Introduction

It's been quite some time since we last looked at a Toshiba laptop, not because they aren't necessarily good laptops but simply because we didn't get the opportunity. With the launch of their new GeForce 8700M GT mobile solutions, NVIDIA was interested in having us take a look at a laptop using the new graphics chip. It just so happens that Toshiba is the first company to bring such a laptop to market, and we were quite interested in seeing what they have to offer as well as how their latest notebooks stack up to the competition.


Like the Alienware m9750 and Dell XPS M1710, Toshiba's Satellite X205 is definitely more of a desktop replacement notebook as opposed to a truly mobile solution. It uses a very large 17" chassis that's actually taller than any other notebook we've looked at, although this can be both good and bad. Despite the large size, however, battery life is definitely a step up from gaming/enthusiast notebooks. Pricing is also a bit lower than what you might pay for some of the more performance oriented gaming laptops. The base model X205 starts at $2000, while the upgraded S9359 that we were sent starts at $2500.

While we've been testing this notebook for the past couple of weeks, we have not yet completed running all of our benchmarks, so we will be splitting this review into two segments. For this first installment, we will be focusing on the overall design and construction, and we will take an abbreviated look at general performance, gaming performance, and battery life. We will follow-up with a second article that takes a closer look at the included LCD, additional application performance benchmarks, and we will even give DirectX 10 gaming a shot. Considering that most of our DirectX 10 testing so far has revealed higher system requirements in order to enable the extra graphical effects, however, we are doubtful that even the GeForce 8700M GT will provide a stellar DX10 gaming experience. We will also hold off evaluation of the HD-DVD aspects of this laptop for part two.

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  • torrent180 - Thursday, September 06, 2007 - link

    I have a question for X205 owners. How serious is the issue of the weight and size? I find it really hard to judge from the pics. Is it portable enough or would you really not take it out of the house?

    Thanks
    Reply
  • Inkjammer - Saturday, September 08, 2007 - link

    My X205 os slightly bulky, but I don't think it weighs that much at all. It's large, but portable. My old Alienware M7700 (Clevo D900T) felt like it weighed almost twice as much. It was slightly smaller, but weighed much, much less. Reply
  • torrent180 - Saturday, September 08, 2007 - link

    So it's worth it eh, your happy with it right, no regrets? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, September 06, 2007 - link

    My personal take is that it's bigger than any other 17" laptop I've used, so it required a larger bag than the 17" bag I have. Weight isn't my primary concern, but size... well, it could be better. Still, I don't think anyone that's after a true DTR is going to care too much. People looking for more portable laptops are probably already discounting 17" chassis designs. Reply
  • Inkjammer - Friday, August 31, 2007 - link

    I'd just like to chime in that jumping up to the 163.44 drivers available from www.laptopvideo2go.com does make quite a bit of difference in performance gaming wise -vs- the standard drivers available from Toshiba's website. My framerates were a somewhat smoother after making the driver jump.

    From what I understand, the 8700GT can be overclocked further with RivaTune and the 163.44 drivers rather nicely. I've not tested it on my x205 - yet. I've gotta re-install Vista Ultimate since I'm upgrading the primary HD in the system (the Hitachi hybrid-HD) to a Hitachi Travelstar 7K200 200GB drive.

    If the 8700GT does, in fact, OC well it may add a lot more value to the system.

    Although, I do find one thing about your review setup odd. My x205's primary 160GB HD is a Hitachi HTS541616J9A00 Hybrid HD w/392MB (387MB reorted) of flash while the secondary is a Toshiba MK1637GSX.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, August 31, 2007 - link

    Exactly how do you make the 163.44 drivers work? I grabbed them and have now wasted the past two hours attempting to make them work. There's no INF for the 163.44 drivers on LV2G, so I tried to hack one together and apparently failed. Miserably. My experience in the past has been that the regular driver updates are not remotely optimized for the laptop chipsets, but if that's not the case here I'd certainly be interested in giving it a shot.

