Review Toshiba Satellite L50-A-10Q Notebook

Daniel Schmidt (translated by Ariana Brodsky), 09/09/2013

High-gloss all-rounder. The Satellite L50 wants to be a powerful all-rounder notebook for home use. With an up-to-date Core i7 and Kepler graphics, Toshiba starts off with a solid foundation. The machine also has a huge hard drive capacity and a DVD burner. But after all is said and done, is the all-rounder a persuasive offer? Read our review to find out.

For the original German review, see here.

The Toshiba Satellite L50-A-10Q has a 15.6-inch matte HD panel. The heart of the device is an Intel Core i7-4700MQ based on current Haswell architecture. The dedicated Nvidia GeForce 740M automatically takes over the task of the integrated Intel HD Graphics 4600 when the computer is running programs that demand high performance. There is a full 8 GB of working memory as well as a 750 GB hard drive. The two stereo speakers by Onkyo are equipped with DTS Sound and should generate a balanced sound.

But the competition also has a lot to offer. The Nexoc M512 offers an i7 based on Ivy Bridge, double the RAM, and a 1 TB hard drive accompanied by a 120 GB SSD. The Asus all-rounder N56VB-S4050H is equipped with hardware similar to that of our review device, but it also offers a Full HD display. Toshiba’s own alternatives are the silver L50-A-164 and the partly aluminum S50-A-10H. The L50-A-164 contains an Intel Core i5-4200U, which is a weaker processor than the 4700MQ, but it uses significantly less energy. The S50-A-10H's hardware is equivalent to that of our review device.

Case

The display lid is a shiny pearl-white.
The display lid is a shiny pearl-white.
The underside is made of white plastic.
The underside is made of white plastic.

The Toshiba Satellite L50-A10Q measures 377.5 x 244 x 25.95 mm (length x width x height; 14.86 x 9.61 x 1.02 inches) and weighs exactly 2300 grams (5.07 pounds). The notebook is comparatively lean in its category. The device is made entirely of plastic. The panel lid is a shiny pearl-white and has a subtle striped pattern. The keyboard bed, display frame and palm rest are all an ivory color. We were pleased to see that despite their high-gloss coating, neither the lid nor the inside surfaces show fingerprints. The base unit is made of a pure white, rougher plastic that is slightly ribbed. The L50 looks attractive and has the feel of a high-quality device.

The base unit proves to be stable and stand up to pressure well. The only area where the plastic yields slightly to pressure is beneath the DVD drive. The display is very thin, and the image on the screen distorts when the back side of the panel is pressed inward. The lid also warps easily when twisted side to side. The notebook can be easily opened with two fingers. The hinges hold the display exactly at the desired angle. Even vibrations in the notebook’s environment barely cause the panel to bounce. The gap dimensions are exact and uniform. The lid and base unit also come together evenly. Overall, the notebook’s manufacturing quality is quite solid.

Connectivity

The notebook’s connectivity options are standard for its class. Along with its one USB 2.0 port, the device has two further USB 3.0 ports, a VGA port, an HDMI port, and a Gigabit Ethernet port. The connections on the right side are situated a little too close together; here we would like to have seen the connections distributed more evenly. Also, all the ports are positioned in the front area of the notebook, which makes both the placement and use of a mouse more difficult.

The DVD burner recognizes all the common formats. Though our review device does not have a Full HD panel, as least it offers the ability to play Blu-Ray disks. The card reader supports the newest SD card format, SDXC, and therefore accepts cards up to 64 GB in size. The reader supports MMC memory cards up to 2 GB.

Left side: Power, LAN, USB 2.0, DVD
Left side: Power, LAN, USB 2.0, DVD
Right side: Headphone jack, Microphone jack, 2 x USB 3.0, HDMI, VGA, Kensington lock
Right side: Headphone jack, Microphone jack, 2 x USB 3.0, HDMI, VGA, Kensington lock
Front side: Card reader
Front side: Card reader
Back side
Back side

Communication

Alongside the Gigabit Ethernet port, Toshiba installs an Atheros WLAN module in their L50-A-10Q. The component can handle the IEEE-802.11 standards b/g/n and transmits over 2.4 GHz. At 150 Mbit/s, the maximum transfer rate is not especially high. However, the Wi-Fi module is still appealing for its broad reception range and stable connection. Even 20 meters (~66 feet) from the router and through two walls, Windows showed the module’s connection to the router to be outstanding -- and true to its word, even from that distance websites still loaded immediately. Bluetooth 4.0 + LE (Low Energy) is also on board.

