Gadgetslab: Toshiba Satellite P50t

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SPECIFICATIONS
Dimensions: 377.5 x 244 x 27.8mm
Weight: Starts at 5.3 Lbs
Screen: 15.6′; 1366×768
Processor: Intel Core i7, 2.0GHZ
RAM: 8GB DDR3
Video card: GeForce GT740M, 2GB GDDR3 RAM

WHAT’S HOT

  • Fast, powerful and solid
  • Large and roomy screen
  • Solidly built

WHAT’S NOT

  • Keys are a little soft for my liking
  • Heavy

BOTTOMLINE

This will chew up and spit out any current game you can throw at it.

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REVIEW

Machines are tools. My laptop, for example, is great for writing reviews, making spreadsheets, browsing the Internet and consuming multimedia content. After five PM, though, the coat comes off, the sleeves get rolled up and I shut down the MS Office suite, in exchange for whatever shooter I have on my hard drive. This, however, means that I need a reasonably beefy laptop on which to get my game on.

Toshiba was kind enough to send over a test unit of the recently-launched Satellite P50t for us to test. I’m always willing to try out awesome new laptops, particularly if they help improve my productivity (read: gaming), so I eagerly jumped on the chance to take this puppy home and give it a thorough work-out.

The first thing I need to say about the P50t is that it is on the large side. Actually, that’s putting it mildly. It is large. Like almost every gaming laptop in existence, it is appropriately chunky. You need a lot of room to fit all the hardware for a gaming rig, and it shows. Along with volume, there is quite a bit of weight to the device. This is not a laptop that would be a lot of fun to carry around for extended periods. That being said, it is a lot lighter than a desktop PC built as a gaming rig, so while a casual stroll to the coffee shop for a little work might be more trouble than it’s worth, a trip to your friend’s house for a LAN party is well within its scope.

The plus side to such a large footprint is a huge screen. A 15.6-inch widescreen with touch support is exactly what you want if gaming or movies are your thing. It’s also very bright and plenty sharp. At maximum brightness, in a decently-lit room such as at my office, it is a little too bright for my liking. Too much is better than not enough in this case though, so I’m not complaining.

Another nice consequence of its massive size is the large keyboard. There’s more than enough for a full keyboard that is comfortably spaced, as well as a separate number pad. The keys are a little soft for my liking, but have a good amount of travel to make up for it, so light strikes are not really a common occurrence with it. The track pad is equally large and located off-center of the laptop edge, but squarely in front of the spacebar. The size means that your palm will be hitting it quite a bit as you type, so your best bet would be to disable it completely and use a mouse.

The laptop in the configuration we tested has a staggering 8GB of RAM and an Intel Core i7 processor that runs at 2GHz. It has a discrete GeForce GT 740M video processor with 2GB of DDR3 RAM which, on paper, will make short work of more or less any current-gen game you can throw at it. For the sake of uniformity, its Windows Experience Rating is a very solid 5.7. Boot and loading times are helped along by the 1TB/8G hybrid SATA drive that spins at a decent 5400rpm. The unit came with the 64-bit version of Windows, allowing it to make full use of the RAM.

Given all that horsepower, it goes without saying that productivity apps, along with the usual office programs people normally use, don’t make a real dent on performance. You can open a ridiculous number of browser windows, a video editing app, play a movie and listen to music at the same time, and it would really not be a problem for this machine. As much as I tried to make the laptop croak through launching everyday apps, it wouldn’t even break a sweat. If that’s a II you’ll be doing, there is absolutely nothing to worry about.

Gaming is where the true test for this laptop lies. There was a limited time to run tests on this laptop, but I wanted to be as thorough as possible, so I installed my copy of Tomb Raider and got to it. The GeForce Experience app did a great job at configuring the settings for me, and saved me the trouble of tweaking each setting to optimize performance. These settings translated to approximately maximum settings on the game itself.

For reference, I played and finished the same game on my work laptop which was a capable device on its own, running a GeForce GT 630M. The Toshiba did noticeably better. There were points on my work lappie where the game skipped a few frames, particularly when a lot of action was happening on-screen. It wasn’t often, but it was present. The Toshiba experienced no such hiccups, and that was at higher quality settings. This machine is just begging to be plugged into a screen that has a huge pixel count on a game with settings bumped up all the way to the top.You might not have that setup, but it’s a nice thing to know that your laptop could handle it. There were no dips in frame rate, even with the in-game benchmarking, and everything was smooth and fluid.

Gaming on the P50t is huge fun. You will forget that you’re playing on a laptop. You’ll forget you’re playing. You’ll just play. There’s something about playing on a large screen and not having it skip all over the place that just gets you immersed. Call it getting into the zone or whatever you would like, but each time I got into it, everything else was gone.

If there is one thing you should take away from this review, it is that the Toshiba Satellite P50t is a gaming laptop, of that there is no doubt. As such, everything else is more or less a postscript. If you’re after mobility and uncompromising power, this is the ticket.

BuyMeter 4

Words by Ren Alcantara
First published in Gadgets Magazine, August 2013