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Toshiba Satellite P100-ST9772 review: Toshiba Satellite P100-ST9772

Toshiba's Satellite P100-ST9772 offers excellent components, features, and performance, but you can find similar systems for less.

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

While Toshiba's Qosmio line is the company's flagship desktop replacement multimedia powerhouse, the Satellite P100/105 series is Toshiba's big and bold desktop replacement line that's built for gamers and creative professionals. It features a 17-inch wide-screen display like its Qosmio cousins, but the Satellite P100/105 puts more of its money behind the core components to deliver top-notch performance and stellar 3D frame rates. Although it serves up excellent Harman-Kardon stereo speakers, it doesn't feature a subwoofer, a TV tuner, or an HDMI output--staples of the Qosmio G35 lineup. We reviewed the most expensive, pre-configured model in the Satellite P100/P105 series: the $2,899 Satellite P100-ST9772. Prices in the 17-inch gaming laptop category can quickly escalate, and the P100-ST9772 seems downright inexpensive compared to the $4,000 Alienware Area-51 m5790 Special Edition, especially considering the Toshiba's far better gaming scores. We'd be more apt to recommend it, however, if the somewhat less-flashy Dell Inspiron E1705 didn't offer similar performance for $1,000 less.


Toshiba Satellite P100-ST9772

The Good

Upscale, sophisticated design; solid 3D frame rates by way of GeForce Go 7900GTX card; dual-mode touch pad adds convenience; Harman Kardon stereo speakers provide rich audio.

The Bad

No HDMI output; fixed configuration; extremely short battery life.

The Bottom Line

Toshiba's Satellite P100-ST9772 offers excellent components, features, and performance, but you can find similar systems for less.

Measuring 15.5 inches wide, 10.8 inches deep, and 1.7 inches high, the Satellite P100-ST9772 is big enough to work on comfortably for long stretches, but it's not the kind of thing you'd want to lug around more than occasionally. The system weighs 7.8 pounds (9.3 pounds with the hefty A/C adapter), which is a little bit lighter than some other desktop replacements, such as the Dell Inspiron E1705 and HP Pavilion dv9000z, but the difference isn't enough to make us want to commute with it.

The Satellite P105's case doesn't scream "Gamer!" the same way the Alienware's alien head design does. Instead, the silver-and-black interior and blue pearlized lid could easily pull double-duty in an office environment. The blue LEDs that shine beneath the black speaker grills are the only flashy design note, and even they don't pulse and change color like the speaker and fan vent lights on the Dell XPS M1710.

Toshiba outfits the Satellite P100 with a full-size keyboard and a 10-key numeric keypad, a welcome feature increasingly common on desktop replacement systems. We liked the touch pad's embedded control system, called Dual Mode, that lets you control volume and launch applications from icons printed right on the touch pad. You activate these alternate controls by tapping the touch pad's upper right corner. There's also a fingerprint reader along the right side of the wrist rest. Above the keyboard sit basic media controls (play, stop, forward, back) and two programmable application launch buttons. On the front edge, a small volume wheel controls two Harman Kardon speakers that produce nice sound--although not as hefty at the Dell Inspiron E1705, which has a built-in subwoofer.

The screen's 1,680x1,050 native resolution is the same as you'd find on many wide-screen 21-inch LCD monitors, and provides for plenty of screen real estate. For high-end gaming, digital media viewing and working with high-res photos, this works great, although the less expensive Dell E1705 went all the way up to 1920x1200, which is almost too high, making text and icons hard to see.

The Satellite P100 leaves out very little when it comes to ports and connections. It has headphone, microphone, and S/PDIF audio jacks; VGA, S-Video, and DVI video outputs for hooking up an external monitor; as well as a single four-pin FireWire and four USB 2.0 ports. The system has both a Type II PC Card slot and an Express Card slot, plus a media card reader. Networking options include Gigabit Ethernet, modem, Bluetooth, and Intel PRO/Wireless A/B/G. That's a comprehensive selection of connections and will satisfy nearly any user. The only thing lacking seems to be an HDMI connection--still rare in laptops, but found in Toshiba's Qosmio line.

