by Kevin O’Brien
The Toshiba Qosmio G45 is a full entertainment system packed into one slightly over-sized 17 widescreen notebook. It combines a 1080P high-resolution display, HD-DVD Player, surround sound system, ATI Cable-Card HDTV Tuner, and gaming machine into one device that can be carried to different locations inside your backpack.
The Penryn version of the Qosmio G45 under review is only offered in one configuration, with the part number of G45-AV690. It has the following specifications:
- OS: Windows Vista Ultimate (32-bit)
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T9300 (2.50GHz, 6MB L2, 800MHz FSB)
- Chipset: Mobile Intel P965 Express Chipset
- Wireless: Intel Wireless WiFi Link 4965AGN (802.11a/g/n), Bluetooth version 2.0 plus Enhanced Data Rate (EDR)
- Memory: 3GB PC2-5300 DDR2 SDRAM (maximum capacity 4GB)
- Hard Drive: 320GB Total Space (160GB x 2)
- Optical Drive: HD DVD-R/DVD SuperMulti (+/- double layer) drive (in one optical drive), supporting 13 formats
- Screen: 17.0″ diagonal widescreen TrueLife TFT LCD display at 1920×1200 (WUXGA, Glossy)
- Graphics: 512MB nVidia GeForce Go 8600m GT
- Webcam: 2.0 megapixel webcam
- Slots: ExpressCard slot (ExpressCard/34 and Express Card/54) and PC-Card Slot, 5-in-1 media card reader
- Ports: VGA, HDMI, and S-Video out, Mic, 2 Headphone, line out, 2 IR out, IEEE-1394 (FireWire), Five USB 2.0 ports
- Dimensions (WxDxH Front/H Rear): 17.25″ x 11.75″ x 1.759″
- Weight: 10.6 Advertised, 9lbs 15oz actual w/ battery
- 120W (15V x 8A) 100-240V AC adapter
- 9-cell (70.5Ah) Lithium Ion battery
- 1-Year Standard Limited Warranty
Build and Design
Compared to other high-end notebooks the Qosmio is an extremely flashy computer. The display cover is glossy black with the Qosmio brand name embossed over it; proudly announcing its name to those around you. Opening the laptop reveals its glossy white palm rest and keyboard surround, nicely contrasting the top cover, with chrome dials and touch-sensitive selection buttons to control various functions. Bright blue LEDs illuminate all soft media buttons, as well as the volume dial and power switch when the unit is powered up. The LED’s can be disabled if the user so wishes, by pressing a soft-key above the keyboard.
Underneath the glossy plastic shell, bright blue LEDs, and chrome knobs is an alloy frame that supports the entire laptop. Many laptops these days have a metal alloy frame and it usually results in a very durable case having little flex. However, even though the Qosmio has this alloy frame, it seems the frame isn’t thick enough as there is plentiful flex to be found. The palm rest, the keyboard, and bezel around the keyboard all bow in with moderate pressure. The flexing becomes most apparent when the laptop is not on a flat surface. With one corner hanging off of a desk surface, weight from your wrist and arm while typing will bend the corner down a quarter inch or more. For such a high price tag you would expect better build quality when other Toshiba models costing a third less feel more durable.
Being a multimedia oriented machine, this laptop revolves around a high quality display. Coming in at 17, with a WUXGA resolution, and a glossy finish it is something to behold. Wide horizontal viewing angles let you share movies with friends next to you, but limited vertical angles had the screen dim sharply as you moved to steeper vantage points. Colors were vibrant, whites were pure, and backlighting was even across the screen. Backlight bleed could be noticed on dark screens, with some showing through on the bottom edge of the screen, as well as the top.
The 4.1 speaker setup on the laptop is one of the best setups I have heard to date. Bass was clear and defined, midrange and highs were both pretty accurate. I was able to get the volume quite loud before any distortion was heard, although with particularly loud bass you will get the plastic case to rattle.
The main speakers are located right above the keyboard, with the two smaller speakers located on either side of the LCD. The subwoofer is on the bottom side of the laptop near the left side.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard on the Qosimo felt large enough for comfortable typing, but could have had a dedicated number pad if the designers had relocated the volume dial and media controls. With its current layout there is plenty of extra whitespace around the entire typing surface to keep things uncluttered. The typing surface felt very solid and supported, and flexed much less than the rest of the body. Keystrokes required minimal pressure to recognize a key press, keeping my wrists stress free while writing. Typing was also quiet compared to some keyboards, so clacking away in a quiet room is not a concern.
The touchpad surface is large (3×1.8) allowing plenty of control in games and other mouse intensive activities. The two mouse control buttons provide a positive click when pressed, although I do prefer touchpad buttons with more travel. The fingerprint reader on this notebook was located between the buttons, staying out of the way during normal use.
Performance and Benchmarks
The Toshiba G45 still only sells with one model configuration, so benchmarks represented here should be the same if you bought this model yourself. The Intel Penryn T9300 performed very well, showing a 30% jump in performance in wPrime, as well as impressive gains in both PCMark05 and 3dMark06 compared to the previous T7300.
WPrime 32M comparison results
WPrime is a benchmark similar to Super Pi in that it forces the processor to do intense mathematical calculations, but the difference is this application is multi-threaded and represents dual core processors better.
