Toshiba Qosmio X70 Review (GTX 770M)

Table of Contents (in short):

++ Main reason to consider:

Gaming performance for the price, with the right coupons.

— Main reason to avoid:

High temperatures.

 

Pro:
+ Gaming performance (in practice) for the price is the highest you can currently get, when the price drops to 1000$.
+ Good enough 1080p screen with good horizontal viewing angles and good colors and satisfactory contrast and brightness.
+ Quiet.
+ Relatively comfortable keyboard.
+ Solid design.
+ Slightly lighter compared to some other 17.3″ gaming laptops at 3.45kg.
+ Backlit keyboard.

 

Con:
– Temperatures can get very high under load, especially when it’s hot around.
– Speakers are mediocre at best.
– Installed RAM is not easily accessible.
– Relatively slow HDD.
– Somewhat boring design.
– No fan speed control.

 

 

Introduction, Toshiba Qosmio X70 review

ComponentDescription
Price1000$ when bought, but generally it goes between 1000$ to 1200$ with free shipping and usually there are some additional 50$-100$ coupon
CPUI7-4700MQ
GPUGTX 770M 3GB GDDR5@1000MHZ
RAMSamsung 2x2GB DDR3
HDDHGST HTS541075A9E680 750GB 5400RPM
LCD PanelToshiba 'TrueBrite' 1080p glossy display
Weight / Dimensions3.45kg / 7.6lbs (PSU: 1.9lbs),  16.5” x 10.7” x 1.2”/1.7” (W x D x H)
KeyboardBacklit (orange-red)
Connection Portsright side: 2xUSB 3.0, 1xHDMI with 4k output, 1x VGA
left side: 2xUSB 3.0, 1xLAN
More9-in-1 Card Reader; MMC/RSMMC; SD/MiniSD/SDHC/SDXC; MS/MS Pro/MS Duo
Camera2.0 Megapixels; FHD 1920x1080; 30fps
WiFiWi-Fi® Wireless networking (802.11b/g/n) + Bluetooth 4.0 (Qualcomm Atheros QCWB335)
SpeakersQuad Harman Kardon speakers
Battery8 cell, 47Wh

Important notice: I have some problem with taking images right now, but I’ll upload images of the laptop and the screen soon, hopefully.

UPDATE: The X70 has died on me. I’ll send it for repair and will report back

UPDATE 2: It’s back working. I’ll have to make more tests to see how it goes. Anyway, a reader over youtube said he has a different bios than mine and the fan spins fast under load so the CPU doesn’t get too hot.

UPDATE 3: read the additional overheating performance analysis of the Toshiba Qosmio X70.

 

Build quality, Case and design and looks

The Qosmio X70 body itself feels firm and though it could be stronger, I think it is adequete and I don’t think that the previous generation Sager NP9150 was any better. The part below the DVD bay is a bit flexible which is not too flexible too. The keyboard area looks like brushed alumium and looks nice. The screens outer lid is a flexible although not more than other laptops I’ve tested, like the Eurocom Racer 2 (Sager NP9150), Asus N56DP and some more.

The looks are solid and a mixture of plastic and metallic looks. If you like the more serious look, the X70 suits you, though they could make it a bit more ‘modern’.

The bottom can be opened partially. You can access two HDD bays and the WiFi card, but you can’t easily get to the already installed RAM.

 

Keyboard and trackpad

The X70 comes with a orange/red backlit keyboard. The keyboard feels very stable and firm. It is also very comfortable to me, as far as chicklet non-mechanical keyboards go – it is quiet, there is enough spacing between the keys and the strokes feels good and the keys return fast enough to their place for me to type quickly. The back light is not too strong and the orange-red color is nice.

The trackpad is actually good too. It’s not excellent, but it’s good, responsive and sensitive enough, at least for me.

 

Sound & Speakers

The speakers branded as “Harman-Kardon’ and are located in the left and right parts of the panel above the keyboard. The speakers output can be described pretty much as ‘meh’ compared to really good speakers, but the sound quality is better than some other laptops or equals them, like all Clevo laptops, the Asus N56 laptops and more. It might be good for games and music will sound ok through these speakers, but don’t expect too much from these speakers. The earphone output is good and you can use it with some good external speakers or earphones.

 

General Subjective Performance Experience

The general feeling is very good and the laptop is quite responsive. However, once in a while there the system halts for a moment and it seems to me that it occures especially when you’re doing several operations at once that require a lot of IO operations and the cause might be the relatively slower 5400RPM HDD that comes with the laptops. I wouldn’t say it bothers me really, but it’s there – might be a Windows 8 issue too.

Otherwise, I’m quite content.

