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Toshiba Satellite Pro A30T-C-111 Subnotebook Review

Sven Kloevekorn, Stefanie Voigt (translated by Liala Stieglitz), 04/15/2016

HDD handbrake. We did not find many reasons for complaint in Toshiba's new 1200 Euro (RRP) subnotebook. The useful dual-core alongside a very satisfying RAM configuration fits perfectly to the office claim, and a decent IPS screen is never wrong.

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For the original German review, see here.

Toshiba's Satellite Pro A30T-C-111 is a compact 13-inch subnotebook for mobile office use at an RRP of 1199 Euros. However, apart from a TPM chip (2.0), it does not sport any other business features, such as a fingerprint scanner. A cutting edge Intel i5-6200U dual-core with Hyper Threading from the ULV category (2x 2.3-2.8 GHz; TDP 15 W), supported by 8 GB of single-channel RAM powers the device. The processor-integrated Intel HD 520 GPU is responsible for video output. The Full HD touchscreen is based on IPS technology that normally stands for good color reproduction and high viewing angle stability. A conventional 500 GB HDD (7200 RPM) is installed for storing data. Surprising for this category: Toshiba incorporates a DVD burner. The review sample was priced at approximately 850 Euros at test time, which also lessens the criticisms in this test.

We primarily concentrated on a similar size and comparable price-performance level while choosing the rivals. Here are the opponents:

Toshiba Satellite Pro A30T-C-111
Graphics adapter
Intel HD Graphics 520, Core: 300 - 1050 MHz, shared memory, 20.19.15.4300
Memory
8192 MB 
, DDR3, 1600 MHz, single-channel, 1 of 2 memory banks filled
Display
13.3 inch 16:9, 1920 x 1080 pixel 166 PPI, Toshiba TOS508F, IPS, glossy: no
Mainboard
Intel Skylake-U Premium PCH
Storage
Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545050A7E680, 500 GB 
, 5400 rpm
Soundcard
Intel Skylake-U/Y PCH - High Definition Audio
Connections
3 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: combo headphone/microphone, Card Reader: SD/SDHC/SDXC/MMC, Brightness Sensor
Networking
Intel Ethernet Connection I219-V (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260 (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.0 + LE
Optical drive
TSSTcorp CDDVDW SU-208GB
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 20 x 316 x 229 ( = 0.79 x 12.44 x 9.02 in)
Battery
44 Wh Lithium-Ion, removeable, 4 cells
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: 2 MP Full HD
Additional features
Speakers: stereo, Keyboard: chiclet, Keyboard Light: no, 24 Months Warranty
Weight
1.58 kg ( = 55.73 oz / 3.48 pounds), Power Supply: 140 g ( = 4.94 oz / 0.31 pounds)
Price
1199 EUR
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Case & Connectivity

The completely black Satellite Pro A30T-C-111 is not particularly lightweight for a 13-inch subnotebook. Many devices that weigh a few hundred grams less can be found in our relevant Top 10 list. The review sample is not one of the slimmest models, either. Ports are better situated on the rear than on the sides from an ergonomic point of view, but the manufacturer only implements that on the left. Only the battery can be accessed from the outside. The WiFi reception quality is very good.

Toshiba touts its newcomer to have a black magnesium lid in hairline design. The pattern that slightly resembles a very subtle brushed metal finish is also found on the base's upper side. Although fingerprints are visible on it, they are not very striking. Like common for touchscreens, the panel's glass almost completely covers the bezel. Apart from the somewhat unique touchpad and the eye-catching hinge design, Toshiba's designers were tight-fisted with visual highlights. In total, we would describe the very stiff and solid-looking, impeccably built casing as plain and rather masculine.

Right: Power-in, Ethernet, USB 3.0, DVD
Right: Power-in, Ethernet, USB 3.0, DVD
Left: Audio in/out, 2x USB 3.0, HDMI, VGA, vent, Kensington
Left: Audio in/out, 2x USB 3.0, HDMI, VGA, vent, Kensington

Input Devices

The traditional touchpad is a bit small for space reasons. It would therefore be nice if the outer edges would respond to touch. The lightly roughened surfaces allow even moist fingers to glide very easily. The responsiveness and accuracy do not give reason for complaint. Two symbols printed in both upper corners respond to double tapping and either disable the touchpad or activate the energy-savings mode. Both keys have a very short drop, but provide enough feedback thanks to a subtle click noise and palpable pressure point.

