Toshiba Qosmio X70 £1700
3rd Feb 2014 | 15:22
A gaming laptop that makes a loud first impression
Toshiba's Qosmio gaming laptops have never been shy about showing off their high-end heritage, and that's certainly true of the new X70: it's got a ring of red metal around its base.
The same material is used to circle the touchpad and the power button, and the keyboard is illuminated with the same bright colour.
The bright, anodised borders contrast well with the aluminium used to create the rest of the 3.4kg Toshiba.
The metal is dark, finished with a pattern made of small diamonds, and is used on the wrist-rest and lid.
The Qosmio logo on the lid is large and metallic and lights up when the machine is turned on, and the chassis is 44mm thick – which puts it into the top tier of gaming notebooks.
The Qosmio has a suitably high-end specification to match the garish exterior. This gaming behemoth is powered by an Nvidia GeForce GTX 770M, which is one of Nvidia's most powerful mobile GPUs. It's supported by a Core i7-4700MQ processor and 16GB of RAM. A 256GB SSD is used as the boot drive, and there's a 1TB hard disk to house an extensive library of high-end games. The screen is standard fare in the realm of high-end gaming notebooks: a 17.3-inch panel with a Full HD resolution.
The Qosmio is designed to attract attention from potential buyers, but this laptop has also attracted plenty of competition. The MSI GS70 Stealth is a gaming notebook with a 17-inch screen, but it crams high-end hardware inside a chassis that's 2.7kg in weight and just 22mm thick – dimensions that make the Toshiba seem chubby.
The Asus G750JX is a superb all-rounder with a suitably high price, and then there are 15.6-inch models in the former of the Schenker XMG P503 and Gigabyte P25W – machines with huge power in slightly smaller designs.
Gaming laptops can't get away with skimping on the core components and so, true to form, Toshiba has made sure that the Qosmio X70 is packed with top hardware.
The key component is an Nvidia GeForce GTX 770M graphics chip. Only two other mobile GPUs from Nvidia's range have more gaming grunt, and neither the GTX 775M or the GTX 780M are found in any of Toshiba's rivals.
It's not like the GTX 770M lacks for power, either. The chip inside this machine uses 960 stream processors that run at 811MHz. There's 3GB of GDDR5 memory and, while the core doesn't use GPU Boost to overclock, it still has the capability to challenge anything else in modern gaming laptops.
The Core i7-4700MQ processor is a familiar part, as it's appearing in virtually every high-end consumer laptop at the moment. It's easy to see why it's popular, though: four Hyper-Threaded cores that run at 2.4GHz and hit a top Turbo speed of 3.4GHz. It's the same processor as found in almost every other laptop here – only the Schenker has the faster Core i7-4800MQ, which boosts the core and Turbo speeds to 2.7GHz and 3.7GHz.
The rest of the specification is just as enticing. The boot drive is a 256GB Toshiba THNSNH256GMCT SSD built with cutting-edge 19nm NAND flash chips, and it's accompanied by a 1TB hard disk, again by Toshiba. There's a mighty 16GB of memory on-board, too, which is twice as much as provided by many other models – including the Asus, MSI and Gigabyte machines.
Dual-band 802.11n wireless is welcome, but the Intel chipset included here can't hold a candle to the Killer Networking DoubleShot chip inside the MSI GS70, which is designed for gamers. The networking setup is rounded out by Bluetooth 4 and Gigabit Ethernet, and optical support comes from a Blu-ray drive. Audio is handled by a quartet of Harmon/Kardon speakers that provide six Watts of aural output.
The port selection serves up no surprises: four USB 3.0 sockets, HDMI and D-SUB outputs, Gigabit Ethernet, two audio jacks and an SD card reader. We're pleased to see so many USB 3 ports – most other laptops include two or three – but the absence of DisplayPort and additional audio jacks is disappointing.
The Toshiba is one of the heftiest notebooks we've seen for some time, but that does mean there's more internal access than most portables can provide. There are two vacant SO-DIMM memory sockets and an empty bay can be used for a 2.5-inch hard disk or SSD. The installed 1TB hard disk and wireless chip can be accessed, too, although there's no easy way to get at the SSD or existing memory.
Ice Storm: 82,278, Cloud Gate: 14,661, Fire Strike: 3,307
CPU performance: 5.71, OpenGL graphics performance: 15.49
PCMark 8 Home battery test:
The Qosmio romped through 3DMark's tough Fire Strike benchmark to a score of 3,307. That's the best we've seen recently: the Gigabyte P25W scored 3,104, the Asus G750JX returned a result of 3,123, and the MSI GS70 Stealth brought up the rear with 2,211.
