Toshiba’s Qosmio notebooks certainly make a striking visual impact with their bold red colour scheme and flame-adorned livery. Fortunately the £1,400 X300-15T has the performance credentials to match its hot-rod looks. At the heart of this laptop beats a punchy Core 2 Duo T9550; one of the most aggressively clocked notebook chips available.
With a frequency of 2.66GHz it is plenty powerful enough to run most applications and won’t act as a significant bottleneck when gaming. 4GB of memory will be more than ample for most users and the capacious 320GB hard disk will have enough storage for plenty of files, applications and games. Unfortunately it’s a 5,400rpm unit, which makes the machine feel sluggish by desktop standards, though upgrading to a faster model won’t be too tricky should you wish to at a later date.
The Qosmio’s gaming abilities are provided by a 9800M GT video card. This is a somewhat cut-down version of the 9800M GTX and GTX 280M alternatives adorning more expensive notebooks in this class, but it still has a huge 1GB memory buffer and solid enough performance to enjoy today’s best titles, albeit at somewhat reduced settings.
Those looking to use their notebook as a media centre will be pleased to find an HDMI port on the rear of the Qosmio, whilst a VGA connection is also provided for projector connectivity. Arguably the most disappointing aspect of the X300-15T is its screen, which although a 17-inch model is not full HD. Instead it uses the 1440 x 900 resolution common to budget desktop displays, granting users far less real-estate compared to other notebooks in this price range.
Although some will argue this lower resolution is a better match for a mobile graphics card than full-HD alternatives, we certainly missed the ultra-sharp clarity when performing day to day tasks, and those hoping to enjoy high definition video in full glory will be disappointed. It would be folly to include a Blu-ray drive in a machine without an HD display, and Toshiba has not done so, instead including a regular combo DVD-RW drive in its place.
If the Qosmio’s visual fidelity is somewhat lacking, the same certainly can’t be said for its sound. Harmon Kardon speakers adorn the machine’s surfaces and they provide some of the most characterful and bassy audio we have heard on a laptop. They can be driven reasonably hard without distorting as well, making the machine an ideal choice for students who lack the space for a computer as well as a stereo system.
The Qosmio’s battery life was rather disappointing, with the machine lasting under 2 hours with general light use and a paltry 45 minutes when playing a low-intensity game (Spore). This is thanks to its miserly battery module which is simply unequipped to power a laptop of this performance for any extended period of time.
All in all the Qosmio is a bit of a mixed bag. Whilst its performance numbers are amongst the quickest we have seen thanks to an impressively punchy CPU, the combination of a low quality screen, a mediocre hard disk and an unimpressive battery life make other machines like MSI’s outstanding GT725 a much better buy.
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