The pressure resistant keyboard bed is lightly lowered in contrast to the wrist rest. Keys, such as PGUP, often found in the upper right in larger laptops have been moved to an extra column at the very right due to the limited space. Some keys are also scaled down. Despite the decent key spacing, the keyboard only achieves the size of a conventional desktop keyboard with the extra column. The drop is short, the pressure point is fairly crisp, the stroke only lightly cushioned, and the noise of the larger keys unobtrusive. The tester found typing comfortable. When considering the upper-range price and professional claim, the lack of a backlight is difficult to understand. We did not encounter any problems with the touchscreen.

Display

The small 13.3-inch matte (!) IPS touchscreen has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. That leads to a pixel density of 166 PPI, which is high for laptop conditions. The image sharpness is just as beyond reproach as the illumination of 90 % that can also be confirmed subjectively. Since the black level of 0.42 cd/m² is not particularly low, the contrast of 769:1 is "only" on a good but not awe-inspiring level.

Except for Asus' Zenbook where the contrast ratio suffers under a much too high black level of 0.69 cd/m², the comparison laptops cannot compete in terms of brightness. Thanks to the extremely low black level and useful brightness, Dell's XPS 13 achieves tremendously high 1453:1 here.

299
cd/m²
311
cd/m²
309
cd/m²
292
cd/m²
323
cd/m²
302
cd/m²
291
cd/m²
292
cd/m²
304
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 323 cd/m² Average: 302.6 cd/m² Minimum: 18 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 90 %
Center on Battery: 320 cd/m²
Contrast: 769:1 (Black: 0.42 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 3.44 | 0.4-29.43 Ø6.3
ΔE Greyscale 4.62 | 0.64-98 Ø6.5
98% sRGB (Argyll 3D) 63% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll 3D)
Gamma: 2.37

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
30 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 9 ms rise
↘ 21 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 73 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (25.6 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
37 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 15 ms rise
↘ 22 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 32 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is similar to the average of all tested devices (41 ms).

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Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM detected 211 Hz ≤ 20 % brightness setting

The display backlight flickers at 211 Hz (Likely utilizing PWM) Flickering detected at a brightness setting of 20 % and below. There should be no flickering or PWM above this brightness setting.

The frequency of 211 Hz is relatively low, so sensitive users will likely notice flickering and experience eyestrain at the stated brightness setting and below.

In comparison: 53 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 8668 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

All laptops in the test feature an IPS panel, and thus decent color accuracy is very likely. Rates less than DeltaE 3 are ideal, which the review samples all miss slightly in delivery state with exception of Asus' Zenbook. DeltaE rates can usually be improved via calibrating and subsequent profiling. A corresponding profile is linked in the box for the review sample, which exhibits a virtually invisible color shift toward green.

A high as possible coverage of the large AdobeRGB color space is normally only important for users who perform serious image editing. The review sample takes the first place with good 63 %, followed by Asus' Zenbook with 55 % among the test laptops. The colors of the small, quasi standard sRGB are reproduced by up to 98 %, which is easily enough for satisfying hobby needs. The response times might be too slow for gamers, but they are not an aspect for the target group anyway.

The IPS technology provides a lot of elbow room in front of the screen, while the panel's matte surface in conjunction with the very good brightness allows a great deal of stress-free use outdoors as long as direct sunlight is avoided.