Accessories

The list of accessories contained in the Toshiba Satellite L50-A-10Q’s packaging is nothing special. The manufacturer only includes a 120 Watt power supply, a quick-start guide in brochure format and a small manual. The latter also covers the warranty information and gives tips for arranging your workspace ergonomically.

Anyone who might have expected a copy of Windows 8 on a disk drive, or at least a driver DVD, will be disappointed. Instead, Toshiba offers the preinstalled Recovery Media Creator tool for creating a recovery image. We strongly recommend doing this. The notebook does have its own recovery partition, but if the hard drive fails or is switched out, that partition will be useless.

Toshiba does not offer any optional accessories particular to the L50-A-10Q, but there is a plethora of universal accessories for notebooks.

A maintenance hatch allows access to the working memory.
A maintenance hatch allows access to the working memory.
The entire bottom cover can be removed.
The entire bottom cover can be removed.

Maintenance

We were glad to discover that it is exceptionally easy to perform maintenance on the Toshiba L50. On the underside of the device, you will find a maintenance hatch that reveals the working memory slot. But it does not end there -- the entire bottom cover can also be removed. After removing 14 screws, you can lift the underside off with a flat object or your fingertips.

Once open, all the hardware is easily accessible. The case fans can be cleaned without any trouble. It only takes four more screws to release and switch out the built-in battery. Anyone who wants to install a quick SSD or a bigger hard drive can do it alone without a problem. With a new set of memory modules, the two RAM banks can be expanded to up to 16 GB. The slim optical drive can also be switched out simply by disconnecting the SATA cable.

Warranty

Toshiba outfits their device with a 12-month warranty from the time it leaves the factory. This can be extended by the manufacturer. In their shop, the Japanese company offers various international warranty extensions between two and four years (34 to 109 Euros; ~$45 to $143). In the event of damage, the device must be sent to Toshiba.

The so-called "no matter what happens" warranty is available for one year (59 Euros; ~$77) or three years (74 Euros; ~$97). Along with the standard warranty coverage, this warranty also covers accidents and theft, and it includes a data recovery service.

Toshiba also offers on-site service (99 to 119 Euros; ~$130 to $156 dollars), available in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (within a radius of 100 km/62 miles from big cities).

Buyers in Austria and Germany also receive a two-year retailer’s warranty.

Input Devices

Keyboard

The chiclet keyboard is outfitted with 102 matte white keys. At 15 x 15 mm (0.59 x 0.59 inches), the QWERTY keys are a good size and are situated a comfortable three millimeters from one another. All the keys are flat and have a good travel length. Their feedback is also good. Even when the keys are hit relatively hard, the keyboard bed does not give way. From the viewpoint of the reviewer, after a short period of adjustment, this input device is well suited to the needs of prolific writers.

number block is also at the ready. The number lock and caps lock keys both have an integrated LED that informs the user of their status. The F keys are accessible via the function key (Fn) and are preset to be media, volume, Internet and display controls, though their functions can be altered in the settings menu. The keyboard is not lit.

Touchpad

At 10.8 x 6.8 cm (4.5 x 2.68 inches), the manufacturer equips the L50-A-Q10 with a liberally-sized touchpad. The pad's glide is good and enables the user to navigate across the desktop with precision. The two mouse keys are integrated into the bottom portion of the pad, leaving the whole input device on one continuous level. The left mouse key extends across the whole field and has a crisp and audible click point. The right mouse key is only found in the bottom-right corner of the pad and only clicks under strong pressure.

The touchpad supports multi-touch gestures, and they function very well. You only need to take advantage of the good sensitivity in your fingertips during scrolling. Gliding around the edges of the pad brings up the Windows Charms bar. These areas of the input device are quite large, so starting Charms is simple. This does mean, however, that you are bound to unintentionally bring up the Charms bar on occasion. The touchpad can be turned off using the position F5 Fn key.

Good keyboard with a number block.
Good keyboard with a number block.
The touchpad understands multi-touch gestures.
The touchpad understands multi-touch gestures.

Display

Toshiba installs a TN panel with a resolution of 1366x768 pixels in their L50-A-Q10. This corresponds to an aspect ratio of 16:9 and a pixel density of about 100 PPI. On the desktop screen, the low number of pixels is of little account, but the tiles in the Modern UI seem gigantic.

The display surface is matte and as anti-reflective as possible. That is important, because at 208 cd/m², the screen's average brightness is low. The Nexoc M512 (209 cd/m²) has similarly dismal brightness values. The Asus competitor does a better job here. Its Full HD panel reaches an average brightness of 360 cd/m². However, our test device scored well with an 88% similarity in brightness distribution across the screen and no observed bright spots.

