Finally, a gaming notebook that can actually play games!
For the 90% of the Australian population who can view a 3D signal, it's never been a better time to watch your movies and games. Nearly every TV on the market is now 3D ready, and we're starting to see the technology spread its immersive tentacles into the gaming notebook market. We recently checked out a Sony VAIO 3D notebook, and were amazed at how comfortable and precise 3D movies were; can the 3D-armed Qosmio X770 match its retina-stroking delights?
Before we examine the 17.3in 3D screen in detail, let's take a look at the nuts and bolts. Toshiba has taken a visit to funky town with the chassis design, ditching the boring business plans in favour of a bold red and black colourscape. The chassis's external shell is built entirely from plastic, but it's of the thick and chunky variety, inspiring confidence in its ability to handle a few bumps and scrapes.
There's zero flexing of the island-style keyboard, which have a foreboding red backlight, perfect for late-night gaming sessions. The touchpad is simply functional, doing the job without the immaculate precision of the best sensor plates. Not that gamers will notice, as an external mouse, accurate enough to perform neurosurgery, will undoubtedly be connected.
A pair of harman/kardon speakers clearly announce this notebook’s intended multimedia capacity, delivering a rich, booming soundstage, infinitely superior to the tinny clankers found in most notebooks. Hardcore gamers will still prefer a set of cans though, purely for their improved directional audio.
While 3D Blu-rays don't require a lot of grunt, the same can't be said about 3D gaming. Enabling NVIDIA's 3D Vision technology can halve performance, so the Qosmio needs to be decked out with some seriously fast components if it's going to do the screen justice. In the CPU department, we find Intel's i7 2630QM, which smashes frame rates when running at its maximum frequency of 2.9GHz.
Eight gigabytes of DDR3 1,333MHz is more than enough for any game that you can throw at it, while the Intel HM65 Express Chipset ensures speedy performance across the board.
The most critical component for gaming is the GPU, and the Qosmio comes to this shoot-out packing some serious heat. An NVIDIA GTX 560M delivers the goods; finally Toshiba included a premium gaming GPU into its gaming notebook, and gamers will thank the gaming gods. It's plenty powerful enough to run most of today's games at medium to high settings; we were able to run Modern Warfare 2 at maximum settings, 2x anti-aliasing, with barely a shudder.
However, under load these speedy components crank out quite a bit of heat, which is vented by a moderately noisy fan to the left of the chassis. It's a small price to pay for such beautiful performance though. Unfortunately our PC Mark Vantage speeds weren't too impressive, with the lack of an SSD costing the X770 dearly (recording an overall score of just 7,322.) Quantity over quality is the Qosmio's storage mandate, with a hefty 2TB of mechanical storage.
So 2D gaming performance is great, while boring productivity apps aren't so crash hot. But what about this machine's flagship feature, 3D? As to be expected, running today's games in 3D brings frame rates plummeting – even the original Modern Warfare was stuttering and spluttering. If you want to play today's games in uncompromising 3D, it still requires a 4.5GHz CPU and dual GTX 580s, so there's no chance for this seemingly powerful notebook to do the job.
Older games like WoW should work fine though. 3D Blu-ray performance was much more impressive (once we got the flaky 3D movie software to work), with the 3D effect making the display magically appear much larger than it really is. Most importantly, there was little cross-talk to ruin the image, making this a perfect 3D movie partner if you so desire.
Overall this is a stellar gaming and 3D movie machine; just don't expect to play the latest and greatest games with the 3D switch enabled.Available from Toshiba, retailing for $2,699
.APC rating: 8/10 (Highly Recommended)