by Matt Jenson, Wisconsin
When you hear Toshiba, if you had an older model, you instantly think, what a great computer. If you have a newer model, less than two years old, you may be thinking overheating, cheap quality notebook that I’ll never even consider. This is what I had feared after I had heard some horror stories about the Satellite M30 and M40 series as well as the P30 series. I had also just had a nightmare of a time with my Satellite 5005, which although was built quite well, overheated after about half an hour of use, but I had also heard some good things, so I decided to give them a shot one more time. The notebook I will be reviewing is the Toshiba Satellite M60-S8112TD. This is a 17″ widescreen desktop replacement notebook.
Specs for M60 Reviewed:
- 2.00 GHz Pentium M, 2MB L2 cache, 533 MHz FSB
- 256 MB 533 MHz DDR2 RAM (Upgraded to 1.25GB)
- 60 GB Hitachi Travelstar 5K100 5400 RPM hard drive
- 8X DVD-RW Super-Multi Drive.
- 17″ Widescreen XGA with TruBrite (1440×900)
- ATI Mobility Radeon X600SE w/128MB dedicated SDRAM (128MB additional shared system RAM)
- Intel PRO/Wireless 2200BG 802.11b/g
- 8-cell 4300 mAh Li-ion Battery
- 6-in-1 card reader
- PC Card and ExpressCard slots
- Windows XP Pro w/SP2
Reasons for Buying
My old computer, a Toshiba Satellite 5005-S504, kept shutting down due to overheating so Toshiba settled a lawsuit, which required sending in the laptop and having it tested and receiving a $1500 credit voucher which was only good on Toshiba models. I wasn’t that excited about buying another Toshiba after my first and only laptop experience being a negative one, so I was sure to put a lot of research into this decision. I decided that I wanted at least a 15.4″ notebook because I like to play a few games, and liked the larger screen. After looking at the Qosmio F25 and G25, which are Toshiba’s multimedia machines, and a few of the Tecra models, their business-oriented machines, I decided on the Satellite series again. I had also considered the Tecra A4 specifically, but it was a little out of my price range. Based on the prior experience with a Pentium III in a notebook, I decided I was going to get a Pentium M processor, which unfortunately Toshiba only uses Intel CPU’s so I was stuck with either a Pentium 4, a Celeron, or a Pentium M. Most of the models that Toshiba offered only came with a GMA900 video card, which I was strongly against; I was down to 3 models, the M35X, M40, and M60. The M35X became discontinued, so it was down to the 15.4″ M40 and the 17″ M60. There was a 20% discount on customizing a M60, so that was the final clincher for me.
Where and How Purchased:
I bought the M60 on ToshibaDirect.com and with the 20% off customization it was $1558.40 plus tax for a total of $1644.11. I customized it with the minimum amount of RAM (256 MB) and ordered a stick of 1 GB from New Egg, and upgraded to a 2.0GHz processor and a 60GB 5400 rpm hard drive with the money saved by upgrading the RAM aftermarket. I think it was a good deal because most 17″ notebooks are $1750 or more, especially the one’s with dedicated video cards.
Build & Design:
Toshiba Satellite M60 top view (view large image)
The look of the notebook is important to me, but not as important as the build quality and overall value. The M60 looks very stylish to me and I like the color combination Toshiba came up with. The blue lid, black keyboard and silver trim looks very sharp. I also like the fact it has a full number pad. The case feels rather sturdy and doesn’t flex much at all. The multimedia and Internet buttons are a nice feature, but I don’t use them at all. The case is made of plastic, which is fairly high quality, but not near as sturdy as the magnesium case of my T42 ThinkPad. The notebook is fairly light for a 17″ desktop replacement, at 7.5lbs. The case flexes a little when pressing on the lid. I always use it on my lap on the couch, and can use it for hours without it getting too hot or heavy. You can twist the screen slightly if you twist it, but it requires a good amount of effort, and the flexing is minimal.
Size comparison to ThinkPad T42 (view large image)
I have the 1400 x 900 resolution 17″ screen with TruBrite. It is very nice for watching DVDs and the colors really seem quite bright and the contrast is excellent. I ran dead pixel buddy and was pleased to find that there was no dead or stuck pixels. There is no significant light leakage or uneven backlighting. I have noticed that it does show dust much more than a matte screen does, and if there are any smudges on the screen, they seem to be more noticeable. One tradeoff with the TruBrite and most glossy screens is the glare that you when working outside or in bright areas. It is not that big of a deal to me, but if used in an office building with many windows, it could become distracting.
For a laptop, the speakers are quite nice. It has the harmon/kardon speakers, which my old Satellite had and they are considered to be among the best speakers available in notebooks. There are two front mounted speakers and they sound much better when playing music and watching DVDs than my T42 ThinkPad. Headphones or external speakers are not necessary as the speakers rival external ones unless you want to hear deep bass and for hardcore gaming needs.