196
cd/m²
214
cd/m²
214
cd/m²
204
cd/m²
223
cd/m²
209
cd/m²
210
cd/m²
206
cd/m²
197
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
X-Rite i1 Basic Pro 2
Maximum: 223 cd/m²
Average: 208.1 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 88 %
Center on Battery: 223 cd/m²
Black: 1.08 cd/m²
Contrast: 206:1

The Toshiba L50’s black value does not deserve to be called “black”; at 1.08 cd/m², black looks more like a dark gray on this screen. At 206:1, no one is going to be giddy about the notebook's contrast ratio either -- it is actually rather disillusioning. Here, too, the competing Asus N56VB (0.52 cd/m², 765:1) proves that TN panels can offer much more.

The display only covers a small color space. The panel covers no more than 35% of the very large Adobe RGB color space, and it covers no more than 51% of the sRGB color space either. The grayscale has a DeltaE value of 8.6 and shows a blue cast, which is typical of TN panels. Things do not look much better on our Color Checker and color saturation assessments either. Both analyses reveal color tones that have DeltaE values of 10 or higher. In practice, the image always appears to lack a certain vividness. Even indoors, we preferred to work with the display set to its maximum brightness level.

Grayscale (target color space sRGB, pre-calibration)
Grayscale (target color space sRGB, pre-calibration)
Color saturation (target color space sRGB, pre-calibration)
Color saturation (target color space sRGB, pre-calibration)
Color Checker (target color space sRGB, pre-calibration)
Color Checker (target color space sRGB, pre-calibration)
L50-A-10Q vs. Adobe RGB
L50-A-10Q vs. Adobe RGB
L50-A-10Q vs. sRGB
L50-A-10Q vs. sRGB
L50-A-10Q vs. Asus N56VB
L50-A-10Q vs. Asus N56VB
L50-A-10Q vs. Nexoc M512
L50-A-10Q vs. Nexoc M512

Considering all of the low values mentioned above, we were pessimistic that the device would be suitable for outdoor use. However, the L50-A-10Q's matte panel proves to master the great outdoors surprisingly well. It is true that you cannot make heads or tails of the image under direct sunlight, but the Toshiba is entirely useable in bright environments, as long as you can find a somewhat shady spot.

The Toshiba L50-A-10Q outdoors.
The Toshiba L50-A-10Q outdoors.
Viewing angles Toshiba L50-A-10Q
Viewing angles Toshiba L50-A-10Q

Very few TN displays have stable viewing angles or can compete with an IPS screen. The same is unfortunately true of the Toshiba L50. Horizontal changes in the viewing angle only cause the colors to grow somewhat duller, but if you change the vertical angle, the image distorts quickly. As a result, the user consistently has to adjust the display angle, especially since the colors can be distorted in one particular area of the panel, even if they are fine in other areas.

Performance

The heart of the Toshiba Satellite L50-A-10Q is Intel's quad-core Core i7-4700MQ processor. This CPU has an integrated HD 4600 graphics unit at its command. The notebook is also equipped with a dedicated Nvidia GeForce GT 740M. The system is supported by 8 GB of working memory that work in dual-channel mode and a conventional hard drive with 750 GB of storage space.

Our review device's sister model, the L50-A-164, has an Intel Core i5-4200U at its command. This variant is most interesting if mobility is an important factor. Because the ULV processor has a much lower power consumption rate, the notebook has a longer battery life. The 4700MQ’s TDP is three times higher, but it has considerably more processing power.

CPU-Z
CPU-Z
CPU-Z
CPU-Z
GPU-Z
GPU-Z
HWiNFO64
DCP Latency Checker
System Information Toshiba L50-A-10Q

Processor

In selecting the Intel Core i7-4700MQ, Toshiba lays their money down for a potent quad-core processor based on Intel’s current Haswell architecture. It offers four cores and eight threads. Each core has a base clock frequency of 2.4 GHz and can increase this using Intel’s Turbo Boost 2.0 technology. With the turbo boost, one core can reach a maximum of 3.4 GHz, two can reach 3.3 GHz, and all four cores simultaneously can still hit up to 3.2 GHz.

That is the theory, anyway. In the Cinebench R 11.5 benchmark, our test device did reach the full turbo frequency of 3.4 GHz in the single-core test. At 2.6 GHz in the multi-core test, the processor did cross into the turbo range, but it remained far below its maximum capability. This can lead to drops in performance when the computer runs programs that demand a lot of the CPU. Notebooks that have the same processor but run it unhindered are more than 20% faster.

Without the support of the power supply, the 4700MQ still reaches its base clock frequency, no matter how many cores are called to the task. With that in mind, it seems likely that our test device’s limited turbo is the result of overheating.