The Satellite P100-ST9772 is a fixed-configuration system, featuring Windows Vista Ultimate, a 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 CPU, 2GB of DDR2 RAM, a 160GB 5400rpm hard drive, a DVD burner, and a 512MB Nvidia GeForce Go 7900GTX graphics card (which is good, but not as good as the GeForce Go 7950) That's an impressive set of components, but also drives the system price up to $2,899. Toshiba offers two other new fixed configurations of the P100 for those with smaller budgets. The $2,499 P100-ST9762 keeps the same CPU, but knocks the RAM down to 1GB (not recommended for Vista Ultimate). It seems like a small difference, but note that that 1GB of RAM in the cheaper P100-ST9762 is the form of two 512MB modules, meaning you won't be able to add a second GB of RAM later without replacing the existing memory. The $1,999 P100-ST9752 has a slower T5600 CPU, 1GB of RAM, and a 120GB hard drive. All three configurations have Vista Ultimate and the GeForce Go 7900GTX. Between the existing P100 and P105 series, there are a total of eight fixed-configurations available, and Toshiba also offers a customizable version of the system on its Web site. The P100-ST1072 starts at $871, with an Intel Core Duo T2250 CPU, Vista Basic and 512MB of RAM.

Compared to recent desktop replacement laptops, the Satellite P100-ST9772 offered decent performance, although it fell behind the Dell Inspiron E1705 (also with a Core 2 Duo T7200) and Alienware Area-51 m5790 Special Edition (with a faster Core 2 Duo T7600 CPU) in CNET Labs' multitasking and iTunes encoding tests. But the differences were not great, and at this upper end of the performance curve, all these machines are blazingly fast. We couldn't detect any real-world any performance difference between the Dell, Alienware, and Toshiba laptops in anecdotal use.

When it comes to gaming, the differences are somewhat more pronounced. This is where the Dell XPS M1710's faster CPU (Core 2 Duo T7600) and GPU (Nvidia GeForce Go 7950GTX) come in handy, churning out 85 frames-per-second in F.E.A.R. at 1280x1024, topping the Satellite P100's 58 frames-per-second. Bear in mind, however, the M1710 is much more expensive. While it's not the fastest gaming laptop we've seen, the Toshiba offered very playable frame rates and easily beat the Alienware Area-51 m5790 Special Edition.

The system ran for only 90 minutes on our DVD battery drain test, using the included nine-cell battery. That's the shortest battery life we've seen from a desktop replacement in the Windows Vista era. Even though large systems like this are not designed for long battery life, we were disappointed. The 17-inch Dell's XPS M1710 and E1705 ran for two hours, six minutes, and two hours, 28 minutes, respectively.

Toshiba backs the Satellite P100 with a typical one-year warranty with return-to-depot service. Extending coverage to three years costs $134, and upgrades to on-site service are available. The company's toll-free tech support line is available 24/7, and Toshiba's Web site offers lots of tech support sections, but we found it hard to find specific answers to our questions between the dozens of links in the Customer Care and Learning Center sections, and a seemingly nonfunctional search engine.

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

Adobe Photoshop CS2 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

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

Quake 4 performance (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1024x768, HQ, 4xAA, 8X AF  
1280x1024, HQ, 4xAA, 8X AF  
Dell Inspiron E1705
Toshiba Satellite P100-ST9772

F.E.A.R. performance (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1024x768, SS:on, AA:off, 8X AF  
1280x1024, SS:off, 4X AA, 8X AF  
Toshiba Satellite P100-ST9772

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

Find out more about how we test Windows laptops.

Toshiba Satellite P100-ST9772
Windows Vista Ultimate Edition(32-bit); 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7200; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 512MB Nvidia GeForce Go 7900GTX; 160GB Toshiba 5,400rpm SATA/300

Dell Inspiron E1705
Windows Vista Home Premium Edition; 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7200; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce Go 7900GS; 120GB Toshiba 5,400rpm SATA/150

HP Pavilion dv9000z
Windows Vista Ultimate Edition (64-bit); 2.2GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 Mobile TL-64; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB nVidia Geforce Go 7600; 120GB, Seagate, 5400rpm, SATA/150

Dell XPS M1710 (Vista Ultimate Upgrade)
Windows Vista Ultimate Edition Upgrade(32-bit); 2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7600; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 664MHz; 512MB Nvidia GeForce Go 7950GTX; 100GB Hitachi 7,200rpm SATA/150

Alienware Area-51 m5790 Special Edition
Windows Vista Ultimate Edition (32-bit); 2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7600; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon x1900; 200GB, Seagate (RAID 0 SCSI), 7200rpm, SATA/150


Toshiba Satellite P100-ST9772

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 8Support 6