It's clear that the Qosmio can handle any modern game, as real-world gaming tests demonstrated. We ran Bioshock Infinite at 1,920x1080 and Ultra settings, and the Toshiba averaged a smooth 37fps.
The Core i7 processor wasn't able to top the table in benchmarks. In Cinebench 11.5's encoding test it scored 5.71: marginally behind the MSI's 5.99, and further down from the 6.94, 6.95 and 7 scored by the Schenker, Gigabyte and Asus notebooks.
Toshibas has spent the last two years producing lightning-quick SSDs, so it's no surprise that the drive inside the Qosmio impressed. In AS SSD's sequential read and write benchmarks the Qosmio's SSD scored 505MB/sec and 434MB/sec – both among the top speeds on offer from mSATA drives.
As with most gaming notebooks, though, don't expect the Qosmio X70 to last long away from a power source. In our standard battery test the Toshiba couldn't last longer than 1hr 32mins and, with the screen dimmed and Power Saver mode activated, it ran out of juice after just over two hours.
The non-touch 17.3-inch screen's Full HD resolution is great for making games look pin-sharp, and in benchmark tests it impressed. The measured brightness level of 343 nits is a superb headline figure, and it means the Toshiba's panel makes an eye-searing first impression – the MSI, its nearest rival, topped out at 318 nits.
The sRGB gamut coverage of 87.3% and average Delta E of 4.5 are both good, too: the former figure indicates that almost all colours will be accurately rendered by the Toshiba's panel, and the latter ensures reasonable accuracy.
The only black mark against this panel is the black level: at 0.57 nits it's a little high, and it means a mediocre contrast ratio of 606:1. Dark colours aren't as deep or as distinctive as we'd like: while we were able to distinguish between slight variations in lighter shades, different greys and blacks tended to blend together.
The four Harmon/Kardon speakers are hugely loud, but the audio output is dominated by tinny high-end sounds that go some way to masking the crunchy mid-range. There's bass in the range, too, but it's often barely audible – we'd prefer much more.
The Toshiba's keyboard has a rock-solid base, but its glossy keys don't look or feel as good as the MSI GS70 Stealth's unit. The keys are light, but there's not enough travel, which makes for an action that feels too subtle for fast-paced games. Conversely, the two buttons in the wide, smooth trackpad have too much travel – we were unable to click with as much speed as we'd like.
The Toshiba Qosmio X70 follows the classic gaming laptop blueprint: a thick, heavy chassis with plenty of garish design features and a specification that's powerful enough to brush aside the demands of modern gaming. The screen and graphics core are the stars of this particularl show, with the former providing bright, vivid colours and the latter standing up to rivals with great benchmarks scores.
The GeForce GTX 770M graphics core has enough power to run the most demanding games without big quality drops, and it's accompanied by a powerful quad-core processor. The screen makes a great first impression, too, thanks to superb brightness levels and good colour coverage and accuracy.
The Qosmio has a solid wrist-rest and keyboard base, a full-size numberpad, and plenty of ports alongside a Blu-ray drive. It's also got one of the most versatile designs we've seen recently, with expansion room and plenty of access to the internal components.
The quarter of Harmon/Kardon speakers are the loudest available inside any laptop, and the Qosmio's bright design will attract those who want a laptop to stand out as well as play games.
The Qosmio's unique sense of style won't suit everyone – rivals such as the MSI GS70 Stealth are much more demure. The divisive looks also come with a bloated design: the Qosmio's 3.4kg weight and 44mm-thick chassis means this is a laptop that's tricky to carry around.
The hefty size and high-end components haven't been paired with a decent battery, either – the Qosmio has one of the shortest lifespans we've seen, even from gaming notebooks.
The speakers lack bass and are dominated by a tinny high-end, the keyboard doesn't have enough travel, and the screen's black level is too high. Build quality, too, is iffy – the solid wrist-rest is undermined by a flimsy-feeling screen.
The price is also high. Other laptops with similar specifications are hundreds of pounds less, and the MSI GS70 Stealth works harder to justify a similar outlay by installing two SSDs and better networking hardware inside a slimmer, lighter and better-looking enclosure.
The Qosmio has undeniable power levels thanks to its current-generation hardware, but the Toshiba's table-topping benchmark results are undermined by small flaws elsewhere: the battery life isn't up to scratch, the keyboard and build quality are mediocre, and the volume from the Harmon/Kardon speakers isn't matched by good quality.
As for the price, it's just too high. The Asus and Gigabyte machines offer similar power and similar flaws for hundreds of pounds less. And if you're determined to spend this amount on a gaming notebook, the MSI GS70 Stealth is a more rounded package.