Cinebench: Single core in AC power mode (3.4 GHz)
Cinebench: Single core in AC power mode (3.4 GHz)
Cinebench: Multi core in AC power mode (2.6 GHz)
Cinebench: Multi core in AC power mode (2.6 GHz)
Cinebench: Single core in battery mode (2.4 GHz)
Cinebench: Single core in battery mode (2.4 GHz)
Cinebench: Multi core in battery mode (2.4 GHz)
Cinebench: Multi core in battery mode (2.4 GHz)
Cinebench R11.5
CPU Multi 64Bit
Toshiba L50-A-10Q
GeForce GT 740M, 4700MQ, HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541075A9E680
5.68 Points ∼32%
Nexoc M512
GeForce GT 740M, 3540M, Mushkin Atlas 120 GB mSATA
3.41 Points ∼19% -40%
Asus N56VB-S4050H
GeForce GT 740M, 3630QM, WDC Scorpio Blue WD7500BPVT-80HXZT3
6.41 Points ∼36% +13%
HP Envy 17t-j000
GeForce GT 740M, 4700MQ, Toshiba MQ01ABD100
6.94 Points ∼39% +22%
One K56-3F
GeForce GT 750M, 4700MQ, Toshiba HG5d THNSNH128GMCT
6.96 Points ∼40% +23%
CPU Single 64Bit
Toshiba L50-A-10Q
GeForce GT 740M, 4700MQ, HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541075A9E680
1.5 Points ∼81%
Nexoc M512
GeForce GT 740M, 3540M, Mushkin Atlas 120 GB mSATA
1.54 Points ∼83% +3%
Asus N56VB-S4050H
GeForce GT 740M, 3630QM, WDC Scorpio Blue WD7500BPVT-80HXZT3
1.41 Points ∼76% -6%
HP Envy 17t-j000
GeForce GT 740M, 4700MQ, Toshiba MQ01ABD100
1.51 Points ∼82% +1%
One K56-3F
GeForce GT 750M, 4700MQ, Toshiba HG5d THNSNH128GMCT
1.51 Points ∼82% +1%
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit
6294 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit
20140 Points
Cinebench R10 Shading 64Bit
6737 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
4817
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
15621
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
6762
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.5 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
5.68 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
41.03 fps
Help

System Performance

Using PCMark, our test device's system performance scores fall far behind those of its competitors. Since the Nexoc M512 has an SSD, it is no wonder that it so easily outstrips the rest of the competition. The PCMark benchmark programs always award loads of points to the quick flash storage medium.

The L50's poor scores compared to the Asus N56VB could be related to the CPU’s reduced turbo performance. Despite its conventional hard drive, in practice it feels like the L50's system runs very quickly.

PCMark 8 - Home
PCMark 8 - Home
PCMark 8 - Creative
PCMark 8 - Creative
PCMark 8 - Work
PCMark 8 - Work
PCMark 8 - Storage
PCMark 8 - Storage
PCMark Vantage
1024x768 Result
Toshiba L50-A-10Q
GeForce GT 740M, 4700MQ, HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541075A9E680
7281 Points ∼31%
Asus N56VB-S4050H
GeForce GT 740M, 3630QM, WDC Scorpio Blue WD7500BPVT-80HXZT3
9861 Points ∼42% +35%
Nexoc M512
GeForce GT 740M, 3540M, Mushkin Atlas 120 GB mSATA
17424 Points ∼74% +139%
1024x768 Gaming Score
Toshiba L50-A-10Q
GeForce GT 740M, 4700MQ, HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541075A9E680
6543 Points ∼25%
Asus N56VB-S4050H
GeForce GT 740M, 3630QM, WDC Scorpio Blue WD7500BPVT-80HXZT3
8136 Points ∼31% +24%
Nexoc M512
GeForce GT 740M, 3540M, Mushkin Atlas 120 GB mSATA
15400 Points ∼59% +135%
1024x768 Productivity Score
Toshiba L50-A-10Q
GeForce GT 740M, 4700MQ, HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541075A9E680
4578 Points ∼15%
Asus N56VB-S4050H
GeForce GT 740M, 3630QM, WDC Scorpio Blue WD7500BPVT-80HXZT3
7024 Points ∼23% +53%
Nexoc M512
GeForce GT 740M, 3540M, Mushkin Atlas 120 GB mSATA
19962 Points ∼65% +336%
1024x768 HDD Score
Toshiba L50-A-10Q
GeForce GT 740M, 4700MQ, HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541075A9E680
3349 Points ∼5%
Asus N56VB-S4050H
GeForce GT 740M, 3630QM, WDC Scorpio Blue WD7500BPVT-80HXZT3
2853 Points ∼4% -15%
Nexoc M512
GeForce GT 740M, 3540M, Mushkin Atlas 120 GB mSATA
38878 Points ∼58% +1061%
5.9
Windows 8 Experience Index
Processor
Calculations per second
7.6
Memory (RAM)
Memory operations per second
7.7
Graphics
Desktop performance for Windows Aero
6.6
Gaming graphics
3D business and gaming graphics
6.6
Primary hard disk
Disk data transfer rate
5.9
PC Mark
PCMark Vantage7281 points
PCMark 73183 points
Help

