Toshiba Qosmio G45 Review

by Kevin O'Brien Reads (42,742)

by Kevin O’Brien

The Toshiba Qosmio G45 is a full entertainment system packed into one slightly oversized 17” widescreen notebook. It combines a 1080P high resolution display, HD-DVD Player, surround sound system, TV Tuner, and gaming machine into one device that can be carried to different locations inside your backpack.

The Qosmio under review is only offered in one configuration at this time, with the part number of G45-AV680. It has the following specifications:

  • OS: Windows Vista Ultimate (32-bit)
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T7300 (2.20GHz, 4MB L2, 800MHz FSB)
  • Chipset: Mobile Intel P965 Express Chipset
  • Wireless: Intel Wireless WiFi Link 4965AGN (802.11a/g/n), Bluetooth version 2.0 plus Enhanced Data Rate (EDR)
  • Memory: 2GB PC2-5300 DDR2 SDRAM (maximum capacity 4GB)
  • Hard Drive: 320GB Total Space (160GB x 2)
  • Optical Drive: HD DVD-R/DVD SuperMulti (+/- double layer) drive (in one optical drive), supporting 13 formats
  • Screen: 17.0" diagonal widescreen TrueLife TFT LCD display at 1920×1200 (WUXGA, Glossy)
  • Graphics: 512MB nVidia GeForce Go 8600m GT
  • Web Cam: 2.0 megapixel webcam
  • Slots: ExpressCard slot (ExpressCard/34 and Express Card/54) and PC-Card Slot, 5-in-1 media card reader
  • Ports: VGA, HDMI, and S-Video out, Mic, 2 Headphone, line out, 2 IR out,  IEEE-1394 (FireWire), Five USB 2.0 ports
  • Dimensions (WxDxH Front/H Rear): 17.25" x 11.75" x 1.759"
  • Weight: 10.6 Advertised, 9lbs 15oz actual w/ battery
  • 90W (19V x 4.62A) 100-240V AC adapter (1lb 10.6oz)
  • 9-cell (85Wh) Lithium Ion battery (1lb 2.3 oz)
  • 1-Year Standard Limited Warranty


Toshiba Qosmio G45 (view large image)

Build and Design

Compared to most notebooks the Qosmio is an extremely flashy computer. The display cover is glossy black with the Qosmio brand name embossed over it; proudly announcing its name to those around you. Opening the laptop reveals its glossy white palm rest and keyboard surround, nicely contrasting the top cover, with chrome dials and touch-sensitive selection buttons to control various functions. Bright blue LEDs illuminate all soft media buttons, as well as the volume dial and power switch when the unit is powered up. The LED’s can be disabled if the user so wishes, by pressing a soft-key above the keyboard.


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Underneath the glossy plastic shell, bright blue LEDs, and chrome knobs is an alloy frame that supports the entire laptop. Many laptops these days have a metal alloy frame and it usually results in a very durable case having little flex. However, even though the Qosmio has this alloy frame, it seems the frame isn’t thick enough as there is plentiful flex to be found. The palm rest, the keyboard, and bezel around the keyboard all bow in with moderate pressure. The flexing becomes most apparent when the laptop is not on a flat surface. With one corner hanging off of a desk surface, weight from your wrist and arm while typing will bend the corner down a quarter inch or more. For such a high price tag you would expect better build quality when other Toshiba models costing a third less feel more durable.

Screen

Being a multimedia oriented machine, this laptop revolves around a high quality display. Coming in at 17”, with a WUXGA resolution, and a glossy finish it is something to behold. Wide horizontal viewing angles let you share movies with friends next to you, but limited vertical angles had the screen dim sharply as you moved to steeper vantage points. Colors were vibrant, whites were pure, and backlighting was even across the screen. Backlight bleed was only noticed at maximum brightness levels, but it’s very hard to notice this unless you really look for it.

Throughout the review period, the backlight failed by turning off multiple times. The inverter whined on startup and at seemingly random intervals the backlight would just shut off. The first time it happened I thought the machine had locked and shutdown, but noticed by looking closely at the screen the desktop was still visible. At first I thought it was a fluke, but after several occurrences it got on my nerves. With a price tag of $3,200, you would hope that flaws like this would be caught early in the manufacturing process. I’m hoping this was just an issue with our review unit.