Processor and Performance:
It has a 2.0GHz Pentium M processor and easily handles anything that I have thrown at it. It is quite a bit faster starting up than my T42 because it has a faster processor, hard drive and more RAM. It has a 60GB Hitachi Travelstar 5K100 hard drive and 1.25GB of RAM. I ordered it with the standard 256MB of RAM and then ordered 1GB of Kingston Value RAM off NewEgg. It has never locked up on me, or given me the blue screen of death. It never seems to lag at all, and always seems very snappy and responsive. I play Warcraft III as well as Diablo II and some of the older racing games, Need for Speed IV and Test drive 6, and there has never been any frame skipping, even though these games are not very demanding. I run everything at high resolutions and detail settings and it doesn’t slow it down one bit. It does it take a while to boot up from shutdown, around 45 to 50 seconds, but I also have a lot of programs running at startup.
Below are the results gained from running Super Pi (ftp://pi.super-computing.org/windows/super_pi.zip), a program that forces the laptop’s processor to calculate Pi to 2 million digits of accuracy.
|Toshiba Satellite M60 (2.0 GHz Pentium M)||1m 39s|
|Dell Inspiron e1705 (2.0GHz Core Duo)||1m 16s|
|Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo)||1m 18s|
|IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 45s|
|IBM ThinkPad Z60m (2.0 GHz Pentium M)||1m 36s|
|Fujitsu LifeBook N3510 (1.73 GHz Pentium M)||1m 48s|
|Dell Inspiron 6000D (1.6 GHz Pentium M)||1m 52s|
|Dell Inspiron 600M (1.6 GHz Pentium M)||2m 10s|
|HP Pavilion dv4000 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 39s|
|HP DV4170us (Pentium M 1.73 GHz)||1m 53s|
|Sony VAIO S380 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 45s|
PCMark04 and 3DMark05 were also used to measure processor and graphics performance, below is a table with benchmarks and a comparison to the popular ThinkPad Z60m notebook:
|Futuremark PCMark04 Scores|
|Toshiba M60 (2.0GHz, ATI X600SE w/128MB)||ThinkPad Z60m (2.0 GHz, ATI X600 128MB graphics)|
|Multithreaded Test 1 / File Compression||3.78 MB/s||3.38 MB/s|
|Multithreaded Test 1 / File Encryption||29.58 MB/s||28.13 MB/s|
|Multithreaded Test 2 / File Decompression||25.90 MB/s||24.94 MB/s|
|Multithreaded Test 2 / Image Processing||11.59 MPixels/s||11.45 MPixels/s|
|Multithreaded Test 3 / Virus Scanning||1829.15 MB/s||2025.38 MB/s|
|Multithreaded Test 3 / Grammar Check||3.08 KB/s||2.78 KB/s|
|File Decryption||58.50 MB/s||57.15 MB/s|
|Audio Conversion||2686.67 KB/s||2610.98 KB/s|
|Web Page Rendering||5.63 Pages/s||5.4 Pages/s|
|DivX Video Compression||53.19 FPS||54.6 FPS|
|Physics Calculation and 3D||190.33 FPS||182.77 FPS|
|Graphics Memory – 64 Lines||2037.64 FPS||1635.2 FPS|
|Futuremark 3DMark05 Scores|
|3DMark Score||1955 3DMarks||1682 3D Marks|
|CPU Score||3414 CPUMarks||3426 CPUMarks|
|GT1 – Return To Proxycon||9.0 FPS||7.6 FPS|
|GT2 – Firefly Forest||5.6 FPS||4.9 FPS|
|GT3 – Canyon Flight||9.6 FPS||8.2 FPS|
|CPU Test 1||1.7 FPS||1.7 FPS|
|CPU Test 2||2.8 FPS||3.0 FPS|
Everest Memory Benchmarks
- Read: 3078MB/s bandwidth
- Write: 779MB/s
- Latency: 111.3ns
Heat and Noise:
It doesn’t seem to get too hot, but the fan on the bottom can blow some pretty good heat out the back side, especially when you are doing some pretty heavy gaming or CPU intensive tasks. When you first power on the notebook, the fan runs at full speed for about a second or two, but other than that, it is not very noticeable and you can barely tell when it is running and it never runs at full speed. The spot where your right palm rests on the keyboard can get a bit warm. It must be where heat inside the notebook builds up before exiting the fan. It is noticeable, but isn’t overly annoying to me. It’s never hot enough to be uncomfortable, but you can feel the difference in temperature from where the left and right palms rest. When using it on your lap, it fits very nicely on the lap, but the fan can warm up your right leg, which can get uncomfortable after a few hours of heavy use, but it is never unbearable. The DVD-RW is fairly quiet except when it speeds up to full speed-reading data, but that only lasts a second or two usually. The hard drive makes an audible noise on startup when reading from the disk every few seconds. It is more of a ticking sound and it’s just the moving of the head, nothing out of the ordinary, but worth mentioning.