Mass Storage

CrystalDiskMark
CrystalDiskMark
HD Tune
HD Tune

Toshiba installs a 750 GB hard drive from HGST with the model number HTS541075A9E680 as their mass storage medium. The HDD is connected to the system using a SATA II cable and rotates at 5400 rpm. CrystalDiskMark reports a read speed of about 100 MB/s, and HD Tune records a read rate of 83 MB/s. With these numbers, the drive proves to be quite fast for a conventional hard drive. The access time is documented at 17 ms.

When it comes to performance, the hard drive simply cannot keep up with a Solid State Drive (SSD), like the one at work in the Nexoc M512. The Nexoc's flash storage device distinguishes itself from a conventional hard drive first and foremost with its swift access speed of under a millisecond, and it is able to process small blocks of data (4k) at an especially high speed. This increases the operating system's performance by a huge margin.

The HDD, manufactured by a daughter company of Western Digital, is 750 GB. That amounts to about 699 “actual” gigabytes. After the first Windows start-up, about 655 GB are available to the user. About 12.5 GB are allocated to the recovery partitions and EFI system partitions, while the rest of the occupied storage is held by the operating system and pre-installed programs.

HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541075A9E680
Transfer Rate Minimum: 47.1 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 106.2 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 83.4 MB/s
Access Time: 17 ms
Burst Rate: 185.3 MB/s
CPU Usage: 2.5 %

Graphics Card

Battery mode: Shogun 2 in window mode at 1024 x 768 and highest detail setting.
Battery mode: Shogun 2 in window mode at 1024 x 768 and highest detail setting.

Alongside the integrated Intel HD Graphics 4600 GPU, the Toshiba Satellite L50-A-10Q also has a dedicated graphics solution at its command. Using the Optimus technologyNvidia’s GeForce GT 740M automatically assumes more demanding graphics tasks. In the 740M’s settings, the user can manually distribute applications to one particular GPU or make system-wide changes to the default settings.

The GT 740M is a middle class graphics solution that supports DirectX 11. It uses the Kepler GK208 chipset, which is generally slower than the GK107. The core clock frequency amounts to 980 MHz and can be boosted to up to 1058 MHz. The GPU’s own 2 GB DDR3 memory runs at 1800 MHz.

In practice, the chipset does not make the most of its theoretical performance capabilities. But the GPU is not the only component at fault for the notebook’s comparatively bad scores in the benchmarks -- the 4700MQ's limited turbo boost also bears some of the blame. The CPU's restricted performance is especially apparent in the physics tests. In the 3D Mark Cloud Gate benchmark tests, it is clear that the same GPU is capable of better things. In the graphics test, the Asus N56VB leaves the L50's 740M far behind.

We were happy to learn that the graphic card’s performance does not drop at all in battery mode -- even the boost still has its full effect.

