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Toshiba Satellite P755D-S5172 - 15.6 - A series A8-3520M - Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit - 6 GB RAM - 640 GB HDD review: Toshiba Satellite P755D-S5172 - 15.6 - A series A8-3520M - Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit - 6 GB RAM - 640 GB HDD

Toshiba Satellite P755D-S5172 - 15.6 - A series A8-3520M - Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit - 6 GB RAM - 640 GB HDD

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Dan Ackerman
6 min read

That competition is good for consumers is accepted wisdom, and rightfully so. Even though Intel provides the majority of CPUs in today's laptops, it's good to see systems powered by rival AMD, such as this midpriced 15-inch Toshiba Satellite.

Toshiba Satellite P755D-S5172 - 15.6" - A8-3520M - Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit - 6 GB RAM - 640 GB HDD

Toshiba Satellite P755D-S5172 - 15.6 - A series A8-3520M - Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit - 6 GB RAM - 640 GB HDD

The Good

For a reasonable price, the Toshiba Satellite P755D-S5172 includes a Blu-ray drive, discrete AMD graphics, and one of AMD's faster processors.

The Bad

The performance still lags even lower-end Intel laptops, and the bland, plastic design will impress no one. Also, why does Toshiba insist on making sure its volume buttons emit are insanely loud beeps when pressed?

The Bottom Line

This midpriced 15-inch Toshiba Satellite has a few nice higher-end features, but its AMD processor makes it feel like a budget performer.

The chip in question here is the higher-end AMD Quad-Core A8-3520M, which AMD calls an APU (or Accelerated Processing Unit), because it includes a discrete Radeon 6620 graphics chip -- one of the advantages of producing both CPUs and GPUs. At $699 for the Satellite P755D-S5172, it's very nice to get some graphics horsepower, plus a Blu-ray drive.

But you knew there had to be a catch, right? Even though this AMD Quad-Core A8-3520M processor is part of AMD's upper tier, its benchmark performance is sluggish, falling behind Intel Core i5 and i7 CPUs, and matching up closer to a lower-end Intel Core i3. As 15-inch Core i5 laptops can be found for $100 less, it's hard to call this a great value, unless you're particularly interested in the Blu-ray drive.

Price as reviewed $699
Processor 1.6GHz AMD Quad-Core A8-3520M
Memory 6GB, 1333MHz DDR3
Hard drive 640GB 5,400rpm
Chipset AMD ID 1705/780E
Graphics AMD Radeon HD 6620G
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
Dimensions (WD) 13.4 x 9.0 inches
Height 1.1 - 1.4 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 15.6 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 5.5/6.3 pounds
Category Midsize

Toshiba is known for its sometimes confusing array of lettered laptop lines, and the P series falls somewhere in the middle of the pack. The body is a glossy silver-black plastic, with textured horizontal lines etched into it. The lines do add some depth and a nearly woodgrain-like quality (and are pleasingly fingerprint-resistant), but you'll never forget this is a plastic laptop, and a thick, bulky one at that.

The keyboard sits in a recessed section of the interior. That means the wrist rest is higher than a keyboard, which is an ergonomic plus. The flat-topped island-style keys are surprisingly easy to use, with zero flex, even in the middle. The individual keys do, however, wiggle a bit under the finger, and are paired with Toshiba's standard undersized space bar. A full number pad sits on the right side, along with handy standalone page-up and page-down keys.

A row of touch-sensitive media control buttons are located above the keyboard. That's a nice feature to see on a laptop in this price range, but after years of asking, no one has ever been able to tell me why Toshiba insists that its volume control buttons emit a piercing beep by default when pressed. A pair of speakers, from Harman Kardon, are above average, but don't expect too much thump with your music. Clarity and brightness (and volume), however, were good.

The touch pad has a matte Mylar coating with an accent light strip at the top edge that turns off when you press a small button to deactivate the entire pad. The pad is centered under the spacebar, putting it towards the left side of the chassis, and below it are two large plastic left and right mouse buttons that are responsive, but also loose and clacky. While a two-finger pinch/zoom multitouch gesture worked, two-finger scroll did not. Instead, the touch pad has a scroll zone along the right edge.

