Notebook Overview

The X305 is a 17" chassis, like most DTR offerings. We were a bit surprised to see Toshiba stick with a maximum native resolution of 1680x1050 instead of 1920x1200, but not everyone likes the small text on WUXGA displays. We'd prefer to have a choice, but Toshiba goes the route of having numerous SKUs based off the same core design instead of allowing custom ordering a la Dell. The X305 design has been around for a while now, sporting support for Penryn CPUs, dual NVIDIA GPUs, and dual hard drives. The X305-Q725 may be one of the most recent versions, but it's not the fastest - for gaming or other purposes. We'll have more on that in a moment; first, here's a quick look at the base specifications.

Toshiba X305-725 Specifications
Processor Core 2 Quad Q9000 (Quad-Core 2.00GHz, 2x3MB Shared L2, 1066FSB)
Chipset Intel PM45 + ICH9M
Memory 2x2048MB DDR3-1066
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce 9800M GTX 1024MB
Display 17.0" WSXGA+ (1680x1050) Glossy
Hard Drive 1 x 64GB SSD
1 x 320GB 7200RPM 8MB
Optical Drive 8x DVDR SuperMulti
Networking Realtek Gigabit Ethernet (RTL8168/8111C)
Intel WiFi Link 5100
Bluetooth v2.0
Wireless USB
Audio 2-Channel Realtek ALC272 HD Audio (4.0 Speakers)
Battery 6-Cell 54Whr
Front Side WiFi On/Off Switch
Optical Drive (DVDRW)
Left Side 1 x eSATA/USB 2.0
1 x USB 2.0
ExpressCard/54
Right Side Volume Dial
Headphone/SPDIF Out and Microphone Jacks
2 x USB 2.0
Modem
Flash Reader (MS (Pro), MMC, SD, xD)
Back Side Kensington Lock
1 x Mini Firewire
Power Connector
HDMI
VGA
Gigabit Ethernet
Operating System Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit
Dimensions 16.2" x 12.0" x 1.7"-2.5" (WxDxH)
Weight 9 lbs (with battery)
Extras 1.3MP Webcam
104-Key Keyboard
Warranty 1-Year Toshiba Warranty; Extended warranties available from various retailers
Price Starting at ~$2700 online

As stated, this is a gaming laptop, which is obvious with one glance at the 9800M GTX graphics chip. While this was the fastest single-GPU mobile solution from NVIDIA when we received the laptop, NVIDIA just launched several updated mobile solutions. NVIDIA hasn't launched a new top-end mobile GPU for almost a year, and the current 9800M is just a minor revision of the previous 8800M. Long story short, the 9800M GTX is slightly slower than the desktop 8800 GT 512MB that launched in late 2007. With the new GPUs, that makes this laptop last year's technology, right? Well, not necessarily.

Similar to the renaming of the 9800M GTX+, the new GT 100M/200M are rebadged versions of the older GPUs. NVIDIA states that they use "a highly-refined 55nm variant of the G92 graphics core", but it's still essentially the same G92 core at heart. NVIDIA's own documentation suggests that the GTX 280M will be on average 22% faster than the 9800M GTX utilized in the Toshiba X305, so it's not a dramatic difference in performance. However, if you are looking for maximum performance, clearly you would now want the GTX 280M - preferably in SLI. Of course, there are plenty of other X305 models available, with or without SLI, and we suspect that Toshiba will soon have an updated model utilizing the latest GPUs. As it stands, even without the newly launched mobile GPUs, a single 9800M GTX is going to end up being slower than dual 9800M GTS SLI solutions, though it will also use less power.

Looking at the chassis, we are immediately struck by the sheer size of the X305. It feels about as large as the Clevo D901C DTR, the difference being in the choice of processor technology. The D901C uses desktop CPUs whereas the X305 is designed for mobile GPUs. While that may reduce power requirements for Toshiba yielding better battery life, as we've already outlined battery life isn't really a concern. Frankly, we'd be more inclined to purchase a full-blown desktop replacement and live with the extra few pounds - plus up to 50% faster CPU performance and twice the GPU power (give or take).

Besides being very large, the chassis feels somewhat cheap because of the plastic materials used for construction. It's no worse than most other laptops, but pick up a notebook with a nice aluminum - or even partial aluminum - exterior and you'll immediately notice the difference. When you're spending this much money on a notebook, it would be nice to feel like you're getting the absolute best in materials and workmanship, and we honestly can't say we feel that way. What we'd really like is something that looks and feels more like a larger, more powerful MacBook Pro.

It's not all bad news for the Toshiba, though. Some people will like the bling and styling of the chassis, and we certainly will agree that the chassis is striking. The chassis also comes with four speakers that manage to produce what is arguably the best sound we've encountered in a laptop. That's not saying a whole lot, of course, when many laptops come with tiny, tinny speakers that are barely sufficient for watching YouTube videos. The large chassis also manages to deal with hot components quite well, and temperatures for the exterior of the chassis were typically cooler than many other laptops - even those that may not target the gaming sector.

