Toshiba KIRAbook 13i7S1 Review

October 6, 2015
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It’s not the word “fancy” or “powerful” you often associate with Toshiba, but here’s something that proves they can also think differently. It’s Toshiba KIRAbook 13i7S1 laptop, a high-end unit featuring i7 processor, 8GB system memory and the best component, a real 256GB solid-state drive. The 13.3″ inches screen offers a professional 2560×1440 resolution. Premium, yes, but so is the price. Which begs the question: does it make sense to pay so much for this notebook? I’ll tell you more about that below.

General performance?

Toshiba KIRAbook 13i7S1 is no budget laptop, hence it has no budget laptop components inside. The processor is Intel Core i7-5500U which offers you two cores, a 2.4GHz clock speed and turbo feature that increases the frequency to 3.0GHz maximum. It’s imperative to note, though, that this model bears the U suffix, meaning the unit is designed to use as little power as possible. Indeed the CPU Mark score this processor receives is “only” 4000, whereas the i7 models without such power restrictions get much more (like the i7-4720HQ with over 8000 points). So you’re not getting the most powerful CPU here, but it’s still a viable choice for running more demanding applications and for professionals who appreciate something better than a low level Celeron.

The system has no less than 8GB RAM, so all the power users and people with multitasking needs should be good. That memory is installed on two 4GB sticks – it’s noted in the specifications RAM is not user serviceable, which often means it’s very difficult but not impossible to upgrade the memory yourself. I guess if you have the skills, everything is possible with this KIRAbook too.

One of the excellent features in this notebook is the storage; a 256GB solid-state drive connected to mSATA interface. No need to complain about the capacity unless you like to hoard files on your computer, and at least you don’t have to replace a conventional hard drive for SSD here.

Is it good for playing games?

Toshiba KIRAbook 13i7S1 is not a real gaming laptop, there is no graphics card that uses dedicated memory inside. The notebook rather relies on Intel HD 5500, a well-known integrated graphics engine that is only good for casual gaming. You will be getting something like 25 frames per second on GTA 5 with medium settings and 1366×768 resolution. Of course, the less demanding (yet very popular) Minecraft will have much better frame rates, even if you wanted to give Full HD a try.

How’s the screen?

It’s a glossy 13.3 inches screen in Toshiba KIRAbook 13i7S1. The resolution is unreasonably high 2560×1440, in that you might have to drop it to get readable font and icons. Touch is the name of the game, feel free to swipe your way through Windows 8.1.


Toshiba KIRAbook 13i7S1 supports three USB 3.0 devices to be connected simultaneously. You can also enhance the notebook with HDTV (or PC monitor), the unit features HDMI-out on the left hand side. The laptop doesn’t seem to come with RJ-45 (LAN) port, but a solid 802.11 A/C WiFi + Bluetooth 4.0 adapter is installed.

You can’t read discs unless you get an external optical drive, there’s no internal DVD drive available due to the small size. The SD card slot might be useful with certain kind of devices, such as digital cameras.

As you can see from the product images, a webcam is installed on the notebook – good if you want to keep in touch with your friends using Skype video function.

Anything else to consider?

Not surprisingly, the 13.3 inches Toshiba KIRAbook 13i7S1 is good for traveling. It’s small and weighs 2.9 pounds, although battery life isn’t listed anywhere. I would still expect to get more than 5 hours browsing the web etc.

The backlit keyboard is useful for dark environments. Numpad isn’t available, but it never is in this small notebooks anyway.

Summing it up

With its powerful components yet compact design, Toshiba KIRAbook 13i7S1 offers excellent performance for those with fast-paced lifestyles and heavyweight applications. You can take this item with you anywhere, and edit images or videos or do other kinds of demanding work – the i7 processor and SSD are surely up for that. The screen is beautiful, yet there is no dedicated graphics card for you to fully take advantage of the display, in the form of gaming. In fact, the notebook is quite an expensive one, and it is understandable that it’s tough to fit a real graphics engine inside this small model – but if you’re into gaming, don’t choose this laptop. Otherwise, it’s fast and good-looking but still expensive notebook. I can’t say it offers great value, but if you have extra cash you wouldn’t be disappointed with this neat Toshiba, either.

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