Review: Toshiba Qosmio X500

 
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Published: April 8, 2010 11:00 PM
By Fabien Pionneau
The Toshiba Qosmio X500 comes in several different versions, with different components in each version.  The price change accordingly, depending on how powerful the individual model is.  The family includes:
  • Qosmio X500-11D: the model we tested.
  • Qosmio X500-10W: 4 GB of RAM and Nvidia GeForce GTS 250M graphics card
  • Qosmio X500-10Q: 1600 x 900 pixel screen, 4 GB of RAM, 640 GB hard drive, Nvidia GeForce GTS 250M graphics card but no Blu-ray player.
  • Qosmio X500-11Q: 1600 x 900 pixel screen, Intel Core i5-430M CPU, 4 GB of RAM but no Blu-ray player.
"Premium gaming power and performance. The Qosmio X500 is designed for gaming, high definition entertainment and high performance computing."

As Toshiba is keen to make clear in its own adverstising, the Qosmio X500 is one of the most powerful laptops currently available, and with some of the latest technology inside, we're expecting a powerful performer that's a treat to use.

Handling and design: comfortable to use ... well almost

The design is a mixture of glossy black plastic with bright red highlights and it certainly doesn't go unnoticed.  It's mostly successful, though this whole range of laptops is a little too eye-catching for some people.  Unfortunately, wherever there's glossy plastic there's also dust and greasy fingerprints, and the X500 gets dirty very quickly.

Toshiba Qosmio X500

A wide keyboard is complemented by a numeric keypad to the right-hand side, and the whole thing is backlit in white.  By default, the backlighting goes out after 15 seconds, but it comes back on as soon as you press a key.

On the left are touch-sensitive hockeys, this time with red backlighting.  We would have rather seen them on top of the keyboard to avoid hitting them by accident while typing.

The trackpad isn't central, but slightly to the left in front of the space bar.  It's very well integrated with the rest of the case and you can only spot it because of its matte finish and a bar along the top that lights up when it's in use.  Unfortunately, although sliding your finger across the matte surface feels good, the trackpad is not as accurate as we would have liked.  It's difficult to hit the spot you want, which makes using it slow and frustrating.

Toshiba Qosmio X500The webcam produces an image with plenty of detail and fluid movements.  That said, bright areas end up overexposed, which spoils things a little.

It's not too noisy, but you can still hear the cooling system most of the time.  Logically enough, the fan turns more quickly when you're doing more demanding activities like gaming or encoding video and then it's very audible.  Given the hardware inside this laptop though, the noise levels remain more than reasonable.

The X500 is particularly rich in inputs and outputs.  Alongside the four USB 2.0 ports (one of which doubles up as e-SATA), there's RJ45, FireWire, HDMI and VGA video outputs, an ExpressCard slot, a headphone jack (with S/PDIF optical audio out) plus a microphone and finally a memory card reader.  WiFi and Bluetooth are both also available, and to round it off, there's a combined Blu-ray player/DVD writer to add a little HD sparkle to the whole thing.

Underneath, a single flap opens to give access to the main components, including the RAM, the hard drive, the CPU and GPU.

Toshiba Qosmio X500 Toshiba Qosmio X500
RJ45, e-SATA/USB, USB 2.0, HDMI, FireWire, optical drive

Headphone, mic, 2 USB 2.0, VGA, power

Toshiba Qosmio X500 Toshiba Qosmio X500
Trackpad, buttons and fingerprint reader

Speaker


Processor Power: pure performance
Windows 7 index: 5.5. Details: CPU 7.0 - Memory 7.4 - Graphics 6.8 - Gaming graphics 6.8 - Main hard drive 5.5.

The processor in the Qosmio X500-11D is the best that's currently available: an Intel Core i7-720QM with four cores!  With such a powerful engine, this laptop reached 127 on our CPU index and 135 overall.  You can compare that to the 100 on our standard reference, the Fujistu-Siemens Amilo Xi 3650 with its Intel Core 2 Duo T9400.  Although it's a little behind the Asus G60J, these are still excellent results which show how easily this computer can handle both office tasks and multimedia fun like gaming, photos and video.

The Core i7 CPU is more than capable of playing 1080p HD Blu-ray standard video by itself, but this can also be done by the Nvidia graphics card.  To get the most out of its excellent decoding ability, we recommend you go for software that can use the hardware decoding that's available.  Power DVD 9 and Media Player Classic HC with the right codecs are just two options.  Doing this takes a lot of work off the processor which can then get on with other things.  In practice, the energy consumption falls form 85 to 74 W, while the load on the CPU drops to a negligible 1%, compared to 18% without the graphics card.

3D Gaming: recent titles a possibility but be careful with the resolution

Recent video games don't give the Nvidia GeForce GRS 360M inside the Qosmio X500 any problems, but the Full HD display means you'll have to be reasonable about the amount of detail you want to be able to show.  We managed games like Crysis and Far Cry 2, but only with details set to medium or a lower resolution (which of course cuts out the amount of detail).

Audio: the name doesn't count for everything

Despite the inclusion of Harman/Kardon hardware, we can only report fairly mediocre quality sound.  Of course, the bass is still there, but it's mostly the mid-range which takes over, to the extent that it overpowers everything else.  A lot of detail is missing and we noticed a marked tendency for the sound to become saturated very easily.  The headphone jack isn't great either and there's an audible buzz when you're using it.  As an alternative, there is always the S/PDIF and HDMI outputs, which don't have any problems at all because they work with a digital sound signal.

Portability & Battery Life: power hungry

It lasted just 1 hour 48 minutes in out standard video playback test (WiFi turned off, headphones plugged in and brightness at 100 cd/m²), so the X500 isn't really the type of computer that you take with you on the road very often.  It's much more at home in your front room, or as a desktop replacement in an office.

The huge charger only confirmed our impression.  It's an absolute brick, and comes on top of the 4.6 kg of the computer itself.  This laptop really does fall into the category of transportables ...
4/5 Toshiba Qosmio X500 DigitalVersus 2010-04-09 00:00:00

Pros

  • Full HD 1080p screen with good contrast
  • Powerful performance
  • Blu-ray player
  • Good quality backlit keyboard
  • Rich connectivity

Cons

  • Trackpad could be more accurate
  • Big and heavy
  • Poor battery life
  • Disappointing audio
  • Glossy finish so easy to get dirty

Conclusion

The Qosmio X500 is one of the most powerful laptops currently available, and nothing stands in its way. But it's also a transportable, rather than a portable, computer, and we were disappointed by its speakers and trackpad.

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