by Kevin O’Brien
The Qosmio X305 is the flagship gaming notebook sold by Toshiba, with configurations including dual graphics cards, dual storage drives, and the latest Intel quad-core processors. With a stylish design and great surround sound speakers the Qosmio notebooks walk the fine line between consumer notebooks and super high-end custom gaming notebooks. In this review we cover all aspects of the X305 to give you the information needed to make an informed purchase.
Toshiba Qosmio X305-Q725 Specifications:
- Intel Core 2 Quad Processor Q9000 (2.0GHz, 1066MHz, 6MB Cache)
- 4GB DDR3 memory PC3-8500 DDR3
- Windows Vista Ultimate (64-bit, SP1)
- NVIDIA GeForce 9800M GTX graphics (1GB GDDR3)
- 17” WSXGA+ Display 1680×1050 (Glossy)
- Intel Mobile PM45 Chipset
- DVDRW-SuperMulti with Labelflash
- 64GB SSD + 320GB hard drive (7200rpm)
- Intel 5100AGN WiFi and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
- Stereo speakers with subwoofer
- Webcam and microphone
- 180W (19V x 9.5A) Power Supply
- Battery:8-cell 14.4V 58Wh
- Weight: 9lbs 5oz
- Size: 16.2” x12.0” x 1.7” /2.5” with feet
- Warranty: 1-year parts/labor
- MSRP: $2,699.99
Build and Design
The Toshiba X305 gaming notebook is one of the larger models we’ve seen in the office, with the rear of the notebook peaking at 2.5” thick including the feet. Its wedge shape amplifies the height at the rear, making the notebook look twice as thick going from front to back. The X305 is designed to handle a quad-core processor and dual graphics cards which need extra room to get proper cooling … not to mention fitting the components themselves. To put its size into context, the dual-screen Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds is only 2.1” thick. Overlooking the thickness, the design is stylish and gives you the impression that this is definitely not a standard notebook. The glossy trim, flame paint job, and translucent red plastics really help to get that point across. The paint job could have been more detailed with more realistic flames, but that might have been cost prohibitive with the production process.
Build quality is average, and perhaps should have been better in certain areas. The back cover of the display shows a significant amount of flex due to a large empty space between the lid and screen panel. When holding the laptop with one hand from the side (if your hand is big enough) the lid compresses and squeaks quite a bit. Better support might have resolved this problem and given the lid a much more durable feel. The keyboard was another area that could have been much better. The support beneath the center of the keyboard was fine for heavy typing, but typing near the bottom corner of the keyboard resulted in a “popping” sensation making the keyboard move around.
The 17” glossy display faired very well throughout my testing; which happened to include quite a bit of gaming. The display was bright enough to be clearly visible in a bright office setting while still showing dark shadow detail in games. Colors were vivid and saturated; something you really want on a gaming display. I didn’t notice much lag with the LCD refreshing, but that can be very subjective depending on who is looking at it.
Viewing angles were average with color and brightness drop-off in steep vertical angles. Color inversion was not as much of a problem with horizontal viewing angles so you can share a movie with someone sitting next to you. For comfortable viewing I had the screen set to 90% brightness while in the office and lowered it to 60% at my home with dimmer lighting. My only complaint with the screen is the relatively low resolution of 1680 x 1050, instead of having a WUXGA 1920 x 1200 resolution seen in similar gaming notebooks.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The X305 uses a full-size keyboard with a number pad to take advantage of all of the real estate on its large 17” gaming notebook frame. The keyboard was comfortable to type on with little pressure required to activate each key. Key action is smooth with a mild metallic rattle when fully pressed, ranking average in terms of noise. Some keys towards the bottom left corner would make a louder popping sound, as mentioned in the build section, due to limited support in that area.
Another writer in the office didn’t like the narrow spacebar which was shortened to make way for the full-size keys around it. I personally didn’t have any trouble using the keyboard since I hit the right-center part of the button when typing.
