Introducing the Toshiba Portege R835

With the deluge of ultrabooks stemming from Intel's initiative over the past few months, it's easy to forget ultraportables have been a part of the Windows PC landscape for quite some time. One of the unlikeliest sources was Toshiba; in 2010, a company that had been spending the last few years aggressively pursuing budget consumers produced a remarkably compelling ultraportable in the form of the Portege R700. We reviewed the R700 and found a lot to like, and Toshiba must have appreciated the notebook's excellent performance in both critical and commercial arenas.

Despite the steady march of progress with ultrabooks (due to get a shot in the arm soon with Ivy Bridge), Toshiba's Portege R700 hasn't gone untouched. Toshiba refreshed it with the R835, keeping the same basic chassis but enjoying the benefits of Sandy Bridge hardware and USB 3.0 connectivity. Forced to compete in a market with ultrabooks, the R835 strengthens the R700's value proposition with models starting at just $799 and featuring full voltage mobile processors from Intel while maintaining the same portable form factor.

Ultrabooks offer a healthy amount of performance in the sleekest of form factors, but sometimes end users just need a little more power and flexibility. Features that may have to be excised to hit that class can still be found in a notebook like the Portege R835, which enjoys all the comforts of a full-sized notebook without breaking your back...or the bank. Here's what our review unit came equipped with:

Toshiba Portege R835 Specifications
Processor Intel Core i5-2450M
(2x2.5GHz + HTT, Turbo to 3.1GHz, 32nm, 3MB L3, 35W)
Chipset Intel HM65
Memory 1x4GB Samsung DDR3-1333 and 1x2GB Samsung DDR3-1333 (Maximum 2x8GB)
Graphics Intel HD 3000 Graphics
(12 EUs, up to 1.3GHz)
Display 13.3" LED Glossy 16:9 768p
TOS5091
Hard Drive(s) Hitachi Travelstar 5K750 640GB 5400RPM SATA 3Gbps HDD
Optical Drive Matsushita DVD-RAM
Networking Intel WiFi Link 1000 802.11b/g/n
Intel 82579V Gigabit Ethernet
Audio Realtek ALC269 HD Audio
Stereo speakers
Headphone and mic jacks
Battery 6-Cell, 11.1V, 66Wh
Front Side -
Right Side SD Card Reader
Optical drive
Headphone and mic jacks
USB 3.0
Ethernet
Left Side AC adaptor
Exhaust vent
VGA
eSATA/USB 2.0 combo port
USB 2.0
HDMI
Back Side -
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit SP1
Dimensions 12.4" x 0.72-1.05" x 8.94" (WxHxD)
315mm x 18-27mm x 227mm
Weight 3.2 lbs
1.45kg
Extras Webcam
USB 3.0
Warranty 1-year limited
Pricing Starts at $799
As configured: $849

Just from the dimensions and weight you can tell the R835 isn't really that much bigger than an ultrabook would be, but Toshiba outfits it with a full voltage Intel Core i5-2450M, a latter day incremental update from the i5-2430M (100MHz higher base and turbo) for Sandy Bridge released early this year. Alternately, the i5-2450M is comparable to the older i5-2520M, but has slightly lower (100MHz) turbo clock speeds. Attached to the i5's memory controller is 6GB of DDR3-1333; realistically the only difference between our review unit and the base level R835 is the extra 2GB of memory and $50 on the price tag. I wouldn't expect the boost in memory to impact performance greatly, particularly in our benchmarks, so prospective shoppers can probably steer clear and save some money buying the least expensive model.

What should attract some attention is the relic sitting in the 2.5" drive bay. We get a lot of higher end systems in for review, and with the push for ultrabooks we've gotten so used to seeing SSDs in notebooks that it's surprising to see a mechanical hard disk in a machine, much less one as slow as the 640GB, 5400RPM drive by Hitachi that occupies the R835. Thankfully it's user replaceable, but using a slower drive is a shock to the system when you've been playing with machines that come equipped with SSDs.

One of the major points where the Portege R835 sets itself apart is the inclusion of an optical drive. While the optical drives in my notebooks very seldom see use, I can recognize enough situations where one can be useful that it's easy to understand why someone might be willing to sacrifice a little bit of extra carrying weight just to get that perk included.

Everything else is pretty much par for the course, although it's nice to see a 66Wh battery standard in the Portege R835 instead of a smaller capacity one. This is usually one of the first places major vendors shave costs for consumer notebooks, and while 66Wh isn't mind-blowing, it's healthy enough to keep the R835 on its legs for a while. Other than the lack of an SSD and a stock voltage CPU (not that that's a bad thing), the only area where the Portege fails to achieve ultrabook status is in thickness: it's about 0.2" too thick at the back.

