Toshiba’s Qosmio X305 is the company’s flagship gaming notebook line, with configurations that include dual graphics cards, dual storage drives, and the latest Intel Core 2 quad-core processors. At CES, Toshiba introduced a new Qosmio X305, the X305-Q725, which competes with the company’s higher end X305-Q708, but at a much better price ($2,699.99 vs. $4,199.99).
A red beast of a machine, the Qosmio X305-Q725 is stacked with the new low cost Intel Quad Core Q9000 processor along with hybrid storage and a powerful NVIDIA GeForce 9800M GTX GPU that can handle all of today's hottest games. All of this power comes in a chassis that’s a bit bulky but that has some good-looking styling and curves, too.
Like many desktop replacement systems, the Qosmio X305-Q725’s battery life won’t even come close to the battery life you’ll get with an ultraportable or a netbook, but that’s not the point. Most users who are interested in a desktop replacement system require power, and they know that they’ll have to stay tethered to an outlet to get it. Even though you’ll be restricted by a power cable most of the time, notebooks such as the Qosmio X305-Q725 are much more portable than any desktop system.
In the following pages, we'll walk you through the design and features of the Qosmio X305-Q725 and then we'll run the notebook through its paces to see how its performance compares to several other laptops in its class. Gaming notebooks may not fully compete with today’s high-end desktop models, but we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what mobile powerhouses such as the Qosmio X305-Q725 have to offer.
Not so long ago, desktops were the only computers that could deliver a true high-end gaming experience. Even though desktop replacement systems have been around for ages, they haven’t always been able to compete with desktops in terms of acceptable gaming performance. And while desktop replacement systems still don’t match the price and performance of desktops, the gap between the two has closed considerably, as the Qosmio X305-Q725's spec sheet demonstrates.
|Design & Build Quality|
As mentioned, the Qosmio X305-Q725 isn’t the first notebook in this series. The X305-Q725 sports the same black and red Fusion Finish with Rogue pattern as other X305 models. With its bold finish and attractive curves, the X305 is sure to catch people’s eyes at LAN parties or wherever you choose to haul this nearly nine pound beast.
The outer lid has a metallic, fiery red design that calls attention to the fact that this is a notebook designed for gaming and performance. The edges of the lid are curved slightly, which gives the notebook more of a rounded appearance when closed.
Upon opening the lid, you’ll notice the Qosmio X305-Q725’s glossy keyboard and four Harman Kardon Base Reflex speakers. The system also has a subwoofer which is located on the underside of the machine. Because it has a high-gloss finish, the keyboard and full numeric keypad tend to attract fingerprints.
The Qosmio X305-Q725 is a large machine, with the rear of the notebook measuring a full 2.5 inches thick. The notebook has a wedge shape, which amplifies its height at the rear and makes the notebook look twice as thick in the back as it does from the front.
Build quality for the notebook is average. As a result of the empty space between the lid and the screen panel, the back cover of the display will flex if pressure is applied. The notebook opens and closes smoothly, though the hinges offer enough resistance that the notebook often lifted slightly from the desk when opened with one hand.
Above the keyboard, you’ll notice the control panel, which is backlit with a red light and houses media controls including Play/Pause, Stop, Previous Track, Next Track, and Mute. The control panel also has brightness controls, access to the Web cam, and Dolby Settings buttons. You’ll notice that volume controls are absent from this control panel; that’s because there’s a dedicated volume wheel on the right side of the machine near the microphone and headphone jacks.
When the laptop’s lid is shut, a small edge of the notebook’s base is still viewable. This edge houses system indicator lights for AC power, On/Off, battery, HDD activity, and the Bridge Media Adapter.
The notebook’s 17-inch display was bright and easy to view. Viewing angles were average. The biggest complaint we have with the Qosmio X305-Q725’s display is that it uses a 1,680 x 1,050 WSXGA+ screen instead of the higher resolution WUXGA 1,920 x 1,200 resolution screen offered with some gaming notebooks. Above the display, you’ll find the system’s webcam and microphone. This camera is fixed and cannot be rotated independently of the laptop lid.
Ports and controls surround the Qosmio X305-Q725’s sides. On the front spine, you’ll find a switch to turn on and off the wireless communication devices (namely Wi-Fi and Bluetooth). To the right of the wireless control switch, you’ll find the DVD SuperMulti double layer drive with Labelflash. The left side of the notebook contains an eSATA/USB combo port, USB 2.0 port, and ExpressCard slot. As mentioned, the right side of the notebook has a volume control dial along with audio in and out ports. There are also two USB 2.0 ports on this side of the laptop. Behind a red cover near the rear of the right side, you’ll find a V.92 modem port as well as a 5-in-1 bridge media adapter. The back side of the notebook has a security lock slot, i.LINK (IEEE 1394) port, power in jack, HDMI out port, USB 2.0 port, RGB monitor port, and LAN port.