Toshiba included what appears to be an Alps touchpad on the X305 based on the fact that Alps drivers were preinstalled on the system. Windows Update saw it as a Synaptics model and installed drivers as such, causing some confusion over what type of touchpad it really is. The Synaptics drivers had very limited settings, missing all sensitivity options, so it could have just been an error from Windows Vista. The touchpad didn’t seem that responsive and required a heavier touch to accurately move across the display. The surface texture provides a bit of traction without making your finger stick … something you appreciate after hours of gaming. The large touchpad buttons were easy to trigger and gave shallow feedback when pressed.
System performance was well above average, given the Intel Q9000 quad core processor and NVIDIA 9800M GTX graphics card. The system handled every mainstream game we threw at it, acting more like a desktop than a notebook. The dual hard drives helped map load times considerably, putting all of the system files on the SSD for quick access and the program information on the 7200RPM storage disk. Day-to-day applications didn’t even make the system break a sweat and mundane tasks like startup and shutdown were some of the quickest we have seen.
High definition movie decoding was not a problem for this notebook and with the HDMI output that supported digital audio out it could easily handle the task of a multimedia hub. Given its high pricetag, huge size, and awesome sound system I think a Blu-ray disc drive would have been a great addition for watching movies on the go.
Toshiba was kind enough to throw in Mirror’s Edge with our Qosmio X305 for testing purposes and I must admit that it provided some of the most enjoyable “testing” of a notebook in quite a long time. With the onboard Physx support and NVIDIA 9800M GTX graphics card the notebook kept up with all of the action even in scenes with lots of activity going on around you. Average framerates with the notebook set to high settings at its native resolution of 1680×1050 were consistently 40FPS and above.
Another office favorite for testing gaming notebooks is Portal, and the X305 performed better than expected with all detail settings at maximum. At the native resolution of 1680×1050 the X305 consistently stayed above 140FPS through fast movement, peaking as high as 160FPS if you were not in view of a portal.
Here are some synthetic benchmarks for comparison with other notebooks:
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. Lower numbers indicate better performance.
|Toshiba Qosmio X305-Q725 (Core 2 Quad Q9000 @ 2.0GHz)||18.845s|
|Dell Studio XPS 16 (Core 2 Duo P8600 @ 2.4GHz)||31.827s|
|HP HDX 18t (Core 2 Duo T9600 @ 2.8GHz)||27.416s|
|Sony VAIO FW (Core 2 Duo T9400 @ 2.53GHz)||30.373s|
|Dell Studio 17 (2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300, Windows Vista SP1)||31.574s|
|Asus M70S (2.50GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300, Windows Vista)||31.132s|
|Toshiba Satellite L355D (2.0GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60, Windows Vista)||39.732s|
|Gateway P-171XL FX (2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo X7900, Windows Vista)||30.359s|
|Toshiba Qosmio G45 (2.50GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300, Windows Vista)||31.108s|
|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|
PCMark05 comparison results:
PCMark05 represents the overall system performance of a notebook. Higher numbers indicate better performance.
|Toshiba Qosmio X305-Q725 (2.0GHz Intel Q9000, NVIDIA 9800M GTX 1GB)||8,190 PCMarks|
|Dell Studio XPS 16 (2.4GHz Intel P8600, ATI Mobility RADEON HD 3670 512MB)||6,303 PCMarks|
|HP HDX 18t (2.8GHz Intel T9600, Nvidia 9600M GT 512MB)||6,587 PCMarks|
|Sony VAIO FW (2.53GHz Intel T9400, ATI Radeon HD 3470)||6,002 PCMarks|
|Dell Studio 17 (2.50GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3650)||5,982 PCMarks
|Asus M70S (2.50GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3650)||6,135 PCMarks|
|Toshiba Satellite L355D (2.0GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60, ATI Radeon X1250)||3,305 PCMarks|
|Gateway P-171XL FX (2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo X7900, NVIDIA Go 8800M GTS)||7,749 PCMarks|
|Toshiba Qosmio G45 (2.50GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300, NVIDIA Go 8600M GT)||5,865 PCMarks|
|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|
3DMark06 comparison results:
3DMark06 represents the overall graphics performance of a notebook. Higher numbers indicate better performance.