3DMark (2013)
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Score
Toshiba L50-A-10Q
GeForce GT 740M, 4700MQ, HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541075A9E680
6625 Points ∼27%
Nexoc M512
GeForce GT 740M, 3540M, Mushkin Atlas 120 GB mSATA
6005 Points ∼25% -9%
MSI CX70-i740M281W7H
GeForce GT 740M, 4702MQ, WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVX-22JC3T0
6916 Points ∼29% +4%
HP Envy 17t-j000
GeForce GT 740M, 4700MQ, Toshiba MQ01ABD100
6968 Points ∼29% +5%
Asus N56VB-S4050H
GeForce GT 740M, 3630QM, WDC Scorpio Blue WD7500BPVT-80HXZT3
8226 Points ∼34% +24%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Graphics
Toshiba L50-A-10Q
GeForce GT 740M, 4700MQ, HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541075A9E680
7238 Points ∼9%
Nexoc M512
GeForce GT 740M, 3540M, Mushkin Atlas 120 GB mSATA
7655 Points ∼10% +6%
MSI CX70-i740M281W7H
GeForce GT 740M, 4702MQ, WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVX-22JC3T0
7403 Points ∼10% +2%
HP Envy 17t-j000
GeForce GT 740M, 4700MQ, Toshiba MQ01ABD100
7220 Points ∼9% 0%
Asus N56VB-S4050H
GeForce GT 740M, 3630QM, WDC Scorpio Blue WD7500BPVT-80HXZT3
9105 Points ∼12% +26%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Physics
Toshiba L50-A-10Q
GeForce GT 740M, 4700MQ, HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541075A9E680
5111 Points ∼12%
Nexoc M512
GeForce GT 740M, 3540M, Mushkin Atlas 120 GB mSATA
3424 Points ∼8% -33%
MSI CX70-i740M281W7H
GeForce GT 740M, 4702MQ, WDC Scorpio Blue WD10JPVX-22JC3T0
5623 Points ∼13% +10%
HP Envy 17t-j000
GeForce GT 740M, 4700MQ, Toshiba MQ01ABD100
6210 Points ∼15% +22%
Asus N56VB-S4050H
GeForce GT 740M, 3630QM, WDC Scorpio Blue WD7500BPVT-80HXZT3
6149 Points ∼15% +20%
3D Mark
3DMark 06
 1280x1024
11332 points
3DMark Vantage6805 points
3DMark 112007 points
3DMark Ice Storm59617 points
3DMark Cloud Gate6625 points
3DMark Fire Strike1015 points
3DMark Fire Strike Extreme498 points
Help

Gaming Performance

The Nvidia GeForce GT 740M is no high-end graphics card, so heavy gamers will not have a lot of fun on this notebook. Because of the display's resolution (1366x768 pixels), it is simply not possible to play in Full HD.

In the panel's native resolution, even newly released games can be played fluidly and at a high degree of detail, but gamers will either have to do without anti-aliasing or else reduce the level of detail on demanding titles. For casual gamers, however, the performance will be more than sufficient.

low med.high ultra
Total War: Shogun 2 (2011) 179.337.8fps
F1 2012 (2012) 1288261fps
Company of Heroes 2 (2013) 28.722.913.4fps

Emissions

System Noise

The L50-A-10Q’s noise level will not bother most users. In idle mode, the notebook reaches a comfortably quiet max volume of 31.2 dB(A). The hard drive is somewhat louder than the fan and makes a constant clicking sound (31.5-33.0 dB(A)) as it runs. The HDD’s noise level did not bother us. Sensitive users, however, might want to consider using an SSD. SSDs are completely silent, but cost much more.

The DVD drive generates the typical start-up sound when a disk is inserted, reaching a sound pressure level of 36.9 dB(A). The noise is definitely audible, but it remains at a reasonable volume. Under load, the numbers rise to up to 42.8 dB(A). That still is not an uncomfortably loud noise level, and hitting the maximum sound pressure level is a rare occurrence in practice. The fan is always active and never stands still.

Noise Level

Idle 31.2 / 31.2 / 31.2 dB(A)
HDD 33.0 dB(A)
DVD 36.9 / dB(A)
Load 39.3 / 42.8 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:    Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)

Temperature

Things heat up in the stress test.
Things heat up in the stress test.

In idle mode, the notebook remains comfortably cool and reaches a maximum temperature of 31 °C (87.8 °F) on the bottom side of the case. Under load, the temperatures climb to up to 46.8 °C (116.2 °F). We run Prime95 and FurMark simultaneously for at least an hour to determine this maximum temperature value, so a normal user will hardly ever experience this extreme temperature.

The same goes for the CPU and GPU stress test. We measured up to 93 °C (199.4 °F) on the Intel 4700MQ's SoC. At those temperatures, it is clear that the little heat pipe has a hard time handling the heat generated by the processor. This also explains why Toshiba limits the quad-core processor’s multi-core clock rate to 2.6 GHz. 3DMark 06, which we ran immediately following the stress test, showed significant drops in performance. Due to the heat-induced throttling, the L50 only reached 7508 points this time around. From cold boot it achieved a score of 11332 points. Again, we must be clear that we are talking about an extreme scenario here. Our tests show that this notebook does not bear up well under a long period of heavy load, but in practice such situations are rare.

Max. Load
 26.1 °C32.7 °C40.7 °C 
 26.1 °C30.1 °C41.7 °C 
 26.3 °C27.4 °C36.0 °C 
Maximum: 41.7 °C
Average: 31.9 °C
46.8 °C31.7 °C33.3 °C
44.6 °C35.9 °C26.5 °C
37.6 °C32.8 °C27.0 °C
Maximum: 46.8 °C
Average: 35.1 °C
Power Supply (max.)  40.4 °C | Room Temperature 25.2 °C | Voltcraft IR-360

Speakers

DTS Sound: Minimalist, but effective.
DTS Sound: Minimalist, but effective.