Many gaming notebooks incorporate LEDs around the chassis. The Qosmio X305-Q725 has some LEDs though not many: There are red LEDs on either side of the speakers near the hinge of the notebook as well as a red bar above the touchpad. Bedsides the red-illuminated control panel mentioned earlier, that’s it in terms of LEDs. You certainly won’t light up a room with this notebook. That’s not a bad thing, as it’s mostly a matter of preference, but it’s worth noting nonetheless. The Qosmio X305-Q725’s keyboard is not backlit.
|Under The Hood and In The Box|
Just as any mechanic would tell you to look under the hood of a car before you buy it, so too must we examine what’s on the inside of this machine. The underside of the Qosmio X305-Q725 is mostly black, though the edge nearest the notebook’s hinge has a glossy red finish.
First, we began our under the covers look by removing the battery. The Qosmio X305-Q725 gets its power from a 4000mAh 8-cell lithium ion battery. Not far from the battery, you’ll find the notebook’s memory module cover which can be removed with a single screw. Once the cover is removed, the memory slots are easily accessible. Our review unit had two sticks of 2GB DDR3-1066 memory.
On the other side of the notebook’s underside, you’ll find the hard drive cover, which can be removed with two screws. This cover reveals both hard drives. The 64GB SATA SSD drive is on top, while a Hitachi 7200rpm 320GB hard drive is below. Between the memory cover and the hard drive cover, you’ll find two system fans and the notebook’s subwoofer.
In The Box
The Toshiba Qosmio X305-Q725 comes with the following:
|Usage Experience & BIOS Details|
Like most desktop replacements, the Qosmio X305-Q725 is a sizeable notebook to tote around. With its 16.2" x 12" footprint and thickness ranging from 1.7 to 2.5 inches, this notebook takes up a chunk of desk space. And it weighs nearly nine pounds, so it’s far from a lightweight. The laptop’s 180W power adapter is also quite bulky measuring approximately 6.5 x 3.25 x 1.5 inches and weighing nearly two pounds.
The Qosmio X305-Q725’s full-size keyboard and number pad take full advantage of the notebook’s 17-inch frame. The keyboard was comfortable to use, though any user who tends to rest his hands while typing may notice that his left hand may accidentally tap the touchpad (which is located left-of-center) and move the mouse/cursor to a different position. This was annoying to us, but anyone who uses proper typing form and doesn’t rest his or her hands should not have a problem.
The spacebar on the keyboard is narrower than some because it was shortened to make way for the arrow keys located below the right Shift key. The smaller spacebar never affected our typing. Overall, the keyboard was on par with other laptop keyboards we have used.
The touchpad is responsive and has a slightly textured surface to help provide a bit of traction. The touchpad buttons were easy to press and provide shallow feedback. Like the keyboard, these buttons tend to fingerprint very easily.
As far as ports are concerned, we appreciated the fact that Toshiba spread out the unit’s four USB ports on different sides of the laptop to allow for different peripherals to be connected without interfering with one another. All sides except for the front have a USB port.
The system’s VGA port is on the back of the machine while the LAN port is on the side near the back. These ports are well placed and allow for cords to be routed easily behind a desk. Because there’s a lip on the front spine of the device, you won’t be able to see the DVD SuperMulti drive unless you’re looking at it from eye level. Once you know where the open/close button for the drive is, however, it’s easy to feel for it so you don’t have to strain to see it.
The Qosmio X305-Q725 has four speakers and a subwoofer. Sound quality was very good, especially for laptop speakers. The laptop’s headphone jack and volume controls are conveniently located on the right side of the device.
Certainly heat and noise are a concern with any laptop. The Qosmio X305-Q725 does a remarkable job at staying cool without a lot of fan noise. The hard drives and optical drive were also very quiet. We could definitely hear the optical drive spinning up, but it wasn’t any louder than other notebooks we’ve seen. For cooling, the system has two fans on the underside and one on its backside. Toshiba was smart to position the exhaust vent on the backside and not on the left or right side of the laptop since it puts out a decent amount of heat and using a mouse could have been uncomfortable if the vent were on the side of the machine. Even after hours of use, the laptop remained fairly cool. The laptop’s power brick consistently got warm, but not so warm that you can’t pick it up.
|Test Setup & 3DMark06|
To give you better feel for how the Qosmio X305-Q725’s performance measures up, we’ll compare it to Dell’s XPS M1730 and ASUS’ C90S. We’ll also compare the Qosmio X305-Q725 to two desktop systems to give you an idea for how much power you can expect while on the go. Here’s a closer look at each of our comparison systems:
To begin our benchmark testing, we’ll measure CPU performance using Futuremark 3DMark06's CPU performance module. 3DMark06's test is useful for comparing performance between similarly equipped systems. This multi-threaded, "gaming related" DirectX metric consists of different 3D scenes that are generated with software and hardware GPU renderers, which is also dependant on the host CPU's performance. In these tests, calculations that are normally reserved for a 3D accelerator are sent to the central processor. 3DMark06's GPU rendering tests utilize a mix of SM2.0, SM3.0, and HDR techniques and effects.