 

Gaming Performance

I won’t do synthetic stuff, only games benchmarks. For syntethic benchmarks, you can check the notebookcheck records (or other sites). The test includes a small amount of games and the point is to give a reference benchmarks compared to other machines, so the Qosmio X70 performance could be compared more accurately. For example, other laptops might get more throttled (yes, the X70 sometimes throttle). For more numbers are available over the web in sites like Notebookcheck.com.

 

Test Methods & Drivers

Using Nvidia Driver 311.51, Windows 8, fully updated as I write these lines. Toshiba doesn’t provide the new Nvidia 320 drivers and I had no success in installing the reference 320 ones. HWInfo and MSI Kombustor/Afterburner were used to measures temperatures.

The settings I used in each game differ from one to another and the reason is that I tried to find the highest settings which still let you play smoothly. All games are tested with 1080p resolution.  There are enough standard benchmarks over the web to compare performance of different GPUs. For each game, I also wrote how I felt playing, if it was smooth or not.

World of Tanks (WoT)

Highest settings, AAx8, 1080p resolution, you’ll get an average of 45-60FPS, depends on the scene. Very smooth and responsive.

 

LoL (League of Legends)

highest settings, 1080p resolution, a lot of units fighting and 5-6 players at a scene – not lower than ~60 FPS. Smooth and responsive.

Crysis 3

Crysis 3, 1080p
Settings FPS Feel
Highest, SMAAx4 13-15 (min) Not smooth, but somewhat playable
Highest, SMAAx2 17-23 almost smooth, very playable to me
Highest, FXAA 18-25 almost smooth, but ok
High, SMAAx2 28-40, mostly 28-30 in demanding scenes Pretty smooth, very playable
Medium, SMAAx2 38-40 Smooth

I’d recommend playing it on high settings with SMAAx2, but you can also try going for highest settings. The X70 did throttle while gaming and the FPSs gone down, but it’s pretty hot here and in a cooler environment it might be better (read more about the throttling below)

Bioshock Infinite

Highest settings in all tests, Ambient Occlusion, Texture details and texture filtering on ‘Ultra’, Post processing on ‘alternate’.

Bioshock Infinite, 1080p
Settings FPS Feel
Highest 27-35, close to 27-28 in the most demanding scenes Smooth

There is no problem running Bioshock Infinite on the highest settings on 1080p with the GTX 770M. I tested it for a long time.

Skyrim

Skyrim, 1080p
Settings FPS Feel
Highest, 8xAA, TF on quality, AO on quality, AFx16 31-35, usually around 33-37 even in demanding scenes Very smooth
Highest, 4xAA, TF on quality, AO on quality, AFx16 31-40, like AAx8, with higher maximal FPS very smooth
Highest, 2xAA, TF on quality, AO on quality, AFx16 34-35 up to 45, usually around 36-40 very smooth

Skyrim runs smoothly with every feature enabled including Ambient Occlusion, AAx8 and AFx16 on 1080p resolution. I can’t test higher resolution currently but I guess that some higher resolution can be handled well with a some lower yet still high settings

Borderlands 2

Fun game

Borderlands2, 1080p
Settings FPS Feel
Highest, 8xAF, all on mostly 50-70. Can get to ~30-35 in some very 3D intensive scenes with lots of blows and splash Very smooth

Thermals & Noise handling

Well, the Qosmio X70 has one fan and its right side, sucking air from below and throwing it out to the right – I can’t easily open the chassis, but it seems like the GPU and CPU use the same heatsink for cooling. The fan is very quiet for a gaming laptop such as this, even when maximally spinning. In non-heavy 3D situations the X70 thermals stay relatively good and the laptop keeps calm and quite. The bottom of the X70 stays relatively not hot, but the right side is definitely not cool though. You won’t have any problem putting it on your laps or even your stomach or forehead.

However, there are three problems. First problem is that the right part of the laptop gets really hot under load and slightly hot under light work. It also gets to the point of being uncomfortable of using the right part of the keyboard (but not impossible), it didn’t disturbed me while in game, but I did notice it. Second problem which is also a cause, related to the other problems, is that you’d usually block the sucking hole in the bottom of laptop and that’s not good, especially under load.  The second problem is that under load, especially when it’s a hot environment, the CPU might get throttled: In Crysis 3, for example, the CPU throttles for a second or two every several seconds and you can see the FPSs drop.

Running both wPrime 2 with MSI Kombustor GPU burn-in (1080p, AAx4, DX11) results in visible CPU throttling after 10 minutes or so with the cores downclocked to around 800MHZ. The CPU cores got to 90C which is not good.

Two suggestions in this regard. First, try to keep the air-sucking hole unblocked – I would suggest buying some simple and cheap cooling pad – that should make things much better. Secondly, I run the test in a pretty hot environment and while I don’t have the exact temperature, I can tell you that I right these lines while I’m almost totally naked and still I’m hot.

Noise – As said before, the X70 is pretty quiet with the fan spinning quitely even under high load. I can barely hear it even when playing.

