Normally, aesthetics are a secondary part of a notebook review, but Toshiba forces the issue with the Qosmio X305’s wild design. Seriously, the lid’s audacious three-tone, metallic-red paint job alone is enough to challenge the interest of a potential buyer, but the X305 also sports an unusual formfactor involving curves and lips that add to both the machine’s footprint and height. And like the majority of notebooks in its class, the 17-inch X305 is heavy—although, with a carry weight of approximately 11 and a half pounds, it’s still more than a pound lighter than the CyberPower Extreme M1 we reviewed last month.
Of course, there’s more to the Toshiba X305 than its physical spectacle. The machine has the distinction of housing a 2GHz Core 2 Quad Mobile Q9000 processor, making it only the second quad notebook we’ve reviewed—the first was Lenovo’s Kick Ass ThinkPad W700. Those two extra cores gave the X305 a healthy advantage over its higher-clocked, dual-core competitors in our application benchmarks. In Premiere Pro CS3, ProShow Producer, and MainConcept Reference, which are all heavily multithreaded, the X305 surpassed all the dual-core rigs we’ve reviewed over the last several months—including the 2.8GHz HP HDX 18 we reviewed in January—by greater than 50 percent, in most cases. Interestingly, it also scored much better than those machines in Photoshop, which isn’t heavily multithreaded. We attribute it more to the X305’s hard drive configuration: a speedy Toshiba 64GB SSD is dedicated to the OS, while applications write to a virtually empty 320GB HDD.
With its crazy bright-red coloring and curvaceous design, the X305 will likely repel conservative types.
In gaming, the X305 is not as impressive. The machine had no problem pummeling our GeForce Go 8600M-equipped zero-point rig in the game benchmarks, but it was no match for the dual ATI Radeon HD 3870 cards in last month’s CyberPower Extreme M1. The X305 suffered a 12 percent loss against that rig in Quake 4 and more punishing losses of 52 percent and 41 percent in UT3 and Crysis, respectively. The X305 also fared worse than old-fave Gateway P-7811 FX, with its GeForce 9800M GTS; the X305’s 9800M GTX runs 100MHz slower (500MHz vs. 600MHz), making for a six percent disadvantage in Quake 4 and a 26 percent loss in UT3. The X305 managed a 10 percent win against the Gateway in Crysis, thanks to its shader-core advantage (112 vs. 64), but it’s a bittersweet victory as neither rig is capable of playable frame rates in that game at high settings, even at 1024x768 resolution.
Toshiba positions the Qosmio as a multi-purpose entertainment machine. To that end, the X305 sports good audio capabilities—the 4.1 Harman/Kardon speakers get plenty loud and maintain good midrange. The glossy surface on the 17-inch screen adds vibrancy to both movies and games. (Interestingly, the screen’s native resolution is 1680x1050, while most other notebooks of this size are 1920x1200.) An HDMI port lets you connect to a high-def display. Plus, the X305 offers three USB ports (one of which doubles as eSATA), a 5-in-1media reader, and an ExpressCard slot, along with Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit.
While the X305’s application performance is certainly commendable, its outrageous looks, lackluster gaming performance, and paltry battery life (one hour, eight minutes on power-saving mode) should consider its cons before making a purchase.
Toshiba Qosmio X305
Beats dual-core rigs in multithreaded apps; 4.1 speakers rock.
Gaudy aesthetic; unimpressive gaming; piss-poor battery life.