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Toshiba Qosmio X505-Q850 review: Toshiba Qosmio X505-Q850

Toshiba Qosmio X505-Q850

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
7 min read

Toshiba's Qosmio line has always been the company's experimental playground for high-end systems, from massive gaming rigs to inventive multimedia home theater laptops. While there were a lot of interesting ideas there, you often ended up with slightly overpriced systems with out-of-date video cards or non-functioning Webcam hand gesture controls.


Toshiba Qosmio X505-Q850

The Good

Top-of-the-line components, including Intel Core i7; second solid-state hard drive; massive 18-inch 1080p display.

The Bad

Expensive; tiny touch pad; surprisingly cramped keyboard; mute button beeps loudly when pressed.

The Bottom Line

Toshiba revives its Qosmio gaming line with the high-end X505. It has everything from Blu-ray to an Intel Core i7 CPU, but it also carries a premium price.

With the new Qosmio X505-Q850, Toshiba has refocused the brand on gaming power, packing in a new mobile Intel Core i7 CPU and Nvidia's GeForce GTS 250M graphics card (not the very top of the line, but close). While toning down, at least slightly, the over-the-top red flame designs of old.

With a massive 18-inch 1080p display, it's no surprise our review unit included a Blu-ray drive (a bandwagon Toshiba has been reluctant to join, as it was the driving force behind HD-DVD).Those features, (plus a second solid-state hard drive) makes for a system that costs $1,899--not much compared with the tricked-out Alienware laptops of old, but considered very high-end in today's Netbook-obsessed laptop market.

HP, Asus, and others also have Core i7 gaming rigs in the works, which might be worth considering if you want a Core i7 and high-end graphics, without paying for Blu-ray, the SSD drive, and other pricey features.

Price as reviewed / Starting price $1,899 / $1,499
Processor 1.6GHz Intel Core i7 720QM
Memory 6GB, 1,066MHz DDR3
Hard drive 320GB 7,200rpm and 64GB SSD
Chipset Mobile Intel PM55 Express Chipset
Graphics 1GB Nvidia GeForce GTS 250M
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
Dimensions (WD) 17.4x11.5 inches
Height 1.8 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 18.4 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 10.4/11.8 pounds
Category Desktop replacement

The design of the Qosmio X505 is a clear evolution of earlier Qosmio systems--it shares the same high-contrast red/black palette and rounded chassis, although it has less of a clamshell-like feel than previous versions. It's still positively huge, and weighs more than 10 pounds, even without the power adapter. Despite the laptop's heft, the back of its lid flexed easily under our fingers--we wouldn't rest anything too heavy on the closed lid.

Instead of the over-the-top red flames we've seen on some Qosmio laptops, this one is primarily black, with a subtle lighter gray crosshatch pattern and metallic red accents. It's either eye-catching or gaudy, depending on your aesthetic sensibilities. The entire thing, including the keyboard, is extremely glossy and picks up fingerprints very easily.

The backlit keyboard has large, flat-topped keys and was comfortable to use, with the exception of an oddly shortened space bar. It feels as if Toshiba could have used a full-size space bar on the keyboard, if not for the media control panel that sits to the left of the space bar. Taking up roughly the same space as a TV remote control might, it includes touch-sensitive volume, mute, and media transport controls, and a button for launching the system's "Eco" mode, which is an energy-efficient power setting preset. Those changes include lowering the screen brightness, turning off the backlit keyboard, and underclocking the CPU's performance. These are all tweaks one could manually dial in using Windows 7's power menus, but it's nice to have them all in one place.

One note about the touch-control media buttons. Each gives off an unbelievably loud "beep" when touched--including the mute button, which pretty much defeats the purpose of a mute button.

The touch pad is oddly small, taking up very little of the available room on the large wrist rest area. One could fairly say that an 18-inch desktop replacement is more likely than not to be controlled via an external mouse, so the touch pad doesn't need to be a focus, but that does little to explain why the two giant red mouse buttons dwarf the touch pad.

One of the highlights is the 18.4-inch wide-screen 16:9 aspect ratio display, which offers a massive 1,920x1,080-pixel native resolution. That's what HDTV types refer to as 1080p, which is the same native resolution as the high-definition Blu-ray format. The big screen looks fantastic, especially when playing HD video. This could easily be the main entertainment screen in a smaller den or dorm room.

