminate made up of decorative patterns and colors. There’s a fiery red tint trims on the edges of the system, and everything in between is covered in a piano black finish. It’s a sanctuary for fingerprints and smudges, though, and lacks the clean look of metals. The Alienware M17x, on the other hand, is elegantly designed and covered completely with aluminum metals. At 10.6 pounds, the X505 isn’t the heaviest desktop replacement laptop despite having one of the biggest screens at 18.4 inches. The Falcon Northwest Fragbook DRX (12 lbs) jams in more parts, while the M17x (12.5 lbs) brings a whole new meaning to the term, “heavy metal.”
Few will complain about the gorgeous 18.4-inch screen. It’s the biggest screen that’ll actually sell on laptops these days (HP and Dell are both phasing out their 20-inch laptop behemoths) and at least an inch larger than the 17-inch ones found in the Falcon DRX and the Alienware M17x. The 1,920-by-1,080 resolution is ripe for high definition videos and detail-oriented 3D games. It has a mushy typing experience on the full size keyboard, perfect for those who have sensitive fingers. Next to the keyboard is a numeric keypad. The M17x has a firm backbone under its keyboard, so the keys bounce back a little quicker. Like the M17x, the X505 also has LED backlights under the keyboard—great for night vision, though it doesn’t have the M17x’s alternating color schemes.
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The noise levels from clicking the mouse buttons were too high for my tastes, but the touchpad was pleasant to use. There are feather-touch multimedia keys that sit to the left of the keyboard, which were annoying at times (my left hand inadvertently triggered the volume keys numerous times). Worst of all, there are eight of these key and they all make this annoying beeping sound every time you brush against them. Keep in mind, though, this is a pre-production machine, so Toshiba can easily fix these sensitivity issues.
Intel Core i7-820QM
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium
Screen Size Type
nVidia GeForce GTS 250M
Storage Capacity (as Tested)
Primary Optical Drive
DVD+/-RW DL with Blu-Ray
The X505-Q850 includes a gamut of laptop features. Video-out ports alone include HDMI-Out, DisplayPort, and VGA-Out. If the 18.4-inch widescreen isn’t big enough, you can use any of these ports to stream content to a larger display. After the HD DVD debacle, Toshiba has finally jumped on the Blu-ray wagon, as the X505 now includes a BD-ROM drive that doubles as dual layer DVD burner.
The laptop has support for up to two storage drives: This configuration comes with dual 400GB, 5400rpm drives; the production unit will come with a 64GB SSD, in which the operating system will reside, and a 320GB HDD will serve as additional storage. In contrast, the Fragbook DRX can support up to three drives. The pair of speakers is its only concession, given the original X305-Q725 came with four: two above the keyboard, two on the palm rests. They sound great nonetheless.
Toshiba Qosmio X505-Q850
Performance scores will make you ignore everything that has been written thus far. The X505-Q850 is one of the first out of the gates with the new 1.73GHz, Intel Core i7 820QM processor, (it’s important to note, though, that the final unit will have the 1.6GHz Intel Core i7 720QM. Only the Core i7 920XM (Extreme), which I tested in an Intel whitebox about, is faster. That said, the 830QM in the Toshiba unit made a mockery of the Core 2 Extreme processor in the Alienware M17x, beating it in speed tests such as video encoding and Cinebench R10. Even with only 4GB of DDR3 memory, it beat the M17x’s 8GB configuration in Adobe Photoshop CS4 by a margin of 6 seconds or 25%. The final unit will come with 6GB of DDR memory, so we might see even more improvements in Photoshop CS4 tests. In PCMark Vantage tests, it outperformed the M17x by 21% and would have widened the gap had it used faster hard drives or an SSD. In all fairness, the M17x will be updated very soon (maybe even as I write this) with the new Core i7.
High frame rates and excellent 3D gaming are a function of the graphics card, and this is where the X505-Q850 trails no matter how fast of a processor or how much memory it comes with. Its Nvidia GeForce GTS 250M was no match for the GeForce GTX 280M found in the Intel whitebox, and it definitely couldn’t keep up with the M17x’s two GTX 280Ms, arranged in SLI. In 3DMark06 tests, the X505 fell behind the whitebox and the M17x by 44% and 35%, respectively. And it couldn’t outmuscle the M17x in World in Conflict tests at native resolution (1,920-by-1,080). Toshiba definitely could have included a better graphics card.
Even an 87Wh battery couldn’t offset the energy inefficiency of the 45 Watt processor and Nvidia graphics card. The X505-Q850 drained its battery in 1 hour 20 minutes, according to MobileMark 2007 tests. It ranks right up there with the hour long battery scores of the M17x, the Fragbook DRX, and Intel’s whitebox, which is the sad reality of gaming laptops.
The Toshiba Qosmio X505-Q850 marks the beginning of Intel Core i7 for laptops and the looming end to the aging Core 2 Duos. The big story here is not that the X505-Q850 performed like a beast (and looks like one, too), but the price will be a lot less than that of the Alienware M17x ($4,995) and the Falcon Northwest Fragbook DRX ($6,449) when production units begin to ship. And many more—smaller and sleeker form factors—are on their way. Because it’s loaded with Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit, the X505-Q850 won’t ship until late October.