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  • rudolphna - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    You guys are really down on laptops with HDDs. Yes, you are enthusiasts, but apparently you are forgetting that 99% of laptops sold come with a 5,400RPM HDD. I personally have a $380 Lenovo Z565 (Upgraded slightly) with a WD Scorpio 320GB that is perfectly sufficient for my needs (I have a Crucial m4 in my desktop). No, it isn't as fast booting up or starting programs as an SSD would be, but it's not horrible either, and it's perfectly usable.

    I think you guys pay too much attention to the high end. Maybe you should start doing reviews on more mainstream models that people actually BUY. Go into your local Best Buy, and take your pick of laptop hardware from $400-$700. There are plenty of them, and those are the volume sellers, that most consumer actually BUY. They don't come with SSDs, or lots of bells and whistles. But anandtech reviews $1000+ unit after $1000+ unit. I don't NEED a laptop that price, that's what I have my 2500k based desktop for.
    Reply
  • cknobman - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    Sorry but I am with AnandTech on this one.

    I loath any laptop (or desktop) with a HDD boot drive now and would never consider buying a new computer that did not have an SSD.

    In fact with todays HDD and SSD price I really see no reason (especially in a laptop) to use and HDD as a primary boot drive. You can buy a fantastic 120GB SSD for <=$120.

    For me I dont need 300+ GB of storage in my laptop, that is what I have desktops and servers for at home. All I need on a laptop is enough storage to install my OS, important programs, a few games, and then as needed transfer over any large data files from my server/desktop.

    The user experience from and HDD to SSD really is a big leap and it does in fact change the perception of a laptop and its usability. I went from never using my laptop, due to loathing 5+ minute startup times, to it being my "go to" machine as I can have it up and running in seconds(literally).
    Reply
  • rudolphna - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    Then you are doing it wrong. My $380 laptop with HDD starts up in a minute to a fully usable desktop. While I'm not disagreeing with anand on the benefits of SSD (Remember, I have one in my desktop), what most people fail to remember ist hat the laptops MOST consumers buy are in the $350-$700 price range. Firstly, people aren't going to understand the benefits of SSD, they are going to see "Oh it only has a 64GB Harddrive? Pass" Secondly, they aren't going to want to pay more for it. I spent 18 months selling computers to people, and on both of these points I can garuntee. Reply
  • lewisl9029 - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    Personally I would much rather buy a laptop that comes with an HDD and decide which SSD to upgrade to on my own rather than to pay premium for one with an unknown brand/controller that the manufacturer decides to shove in there for the sake of having an SSD. Reply
  • Loberts91 - Monday, April 02, 2012 - link

    I agree with this. I wouldn't buy a laptop that has an SSD simply because it could be bundled with CRAP. I have an Agility 3 and know what a crap SSD is really like. I plan on buying a laptop with a HDD and buying a Samsung 830 60GB for it, least that way I know that it has a quality SSD.

    Besides, the HDDs are selling second hand like hot cakes on ebay, allowing you to make some money back on the ordeal.
    Reply
  • cknobman - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    Oh so you have a laptop with a factory image (not a hdd that you wiped and performed your own custom install and disabled everything) that starts in 1 minute? I call bs.

    Not only have I sold laptops/desktops (at BestBuy) before but I have also been building my own systems (and for family) for over a decade.

    Customers will buy from the options they are given, take a look at ultrabooks as plenty of them come with smaller SSDs.

    I dont know a single person who does not despise their slow performing laptop when it comes to system startup/shutdown/app startup. All of this would be remedied with an SSD.

    I have a pretty good grasp of different user bases as I am a applications developer in a corporate environment so not only do I (and fellow developers) deal with slow hard drives in our laptops but I am also interfacing (on a regular basis) with business users in who feel the same.
    Reply
  • Chubblez - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    Not really.

    Lenovo X120e
    AMD E350
    4GB DDR3 (1 DIMM)
    Stock 320GB 7MM Hitachi (5400RPM)

    Cold to desktop in 51sec.

    Lenovo W520
    Intel i7 2760QM
    16GB DDR3
    Seagate 500GB 7200RPM

    Cold to desktop in 45 sec.

    Desktop:
    AMD FX4 3150 (I think. The cheap quad-core)
    16GB DDR3
    2x Seagate 1TB SATA 6 in RAID 0

    Cold to desktop in 48 sec.
    Reply
  • MrSpadge - Saturday, March 31, 2012 - link

    Lenovo X121e
    AMD E350
    4GB DDR3 (1 DIMM)
    Stock 320GB 7MM Hitachi (5400RPM)

    A very nice machine.. unless you want it to do anything HDD-related. That's so dog-slow, even my GF notices! (having seen alternatives around the house..)
    Reply
  • ExarKun333 - Saturday, March 31, 2012 - link

    You sound clueless. Just click 'no' on those banner adds from now on...;) Reply
  • cknobman - Monday, April 02, 2012 - link

    Snide remark with no relevant input on the subject at hand and your calling me clueless???? LOL. Reply

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