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High-end Laptops

Toshiba Satellite P875-31P review

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Considering the Toshiba Satellite P875-31P is a desktop replacement, it's no surprise that it's a bulky piece of kit. The weight, a fraction short of 3kg sounds like a lot, but since you're unlikely to move it around the house too often this matters less. Neither is the 34mm thickness so troubling.

Despite its dominating size, the Toshiba Satellite P875-31P looks quite stylish with its silver finish and glossy black screen bezel. The silver plastic has a very fine texture that’s common to many Toshiba laptops.

The large 17.3in widesscreen means there's plenty of room for a full-size keyboard and a separate number pad, backlit and glossy black to match the screen bezel. The square, flat keys are comfortable to type on thanks to large wrist rest areas and a decent amount of travel.

Something we're not seeing with Windows 8 laptops, but would be extremely helpful, is a set of dedicated keys for accessing the search, share, devices and settings found in the Charms bar.   

In keeping with the size of the Toshiba Satellite P875-31P is a huge trackpad. Its size is partly down to the integrated mouse buttons which thankfully don't send the cursor flying across the screen when pressed. There is support for Windows 8 gestures, for things like the Charms bar and recent apps, where you move your finger from the wristrest on to the trackpad in one movement. These are handy for laptops like the P875 which doesn't have a touchscreen.

Build quality

The build quality of the P857-31P is adequate, but we can't help but feel it should be better for the £1200 price. The casing of the laptop is entirely plastic and though it feels relatively strong it naturally flexes to a degree. 

With its steep price tag, premium materials like brushed aluminium would be welcome

Hardware

Although build quality is a little lacking, your cash gets you an impressive look specs table. To kick things off, there's a third-generation (Ivy Bridge) Intel Core i7-3630QM processor, a mid-range quad-core processor with a base clock speed of 2.4GHz which extends to 3.4GHz with Intel Turbo Boost. Then there's a whopping 16GB of memory.

There's plenty of storage space thanks to a 1TB hard drive. It’s not just a regular drive though, as it's been combined with an 8GB SSD. In Windows it just displays as a single drive. The SSD portion isn't big enough to hold Windows 8 but it should automatically cache the data you use the most.

The optical drive is very verstatile, able to read and write to Blu-ray discs as well as DVD and CD.

Performance

In PCMark 7, the Toshiba Satellite P875-31P scored 4357 points. This is reasonable, but a full-blown SSD would have pushed the score, and the user perspective, performance up even further. The laptop booted up in 16 seconds and rebooted in 31 seconds.

The P875 is capable of gaming thanks to its nVidia GeForce GT 640M graphics card with 2GB of video memory. This nVidia processor features CUDA and Optimus technology for increased computing performance and batter battery life respectively.

In our gaming benchmarks, the Satellite P875 managed some decent results. In Hard Reset it achieved 64fps at 1280 x 720 with Medium detail settings and no anti-aliasing. At the same resolution but at Ultra detail and ML anti-aliasing it averaged 40fps. After ramping the resolution up to the native 1600 x 900 we saw framerates of 49fps and 29fps for the same settings.

We got a similar set of results in the Sniper Elite V2 test with the same array of settings. It scored 50fps, 33fps, 34fps and 26fps.

At 17.3in, the screen is large for a laptop. It's a decent size for when you're at a desk. However, it will start to look a lot smaller if you want to watch a film from across the living room, for example. The TFT screen has a 1600 x 900 resolution rather than full-HD 1920 x 1080. 

It's always disappointing to find a glossy reflective finish and a less than impressive picture quality. We found a sparkly, grainy dither rather annoying, particularly in white and lighter colours on-screen.

It's also not a touchscreen though, so if you want to interact with the touch-focused Modern UI aspect of Windows 8 through your fingers you'll have to look elsewhere. The trackpad gestures go some way to make amends for this.

The combination of a Blu-ray optical drive, Harman Kardon stereo speakers and the large screen means the P875 lends itself well to watching films.

Physical ports are bountiful, including ethernet, HDMI, VGA, four USB 3.0 (two of which can charge gadgets when the laptop is switched off), microphone, headphone and a SDXC card reader. 

Internally there is single-band 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. For internet video calling, the webcam can provide a full-HD size picture.



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