The two built-in stereo speakers from Onkyo harmonize well with the notebook’s DTS Sound enhancement. The speakers generate a clean sound, free of rustling or background noise. The small speakers have enough volume to reproduce mid and bass tones. It is better not to expect wonders of the little speaker system, but for its size, the sound is good.

Users of this notebook should absolutely take advantage of the DTS settings. The standard settings leave the sound somewhat hollow. The notebook’s audio output via the headphone jack and the HDMI port is perfectly fine.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

In idle mode, the Toshiba L50-A-10Q consumes a balanced 5.4 to 10.1 Watts of power. The considerably brighter Asus N56VB needs up to 25 Watts. In this discipline, the Satellite clearly benefits from its low display brightness.

At a maximum of 64.2 Watts under load, here too our review device’s energy use remains lower than that of its competitors from Asus (max. 82 Watts) and Nexoc (max. 69 Watts). The reduced CPU boost is also responsible for that. Unlike our Toshiba device, the N56VB demands a full 47 Watts. At 120 Watts, the L50’s power supply provides more than enough power. Bottlenecking certainly will not be a problem here.

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.2 / 0.3 Watt
Idle 5.4 / 8.7 / 10.1 Watt
Load 56.6 / 64.2 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Life

At 42 Wh, the Satellite L50-A-10Q is equipped with a comparatively small lithium-ion battery. The Asus computer offers much more energy storage space (56 Wh), and the Nexoc M512's battery (48 Wh) also has more to offer.

However, due to its comparatively low power consumption rate, the Toshiba notebook still performs well in its class. With its idle run-time of over eight hours, the L50 eclipses its competitors (Asus: 04:48 h, Nexoc: 04:32 h). We determine these numbers using the Battery Eater Reader’s test, during which we set the panel brightness to minimum, deactivate all the wireless modules and turn on the energy-saving mode.

Turning our attention to the opposite scenario, with the display at maximum brightness, wireless modules activated and the dedicated GT 740M constantly running, we use the Battery Eater Classic test to determine the minimum battery run-time. The notebook shut down after one hour and 20 minutes.

The “WLAN surf test” more closely approximates normal, everyday use. Maintaining the panel brightness at 150 cd/m², we use a browser script to load a new webpage once every 40 seconds. At a run-time of over four hours, here too our review device keeps chugging along a good long time. Both competing devices cut out an hour earlier.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
8h 16min
WiFi Surfing
4h 15min
DVD
2h 27min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 20min

Verdict

In Review: Toshiba Satellite L50-A-10Q. Courtesy of Toshiba Deutschland.
In Review: Toshiba Satellite L50-A-10Q. Courtesy of Toshiba Deutschland.

The high-gloss pearl Toshiba Satellite L50-A-10Q leaves us with mixed feelings. On the one hand, the notebook has a solid hardware basis, good input devices, a respectable WLAN reception range and good battery life, and it is very well manufactured. On the other hand, the device affords that good battery life by limiting the processor’s performance, which is especially apparent when the computer runs CPU-intensive tasks.

Nevertheless, the display deserves the most criticism. It is much too dark, and still its black value is dismal. We expected more here. Unfortunately, Nexoc's notebook does not do much better. Those who consider panel quality important should take a closer look at the Asus N56VB-S4050H. It is considerably brighter, maintains a stable image from a variety of angles, and offers Full HD resolution.

However, Toshiba’s attractive and lean design is still a selling point. If you plan to use this device primarily at home, and you consider yourself just a casual gamer, you may really enjoy this notebook -- it does have a lot of processing power, after all.

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In Review: Toshiba Satellite L50-A-10Q. Courtesy of Toshiba Deutschland.
In Review: Toshiba Satellite L50-A-10Q. Courtesy of Toshiba Deutschland.

