Extreme power, design and storage, but this gaming laptop has a price to match
T oshiba has never been shy about showing off its gaming laptops’ high-end heritage, and that’s certainly true of the new Qosmio X70. There’s a ring of red metal trim around its base, the same material is used to circle the touchpad and the power button, and the keyboard is illuminated bright scarlet. The Qosmio logo on the lid also lights up when the laptop is turned on, and the shiny anodised borders contrast well with the aluminium used to create the rest of the hefty 3.4kg chassis. The X70 is also 44mm thick, making it a particularly chunky machine.
Gamers will be pleased to know that the X70 has the performance to match its looks. It’s powered by the super-fast quad-core Core i7-4700MQ processor and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 770M – one of the most powerful mobile graphics chips. More on that in a moment.
Toshiba Qosmio X70
Operating system Windows 8
Processor Intel Core i7-4700MQ 2.4GHz
Storage 256GB SSD, 1TB HDD
Graphics Nvidia GeForce GTX 770M
Connectivity 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0,
Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0, HDMI
Screen size 17.3-inch
Display resolution Full HD, 1,920 x 1,080
The Qosmio also packs two forms of storage – a 256GB solid-state drive for speed, plus a 1TB hard disk to house your games, movies, music and more. The screen is standard fare for a high-end gaming notebook: a 17.3-inch panel with a Full HD resolution.
Fierce competition The Qosmio is designed to attract attention from potential buyers, but it’s also caught the eye of rival laptop manufacturers. The MSI GS70 Stealth is a gaming notebook with a 17-inch screen, but it crams its high-end hardware into a chassis that weighs just 2.7kg and is a mere 22mm thick – figures that make the Toshiba seem chubby. Then there are 15.6-inch models such as the Schenker XMG P503 and Gigabyte P25W – machines with huge power and slightly smaller designs.
Gaming laptops like these can’t get away with skimping on the core components and so, true to form, Toshiba has made sure that the Qosmio X70 is packed with top hardware. The key component is that GeForce GTX 770M graphics chip. Only two other mobile GPUs from Nvidia’s range have more gaming grunt, and neither the GTX 775M or the GTX 780M are found in any of Toshiba’s rivals.
The Core i7-4700MQ processor is a familiar component that appears in virtually all high-end consumer laptops at the moment. It’s easy to see why, with four Hyper-Threaded cores that run at 2.4GHz and hit a top Turbo speed of 3.4GHz. There’s 16GB of memory too, which is twice as much as you’ll find in many similar laptops, including the Asus, MSI and Gigabyte machines.
Dual-band 802.11n wireless is a welcome addition, and the port selection includes four USB 3.0 sockets, HDMI and D-SUB outputs, Gigabit Ethernet, two audio jacks and an SD card reader. We’re pleased to see so many USB 3.0 ports – most other laptops include two or three – but the absence of DisplayPort and additional audio jacks is disappointing.
The Toshiba is a hefty machine, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it offers more internal access than most portables.
There are two memory sockets for upgrades, plus an empty bay for a 2.5-inch hard disk or SSD.
Real power The Qosmio romped through our benchmark tests, producing the best results we’ve seen recently.
It can clearly handle any modern game – we ran Bioshock Infinite at 1,920 x 1080 on Ultra settings, and the Toshiba averaged a silky smooth 37fps. Toshiba has spent the last two years producing lightning-quick SSDs, so it’s no surprise that the drive inside the Qosmio was equally impressive.
As with most gaming notebooks though, don’t expect the Qosmio X70 to last long away from a power source. In our standard battery test it ran out of juice after one hour and 32 minutes, and even with the screen dimmed and Power Saver mode activated, it only lasted a shade over two hours.
Much of its power is drained by the 17.3-inch Full HD screen, which makes games look pin-sharp and gave excellent results in our benchmarks. The measured brightness level of 343 nits is superb and the panel makes an eye-searing first impression.
It’s not all sunshine and roses for the Qosmio, though. The four Harmon/Kardon speakers are extremely loud, but the audio output is dominated by tinny high-end sounds that mask the crunchy mid-range. There’s bass there too, but it’s often barely audible – we’d prefer much more.
The Toshiba’s keyboard has a rock-solid base, but its glossy keys don’t look or feel very good to the touch. They’re light, but there’s not enough travel and their action feels too subtle for fast-paced games.
Conversely, the two buttons in the wide, smooth trackpad have too much travel – we were unable to click as quickly as we’d like.
The Qosmio has a solid wrist-rest and keyboard base, a full-size numberpad and plenty of ports alongside a Blu-ray drive. It also has one of the most versatile designs we’ve seen recently, with expansion room and plenty of access to the internal components. The quartet of Harmon/Kardon speakers are the loudest available, and the bright chassis design will attract those who want a laptop that will stand out from more corporate machines.
Bold and brash So the Qosmio X70 follows the classic gaming laptop blueprint: a thick, heavy chassis with plenty of garish design features and a specification powerful enough to brush aside the demands of the latest titles. The screen and graphics chip are the stars of this particular show, with the former providing bright, vivid colours and the latter standing up to rivals with great benchmarks scores.
The Qosmio’s unique sense of style won’t suit everyone, though – rival laptops such as the MSI GS70 Stealth are much more demure.
The divisive looks also come with a bloated design; the Qosmio’s 3.4kg weight and 44mm-thick chassis make it tricky to carry around.
The high-end components haven’t been paired with a top-end battery, either – the Qosmio has one of the shortest lifespans we’ve seen, even for a gaming notebook.
The speakers lack bass and are dominated by a tinny high-end, the keyboard doesn’t have enough travel, and the screen’s black level is too high. Build quality, too, is iffy – the solid wrist-rest is undermined by a flimsy-feeling screen.
The price is also high. Other laptops with similar specifications are hundreds of pounds less, and MSI works harder to justify a similar tag for the GS70 Stealth with two SSDs and better networking hardware inside a slimmer, lighter and better-looking enclosure.
The Qosmio has undeniable power, but its table-topping benchmark results are undermined by small flaws elsewhere. As for the price, it’s simply too high. Rival gaming machines from the likes of Asus and Gigabyte offer similar power while doing much less damage to your wallet.