As you would expect, Toshiba offers plenty of expansion ports on the X305. Users get three USB ports, plus one more that can function as either a USB or an eSATA port. FireWire, gigabit Ethernet, ExpressCard/54, and audio ports are present. A small cover on the right side at the integrated flash reader (xD, SD, or MS), along with a modem. HDMI and VGA ports provide the external video connectivity; we feel all notebook manufacturers could improve the video options, as we would like to see two digital video ports (HDMI and DVI) - VGA support could be provided via a DVI dongle. Considering the size of the notebook, we also have to mention that there seems to be plenty of space where Toshiba could have added a couple more USB ports. This isn't a critical problem, as we don't expect most users will need more than four USB devices on a laptop, but it certainly wouldn't hurt.

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  • Beno - Thursday, March 19, 2009 - link

    "there are users that want this sort of system, and this review is targeted at that audience. Everything clear? Good, let's continue."
    these users need professional help!
    Reply
  • szcsongor - Thursday, September 3, 2009 - link

    Why? It's that hard to imagine that there are people (as me) who are travelling a lot (and working in different countries) AND who want a system, what is good for work and playing with the latest games? Travelling with a desktop PC is rather difficult...
    The truth is that I bought this rig in a refurbished (but perfect) condition for 1800USD, and for this price I think it wan't a bad deal. I wouldn't have paid 2000+USD for it either...
    Reply
  • InternetGeek - Sunday, March 15, 2009 - link

    I for one find the Qosmio's shape horrible, but the computer is a decent one. That Clevo smokes it on most benchmarks though, and does look nice as well. Where would you buy one online?

    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, March 15, 2009 - link

    AVA Direct, Sager, and WidowPC all come to mind immediately. Eurocom is another option. The last I looked, I think Sager was actually the cheapest place for a fully equipped Clevo D901C system, but that can change at any time. Also, as I mentioned in a blog post, Clevo is coming out with the D900F that will use Core i7 desktop CPUs, so if you want more performance that's an option come ~April. Reply
  • Globemaster - Friday, March 13, 2009 - link

    I'm away from home for up to 220 days per year, so without my Sager (Clevo 901C) I wouldn't be able to play the games I want, ever. My limited time at home needs to be spent keeping up the house/yard and with the family. I only get to game on the road, hence the utility of these types of notebooks - it's obviously a niche, but it seems like almost everything is these days. Reply
  • vj8usa - Thursday, March 12, 2009 - link

    How come the specs of the laptops being compared against aren't all listed? It'd be nice to know what kind of hardware you're pitting this laptop against. It'd also be nice to perhaps put the CPU/GPU of each laptop next to its name in the charts. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, March 12, 2009 - link

    If you visit the http://www.anandtech.com/mobile/">Mobile section of our site, you'll be able to find all the specs of recently tested laptops. Most of them are in the http://www.anandtech.com/mobile/showdoc.aspx?i=339...">gaming laptop roundup, and then there's a http://www.anandtech.com/mobile/showdoc.aspx?i=341...">couple more http://www.anandtech.com/mobile/showdoc.aspx?i=343...">laptop roundups. The http://www.anandtech.com/mobile/showdoc.aspx?i=337...">Gateway P-7811 was covered in a separate article. I suppose I could try to include specs, but the problem is with this many laptops included in results the specs page would get very long. I sort of assume people that follow the mobile articles have read the previous reviews and know what to expect, but that's obviously not the case all the time. Reply
  • 7Enigma - Thursday, March 12, 2009 - link

    Nice article, but I'd like to request that you put a "higher is better" or "lower is better", or whatever determines better for each of color graphs. Only the last one says "lower is better" and I'm completely naive to these tests. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, March 12, 2009 - link

    All of the graphs are sorted so that the better scores are at the top of the charts. As for what the terms mean, I discuss that more in depth in an article I http://www.anandtech.com/displays/showdoc.aspx?i=2...">wrote a while back. In terms of what they should be, normally I'm fine with a maximum brightness of 200 nits, and a contrast ratio of 500:1 or better.

    Color accuracy and gamut are nice to have, but if you don't do image editing or color matching it often doesn't matter. If that's the case, good black levels might be more important than raw color accuracy. Watch a movie on a display with a poor black level, and even if the colors were accurate you'd likely be somewhat annoyed by the missing blacks.

    Hope that helps some.
    Reply
  • 7Enigma - Thursday, March 12, 2009 - link

    That makes it much easier. Maybe just a single line (if you don't want to put Lower/Higher is better) at the beginning of the section saying they are ranked from best to worst in each of the graphs? For instance, I have a pretty good understanding of calibration from performing maintainence on my RPTV, and so things like contrast, black level, color bleed into white, etc. I get. So I get that contrast ratio should be high, but didn't necessarily think the black level number should be low (makes sense now, but not when I was first viewing the charts).

    Anyways very nice review. I especially liked that you qualified the review in the first paragraph (and reiterated throughout) stating whom this laptop is targeted at which should (hopefully) limit the regular criticisms in the comments section against this niche market. I personally don't have a use for it, but enjoy reading about the new mobile pseudo-desktops, and certainly understand their value for several different professions.

    Now go and pressure Anand for the SSD roundup! :) Please...
    Reply

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