    The second question is what you use for overclocking the GPU. Coolbits doesn't work under Vista, as far as I can see. What's the recommended utility? Personally, I don't think unofficial overclocking really adds that much value to a laptop. Remember: the 8700M GT is simply a clock speed increase relative to the 8600M GT. The 8600M GT is supposed to run at 475MHz, while the 8700M is speced for 625MHz. (RAM speed is the same 1400 MHz DDR in both cases.) There's almost certainly a bit more headroom available, but I'm not one to recommend pushing a laptop to the limits in terms of cooling.

    As for the hard drives, I can guarantee that the two drives are the same in my particular test unit. However, it could be that shipping retail models switched to a hybrid drive. I don't know if this particular unit was manufactured several months earlier or might even be a prototype.

    Regards,
    Jarred Walton
    Senior Editor, Displays and Laptops
    http://www.AnandTech.com">http://www.AnandTech.com
    Reply
  • Inkjammer - Friday, August 31, 2007 - link

    I had the same problem with the INF at first - it's somewhat hidden. On their driver list for Vista, instead of clicking the download link, click the driver version number (163.44) and it will take you to a forum posting that has far more indepth information, plus a direct link to the INF. It's also got a good amount of information, errata and known isues that the site and users that has been found while using the newer drivers.

    Windows Vista 32-bit Drivers
    http://www.laptopvideo2go.com/forum/index.php?show...">http://www.laptopvideo2go.com/forum/index.php?show...

    Direct link to the modified INF:
    http://www.laptopvideo2go.com/infs/160series/16344...">http://www.laptopvideo2go.com/infs/160series/16344...

    My system came with a Hitachi HHD drive as primary, but I honestly can't tell if there's any benefit from it. Upon first boot, my X205 took near ten minutes to load up primary due to bloatware. I'm not sure if the test unit you received had a lot of pre-installed software, but mine had more than I'd ever seen before on any system. Wiping the drive and installing from a Vista DVD was almost a must - which is unfortunate for this laptop.
    Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Tuesday, September 04, 2007 - link

    quote:

    My system came with a Hitachi HHD drive as primary, but I honestly can't tell if there's any benefit from it. Upon first boot, my X205 took near ten minutes to load up primary due to bloatware. I'm not sure if the test unit you received had a lot of pre-installed software, but mine had more than I'd ever seen before on any system. Wiping the drive and installing from a Vista DVD was almost a must - which is unfortunate for this laptop.


    Sounds like the last Toshiba I've worked on...between the extras, and the Toshiba apps, it was nothing short of horrible. The worst part is, it's very hard to tell which Toshiba apps are necessary, and the ones that the average user might consider useful often have several memory-resident apps that take a ton of RAM and really slow boot time. It was worse than any other vendor I've seen to date (including HP, Dell, etc.)
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, September 04, 2007 - link

    I don't recall it taking that long to boot up when I first started the system, but then I probably wasn't paying close attention. First boot of Windows Vista always seems to take quite a while. Anyway, there's definitely a lot of preinstalled software that isn't necessary. I hinted at this on page 3: "Toshiba places a large sticker on the palm rest that lists most of the laptop features, along with providing an advertisement for Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2. Given the large advertisement, we were a bit surprised that the game isn't even included (though plenty of other software comes preinstalled)." I probably should have been more specific, but I will say more on this in the follow-up article.

    As far as getting rid of all of the bloatware, I didn't find it to be that difficult. Yes, it took about an hour and several reboots to uninstall all of the extra stuff (Wild Tangent games, McAfee Security Suite, Microsoft Office 2007 trial, etc.) but once done the system ran quite well. It's pretty irritating when I think about how many users will never get around to uninstalling all the extra junk, though.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Friday, August 31, 2007 - link

    Considering Toshiba's past problems with overheating notebooks, lots of space for cooling is probably not a bad thing. Reply

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