Beneficial benchmarks in this case would be to compare the various CPUs available at around this price range and the various IGPs also available at this price range. The former will be done with super-pi and the Graphics benchmarks with 3dMark05.
CPU test: Super-Pi calculating 2 million digits of Pi.
NotebookTimeToshiba Satellite Pro L100 (1.6GHz Celeron-M 380)2:14Acer 9503EWSMi (1.5GHz Celeron-M 370)2:22Benq Joybook 8100-D29 (1.5GHz Dothan Pentium-M)2:04Compaq Presario V2311US (1.6GHz Turion ML-28)1:47Compaq V3017LA (1.8GHz Sempron 3200+)2:01Compaq V5207NR (1.46GHz Celeron-M 410)1:40
The CPU is actually not one of the stronger performers in today’s budget range and has now been superseded by the Yonah Core based Celeron-M 400 series. AMD’s Sempron range also performs slightly better in the same price range and the Celeron is outclassed by lower level Turions and Pentium-Ms.
The graphics test has been conducted with 3DMark05 so that a valuable comparison can be made, yet also show how these cards handle up to date graphics technology as compared to more powerful cards.
Graphics test: 3DMark05
Graphics CardScore (points)ATi Radeon Xpress 200m515ATi Radeon Xpress 1150720Intel GMA900200Intel GMA950450Nvidia GeForce go 6150630Nvidia GeForce go 7200674
The x200m has now been superseded by the more powerful Xpress 1150 yet many machines are still being made and sold with the x200m. Both ATi and Nvidia’s IGPs seriously outclass Intel’s, but are still not up to the standard of dedicated GPUs. It is worth noting that the x200m IGP is easily overclockable and doing so can achieve a 15-20% performance increase.Heat and Noise
On the whole the L100 remains very quiet. Under a full power configuration on Toshiba Power Saver the fan can spin as fast and whenever it wishes and this does a great job of cooling the laptop without being intrusive. Occasionally the fan can be heard spinning up but this is usually just in the first few minutes of use. The laptop does not seem to emit any excess heat, with the bottom being just slightly warm to the touch, and the main cpu vent giving off a slight breeze of warm air.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Toshiba Satellite L100 keyboard (view large image)
The keyboard feels well made and sturdy, only submitting to flex under particularly aggressive pressure. The keys are well sited and intuitive apart from the backslash key which has been sited next to the right shift key which can result in question marks unintentionally being typed as something entirely different. The direction keys are slightly small for a full size laptop keyboard and can be fiddly to use and Page Up and Page Down can often be hit by mistake when using them as they are sited just above. Overall the keyboard invites quick and accurate typing and for the most part is well thought out.
The Touchpad is sensitive and has no particular aspects of interest in it’s appearance and physical use. Toshiba’s touchpad software does include a scrolling function along the right hand side and bottom of the touchpad but this was a surprise discovery as the touchpad is not marked with scroll sectors. Otherwise it has built in functions when tapping the corners such as minimising and maximising windows.
Input and Output Ports
Toshiba L100 right side (view large image)
Toshiba L100 left side (view large image)
Toshiba L100 front side (view large image)
Toshiba L100 back view (view large image)
The L100 features four USB 2.0 ports, two on each side. The right hand side also features the RJ11 LAN port in between the USB ports towards the rear and the DVD writer towards the front. The left side features the other two USB ports located in the middle. Further back there are a VGA port and an S-video out for an external monitor or TV. Towards the front on the left hand side are the RJ45 modem port and the pcmcia card slot, which is located above the microphone and headphone jack sockets. On the whole the laptop includes all the ports one would expect for any laptop, they are all well sited and are easily accessible without getting in the way. The only ports on the back are the power adapter and the lock.
The wireless can be turned off and on with a small switch on the left hand side. The wifi light located just under the touchpad then glows red when the wireless is enabled. The wireless connects well and has a good range picking up quite faint signals and using them to good effect.
As this is a Budget laptop it only comes with a 4-cell Lithium Ion battery. That and the lack of a speedstepping function on the cpu only allow for 1 hour and 50 minutes of battery power. In the most power saving configuration in Toshiba Power Saver (needed to achieve 1:50 of battery power) the laptop can feel sluggish and fall behind the user in aspects such as moving from task to task, opening programs and updating instant messaging windows. This laptop is not designed to be used on the battery for a long time.
Operating System and Software
Finding Windows XP Professional on a budget laptop is very pleasing and quite rare, especially at this price. Once Toshiba’s more useless programs were removed I did not feel the need to re-install Windows as the laptop feels quick enough already. However, the bundled software is minimal with this model. Other than the operating system one gets Microsoft Office OneNote 2003, WinDVD and some basic CD and DVD writing software. No anti-virus is included.
I have heard horror stories about Toshiba customer support but have experienced nothing but good service from Toshiba’s UK support centre. The support advisors are articulate and easy to understand and can obtain a lot of information about the machine in a short space of time. I called to enquire whether the video ram taken by the IGP was manually controllable and the advisor spend 20 minutes taking me in and out of ATi utilities and the Bios before we concluded this was not possible. My main complaint is that this phone service is very expensive on call rates.
The Toshiba Satellite Pro L100 makes a lot of sense as a budget machine. More than that it makes a lot of sense as a budget light gaming machine offering a surprising amount of gaming performance given it’s spec, however it should certainly not be bought as a gaming machine outright as it sorely lacks the graphics performance for the latest games. Overall it feels quick at all times and can handle OS based tasks with ease. I feel this laptop is let down by it’s woeful battery life, it’s lack of an external volume control and the screen could be manufactured using more sturdy materials. Everything else seems to be a plus.
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