Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277 review: A rare slim gaming laptop, at a mainstream price

While our very well-equipped $999 review configuration has a Haswell-generation Core i7 CPU, with discrete Nvidia graphics, 12GB of RAM, and a big 1TB hard drive, you can get the Satellite S50 series down to $549 with a last-gen Core i3, no GPU, a 500GB hard drive, and 8GB of RAM -- but that's pretty standard for the $500-to-$600 category, and every version includes the same 1,366x768-pixel touch screen.

In benchmark tests, the new fourth-generation Intel Core i7-4700MQ performed excellently, and was nearly identical in application tests to the high-end Qosmio X75 desktop replacement laptop we recently tested. This is probably more CPU than anyone buying a mainstream 15-inch laptop needs, and should future-proof the system a bit.

The Nvidia GeForce 740M GPU is the other big hardware highlight, as it's very rare to find a slim midsize laptop with a discrete graphics card, and it's also rare to find a GPU paired with a touch screen (although, as mentioned previously, this particular screen doesn't quite measure up). Despite this, gaming performance was a bit underwhelming, as the GeForce 740M isn't nearly as powerful as the next couple of mobile GPUs in Nvidia's chain.

For our tests, we output the video signal to an external monitor, so we could run games at 1080p (the resolution we test other gaming PCs at), and the S55t-A5277 ran our BioShock Infinite test at 11.5 frames per second, and Metro: Last Light at 4 frames per second. Of course, both of these are intense tests run at high detail levels. Anecdotally, Metro: Last Light ran decently when the resolution was dialed back to 1,600x900 and detail levels were set to low, and other games ran well at 1,920x1,080 with medium or low detail levels. The system is fine for mainstream PC gaming, but higher-end PC games will hit a ceiling. If you're restricting yourself to 1,366x768, it shouldn't be too much of a problem.

Battery life might be a problem with a Core i7 CPU and a graphics card, but the new, very efficient Intel Haswell platform continues to make strides. This system ran for 4 hours and 32 minutes in our video playback battery drain test, which is decent for the high-end specs, but still about 3 hours less than the Razer Blade gaming laptop managed.

The Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277 comes so tantalizingly close to being my perfect slim, midprice gaming laptop that the ways it falls short feel even more pronounced. Just having the option to put these high-end parts in a very mainstream-looking 15-inch laptop is a big plus, but hitting that $999 price clearly dictated some cut corners along the way. In this case, the low-quality, low-resolution screen is such a visible part of the machine that it makes it hard to appreciate how good the rest of it is.

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277

Multimedia multitasking (iTunes and HandBrake, in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277

BioShock Infinite (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277

Metro: Last Light (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Razer Blade 14
Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277

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System configurations

Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277
Windows 8 (64-bit) Intel Core i7-4700MQ; 12GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 740M; 1TB HGST 5,400rpm hard drive

Razer Blade 14
Windows 8 (64-bit); Intel Core i7-4702HQ; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 765M; 128GB Samsung SSD

Asus VivoBook S500CA
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 6GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 500GB HD + 24GB SSD

Toshiba Qosmio X75-A7298
Windows 8 (64-bit); Intel Core i7-4700MQ; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 3GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 770; 256GB SSD+ 1TB 7,200rpm HD

What you'll pay

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    Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277

    Part Number: PSKK6U-00L00C
    Pricing is currently unavailable.

    Quick Specifications See All

    • Regional specs shown for US. UK specs are unavailable.

    • Resolution 1366 x 768 ( HD )
    • Installed Size 12 GB
    • Color ice silver with brushed metallic, black keyboard
    • Weight 5.7 lbs
    • Optical Drive DVD±RW (±R DL) / DVD-RAM - fixed
    • Graphics Processor NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M - 2 GB GDDR3 SDRAM
    • CPU Intel Core i7 (4th Gen) 4700MQ / 2.4 GHz
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