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Toshiba Satellite A665-S5176X review: Toshiba Satellite A665-S5176X

Toshiba Satellite A665-S5176X

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Scott Stein
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Scott Stein

Editor at Large

I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets.

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The value equation for laptops is changing. Case in point: while the Toshiba Satellite A665-S5176X only costs $799, somehow it just doesn't feel like a great bargain anymore. That's not to say it doesn't have merit: a Core i3-2310M second-generation Intel CPU, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 500GB hard drive, plus a Blu-ray drive and next-generation Intel Wireless Display, make for a decent setup--especially with the included Harman Kardon speakers that can do a movie more justice than most laptop audio rigs--but this laptop is far from perfect.

Toshiba Satellite A665-S5176X
7.0

Toshiba Satellite A665-S5176X

The Good

A Blu-ray drive and excellent speakers make the <b>Toshiba Satellite A665-S5176X</b> worth considering for those looking for a reasonably priced 15-inch multimedia laptop.

The Bad

Uninspiring design, a middle-of-the-pack battery, and a bulky feel keep it from being a standout.

The Bottom Line

While the $799 Toshiba Satellite A665-S5176X is an affordably priced Blu-ray laptop with a next-gen Intel Core i3 processor, there are other options out there that offer better design or performance for the same money.

It's an improvement in terms of battery life and CPU performance over the Satellite A665 models we reviewed last year, such as the Satellite A665-S6058, but the fact remains that other great laptops with second-generation Sandy Bridge processors are available in the same price range, including the recently reviewed 13-inch Toshiba Portege R835 and 2011 Dell XPS 15.

There are other drawbacks: The Satellite A665-S5176X is heavy. Its battery life is unimpressive. And for media playback and gaming, it doesn't have the level of graphics and screen resolution we'd hope for on a large, 15.6-inch-screen laptop. While you're getting a solid package, it just doesn't add up to something that's particularly inspiring.

Price as reviewed $799
Processor 2.1 GHz Intel Core i3-2310M
Memory 4GB, 1,333MHz DDR3 RAM
Hard drive 500GB, 5,400rpm
Chipset Intel HM65
Graphics Intel HD 3000
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
Dimensions (WD) 15.0x9.8 inches
Height 1.2-1.5 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 15.6 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 5.6/6.3 pounds
Category Mainstream

Toshiba's Satellite laptops feel stuck in a design time warp While the look has been spruced up a little with new raised keyboards and patterned textured plastic (Fusion X2 Finish in Charcoal) meant to reduce fingerprints, the whole package comes off as being, well, kind of garish and tacky. The plastic chassis flexed a lot on the sides when we pressed down with our fingers, and it just doesn't come close to laptops like the MacBook Pro or Dell XPS 15. Yes, in fairness, the actual weight of the A665 is pretty close to that of the 15-inch MacBook Pro, but its bulk is significantly greater. Nevertheless, this is virtually the same design as last year's A665 models, such as the Satellite A665-S6058.

The raised island-style keyboard has comfortably spaced keys and includes a number pad, but the spacebar is oddly small and the keys feel overly slick to the touch. An LED-backlit touch bar above has hot keys for volume, Wi-Fi, and a power management Eco Utility control panel, though the keys make an annoying beep when pressed that takes sifting through buried settings to deactivate. The wide touch pad is covered in a matte plastic and feels responsive, but the large twin plastic buttons beneath the pad contribute to this laptop's budget feel.

Similarly, the 15.6-inch inset glossy display, with its maximum resolution of 1,366x768 pixels, simply doesn't feel top-of-the-line. Viewing angles are limited, colors looked washed-out at times, and Blu-ray playback simply didn't pop like it did on the admittedly more expensive 1080p screen on the Dell XPS 15. DVDs do gain the benefit of upscaling thanks to included Toshiba software, and as a result they look better than average, but for most other media the video quality falls short of excellent.

