Early Hands on with new AMD Puma and Toshiba A300

by Reads (40,822)

by Kevin O’Brien

The Toshiba Satellite A305 series laptop holds a special place in my heart, be it the AMD or Intel version. Here at Computex 2008, I had a chance to check out the brand new AMD Puma platform version of the A305. While the name will probably change as more details come out, it is based off the same chassis and looks very similar. With the configuration almost identical to the A305D model we just reviewed, what better notebook to compare the new AMD Puma platform against?

Specifications of the Toshiba A300 AMD Puma notebook:

  • Windows Vista Home Premium (SP1, 32-bit)
  • AMD Turion Ultra ZM TL-80 (2.1GHz)
  • 15.4" diagonal widescreen TruBrite TFT LCD display at 1280×800 (WXGA)
  • RS780M + SB700 Chipsets
  • 2GB DDR2 800 SDRAM (maximum capacity 4GB)
  • 320GB 5400rpm Hard Drive
  • DVD SuperMulti (+/-R double layer) drive with Labelflash
  • 1.3 megapixel webcam
  • Harmon/Kardon stereo speakers
  • 75W (19V x 3.95A) 100-240V AC Adapter
  • 6-cell (4000mAh) Lithium Ion battery

Build and Design

The design is identical to both A305 models currently on the market, including the color scheme of the Fusion finish. The model on display was far from pristine with probably a billion fingerprints, but the finish underneath the sludge was still beautiful when wiped clean. Build quality is every bit the same, giving the same solid feel which to would expect from a high quality notebook.


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Puma Changes

The AMD Puma-equipped notebook has gained an HDMI output, even though it sports integrated graphics. The older A305D notebook only offered VGA only as a primary video output connection. S-Video which used to be found on the A305D, is now gone on the new version, and you only see a blank port where that would have gone. One really nice feature that was a big surprise was the inclusion of and eSATA port, taking the place of one USB port.

Performance

The first thing on my mind when I saw this notebook was to find out how it compared to the older A305D notebook. I did not have the time to install PCMark05 while no one was looking, but I did manage to sneak wPrime on it. The resulting score was a bit under what I had hoped for, and slower than the previous notebook we had reviewed. Some of this might be attributed to the notebook being an engineering sample, with not so perfect drivers.

wPrime (version 1.58) comparison results:

38.437

Notebook / CPU wPrime 32M time
Toshiba Satellite A305D (Turion Ultra ZM TL-80 @ 2.1GHz) 38.437s
Toshiba Satellite A305D (Turion X2 TL-64 @ 2.2GHz) 37.220s
Toshiba Satellite A305 (Core 2 Duo T8100 @ 2.1GHz) 36.442s
Asus M51S (Core 2 Duo T5550 @ 1.83GHz) 46.293s
Lenovo IdeaPad Y510 (Core 2 Duo T5450 @ 1.66GHz) 50.184s
HP Pavilion dv6700t (Core 2 Duo T5450 @ 1.66GHz) 50.480s
Dell Inspiron 1525 (Core 2 Duo T7250 @ 2.0GHz) 43.569s
Dell XPS M1530 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz)
37.485s
Portable One SXS37 (Core 2 Duo T7250 @ 2.0GHz) 41.908s
Sony VAIO NR (Core 2 Duo T5250 @ 1.5GHz) 58.233s
Toshiba Tecra A9 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz) 38.343s
Toshiba Tecra M9 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz) 37.299s
HP Compaq 6910p (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2GHz) 40.965s
Sony VAIO TZ (Core 2 Duo U7600 @ 1.20GHz) 76.240s
Zepto 6024W (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2GHz) 42.385s
Lenovo T61 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz) 37.705s
Alienware M5750 (Core 2 Duo T7600 @ 2.33GHz) 38.327s
Hewlett Packard DV6000z (Turion X2 TL-60 @ 2.0GHz) 38.720s
Samsung Q70 (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2.0GHz) 42.218s
Acer Travelmate 8204WLMi (Core Duo T2500 @ 2.0GHz) 42.947s
Samsung X60plus (Core 2 Duo T7200 @ 2.0GHz) 44.922s
Zepto Znote 6224W (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2.0GHz) 45.788s
Samsung Q35 (Core 2 Duo T5600 @ 1.83GHz) 46.274s

 

Vista Windows Experience Index Scores:


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Ports and Features

  • ExpressCard slot (ExpressCard/34 and Express Card/54)
  • 10/100 Ethernet
  • Modem jack
  • 5-in-1 media card reader
  • VGA out, HDMI
  • Microphone input port
  • Headphone output port
  • IEEE-1394 (FireWire)
  • Three USB 2.0 ports (with "Sleep and Charge")
  • One eSATA port

Left: VGA, HDMI, LAN, eSATA, one USB port, Firewire


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Right: Two USB ports, Model, Optical Drive, AC Power, Kensington Lock Slot


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Battery Life

As you might remember from our A305D review, with the 6-cell battery the older AMD notebook managed 3 hours even. The new Puma based notebook, with the power profile set to "Balanced" and screen brightness down estimated to 2 hours and 24 minutes remaining after a few minutes being unplugged. While these numbers don’t look impressive, I highly suspect the low battery life is a result of this system being an early engineering sample.


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Conclusion

Overall I was pleased to see a fast refresh of the Toshiba Satellite A305D in person with the new AMD Puma platform. It has all of the great features and styling of the A300, as well as a few upgrades from the past model with the inclusion of HDMI and eSATA. My only concern is the less than stellar system performance and battery life, which should have at least been on par if not better than the previous model. Let’s hope once this revision becomes official, the kinks are worked out and performance goes way up.


"Booth babe" not included with purchase. (view large image)

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