Speakers

The 4.1 speaker setup on the laptop is one of the best setups I have heard to date. Bass was clear and defined, midrange and high were both pretty accurate. I was able to get the volume quite loud before any distortion was heard, although with particularly loud bass you will get the plastic case to rattle.

The main speakers are located right above the keyboard, with the 2 smaller speakers located on either side of the LCD. The subwoofer is on the bottom side of the laptop near the left side.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard on the Qosimo felt large enough for comfortable typing, but could have had a dedicated number pad if the designers had relocated the volume dial and media controls. With its current layout there is plenty of extra whitespace around the entire typing surface to keep things uncluttered. The typing surface felt very solid and supported, and flexed much less than the rest of the body. Keystrokes required minimal pressure to recognize a key press, keeping my wrists stress free while writing. Typing was also quiet compared to some keyboards, so clacking away in a quiet room is not a concern.


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The touchpad surface is large (3”x1.8”) allowing plenty of control in games and other mouse intensive activities. The two mouse control buttons provide a positive click when pressed, although I do prefer touchpad buttons with more travel. The fingerprint reader on this notebook was located between the buttons, staying out of the way during normal use.

Performance and Benchmarks

With only one Qosmio G45 configuration at the moment, you are limited to the base configuration. This leaves you with the fast, but nowhere near top end, Intel T7300. As such, some processor intensive benchmarks came up less than laptops well under its price bracket.

Super Pi comparison results:

Super Pi forces the prcoessor to calculate Pi to 2 million digits of accuracy, below are some comparison results so you can see how the Qosmio’s T7300 processor competes.

Notebook Time
Toshiba Qosmio G45 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 1 min 1s
Dell Inspiron 1720 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500) 0m 54s
Dell Inspiron 1420 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500) 0m 54s
Sony VAIO FZ (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 0m 59s
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 0m 58s
Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 1m 01s
Lenovo 3000 V200 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 0m 59s
HP dv2500t (1.80GHz Intel 7100) 1m 09s
Lenovo ThinkPad T61 (2.00GHz Core 2 Duo Intel T7300) 0m 59s
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.00GHz Core 2 Duo T7200) 1m 03s
Toshiba Satellite P205-S6287 (1.73 GHz Core 2 Duo Intel T5300) 1m 24s
Toshiba Satellite A205 (1.66GHz Core 2 Duo) 1m 34s
HP Compaq 6515b (1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52) 2m 05s
Dell Inspiron e1705 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo) 1m 02s

WPrime 32M comparison results

WPrime is a benchmark similar to Super Pi in that it forces the processor to do intense mathematical calculations, but the difference is this application is multi-threaded and represents dual core processors better.

Notebook Time
Toshiba Qosmio G45 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Windows Vista) 42.085s
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (Intel Core 2 Duo CPU T7400@ 2.16GHz, Windows XP) 41.40s
HP dv6000z (AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60 @ 2.00GHz, Windows Vista) 38.913s
Sager 9260 (Intel Core 2 Duo CPU E6700@ 2.66GHz, Windows XP ) 33.718s
Dell Precision M70 (Intel Pentium-M 780 @ 2.26GHz, Windows XP) 78.992s

PCMark05 comparison results:

PCMark05 represents the overall system performance of a notebook.

Notebook PCMark05 Score
Toshiba Qosmio G45 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA Go 8600M GT) 5,261 PCMarks
Dell Inspiron 1720 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8600M GT) 5,377 PCMarks
Dell Inspiron 1420 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS) 4,925 PCMarks
Sony VAIO FZ (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 3,377 PCMarks
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS) 4,591 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 4,153 PCMarks
Lenovo 3000 V200 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 3,987 PCMarks
Lenovo T60 Widescreen (2.0GHz Intel T7200, ATI X1400 128MB) 4,189 PCMarks
Fujitsu N6410 (1.66GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400) 3,487 PCMarks
Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60, Nvidia Go 7800GTX) 5,597 PCMarks

3DMark06 comparison results:

3DMark06 represents the overall graphics performance of a notebook.