Specifications

Toshiba L50-A-10Q

:: Processor
:: Mainboard
Intel HM86 (Lynx Point)
:: Memory
8192 MB
:: Graphics adapter
NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M - NVIDIA: 2.048 MB, Intel: shared MB, Core: NVIDIA: 980 - 1.033 MHz, Intel: 400 MHz MHz, Memory: NVIDIA: 1.800 MHz, Intel: 1.600 MHz MHz, NVIDIA: GK208, DDR3-RAM, 28 nm, CUDA; Intel: HD 4600, NVIDIA: 9.18.13.1141 (ForceWare 311.41), Intel: 9.18.10.3089, NVIDIA Optimus
:: Display
15.6 inch 16:9, 1366x768 pixel, HD TFT Hochhelligkeits-Display, LED Backlight, TN LED, glossy: no
:: Harddisk
HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541075A9E680, 750 GB 5400 rpm , 655 GB free
:: Soundcard
Intel Lynx Point PCH - High Definition Audio Controller
:: Connections
1 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: Microphone jack, Stereo audio jack, Card Reader: SD/MMC (up to 64 GB) ,
:: Networking
Atheros L1C PCI-E Ethernet Controller (10MBit), Atheros Communications AR9565 Wireless Network Adapter (b g n ), 4.0 + LE Bluetooth
:: Optical drive
TSSTcorp CDDVDW SU-208BB
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 25.95 x 377.5 x 244
:: Weight
2.3 kg Power Supply: 0.544 kg
:: Battery
42 Wh Lithium-Ion, 4 cells, 2838 mAh, 14.4 volts
Battery runtime (according to manufacturer): 240 h
:: Price
899 euros Euro
:: Operating System
Microsoft Windows 8 64 Bit
:: Additional features
Webcam: 0.9 MP, Speakers: Two Onkyo stereo speakers, Keyboard: Chiclet, Keyboard Light: no, Power supply (120 W, 6.32 A, 19 V), Quick-start guide, Warranty booklet, DTS® Sound, McAfee IS, Microsoft Office 365 (both 30-day trial versions), Desktop Assist, Display Utility, Eco Utility, Function Key, Media Player by sMedio TrueLink+, PC Health Monitor, System Settings

 

When closed, the L50 looks compact.
When closed, the L50 looks compact.
Toshiba installs a matte TN panel.
Toshiba installs a matte TN panel.
The notebook doesn't open any further than this.
The notebook doesn't open any further than this.
The display has a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels.
The display has a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels.
There isn't much in the way of accessories.
There isn't much in the way of accessories.
DTS Sound should ensure a good sound streaming from the speakers.
DTS Sound should ensure a good sound streaming from the speakers.
The connections on the right side are all clumped together.
The connections on the right side are all clumped together.
There's also a slim DVD drive.
There's also a slim DVD drive.
The drive is capable of burning DVDs.
The drive is capable of burning DVDs.
The power button lights up.
The power button lights up.
The Health Monitor software reports the computer's state.
The Health Monitor software reports the computer's state.
The base unit is made of white plastic.
The base unit is made of white plastic.
The maintenance hatch provides easy access to the RAM.
The maintenance hatch provides easy access to the RAM.
The L50 is designed to be very easy to service.
The L50 is designed to be very easy to service.
The Kensington lock is permanently built-in.
The Kensington lock is permanently built-in.
The battery is secured with screws, but it can be changed.
The battery is secured with screws, but it can be changed.
A heat pipe directs the heat to the fan.
A heat pipe directs the heat to the fan.
The DVD drive can be simply switched out.
The DVD drive can be simply switched out.
The speakers are from Onkyo.
The speakers are from Onkyo.
The WLAN module did very well in our tests.
The WLAN module did very well in our tests.

Similar Devices

Links

Price Comparison

Pro

+Good manufacturing quality
+Satisfactory WLAN reception range
+Good speakers
 

Cons

-Reduced CPU performance
-Dark display that covers a limited color space
-Slow built-in Kepler chip
-Warms to high temperatures

Shortcut

What we like

The high-quality manufacturing and attractive design come together well. Toshiba did everything right here.

What we'd like to see

Toshiba could have gotten a lot more performance out of their hardware if they had designed an effective cooling system.

What surprises us

Why Toshiba put such a terrible display in their notebook is a mystery to us.

The competition

The competing notebooks are the Asus N56VB-S4050H, Samsung 550P5C-S08DE, Asus N550JV-CN201H, Lenovo IdeaPad Y510p and the Nexoc M512 (among others).

Rating

Toshiba L50-A-10Q
04/15/2014 v4
Daniel Schmidt

Chassis
68 / 98 → 69%
Keyboard
77%
Pointing Device
72%
Connectivity
63 / 95 → 66%
Weight
61 / 67 → 87%
Battery
79%
Display
68%
Games Performance
80 / 93 → 86%
Application Performance
67%
Temperature
87%
Noise
87 / 95 → 92%
Audio
60 / 95 → 63%
Camera
38 / 95 → 40%
Average
70%
75%
Multimedia *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Review Toshiba Satellite L50-A-10Q Notebook
Author: Daniel Schmidt, 2013-09- 9 (Update: 2013-09-10)