Thirty frames per second. That's the threshold every would-be gaming laptop must cross in our gaming tests, the dividing line between sufficiently smooth gameplay and a stuttering slideshow. The Toshiba Qosmio X775-Q7170 ($1,149.99 list) passes the test, managing 33.2 fps in Lost Planet 2 and 35.7 fps in Unigine's Heaven 3.0 benchmark test at the system's native 1,600 by 900 resolution (with and without antialiasing, respectively), and even higher frame rates at lower resolutions such as 1,024 by 768. Credit its powerful Nvidia GeForce GTX 560M, an industrial-strength graphics adapter with its own 1.5GB of memory. Indeed, its graphics, along with a snazzy red-backlit keyboard and first-class audio, are the best things about the Qosmio.
Some of the X775-Q7170's other components, however, are a little underwhelming considering its price, and the laptop as a whole falls awkwardly between our gaming, desktop replacement, and media center categories. That leaves the Toshiba as a medium-priced option for users seeking medium-speed gaming and medium-high-definition (720p rather than 1080p) video viewing, and we're only medium enthusiastic about it.
The Qosmio X775-Q7170 makes gray plastic look bold, thanks to a textured finish reminiscent of cartoon speed lines and vivid red stripes on the lid and keyboard deck. The keyboard is dimly backlit in red and more glowing red accents are found at the top of the touchpad and in touch-sensitive buttons above the keyboard for functions such as play/pause, mute, volume, and Wi-Fi toggle. Fancy (all right, garish) chrome grilles indicate the Harman/Kardon stereo speakers above the keyboard, which along with an onboard subwoofer pump out loud, clear, and vibrant sound.
At 1.4 by 16.3 by 10.8 inches (HWD) and 7.4 pounds10 pounds with its beefy brick of a power adapterthe X775-Q7170 is one serious slab of a laptop. The tile-style keyboard offers a separate numeric keypad, handy LED lights for Caps Lock and Num Lock, and small but dedicated Home, End, PgUp, and PgDn keys, as well as a comfortably soft but responsive typing feel. The touchpad glides and taps smoothly, though its twin mouse buttons are noisy and stiff.
The X775-Q7170's 17.3-inch display, as mentioned, features 1,600 by 900 resolution rather than the 1,920 by 1,080 pixels presented by full 1080p screens like the HP Envy 17's ($1,484.99 direct, 4 stars). It's sufficiently sunny at its top couple of brightness settings; colors pop nicely and viewing angles are good.
There's a single USB 3.0 port on the system's left side, along with a USB 2.0 port, VGA and HDMI video outputs, and an Ethernet port. Two more USB 2.0 ports and headphone and microphone jacks are at the right, next to the optical drivewhich, in another minor letdown, is a DVD±RW burner without Blu-ray playback. An SD/MMC media card slot is on the Qosmio's front edge.
Backed by a one-year warranty, the X775-Q7170 carries 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless but not Intel's Wireless Display (WiDi). Its 640GB, 7,200-rpm hard drive (550GB free at startup) is preloaded with apps ranging from a brief 30-day trial of Norton Internet Security to Microsoft Office Starter 2010, Skype, Google Chrome, and WildTangent Games.
Since the Qosmio brand is Toshiba's fire-breathing flagship line, we were mildly surprised to learn the X775-Q7170 had an Intel Core i5-2450M processor under the hood. The 2.5GHz dual-core chip is nothing to scoff at, but it's the same CPU you can find in less performance-oriented laptops such as the more affordable Asus K53SD-DS51 ($779.99 street, 3 stars) and Toshiba's own Portege R835-P88 ultraportable ($849.99 list, 4.5 stars). By contrast, other midpriced systems such as the HP Pavilion dv7-6163cl ($949.99 list, 4 stars) offer quad-core horsepower (as, to be sure, do higher-priced Qosmios).
Paired with 6GB of RAM, the Core i5 in our test unit delivered solid middle-of-the-pack results, roughly tying the Toshiba R835-P88 in productivity benchmarks such as PCMark 7 (score 2,288) and Photoshop CS5 (3 minutes 56 seconds). As mentioned, it did much better in graphics-oriented tests, joining 3DMark 06's elite 10,000-plus club at both 1,024 by 768 (score 15,576) and native with antialiasing (score 11,174) resolutions and posting 76.4 and 83.6 fps in Lost Planet 2 and Crysis, respectively, at 1,024 by 768.
Gaming laptops aren't renowned for their battery life, and the X775-Q7170's relatively small 47Wh battery lived up to that tradition, lasting 3 hours 7 minutes in our MobileMark 2007 rundown test. That's competitive with gaming machines like the MSI GT783-625US ($2,599.99 direct, 4 stars)which scored 3:29but not with desktop replacements like the Asus K53SD-DS51 (5:31).
The Toshiba Qosmio X775-Q7170 costs much less than full-fledged gaming systems like the MSI GT783-625US and somewhat less than deluxe media centers like the HP Envy 17 (both Editors' Choices in their respective categories). Still, we expect a lot from a $1,000-plus laptop, and a 1080p screen, Blu-ray drive, and faster processorheck, any one or two of those threewould make us more excited about the Toshiba.
This review is in partnership with Ziff Daivs Media.