Notebook 3DMark06 Score
Toshiba Qosmio G45 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA Go 8600M GT) 2,934 3DMarks
Dell Inspiron 1720 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8600M GT) 2,930 3DMarks
Dell Inspiron 1420 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 1,329 3DMarks
Sony VAIO FZ (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 532 3DMarks
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 1,408 3DMarks
Asus F3sv-A1 (Core 2 Duo T7300 2.0GHz, Nvidia 8600M GS 256MB) 2,344 3DMarks
Alienware Area 51 m5550 (2.33GHz Core 2 Duo, nVidia GeForce Go 7600 256MB 2,183 3DMarks
Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Xi 1526 (1.66 Core Duo, nVidia 7600Go 256 MB) 2,144 3DMarks
Asus A6J (1.83GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 128MB) 1,819 3DMarks
HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400) 827 3DMarks
Sony Vaio SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400) 794 3DMarks

Heat and Noise

Heat and noise with the Qosmio G45 were never overwhelming, even when the laptop was running benchmarks. From its massive size, it had a large surface to warm up gracefully, as well as acting as a passive heatsink. Fan noise stayed within reasonable levels, usually being drowned out by other office noises. During normal uses (web browsing) the laptop would warm up to a nice level, leaving most touchable surfaces 6-10 degrees warmer than room temperature. Shown below are IR temperature readouts of the upper and lower surface of the notebook as it was cooling down from a benchmark that ran 2-3 minutes earlier.


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Battery

Mobile life on the laptop comes in short at 2 hours and 40 minutes, on the balanced profile and the screen brightness one notch down from top. If you want to watch a HD-DVD movie on a plane, your battery drops even lower to 60 minutes. With a machine of this size, if you are planning on doing much work away from an AC outlet I would suggest getting a spare battery.

Additional Features

The Qosmio G45 includes both an external HDTV tuner, and a HD-DVD Burner. The burner, being the most expensive item, probably drove its price up quite a bit. Both of these included items worked without issue when tested. The HDTV tuner clearly brought in 5 digital channels available inside my apartment, having a slight pause changing stations. The HD DVD burner was tested using the included Toshiba software, and burning 14 GB of data to a 15 GB disc took 55 minutes and 30 seconds. Not quite the fastest process compared to CD’s or DVD’s, but our single included HD-DVD burned successfully without making a coaster.

Input and Output Ports

Let’s take a visual tour around the ports of the Qosmio G45.

Left Side


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On the left side is a Kensington lock slot, USB, PC-Card/Expresscard, Firewire, and another USB port

 

Front


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On the front we have the HD-DVD burner

 

Right Side


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On the right side are 2 Headphone jacks, microphone input, line-in, USB, and 56k modem

 

Rear


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On the back is the ower connection, 2 IR sender ports, S-Video, 2 USB, VGA, HDMI, LAN

 

Software

The Qosmio ranks up with the best of them in terms of bloatware. It comes with many free software programs, toolbars, and Toshiba utilities. One utility that feels especially bad is the dropdown bar that acts as a visual indicator for FN key control functions. When activating this bar either through moving the pointer to the top of the screen, or holding down the FN key, the system can sometimes lock for 5-10 seconds before the bar moves slowly down. Adjusting the backlight level for example becomes a heavy task for the notebook, whereas on other machines it takes a split second.

Conclusion

With its steep price, quality issues, and questionable durability, its hard to recommend the Qosmio G45 over other quality Toshiba notebooks like the Satellite X205 gaming notebook. The key issues that would change this decision, if fixed, are the flimsy chassis and buggy hardware failures. Another might be to offer a HD-DVD-rom drive instead of the burner, and really lighten the cost of the machine.

Pros

  • Screen great when operational
  • Gaming performance was more than adequate for the latest games
  • Speakers kick you know what

Cons

  • Problematic hardware and software
  • Screen backlight failures
  • Toshiba utilities that cause the computer to freeze


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