Toshiba Satellite P755 review


Laptops that can tackle games are traditionally huge beasts slathered in glowing lights and angry-looking vents. The Toshiba Satellite P755 will happily take on your games without making such a fuss about it.
Our model, the P755-113, came with an Intel Core i5 processor, 6GB of RAM and a dedicated Nvidia GeForce 3410M graphics card.
It's available from £1,000.

Design and build quality

The P755 is pretty much the little brother of the P770. Instead of packing a massive 17-inch screen, it offers a more modest 15.6-inch display, giving the laptop a more compact size.
At 380mm wide and 254mm deep, it's not the most portable of machines, but it's much easier to slide into a bag than the 17-inch sibling. With a weight of 2.6kg, you won't be too knackered when you take it across town to your friend's place.
It's not as portable as the ultra-light elites such as the Asus Zenbook UX31, but it's not designed to be. The P755 is better suited to being plonked down on a desk for some video and gaming action and only occasionally taken somewhere. If travel is on your mind, you probably shouldn't be looking too closely at this machine.
Toshiba Satellite P755 lid
Made from fake plastic trees, the lid has an unusual wood grain effect.
It has the same casing as the P770, which is bad news if you like bright colours, but great news if you're into plain black plastic with an odd wood grain effect. The plastic at first seems pretty strong, but a few minutes of prodding and poking uncovers some weak spots in the build -- most notably in the large amount of flex in the keyboard tray and in the plastic that runs beneath the trackpad, which comes away from the body.
It's pretty disappointing to find these weaknesses in any machine, especially one that costs you a cool grand. If we're paying that sort of cash, we'd really want to feel satisfied with a premium build quality and the P755 just doesn't deliver.
The keyboard provides further disappointment. It uses square, isolated keys that are spread a good distance apart, but it's sadly not particularly responsive. We often found that it missed letters during typing. This resulted in considerably more errors than we normally make. We found the arrow keys were similarly unresponsive in gaming -- we had to make a conscious effort to be firm in our pressing to ensure that it would register.
The trackpad is big and responsive but for some reason doesn't support multi-touch gestures so there's no two-fingered scrolling. Instead, you'll have to scroll manually with the classic 'click and hold, swipe' method, which we thought we'd left behind in 2006, along with phones without app stores.
The speakers come courtesy of audio specialist Harman Kardon and provide a decent level of din for watching videos or playing games. They're above average for laptop speakers, but they're still far from ideal. Hook a good set of speakers up or whack in some powerful headphones for a really immersive experience.
Toshiba Satellite P755 keyboard
The keyboard, trackpad and speakers aren't perfect and the build quality is lacking.

Screen

The 15.6-inch screen has a resolution of 1,366x768 pixels, which isn't quite pushing the boundaries of full HD. Normally, we wouldn't argue about this, but the P755 comes with a Blu-ray drive to show off movies in HD so it's annoying that the screen isn't capable of properly displaying your discs. If you want to enjoy your high-def movies, you can hook the laptop up to a TV via the HDMI port.
The screen is pretty bright and sharp so it'll suit you if you read a lot of text on web pages. When the brightness is cranked up to the max, the colours can seem a little washed out, but if you're playing games in a darkened room, you can turn it down and enjoy a more rich, natural colour tone.
The P755 comes with Nvidia 3D Vision so you can enjoy a whole extra dimension on the screen. Setting up the 3D system involves you running through a simple Nvidia programme to configure the glasses before you fire up your own content.
We found the 3D effect to be acceptable, but not great. There was quite a lot of ghosting and double images, which was pretty unpleasant, so we quickly went back to 2D. That also meant we could take off those daft glasses. The 3D effect is a novelty and doesn't really add much to the overall viewing experience. We wouldn't suggest you buy this laptop purely for the 3D feature.

Performance

Inside you'll find an Intel Core i5-2410M processor clocked at 2.3GHz, holding hands with 6GB of RAM. That's a pretty good lineup of numbers, so we were hoping for some decent power.
Toshiba Satellite P755 right view
While the keyboard might not be up to quick-fingered in-game tapping, gameplay is smooth, thanks to the impressive specs.
We fired up the PCMark05 benchmark test and were given an admirable score of 8,145. It beat its 17-inch brother, which only managed 7,292, even though it's running on the same internal components. It also easily beat the Asus U36JC, which achieved 5,973 on the same test.
In practice, we found that performance was very swift, with programs booting up quickly and multi-tasking handled with aplomb. It will certainly tackle all your office tasks and you can even ask it to edit photos and videos without it squealing in protest. It may not be quite so chuffed with you if you try and render a lot of high-definition video.
The P755 is packing a dedicated Nvidia GeForce GT540M graphics card to help it take on the latest games. We ran the 3DMark06 benchmark test -- which checks how well a computer handles the polygons -- and were given a very pleasing score of 8,772. That's not quite up there with dedicated gaming machines like Toshiba's ownQosmio X770; that achieved 15,548 on the same test. But it's a great score for an all-round machine.
To see how it really tackles demanding games, we loaded up Dirt 3and sent our car on a jaunt around the woods. The frame rate hovered around 42 frames per second, which made gameplay very smooth. You'll really want to plug in a dedicated gamepad though as the keyboard buttons are pretty poor for quick-fingered gaming.

Battery test

The P755 is more portable than its big brother, so we'd hope for it to have enough of a battery to be able to survive between plug sockets.
Toshiba Satellite P755 left view
The battery's not up to much so you'll have to keep your power pack close to hand if you're out and about.
We ran our battery test and it managed to hold out for 1 hour and 8 minutes before giving up the ghost. It's a really brutal test and you can always get a better performance with more cautious usage, but it's still not great. If you're planning on doing some gaming on the go, don't expect to get much more than that time and always keep the power pack with you.

Conclusion

The build quality and keyboard on the Toshiba Satellite P755 don't impress, but there's a powerful processor at its heart and the graphics card will tackle all but the most demanding games.
If you're looking for a gaming machine that you can feasibly carry around -- and can ignore the above issues -- the P755 might be worth a look.

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