Review: Toshiba Qosmio X300
We get our hands on Toshiba’s Qosmio and benchmark it in Crysis Warhead
Are gaming laptops relevant?
The concept of a high-end gaming laptop is not something that will appeal to everybody. The general argument against such machines is that the premium paid to mobilize such high-end technology is excessive, and one can quite easily build a desktop PC that will outperform a laptop such as the Toshiba Qosmio for far less cash.
Then consider that many of the general benefits granted by regular notebooks are canceled out in these high-end Frankenstein like beasts. For example, the Qosmio weighs in at a fairly monstrous 3.6KGs, and has a functioning battery life of less than 30 minutes (of gaming, naturally).
So where do they fit in? They are not going to replace the functionality of a regular laptop, but then they are not supposed to, and they sure are not meant to compete with high-end desk tops. This leaves high-end gaming laptops with their own market sector, and if you thought the regular high-end PC sector was niche, then the high-end gaming laptop market will leave you befuddled.
Users that are looking for a portable high-end desktop replacement will be interested in machines such as the Qosmio. The ease of mobility combined with the sheer power packed in the relatively tiny (but not really) casing does present a unique and attractive value proposition when one actually gets down to it. One obvious advantage of a gaming laptop is the ease of use for events such as LANS. There is nothing quite as exhausting as having to pack up your uber gaming PC, 22” widescreen included, after a solid 36 hours of Lanning.
So with that out of the way, we can safely say that laptops like the Qosmio have a place, and the mobility coupled with gaming potential is well worth the outlay, if you have it of course.
The Qosmio is packing heat
The X300 we tested is the entry level offering in Toshiba’s Qosmio range, and will set you back R20,000. It’s not quite in “impulse buy” territory, but it does offer decent value for money as far as mobile gaming solutions go.
The machine tested features Intel’s Core 2 Duo P8600 running at 2.4 GHz, 3GB of DDR3 RAM running at 1,066MHz, an Nvidia GeForce 9700m GTS 512MB graphics processor, a 17-inch WXGA TruBrite monitor and 320 GB SATA hard drive.
It ships with Vista Home Premium 32-bit, which we are not a fan of but can hardly blame the Qosmio as this is an ailment that plagues all modern laptops. One could always “downgrade” to XP, or wait it out until Windows 7 is released.
The Core 2 Duo P8600 is a hefty mobile CPU. Running on a 45nm fabrication size at 2.6GHz with 3 MB L2 Cache, the CPU will not bottleneck the Qosmio.
Nvidia’s GeForce 9700m GTS 512MB graphics processor sits somewhere between the desktop 9500GT and 9600GT in terms of performance, is based on the G94 core and makes use of 48 processing cores. Clocked at 530MHz on the Core, 800MHz on the memory and a Shader speed of 1325MHz, the 9700m GTS makes full use of its 256 Bit Bus Bandwidth. It does the job most of the time, but don’t expect to play Crysis on high settings.
The 17” screen features a native resolution of 1440×900 and is adequately responsive, and able to deliver vibrant and rich colours. Apart from a gaming machine, the screen and video card make the Qosmio a strong candidate for viewing HD content (although the screen does not support full HD).
The 320GB hard drive is more than sufficient for a machine of this nature and the 4-speaker setup plus built-in subwoofer, powered by Harmon/Kardon, performed excellently, and is among the best laptop sound we have experienced.
The laptop features a glossy red flame design across the breadth of the casing, which different users are likely to either love or hate. I am not generally a huge fan of garish and bright colours, so the look was not really for me, but it definitely stands out.
To be honest I was not convinced when the Qosmio landed on my desk. Never having been a fan of gaming laptops, and skeptical over its performance capabilities, I reluctantly powered up the Qosmio. We tested a number of games on the laptop, including Far Cry2, Call of Duty 4 and Crysis Warhead.
The laptop managed to eat its way through Call of Duty 4 like a fat kid at a hotdog stand, managing in excess of 40 frames per second (fps) most of the time on high settings at its native resolution of 1440×900 with a little bit of AA turned on.
We then gave it the more intimidating FarCry 2, and once again the Qosmio truly shone. We could actually run the game in DX10 mode with most of the settings on high at its native resolution, and the game was just playable, managing to hold its head above the 20 fps mark most of the time.
We decided to take the gloves off and installed Crysis Warhead, which although it is fairly resource hungry, has been optimized significantly since its predecessor.
We used the Hardware OC Crysis Warhead benchmarking tool, concentrating on the Airfield time demo as it is a challenging benchmark that makes use of open spaces and big explosions and is capable of making virtually any PC sweat a bit.
All tests were done on the Qosmio’s native resolution of 1440×900. Under each column, there are three numbers entered i.e. 6 fps, 8 fps, 12 fps. These numbers indicate the minimum, average and maximum frame rates attained in each benchmark. The number in bold indicates the average frame rate achieved in each respective benchmark.
While for the most part Crysis Warhead proved too much for the Qosmio to handle, the game did manage a respectable average of 28 fps on medium settings in DX9 mode without any AA, making the game playable.
The Qosmio performed admirably, and managed to instill in us a degree of faith in gaming laptops that was not there before.
Apart from the 17-inch screen, eye catching red flame finish and DVD RW multi drive, the Qosmio exhibits a decent selection of interesting features. There is an HDMI port, making HD TV connectivity simple and straight forward, as well as a handy eSATA port. It also features an impressive set of cooling fans underneath the base. While these are necessary, they are also very noisy, however the impressive Harman/Kardon speaker set up had no problem overpowering the noisy fans and DVD drive when it came to game time.
The Qosmio also features 3 USB 2.0 ports, built in wireless, an infrared receiver, an express card slot, modem jack input, ethernet jack input, microphone and headphone jack inputs, various media card input slots, an i.LINK (IEEE 1394) port, a display port and external monitor port, web camera, built-in microphone, finger print sensor and blue tooth receiver.
There is not much that the Qosmio does not have and cannot do, and in terms of gaming you will struggle to beat its performance at this price point in the mobile sector. Granted, for the price one could build a monster Intel i7 rig with an Nvidia GTX 295 and 6GBs of super fast DDR3 memory, but if this appeals to you then the Qosmio is not trying to compete for your money.
The Qosmio does exactly what it is meant to do; it brings mid- high-end performance to a mobile device. It is feature rich and capable of playing all of today’s most demanding titles relatively well, and is therefore a success.
Whether or not a mobile gaming platform is something you need we cannot say, but if you decide it is, then the Qosmio X300 is a good place to start.
Overall Score: 4.5/5
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