|Toshiba Qosmio X305-Q725 (2.0GHz Intel Q9000, NVIDIA 9800M GTX 1GB)||10,180 3DMarks|
|Dell Studio XPS 16 (2.4GHz Intel P8600, ATI Mobility RADEON HD 3670 512MB)||4,855 3DMarks|
|HP HDX 18t (2.8GHz Intel T9600, Nvidia 9600M GT 512MB)||4,127 3DMarks|
|Sony VAIO FW (2.53GHz Intel T9400, ATI Radeon HD 3470)
|Dell Studio 17 (2.50GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3650)||2,974 3DMarks|
|Asus M70S (2.50GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3650)||3,799 3DMarks|
|Toshiba Satellite L355D (2.0GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60, ATI Radeon X1250)||301 3DMarks|
|Gateway P-171XL FX (2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo X7900, NVIDIA Go 8800M GTS)||8,801 3DMarks|
|Toshiba Qosmio G45 (2.50GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300, NVIDIA Go 8600M GT)||3,775 3DMarks|
|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|
Speakers and Audio
The audio system on the Toshiba Qosmio X305 is really phenomenal with the four speakers plus subwoofer built into the chassis. I can say this is one of the few notebooks that doesn’t lack bass reproduction or peak volume. Gaming or watching a movie is really a new experience when you are used to lackluster speakers on a notebook and you are introduced to something that blows you away. The best experience had to be playing the included Mirror’s Edge and listening to all of the city sounds around you mixed with the bass thumps as you jumped from ledge to ledge on buildings in the game. Users just have to be careful not to annoy those around them when using this notebook in public. Even the Windows startup sound can be very loud in a classroom.
Ports and Features
Port selection could have been better given the massive size of the notebook. The X305 has a total of four USB ports including one that is shared with the eSATA combo port. The chassis also contains LAN, HDMI, headphone/mic, S/PDIF, ExpressCard/54, and Firewire. With the vast amount of space on the 2.5” thick sides Toshiba could have easily included six or more USB ports. One odd feature is a port cover that hides the LAN connector and 5-in-1 media card reader, instead of just mounting those ports directly on the side or front.
With the display brightness set to 70%, wireless active, and Vista set to the “Balanced” power profile the Toshiba X305 worked for 1 hour and 59 minutes before going into system standby mode at 4% remaining. This is pretty good for a high-end gaming notebook, giving you plenty of time to do some work in a classroom setting or other area away from a power outlet. Considering the amount of open interior space Toshiba could have included a larger capacity battery and bumped up the life considerably.
Heat and Noise
Compared to the standard non-gaming rig the X305 has fans that run louder and more often. While gaming the fans run at a constant low speed and ramp up at various times as the load on the CPU and GPU increases. During normal activity the noise level is pretty mundane and easily blends into the background if you were in a classroom setting. Case temperatures were kept to a minimum with the high volume of air moving through the machine.
The Toshiba Qosmio X305 gaming notebook proved to be very capable in our testing but its steep price does raise a few eyebrows now that notebooks like the Gateway P-7811 FX are on the market for a fraction of the price. The overall size of the X305 also comes into play when you realize it is almost twice as thick as other gaming notebooks (even thicker than the dual-screen Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds). If you can get past the price and size it does offer the best sound system I have heard on a notebook and dual graphics card support on certain configurations. Build quality could be improved in some areas but it held up well in our testing … if not for a few plastic squeaks and pops. If you have the backpack or shoulders to carry around this gaming rig then you should check out the Qosmio X305-Q725.
- Best notebook sound system I have ever heard
- Quad-core processor and still gets almost 2 hours of battery life
- Impressive gaming performance
- Large body good for dissipating high heat loads
- High price tag
- 17” notebook that is 2.5” thick in the rear
- Squeaky chassis