Snazzy Harman Kardon stereo speakers help the audiovisual experience out, and then some. We've always like the higher-end speakers on Satellite laptops, and the Harman Kardons continue to stand out with crisp, rich audio. And yet, they fall short of the popping, booming excellence we heard on the XPS 15. They're definitely excellent for music, movies, and gaming, but we can now say, unlike last year, that we've heard better.

The Webcam is not the HD type we've been seeing in a number of 2011 laptops: maximum resolution caps at 640x480 pixels, and the built-in camera software offers bare-bones control.

Toshiba Satellite A665-S5176X Average for category [mainstream]
Video VGA, HDMI VGA plus HDMI or DisplayPort
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data 1 USB 3.0, 2 USB 2.0 (1 with sleep-and-charge), SD card slot 3 USB 2.0, SD card reader
Expansion None None
Networking Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional mobile broadband
Optical drive Blu-ray combo drive DVD burner

The Satellite A665-S5176X lacks Bluetooth, but has second-gen Intel Wireless Display 1.2 for streaming HD video to a TV equipped with a Netgear Push2TV receiver box (sold separately), as well as a USB 3.0 port. There are literally dozens of Toshiba Satellite A665 configurations on Toshiba's Web site, each with a different mix of processors, graphics, and media drives. This configuration's 4GB of RAM and 500GB hard drive aren't shabby, but we'd probably trade the Blu-ray drive for more advanced dedicated graphics.

A second-generation 2.1GHz Intel Core i3-2310M CPU powers the S5176X, and its performance is generally better than last year's Core i-series processors. It's a step behind 2011 Core i5 and i7 CPUs in terms of multitasking speed, but this laptop can certainly handle most mainstream and even multimedia tasks put to it. The S5176X handled HD video streaming, multiple-window computing, and even light gaming well, albeit with a stream of very hot air being blasted out the vents on the left edge, just far enough away from where our hands tended to rest while typing.

Speaking of gaming and graphics, this particular Satellite relies on the new Intel Sandy Bridge integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics, which is a significant step forward from last year's laptops with integrated graphics. Light- and medium-horsepower games can be played on this laptop--we achieved a frame rate of 55.7 frames per second on Unreal Tournament III in native 1,366x768-pixel resolution with graphics settings at medium--but it lags behind what current laptops with dedicated AMD and Nvidia graphics can achieve. If you're not a gamer, you'll find it gets things done well enough; if you do play games, you'll be a bit disappointed. For $799, we can't complain much.

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

Adobe Photoshop CS3 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)

Juice box
Toshiba Satellite A665-S5176X Avg watts/hour
Off (60%) 0.29
Sleep (10%) 0.8
Idle (25%) 5.84
Load (05%) 35.99
Raw kWh number 30.78
Annual energy cost $3.49

Annual power consumption cost

Compared with last year's Satellite A665s model that we reviewed, the 2011 version benefits from its new Intel CPUs in terms of battery life. The A665-S5176X lasted 4 hours and 5 minutes in our video playback battery-drain test using the included six-cell battery. That's a solid number for nonstop video playback, but considering that the Portege R835 and MacBook Pros topped 7 hours with smaller profiles, it's just not good enough. You can and should be expecting better battery life out of this year's laptops.

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.

System configurations:

Toshiba Satellite A665-S5176X
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.1GHz Intel Core i3-2310M; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 667MHz; 64MB (Dedicated) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

Acer Aspire 5742G-7200
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.53GHz Intel Core i5 M460; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 420M; 500GB Western Digital 5,400rpm

Dell Inspiron 15R
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.27GHz Intel Core i3 M350; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 64MB (Dedicated)/1,696MB (Total) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Toshiba 7,200rpm

Samsung SF510
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i3 M370; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 64MB (Dedicated) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

Gateway NV59C09u
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.13GHz Intel Core i3 M330; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 128MB (Dedicated) Intel GMA HD; 320GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

Find out more about how we test laptops.

Toshiba Satellite A665-S5176X
7.0

Toshiba Satellite A665-S5176X

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 8Performance 7Battery 7Support 7