Toshiba offers the U500/U505 series in a range of configurations starting with the Intel Pentium Dual-core T4200 (2.0GHz) and up to the Intel Core 2 Duo P8700 (2.53GHz, 3MB L2, 1066MHz FSB) processor. While the entry-level Pentium dual core system with its 1MB of L2 cache and 800MHz frontside bus still provides more than enough power for multimedia encoding or image editing. The 2.0GHz Intel P7350 processor in our configuration provided an excellent computing experience, though it should be noted that there are several competing 13-inch notebooks on the market in this price range with faster processors.
The U505 also comes with your choice of either Intel Integrated Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD or ATI Mobility Radeon H4570 with 512MB DDR3 discrete graphics plus up to 255MB shared memory using ATI HyperMemory. Granted, the U505 with integrated graphics might not be suitable for playing current 3D games, but the ATI option provides enough power for anything you might want to play … as long as you aren’t expecting desktop-class gaming performance. Still, even with the Intel integrated 4500 GPU I was able to watch 1080p video and as well as edit and encode HD videos.
You can purchase the U505 with anywhere between 250GB and 500GB of hard drive storage space. Unfortunately, Toshiba only offers the U505 with standard 5400rpm hard drives rather than faster 7200rpm drives or SSDs. The 400GB Toshiba hard drive in our review unit should provide more than enough storage space for your music library, encoded videos, and your family photos.
wPrime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):
|Notebook / CPU||wPrime 32M time|
|Dell Studio XPS 13 (Core 2 Duo P8600 @ 2.4GHz)||31.951 seconds|
|Apple MacBook Pro 13 (Core 2 Duo P8400 @ 2.26GHz)||34.209 seconds|
|Toshiba Satellite U405 (Core 2 Duo T8100 @ 2.1GHz)||37.500 seconds|
|Toshiba Satellite U505 (Core 2 Duo P7350 @ 2.0GHz)||38.128 seconds|
|HP Pavilion dv3510nr (Core 2 Duo P7350 @ 2.0GHz)||38.656 seconds|
|Apple MacBook Air (Intel Core 2 Duo P7500 @ 1.6GHz)||68.173 seconds|
|MSI X-Slim X340 (Core 2 Solo SU3500 CULV @ 1.4GHz)||108.530 seconds|
PCMark05 measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):
|Dell Studio XPS 13 (2.4GHz Intel P8600, Nvidia 9500M GE 256MB)||5,450 PCMarks|
|HP Pavilion dv3510nr (2.0GHz Intel P7350, Nvidia 9300M GS 512MB)||4,920 PCMarks|
|Toshiba Satellite U505 (2.0GHz Intel P7350, Intel X4500)||4,437 PCMarks|
|Toshiba Satellite U405 (2.1GHz Intel T8100, Intel X3100)||4,145 PCMarks|
|Apple MacBook Pro 13 (2.26GHz Intel P8400, Nvidia 9400M)||4,136 PCMarks|
|Apple MacBook Air (1.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P7500, Intel X3100)||2,478 PCMarks|
|MSI X-Slim X340 (1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Solo SU3500 CULV, Intel X4500)||2,337 PCMarks|
3DMark06 comparison results against notebooks @ 1280 x 800 resolution:
|Dell Studio XPS 13 (2.4GHz Intel P8600, Nvidia 9500M GE 256MB, Hybrid SLI)||3,542 3DMarks|
|Apple MacBook Pro 13 (2.26GHz Intel P8400, Nvidia 9400M)||2,139 3DMarks|
|HP Pavilion dv3510nr (2.0GHz Intel P7350, Nvidia 9300M GS 512MB)||1,865 3DMarks|
|Toshiba Satellite U505 (2.0GHz Intel P7350, Intel X4500)||994 3DMarks|
|MSI X-Slim X340 (1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Solo SU3500 CULV, Intel X4500)||639 3DMarks|
|Toshiba Satellite U405 (2.1GHz Intel T8100, Intel X3100)||539 3DMarks|
|Apple MacBook Air (1.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P7500, Intel X3100)||502 3DMarks|
Heat and Noise
Like its predecessor, the U505 does an excellent job of controlling heat thanks to the massive heatsink visible through the air vent on the left side of the notebook. The only area of the U405 that peaked near 100 degrees Fahrenheit was the area next to the wireless card after significant web browsing … which is pretty normal. Although the touchpad and bottom of the notebook did become warm during benchmarks it was never too hot to keep on the lap. Below are images with temperature readings listed in degrees Fahrenheit:
The 12-cell 8500mAh Li-Ion battery provides excellent battery life for the U505. The extended life battery delivered 5 hours and 18 minutes of life while browsing the web using Wi-Fi with the notebook set to “balanced” mode and the screen brightness turned down to about 70 percent.
Although that battery life is only average considering the massive 8500mAh battery, the U505 with extended life battery should provide enough juice for a student or road warrior who doesn’t have access to a power outlet. Considering that some 13-inch thin-and-light notebooks like the MSI X340 managed less than four hours, the U500/U505 does a pretty decent job.
The Toshiba Satellite U500/U505 is a good general-purpose laptop but it has tough competition from other 13-inch notebooks currently on the market. Toshiba clearly listened to some of the criticisms about last year’s U405 and made some improvements on this year’s model.
Unfortunately, Toshiba might have shot themselves in the foot when it comes to the price of their higher-end configurations. I have a hard time believing that most students would be interesting in buying this Toshiba for the full retail price of more than $1,000 when that same student could buy a brand new 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro for roughly the same price. The entry-level configurations of the U500/U505 start at less than $700, so those might indeed be affordable options for this year’s back-to-school season.
- Solid performance
- Nice backlit keyboard
- Good speakers for its size
- Thick and heavy compared to newest 13-inch notebooks
- Small touchpad
- Expensive as configured