The X500 debuted in 2009 and over the years it went through the typical cycle of refreshes to keep up with the latest trends. The version we’ll be reviewing today is their 2011 refreshed model with newer components. Presented as a gaming notebook, the Qosmio will take on the likes of the Asus G74SX, but can it do enough damage to warrant a recommend over the veteran? Let’s find out.

 

Reviewed on video: Toshiba Qosmio X500

Design and Build
Unlike the understated look of the Asus, Toshiba have gone with a bold and snazzy look for the X500. The design hasn’t really changed much over the years. It sports a Red and Black combo, and bright Red LED lighting gives it a very attractive look – just what any gaming notebook needs. The chassis is made up mostly of plastic, which doesn’t seem to be very strong. There’s quite a bit of flex in the lid which should not have been. Also, most sections of the notebook have a glossy finish, so fingerprints and dirt are a nightmare. The hinge seems sturdy enough allowing the screen to tilt back 160 degrees. At 4.75 kgs, you can’t even think of lugging this around as it's too heavy and big. This is the first gaming notebook we’ve come across that sports a 18.4-inch Full HD screen, which is simply gorgeous. The finish is glossy, so the colours look vibrant and rich, but it also causes reflections on a black background.

The quality of plastic feels flimsy and weak

The quality of plastic feels flimsy and weak

There’s no shortage of connectivity. We have four USB 2.0 ports in total (one ESATA combo) with sleep and charge function. Sadly, Toshiba hasn’t included a USB 3.0 port. Other ports include HDMI, FireWire, Blu-ray writer, Express card slot, headphone and microphone jack and a VGA port. There is a physical Wi-Fi toggle switch in the front, alongwith the memory card reader. One thing we noticed was that the fit and finish of the chassis wasn’t very good. There were plenty of gaps around the optical drive and the ports didn’t fit well in the cut-outs of the frame. Overall, the build and finish wasn’t up to the mark, certainly not something you’d expect from a high-end gaming notebook.

The X500 comes with a full-sized backlit keyboard along with the numpad.

Blacklighting is even across the keys

Blacklighting is even across the keys

The speakers are from Harman Kardon and are placed top facing. The size of the driver is quite large for a notebook speaker and can be clearly seen through the grill. A bunch of touch sensitive media keys are placed on the left, which is really annoying since you accidently hit them every time you start to type. Finally, the fingerprint reader is placed between the two buttons of the trackpad. Toshiba have used a similar ventilation design as Asus, and have placed both the exhaust vents at the back. This ensures the area you normally use doesn’t get hot while gaming. 

Features
The X500 is powered by the latest Intel Core i7-2630QM, which runs at a stock speed of 2.0GHz, which can Turbo up to 2.9GHz. We also have 4GB of RAM, a 750GB hard drive and Nvidia GTX 460M graphics card. The X500 is pretty well-equipped for a gaming notebook other than the fact that the graphics card is slightly old.

The screen is very bright and vivid

The screen is very bright and vivid

Toshiba also bundles a host of their own software programs like Media Controller, which lets you stream content to another device. Bulletin Board groups a bunch of apps, mini-games together in one application. The hard drive also has vibration sensor, so if you move the notebook too fast the disk head is moved to a place where it cannot damage the disk.

Performance
While the CPU performance is solid in most of the benchmarks, the graphics card shows its age in the gaming tests. Compared to the GTX 560M, it trails behind in 3DMark, as well as the real world games.

Performance is good except for gaming, where it falls a bit short

Performance is good except for gaming, where it falls a bit short

The X500 runs relatively cool and quiet even when stressed. The backlighting of the keyboard is even, but the keys themselves could have been designed better. They have the same glossy finish and are placed too close to each other, which is not very convenient. Also, the shortcut keys on the left could have been placed elsewhere as they always get in the way while typing. They make an annoyingly loud beep every time you press them and there’s no way to disable that.

The shortcut keys are nice but could have been placed better

The shortcut keys are nice, but could have been placed better

The Harman Kardon speakers are one of the best speakers fitted to a notebook. In fact, it’s even better than the Beats Audio we saw on the HP Envy 17, a couple of weeks back. The soundstage is wide and they are able to reproduce clear highs and mids. The low end is not very pronounced, but then again we don’t really expect it to be. The large screen is great for watching movies and gaming. The brightness levels are more than adequate and the colors are rich and vibrant.

Battery Life
The X500 is fitted with a 12-cell Li-ion battery which fits snugly into the chassis thanks to the large frame of the notebook. Despite this large capacity, the notebook lasted only 1hr and 20min on Battery Eater Pro with full brightness and the power mode set to ‘Balanced’. This is clearly not designed to be portable – so long as you’re near a power source, you shouldn’t have a problem.

Verdict
The Qosmio X500 is priced at Rs.1,00,990, which is about 25K less than the Asus G74SX. But, where it lacks in a superior graphics card and 3DVision capabilities, it makes up for that with the larger screen, better speakers and a lower price. There are some minor niggles like the average build quality, annoying shortcut buttons that get in the way and the outdated graphics card, which makes this price tag seem rather high. Perhaps at around 80K, we could see the X500 as 'the' multi-media notebook to beat'.

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