  Toshiba Qosmio X505-Q850 Average for category [desktop replacement]
Video VGA-out, HDMI VGA and HDMI or DisplayPort
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks Stereo speakers with subwoofer, headphone/microphone jacks.
Data 4 USB 2.0 (1 USB/eSATA), SD card reader, mini-FireWire 4 USB 2.0, SD card reader
Expansion ExpressCard/54 ExpressCard/54
Networking Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Optical drive Blu-ray player/DVD burner Blu-ray player/DVD burner

The Qosmio X505-Q850 has a full compliment of ports and connections, including a FireWire port, which is becoming increasingly rare. With an 18-inch 1080p display, a Blu-ray drive seems like a no-brainer to us--and while Toshiba has three different configurations of the X505, all include Blu-ray.

As one of the first laptops to cross our Labs bench with a mobile Intel Core i7 CPU, this is a powerful, performance-oriented system. The 1.6GHz Intel Core i7-720QM is certainly more then capable for handling nearly any computing task you can throw at it. That said, in our benchmark testing, we found laptops that could generate comparable (or even slightly better) scores by using the quad-core 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Extreme QX9300 CPU.

As a gaming machine, the X505 is a capable performer, although perhaps not at the level we'd expect from a nearly $2,000 laptop. Cranking Unreal Tournament III up to 1,900x1,050 pixels, we hit nearly 60 frames per second from the single Nvidia GeForce GTS 250M. However, systems such as the Alienware m17x, with dual GeForce GTX 208M GPUs, got about 170 frames per second on the same test. The moral of this story is that high-end gaming rigs are simply expected to have dual video cards these days, at least once you pass the $1,500 point.

Juice box
Toshiba Qosmio X505-Q850 (Average watts per hour)
Off 0.4
Sleep 1.36
Idle 17.89
Load 96.58
Raw kWh 153.71
Annual energy cost $17.45

The Qosmio X505 ran for 1 hour and 53 minutes on our video playback battery drain test, using the included 12-cell battery. That may not sound like much, but from a massive desktop replacement, anything even close to 2 hours is usually good. These bigger systems are usually tethered to a single location, and don't spend a lot of time away from a wall socket.

Toshiba includes an industry-standard one-year parts-and-labor warranty with the system. We'd expect a longer default warranty for such a high-end system, but at least Toshiba's support Web site is easy to navigate, providing a custom page of info for your specific model. Support is also accessible through a 24-7 toll-free phone line.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Qosmio X505-Q850

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Qosmio X505-Q850

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Qosmio X505-Q850

Unreal Tournament 3 (in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,280x800, 0X AA, 0X AF*  
1,440x900, 4X AA, 8X AF*  
1,920x1,200, 4X AA, 8X AF*  
Malibal Veda Clevo M980NU @ 16x9 / @ 19x10
Alienware M17x
Asus W90VP-X1 @ 1400x1050 / @ 1280x768
Gateway P-7808u
iBuyPower M865TU @ 1680x1050
Toshiba Qosmio X505-Q850 @ 16x9 / @ 19x10

Video Playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Qosmio X505-Q850

Find out more about how we test laptops.

Toshiba Qosmio X505-Q850
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 1.6GHz Intel Core i7-720QM; 6GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GTS 250M; HDD No. 1: 64GB, Toshiba SSD / HDD No. 2: 320GB Hitachi 7,200rpm

Gateway P-7808u
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q9000; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce 9800M GTS; 500GB Western Digital 5,400rpm

Asus W90VP-X1
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9600; 6GB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 512MB Dual ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4870 X2; 320GB Seagate 7,200rpm

Malibal Veda Clevo M980NU
Windows Vista Ultimate (64-bit); 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Extreme QX9300; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz; (2) 512MB SLI Nvidia GeForce GTX 280M; (Nvidia Stripe) 250GB 5,400rpm / 80GB solid-state hard drive

iBuyPower M865TU
Windows Vista Home Premium SP2 (64-bit); 2.93GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9800; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 260M; 500GB Seagate 7,200rpm

Alienware M17x
Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit; 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Extreme QX9300; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; (2) 512MB SLI Nvidia GeForce GTX 280M; (2) 500GB Seagate 7,200rpm


Toshiba Qosmio X505-Q850

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 9Performance 8Battery 7Support 6