The Qosmio X305-Q725’s Intel Core 2 Quad processor Q9000 running at 2.0GHz gave it the top spot in this benchmark. The notebook beat out Dell’s XPS M1730 by 559 points and defeated the other systems in our test as well.
|Futuremark PCMark Vantage|
|Our next round of benchmarks involves the complete Futuremark PCMark Vantage test suite. The PCMark Suite is a collection of single- and multi-threaded CPU, Graphics, and HDD test sets. This Suite focuses on Windows Vista application tests. The test is designed to represent a subset of Windows Vista consumer usage scenarios.
The Qosmio X305-Q725 beat out all of the other test systems in every component of the PCMark Vantage Suite. It especially trounced upon the other systems in the Productivity and HDD categories and easily beat out the opposing systems in the overall PC Marks score and the Gaming score due to its fast 9800 GTX GPU, quad-core processor, and SSD.
Recognizing that the Qosmio X305-Q725 is definitely targeted towards gamers, our benchmarking wouldn’t be complete without a few scores from some of today’s popular games. On the next few pages, we'll focus on a few gaming specific benchmarks, starting with the remaining 3DMark06 modules.
The Qosmio X305-Q725 beat the competition in the overall 3DMark06 test with a score of 9,586 3DMarks. The notebook’s quad core processor and 9800 GTX graphics card contribute to this score, as one might expect, since real-world 3D game play is influenced by these two components.
In terms of the Shader Model 2.0 and Shader Model 3.0 tests, the Qosmio X305-Q725 trumped the ASUS C90S, but only beat the Dell XPS M1730 by a small margin. Considering the Dell XPS M1730 is running in SLI, these close scores aren’t too surprising.
For another perspective on how the Qosmio X305-Q725 stacks up, we’ll look at a few real-world gaming tests next.
|Gaming Performance (continued)|
Because of changes in test configurations from article to article, we didn’t have any good benchmark numbers to compare to the Qosmio X305-Q725’s performance. Instead, we pitted the laptop against itself and ran all three games at three different resolutions to see how each would perform.
As we mentioned, Crysis is a very taxing benchmark. At the Qosmio X305-Q725’s native resolution of 1680 x 1050, the notebook hit only 17.25fps. By scaling back to 1024 x 768, the score becomes almost playable, though the laptop doesn’t quite reach the mark.
We didn’t experience a huge variance in frames per second in this game when running at different resolutions. Part of the reason for this is that gaming is also bound by the CPU. If we were to compare the Qosmio X305-Q725 against other systems that have different CPUs, we’d see more variation in scores here.
Given that Enemy Territory: Quake Wars is meant to tax a system, it’s no surprise that many high-end desktops will easily out score a desktop replacement notebook. Even so, the Qosmio X305-Q725 managed to hit 71.2fps in the notebook’s native resolution.
To complete our testing, we ran Battery Eater Pro to get a feel for the Qosmio X305-Q725’s battery performance. We used Battery Eater's Classic and Idle tests. Under the Battery Eater Idle test, the system idles until the battery drains. We also ran the Battery Eater Classic test, which stresses the CPU and GPU to full load until the battery runs out of power. During both tests, the wireless radios were enabled.
The battery life for most desktop replacement notebooks is short. Because these systems require so much power, most users expect to be tethered to a power outlet the majority of the time. The Qosmio X305-Q725 provided about an hour and ten minutes of battery life while idle. Under load, the laptop's battery lasted for about 47 minutes. These times are a bit short, but they’re not too far from what we would expect from a desktop replacement. If you’re simply looking for a high performance gaming laptop for occasional portability and the ability to easily move your rig from place to place without a mess of cables, the Qosmio X305-Q725 will do just fine.
|Final Impressions & Conclusion|
In terms of performance, the Qosmio X305-Q725 did what was expected from a notebook with its specifications. In several benchmark tests, the Qosmio X305-Q725 performed as well or better than some desktop systems. Even though the Qosmio X305-Q725 won’t compete with today’s highest-end gaming desktops, it achieves very respectable scores for a mobile platform, thanks to its fast NVIDIA GeForce 9800M GTX GPU, quad-core CPU, and SSD. There are higher-end Qosmio X305 systems out there, but for the price, the Qosmio X305-Q725 strikes a good balance.
Although the system doesn’t offer a WUXGA 1,920 x 1,200 resolution screen or a Blu-ray drive, it does pack a number of top-shelf components such as a quad-core Intel processor, dual hard drives (SATA and SSD), 4GB of DDR3 RAM, and NVIDIA GeForce 9800M GTX graphics. All of this in a mobile platform that run relatively cool and quiet is impressive.
While high-end, powerful, desktop replacement gaming notebooks are never cheap, the Toshiba Qosmio X305-Q725’s $2,699.99 price tag is more affordable than many comparable laptops from boutique builders. The components used in this machine compliment each other well and strike a great balance between price and performance.