The 1,366x768-pixel-resolution glossy 15.6-inch display is excellent, as many Toshiba displays are, with rich colors and good brightness. Off-axis angles degrade the image quality quickly, however. It's hard to complain about a 1,366x768-pixel screen in a $700 15-inch laptop, but note that the 1080p Blu-ray drive can't display its full resolution on this screen.

Toshiba Satellite P755D-S5172 Average for category [midsize]
Video VGA plus HDMI VGA plus HDMI or DisplayPort
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data 3 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0, SD card reader 2 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, SD card reader, eSATA
Networking Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional mobile broadband
Optical drive Blu-ray player/DVD burner DVD burner

The Satellite P755D-S5172 scores some points for its ports and connections, with four USB ports at a time when some laptops are offering fewer than ever. Only one of those is USB 3.0, but it also includes Toshiba's sleep-and-play feature, which allows that port to power or charge devices such as an iPod or iPhone even when the laptop is closed, off, or sleeping.

This fixed-configuration laptop includes a decent-size 640GB 5,400rpm hard drive, 6GB of RAM, and an AMD Quad-Core A8-3520M processor. But Toshiba makes several other P755 variations -- we counted 30 on Toshiba's Web site, with both Intel and AMD CPUs. This is the least expensive, while there's also an Intel Core i7 model that costs $1,199.

For a $699 laptop, the performance here is acceptable, but considering AMD's A8 processor should be better than its A6 and A4 versions, it's underwhelming. Far from being competitive with Intel's midrange Core i5 processors, the benchmark scores were closer to an Intel Core i3. For basic websurfing, video viewing, and social networking, it's more than adequate, and while using the laptop, I ran into only occasional minor slowdown.

AMD does offer a decent graphics card bundled into its overall A8 package. Together both are called an APU (a term invented by AMD), but the GPU in question is the Radeon HD 6620G. It's much better than the basic graphics you get with an Intel CPU, known as HD 3000, and the AMD version ran Street Fighter IV at 1,366x768 pixels at 29.8 frames per second. That makes it good for mainstream gaming if you keep the performance options set to medium or low levels. Keep in mind, however, that Intel's upcoming new integrated GPU, the HD 4000, has so far offered similar performance in our initial tests.

Juice box
Toshiba Satellite P755D-S5172 Average watts per hour
Off (60 percent) 0.54
Sleep (10 percent) 0.97
Idle (25 percent) 7.55
Load (5 percent) 41.72
Raw kWh 38.50
Annual energy cost $4.37

It's not exactly burning up the charts performance-wise, so a good place for the P755 to shine would be in battery life. Unfortunately, that was not to be. In our video playback battery drain test, the system ran for 2 hours and 50 minutes, a bit below the three-hour cutoff for acceptable battery life in a 15-inch laptop.

Toshiba includes an industry-standard one-year parts-and-labor warranty with the system. Support is accessible through a 24-7 toll-free phone line, and a customized support search page can direct you to online documents and driver downloads for this specific model.

In conclusion, out of the 30-odd preconfigured versions of the Satellite P755 offered by Toshiba, the P755D-S5172 offers a decent but not exciting design, pretty good graphics performance, and a Blu-ray player for $699 -- but AMD's A-series CPU platform simply can't compete with even entry-level Intel CPUs in most tests, making this midpriced laptop feel more like a budget system.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

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

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Annual power consumption cost
Toshiba Satellite P755D-S5172

Find out more about how we test laptops.

Toshiba Satellite P755D-S5172 - 15.6" - A8-3520M - Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit - 6 GB RAM - 640 GB HDD

Toshiba Satellite P755D-S5172 - 15.6 - A series A8-3520M - Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit - 6 GB RAM - 640 GB HDD

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 7Performance 7Battery 5Support 7