 

Screen & Screen quality

We are talking about an 1080p TN-panel glossy screen. Measurements show that it has something like 94% sRGB color coverage and 71% adobeRGB color coverage which is quite nice and while not suited for highly professional color tempers, for a gamer it should be excellent (though I know many professionals that use even worse displays). Also some gaming laptops wont give you even that. Subjectively I can say that the colors look good and generally the screen is pleasing to the eye, but the viewing angles (see below)

The contrast seems very good and I didn’t feel strains my eyes. The maximal brightness is high too and I didn’t need more than 30-40% of the screen brightness level even in daylight (sitting in a room). I’ll try to add some more accurate white/black levels later, but the black seems quite black and the white look decent too, results – probably – in a decent contrast level. Looking at the screen from the optimal angle, text and pictures look very good.

Viewing angles. Horizontally, the viewing angles are good and I can see the text clearly even 80 degrees from the center. Vertically, the viewing angles are not good and the colors change rapidly as you look from above or below the optimal angle. It is not that much of a problem for a casual gamer since you can set the screen angle to your satisfaction. Generally, I’d say it’s about the quality we’ve got used to in a 17.3″ gaming laptop in 2012 and 2013 till now.

The screen is obviously glossy and acts like a mirror even in low light situations. However, I didn’t feel it disturbs me, playing, writing and testing with it for several days in room conditions, unlike other laptops I’ve used. The brightness should be high enough for outdoor use to some high degree too. So, all in all, although I’d like to have a matte screen, this glossy one is OK.

It seems to me that there some slight white glow in the border of the panel. it is visible when you’re looking at a fully black screen – not really a problem in the common case though.

 

Toshiba Qosmio X70 Review, Toshiba X70 sRGB color coverage

Battery

Unfortunately, nothing much to expect – about 3-3.5 hours when set on ‘eco’ or ‘power saver’ mode and around 2-2.5 hours top on ‘balanced’ according to my tests, also according to battery eater test. However, remember that we are talking a 47Wh battery here.

 

Overclocking the GTX 770M

In testing.

 

Conclusion

Well, the Toshiba Qosmio X70 is a very competitive 17.3″ gaming laptop for 1000$-1200$ and especially when you can find it for around 1000$ or even less. The screen is good enough for a gamer, the GTX 770M performance is there and it’s quiet. Other 17.3″ gaming laptops with I7 and GTX 770M are priced around 1300$-1400$ – but that’s not that easy and I’ll explain it three paragraphs below.

There are two real problems. The major one is the thermals, but that can be solved to some egree with a simple cooling pad. However, under common circumstances the X70 might get a throttled here and there but that shouldn’t be that bad from my experience and you can see the benchmarks numbers – the performance is as it should be mostly. However, the high temperatures might cause harm for the hardware in the long run. I’d expect from such a gaming laptop at least to have some option to increase the fan speed, like in the GT70 (even than it’s not enough) . The bottom line is this is a problem and I simply don’t get it why manufacturer don’t put a little more effort to this, it’s not a rocket science and it seems like there is enough space for some cooling modifications and/or another fan. I also don’t understand why the system throttle so little – the CPU stays hot close to 90C, so what’s the point?

Second problem is the HDD you’ll probably get with it. The 5400RPM that came with the X70 is a non-SSHD one and it seems to show its slowness when I’m doing several a more IO-oriented operations at once, like installing several games while playing with Chrome. It’s a much pronounced problem and I wouldn’t say it’s a dealbreaker at all, but you should consider buying some aftermarket SSHD/SSD. It also might be a Windows 8 problem.

The screen is good enough and you’d probably find it satisfying for gaming as the contrast seems to be good enough and the brightness is more than ok.

Final point is the competition in this price range. Well, my recommendation would be to get this one if the price is right and you are seeking a 17.3″ gaming laptop. A right price would be no more than 1200$ and I’d even say that it should be no more than 1100$. The reason is that when you get to 1200$ you are getting close to the MSI GT70 / Sager NPs options. The MSI GT70 sometimes selling for 1300$ and the better thermals are worth the extra 100$. If you consider 15.6″ laptops too, then you have also Lenovo Y510p which sells for 1000$-1100$ with GT 750M SLI, matte 1080p screen and 8GB, you have Clevos with GTX 765M, the Sager NP8230 that selling for ~1200$ or 1300$ with OS and GTX 770M, I7 and 750GB 7200RPM HDD, the MSI GT60 and more. And if you are ok with a GTX 765M then you have several more options. If you are looking for good battery performance – look somewhere else, like in the Y510p.

So, really, compared to current competition/prices, the X70 is a good choice for 1000$-1100$ and you can watch for prices and get it for such a price + add some nice cooling pad and you are good to go.

UPDATE: read the heating/performance analysis of the X70