Introduction

We recently received Toshiba's latest X305-Q725 laptop, which targets the mobile gaming sector. We have our own thoughts on what is best in this sort of market, and we know plenty of people that think this sector is a joke, to put it bluntly. However, while many people have no interest in desktop replacement notebooks, there are users that want this sort of system, and this review is targeted at that audience. Everything clear? Good, let's continue.

This is the first laptop we've been able to test that ships with a quad-core CPU, and moreover it's a Penryn-based mobile quad-core chip as opposed to one of the larger units that simply uses a desktop CPU. The processor isn't left without a supporting cast, though, with NVIDIA's current top-end mobile GPU, a 64G SSD backed by a 320GB HDD, 4GB RAM, and Windows Vista 64-bit Ultimate. How does the laptop perform and where are its strengths and weaknesses? That's what we're here to find out.


Right from the start, we know that this isn't going to be a laptop for everyone. When we mentioned battery life testing, our marketing contact was quick to point out that mobility wasn't a primary focus of this system. We agree with that assessment, but that doesn't mean we don't think gaming laptops inevitably have to have poor battery life. NVIDIA has worked with Intel and other companies to provide for hybrid graphics solutions where the discrete GPU can be disabled to conserve battery life, turning over graphics duties to the integrated solution. With high-end mobile GPUs using 10-20W even when idle, the ability to shut off such components could prove extremely useful. Unfortunately, Toshiba didn't attempt to provide such functionality, so the 9800M GTX is a constant drain on the battery. Couple that with a quad-core CPU, dual hard drives (one SSD and one 7200RPM drive), and plenty of other extras and we're once again looking at a laptop that is far more of a transportable desktop replacement (DTR) as opposed to a mobile computing solution.

There's nothing wrong with that sort of design, of course: plenty of people could use a portable workstation they can easily move between the home, clients, and office. We still think Toshiba could do more to address battery life, but the fact is all of the other components would still keep battery life under two hours in all likelihood. Until we get quad-core CPUs that can fully power down extra cores, plus supposedly better power management courtesy of Windows 7, the ability to get top-end AC performance without killing battery life remains out of reach.

So, what exactly does the Toshiba X305-Q725 offer, how much does it cost, and is it worth it? Let's get to it and find out.

Notebook Overview
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  • Morelian - Wednesday, March 11, 2009 - link

    I've had 2 of the Gateway FX series of notebooks, the first one was the 3mb Vista 32 version with a slower dual core, but it seemed to run games "ok"-WoW, TF2, AoC. Sadly the monitor got stepped on, so now this one is beside the TV functioning as the home media server and does a fine job of that. The first Gateway cost around 1300, then last one was 1050 but they are going for 1150 in Bestbuy now. The newer Gateway has the 2.6 mhz cpu, 4 gb ddr3 and a nicer screen and I find it handles whatever games I throw at it reasonably well. Battery life is about 2 hours, and the large keyboard lets you get work done efficiently.

    I think I'll wait until Gateway comes out with their quadcore system, both of mine have been really stable, offer nice performance, and aside from the size and weight of the 17 form factor I can't really knock them.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, March 11, 2009 - link

    The Gateway FX P-7808u is now shipping, though the price is higher than the last FX "mainstream" model at around $1700 right now. You can http://www.jr.com/gateway/pe/GTW_P7808U/">buy it here if you're interested, or wait another week or two for my review. Short summary looking at the specs is that they've upgraded the CPU substantially (Q9000), but the LCD is back to the 1440x900 of the P-6831. That does make gaming at the native resolution more viable with the single 9800M GTS, though. Reply
  • Pessimism - Wednesday, March 11, 2009 - link

    I stopped reading as soon as I read NVIDIA. Three years of defective GPUs that disintegrate under heat and a manufacturer chooses them for a high performance (high temperature) premium gaming notebook. Reply
  • Exar3342 - Wednesday, March 11, 2009 - link

    The instability of the machine seems a very big issue to me. I definitely wouldn't spend $2000+ on a machine that hard boots when you try playing a number of different games! Considering that is what this designed for (mobile gaming) that is a serious issue for me and would definitely make this a "non-buy". Reply
  • jabber - Wednesday, March 11, 2009 - link

    Cant help but think what $2000 of desktop PC components would give me rather then this....thing?

    I've known several folks that have bought such monster laptops and all have regretted it later.

    Filed under "Seemed like a good idea at the time!"
    Reply
  • Dakkota - Sunday, March 15, 2009 - link

    These type of computers are made for people like me, I travel the world for work and have been a gamer since the 70's and pong. I don't own this particular one, I have a Clevo M571TU, ( can be bought as SagerNotebook.com and some others) but I was looking to see what the competition has, if you go to the Clevo site, you'll see what awesome machines these are. Yes, the brick and all the that stuff travel around with me, and I play games like Crysis, Far Cry, Fear 2, WOW, all sorts, these machines are great. This is my second Clevo I'm on now, after 3 years with the old one, I wanted to update the technology, people in my family were clamoring to get the old one, these are very stought machines, yes, costly, especially completely decked out like I get them, but worth every penny for the gaming road warrior, and believe me, I've met quite a few. Reply
  • Nfarce - Wednesday, March 11, 2009 - link

    Uhm, yeah, that would be me. My $1,800 Dell E1705 Inspiron went from being a pretty decent portable DX8/9 gaming system and DVD movie player in 2006 to basically a websurfer today that sits in the living room next to the remote for when I want to surf and watch TV simultaneously. Damn if only I could have that money back - playing HL2 and other games while traveling for work (that I already played at home on a real gaming bo anyway). It just wasn't worth it in the long run. But I was happy in the beginning - sounds like all my former relationships too, LOL. Reply
  • GaryJohnson - Wednesday, March 11, 2009 - link

    I think a lot of people who want portable gaming PCs would be better served with SFF desktops. Reply
  • crimson117 - Friday, March 13, 2009 - link

    And little portable LCD monitors? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, March 13, 2009 - link

    I guess I look at it this way. For a gaming notebook you need to take the following if you want to play games on the road:

    1) Notebook
    2) Power brick
    3) Mouse

    For an SFF, you need:

    1) Main SFF box (plus cords)
    2) LCD display (plus cords)
    3) Mouse
    4) Keyboard
    5) Headphones

    Now, I won't dispute that an SFF (well, uATX system - SFFs have their own set of problems) is a more cost-effective solution for gaming, offers better performance, and is expandable. However, it is a far cry from being transportable like a DTR setup. Throw in the fact that many proprietary SFFs are not particularly cheap (Shuttle) and quality control on those same SFFs is poor in my experience, and I'd say if you really want to game on the road the DTR market is worth a serious look. You still might go with an SFF, but only if you don't actually travel+game all that much.
    Reply

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