NotebookTimeToshiba Qosmio G45 (2.50GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300, Windows Vista)31.108sToshiba Qosmio G45 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Windows Vista) 42.085s Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (Intel Core 2 Duo CPU T7400@ 2.16GHz, Windows XP)41.40sHP dv6000z (AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60 @ 2.00GHz, Windows Vista)38.913sSager 9260 (Intel Core 2 Duo CPU E6700@ 2.66GHz, Windows XP )33.718s Dell Precision M70 (Intel Pentium-M 780 @ 2.26GHz, Windows XP)78.992s
PCMark05 comparison results:
PCMark05 represents the overall system performance of a notebook.
NotebookPCMark05 ScoreToshiba Qosmio G45 (2.50GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300, NVIDIA Go 8600M GT)5,865 PCMarksToshiba Qosmio G45 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA Go 8600M GT) 5,261 PCMarks Dell Inspiron 1720 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8600M GT)5,377 PCMarksDell Inspiron 1420 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS)4,925 PCMarksSony VAIO FZ(2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100)3,377 PCMarksDell XPS M1330(2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS)4,591 PCMarksLenovo ThinkPad X61 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100)4,153 PCMarksLenovo 3000 V200 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100)3,987 PCMarksLenovo T60 Widescreen (2.0GHz Intel T7200, ATI X1400 128MB)4,189 PCMarksFujitsu N6410 (1.66GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400)3,487 PCMarksAlienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60, Nvidia Go 7800GTX)5,597 PCMarks
3DMark06 comparison results:
3DMark06 represents the overall graphics performance of a notebook.
Notebook3DMark06 ScoreToshiba Qosmio G45 (2.50GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300, NVIDIA Go 8600M GT)3,775 3DMarksToshiba Qosmio G45 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA Go 8600M GT) 2,934 3DMarks Dell Inspiron 1720 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8600M GT)2,930 3DMarksDell Inspiron 1420 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB)1,329 3DMarksSony VAIO FZ(2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100)532 3DMarksDell XPS M1330(2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB)1,408 3DMarksAsus F3sv-A1 (Core 2 Duo T7300 2.0GHz, Nvidia 8600M GS 256MB)2,344 3DMarksAlienware Area 51 m5550 (2.33GHz Core 2 Duo, nVidia GeForce Go 7600 256MB2,183 3DMarksFujitsu Siemens Amilo Xi 1526 (1.66 Core Duo, nVidia 7600Go 256 MB)2,144 3DMarksAsus A6J (1.83GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 128MB)1,819 3DMarksHP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400)827 3DMarksSony VAIO SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400)794 3DMarks
Heat and Noise
Heat and noise with the Qosmio G45 were never overwhelming, even when the laptop was running benchmarks. With its massive size, it had a large surface to warm up gracefully, like a huge passive heatsink. Fan noise stayed within reasonable levels, usually being drowned out by other office noises. During normal uses (web browsing) the laptop would warm up to a nice level, leaving most touchable surfaces 6-10 degrees warmer than room temperature. Shown below are IR temperature readouts of the upper and lower surface of the notebook as it was cooling down from a benchmark that ran 2-3 minutes earlier.
Mobile life on the laptop comes in short at 2 hours and 40 minutes, on the balanced profile and the screen brightness one notch down from top. If you want to watch a HD-DVD movie on a plane, your battery drops even lower to 60 minutes. With a machine of this size, if you are planning on doing much work away from an AC outlet I would suggest getting a spare battery.
The Qosmio G45 includes both an external ATI TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner, and a HD-DVD Burner. The burner, being the most expensive item, probably drove its price up quite a bit. Both of these included items worked without issue when tested. The HD DVD burner was tested using the included Toshiba software, and burning 14GB of data to a 15GB disc took 55 minutes and 30 seconds. Not quite the fastest process compared to CD’s or DVD’s, but our single included HD-DVD burned successfully without making a coaster.
The ATI TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner included with this updated G45 is a much nicer tuner than the previous freebie. This model supports the CableCARD standard for tuning not only over the air HD stations, but your full digital cable lineup with premium channels.
External Connections and Features
Let’s take a visual tour around the ports of the Qosmio G45.
Front: Optical Drive, Indicator light panel, IR reciever
Back:AC Power, IR output, S-Video, 2 USB, VGA, HDMI, LAN
Left: Kensington Lock Slot, 2 USB, SD-Card Reader, Wireless ON/OFF, Expresscard/54, PC-Card, FireWire
Right: 2 Headphone, Microphone, Line-out, Modem
Included software has been updated since the last G45; with a much improved dropdown function menu. In the past it was not uncommon to have a 5-10 second delay trying to activate it, and now it’s a split second before the bar drops down. That difference by itself was enough to change my thoughts on making it the first program to uninstall. Along with this dropdown menu, users will find plenty of other applications installed out of the box, many of which you will want to remove before normal operation.
Going at the same price point of the previous G45 notebook, this version offers a heck of a value. You get the new Penryn processor that increases performance substantially, the ATI HDTV Tuner with CableCARD support, and none of the problems I had with the previous review unit. Even with these enhancements the G45 is still at a price point where you would be shopping alongside much faster gaming notebooks (which in fact be less pricey). As such it’s hard to recommend this notebook over Toshiba’s own X205, which offers much higher gaming performance for $1,000 less.
- Great HD screen with only a bit of backlight bleed
- Speakers that make other notebooks run for their mommas’
- Gaming performance lackluster compared to others in the same price bracket
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