Bottom view and fan view (view large image)
Keyboard and Touchpad:
Toshiba Satellite M60 keyboard (view large image)
The keyboard has a good amount of flex to it, and when you hit a key, if you don’t hit it exactly in the center, sometimes, the character won’t show up. This is rather annoying, but has gotten significantly better since I first received the notebook. The small right shift key, as well as arrow keys, are a bit annoying to me also, but the arrow keys on the number pad can be used instead. The volume control is on the front side of the notebook as well as the microphone and speaker jacks. The touchpad buttons are a different style from anything that I have seen. It is a solid bezel plastic piece that is cut in two right where the two buttons are. It’s not hard to use or flimsy, but I just had never seen it before and thought it was worth mentioning.
Input and Output Ports:
The M60 has 3 USB 2.0 ports that have an unusual placement. The one on the right side near the back of the notebook is placed well, but on the back there are two ports in the middle on top of each other. I would have preferred to have them on the right/and or left side, but it’s not that big of a deal to me. One very nice feature it has is the 6-in-1-card reader. I am able to take pictures with my SD450 and take the SD card out and plug it right into the reader. It can read SD, mini SD (with adapter), Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, Multi Media Card, and xD Picture card. I have used the SD and xD cards. It has a video connector in the back between the USB ports and the mouse port. There is no parallel port. It has a firewire and S-video out ports, as well as modem and a 10/100-network port. On the right side towards the front are the PC Card and ExpressCard slots.
Toshiba Satellite M60 Review right side and thickness comparison (view large image)
Toshiba Satellite M60 back side view (view large image)
I got the Intel PRO/Wireless 2200BG 802.11b/g wireless card because my old laptop didn’t have a wireless card and I went wireless so I had to buy a PC card slot wireless card and it stuck out so I got the built in wireless card, which works well. I had the router in my bedroom and I used it all over the house, about 50 feet away and there were about 3 walls between and I still had over 50% signal strength. The on/off switch for the wireless is on the right side towards the rear. I did not get the Bluetooth option and there isn’t an infrared port.
Intel wireless card (view large image)
I use the battery all the time when I am at home and away then when it gets low, I plug it into the adapter. It has an 8-cell 4300 mAh battery and generally gets about 2 hours of battery life, when playing Warcraft III, I get about an hour and a half to 1 hour and 45 minutes. It would be nice if it could go for three hours, but it is good enough for what I need it for. They didn’t offer a larger battery when I bought it so it is flush with the bottom and back and doesn’t stick out at all. Toshibas come with a battery saving application called the Toshiba Power Saver. You can customize the default settings based upon how much battery is left. I have them all set to a brightness of 3, which is a bit dim, and it goes up to a brightness of 8 which is the default for when it is plugged in.
Operating System and Software:
I had Windows XP Professional w/SP2 installed because it is recommended for my job. I use the Remote Desktop feature and work recommends it for security reasons. It comes with one recovery/restore DVD with the operating system and all their additional software bundled with it. It comes with Quicken 2005, which I find beneficial because I can do all of my financial recordkeeping with it and it integrates with my credit card and can be imported by my tax return software. It comes with the usual AOL and MSN Internet offers and Sonic burning software and WinDVD Creator 2 and WinDVD player. It also comes with Toshiba Media Player and Toshiba Virtual Sound with has different settings for the sound, which I never use and don’t find very helpful. It has the Power Saver software that I mentioned before. It also came with an evaluation version of Microsoft Office, and a greeting card program. It also has Toshiba Assist, which is like a control panel for the Toshiba applications.
I have not had to call customer support as of yet, but when I called to place my order, they were very polite and knowledgeable. It comes with a standard one-year warranty included in the price, and I did not opt for a longer warranty.
Overall I like the laptop quite a bit, the few things that I find annoying are just that, annoying, and are not a deal breaker for me. If you want a do it all desktop replacement that can be used not only for watching and burning DVDs and some gaming, but is also light enough to carry wherever you need to go, the M60 is a great fit.
- Nice large and bright screen
- Decent battery life
- Capable of gaming
- Relatively light and portable
- Excellent speakers
- Card reader is a nice feature
- Has an ExpressCard slot for future expandability
- S-video out port
- Build quality could be a little better
- Keyboard not typing all characters was annoying at first
- Keyboard has a little flex
- Toshiba skimped out on the video card and tends to use older or lower-end technology
- Poor USB port placement
Pricing and Availability Toshiba Satellite M60-S8112TD