Toshiba Satellite S55-B5148 Review

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February 6, 2015
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A laptop like Toshiba Satellite S55-B5148 could be an excellent for people who appreciate high performance. It has Intel’s top-notch Core i7 processor, lots of RAM and huge storage space. The price, of course, reflects those powerful components. So the question is: Is the notebook worth it? How wold you benefit from it? Below is my take on these matters.

Performance

Intel Core i7-4710HQ is a fast processor of four cores and 2.5 – 3.5GHz clock frequency. The i7 series is meant for power users and professionals who not only need, but require raw processing power for their multitasking efforts and advanced software. Indeed, the i7-4710HQ model is currently enjoying the highest position in Top 10 common processors of CPU Mark benchmark software. It is undisputed this processor won’t be the bottleneck of this laptop, dealing with complex software like CAD modeling and video editing with ease.

The RAM amount is not any worse. There’s 12GB memory installed on this Toshiba. It can be debated if you ever need more than ~8 gigabytes of RAM, but at least you won’t run out of memory, either. There are two DIMM slots on the mainboard – both are in use – but in theory you could add even more memory.

The hard drive is similar to some cheaper models. Its size is 1024GB which is a lot. For example, if we assume a movie takes up the whole DVD (4.7GB), a simple calculation shows you could store more than 200 of those high-quality flicks on this drive. One possible downside of such a big drive is the speed: A solid-state drive would be much faster, although a lot smaller in storage as well.

The laptop runs on Windows 8.1, the 64-bit edition.

Display and graphics

There’s a 15.6″ non-touch screen in Toshiba Satellite S55-B5148. Its best side is definitely the Full HD support that would also satisfy professionals. For movie watching (or video streaming) that means native support for 1920×1080 content. There are no user reports available yet but I’d assume solid image quality considering the resolution and price of this notebook.

The Core i7 processor features an older but very capable Intel HD 4600 as its graphics engine. It was released in 2013 but still happens to be one of the fastest models in Intel’s integrated graphics family. It can be compared to some low-end dedicated cards. You could expect most games (even the current ones) run with at least ~20FPS on low settings and resolution. If you only enjoy less demanding titles like Minecraft, you can turn on eye candy and up the resolution without worries.

Connectivity

Toshiba Satellite S55-B5148 has three USB ports, the same amount that most cheaper notebooks have. However, all of those are USB 3.0, so you’ll get fast transfer rates with every port. There’s also a HDMI out (with 4K UHD support) so HDTVs and also older PC displays work with this Toshiba, the latter with an adapter.

As expected from an expensive laptop, networking options are good. Gigabit Ethernet and dual-band WiFi can be used for accessing Internet. Bluetooth 4.0 is also supported.

One thing you probably notice about Toshiba Satellite S55-B5148 is the slim design. It’s less than an inch thick which affects the features a bit. There’s no space for an optical drive, so you should use an external DVD drive or the built-in media card reader for local file transfers. Of course, the importance of a fixed optical drive can be debated, and if you mostly download content from Internet having one is not that essential.

For video chats on Skype and similar programs the laptop contains an HD webcam and microphone.

Any other things to consider?

For people on the go Toshiba Satellite S55-B5148 works perhaps little better than your average 15.6″ laptop. It weighs 4.85 pounds while most 15 inchers are 5 pounds or more. Despite the higher price the battery however seems to be rather basic, offering only 3-4 hours life on a single charge.

The keyboard is premium. It is LED backlit and has a 10-key numeric pad on the right hand side.

Sadly, also these higher end models suffer from bloatware. There are Toshiba utilities and some third party programs pre-installed which can be annoying. You can of course get rid of them easily: simply uninstalling the bad software from Control Panel will do.

Conclusion

Toshiba Satellite S55-B5148 is a notebook for those who are not happy with performance a simple starter notebook offers. Because this laptop is a very powerful one, with the Core i7 processor and 12GB RAM being enough for pretty much any use I can think of. The computer is also full of useful little things, such as Full HD display, backlit keyboard and a dual-band wireless.

If I were to complain about something, it’d probably be the small(ish) amount of USB ports, lack of an optical drive and mediocre battery life. Of course, the first two also mean lower weight and size which adds to portability. In general, I’d recommend this Toshiba if it’s very powerful components and good looks you’re after. The price is bit on the high side, but if you can get it on a discount this notebook should be a real valuable buy.


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