CalMAN Grayscale
CalMAN Grayscale
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps
CalMAN ColorChecker
CalMAN ColorChecker
AdobeRGB coverage
AdobeRGB coverage
sRGB coverage
sRGB coverage
Pixel grid
Pixel grid
Toshiba Satellite Pro A30T-C-111Dell XPS 13-9350Asus Zenbook UX305CA-FB055TLenovo ThinkPad X260-20F60041GE
Response Times
195%
-1%
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
37 (15, 22)
38 (24, 14, Spikes in between)
-3%
42.8 (18.8, 24)
-16%
Response Time Black / White *
30 (9, 21)
27 (13, 14, Spikes in between)
10%
27.2 (12.4, 14.8)
9%
PWM Frequency
211 (20)
1429 (20)
577%
220 (90)
4%
Screen
2%
-5%
4%
Brightness middle
323
277.5
-14%
390
21%
262
-19%
Brightness
303
276
-9%
352
16%
251
-17%
Brightness Distribution
90
88
-2%
81
-10%
88
-2%
Black Level *
0.42
0.191
55%
0.69
-64%
0.26
38%
Contrast
769
1453
89%
565
-27%
1008
31%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
3.44
4.88
-42%
3.04
12%
3.55
-3%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
6.19
7.01
-13%
5.85
5%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
4.62
4.26
8%
2.88
38%
3.36
27%
Gamma
2.37 93%
2.59 85%
2.43 91%
2.39 92%
CCT
6913 94%
6562 99%
6848 95%
5985 109%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
63
41.6
-34%
55
-13%
45.9
-27%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
98
65.79
-33%
85
-13%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
2% / 2%
95% / 41%
2% / 3%

* ... smaller is better

Processor

The installed Intel Core i5-6200U (2x 2.3 - 2.8 GHz, Hyper Threading) is a frugal dual-core processor from the Skylake generation built in the 14 nm process. Thanks to its low ULV TDP of just 15 watts, it is also suitable for compact laptops, ultrabooks and subnotebooks like the review sample. The integrated Intel HD Graphics 520 is responsible for calculating graphics. The also incorporated memory controller can cope with DDR3L RAM and the upcoming DDR4 RAM.

As the bar chart illustrates, the review sample's CPU performance is usually exactly on par with the competing laptops based on the same CPU. It can, however, slightly outperform the even more frugal 4.5 watt chip Intel Core m7-6Y75 (2x 1.2 - 3.1 GHz, Hyper Threading). The Turbo limit is still 2.7 GHz when both cores are loaded, which could also be maintained stably during high yet still realistic load via our Cinebench R15 loop (multi-core).

Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit
Dell XPS 13-9350
Intel Core i5-6200U
116 Points ∼100% 0%
Toshiba Satellite Pro A30T-C-111
Intel Core i5-6200U
116 Points ∼100%
Lenovo ThinkPad X260-20F60041GE
Intel Core i5-6200U
112 Points ∼97% -3%
Asus Zenbook UX305CA-FB055T
Intel Core m7-6Y75
100 Points ∼86% -14%
CPU Multi 64Bit
Lenovo ThinkPad X260-20F60041GE
Intel Core i5-6200U
289 Points ∼100% +1%
Dell XPS 13-9350
Intel Core i5-6200U
287 Points ∼99% 0%
Toshiba Satellite Pro A30T-C-111
Intel Core i5-6200U
287 Points ∼99%
Asus Zenbook UX305CA-FB055T
Intel Core m7-6Y75
214 Points ∼74% -25%
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
116 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
287 Points
Help

System Performance

In view of the virtually identical CPU performance of most laptops in the test, the varying PCMark 8 scores can only be explained by different GPU and storage device performances. Dell's XPS 13 furnished with a fast Samsung SSD is up front. Our review sample with its conventional HDD and Lenovo's ThinkPad that does not draw advantages from its hybrid hard drive with SSD cache follow. As expected, the weaker Zenbook comes in last despite its 512 GB Micron SSD.

Since our Toshiba does not sport an SSD - which does not quite match to the RRP - the subjective performance is affected clearly independent of the other hardware. Short breaks were needed after initially starting programs, for example after rebooting, before we could get started. Reopening was faster when the software was cached in the RAM. Overall, the performance did not annoy the tester any further; excessive multitasking rarely caused problems.

PCMark 8 - Home Score Accelerated v2
Lenovo ThinkPad X260-20F60041GE
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Seagate ST500LM000 Solid State Hybrid Drive
3262 Points ∼100% +17%
Dell XPS 13-9350
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Samsung PM951 NVMe MZ-VLV256D
2983 Points ∼91% +7%
Toshiba Satellite Pro A30T-C-111
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545050A7E680
2788 Points ∼85%
Asus Zenbook UX305CA-FB055T
HD Graphics 515, 6Y75, Micron M600 MTFDDAV512MBF M.2
2614 Points ∼80% -6%
PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
2788 points
Help

Storage Device

Focusing on CrystalDiskMark 3.0 shows that the conventional 500 GB hard drive slightly remains behind the expectations with only roughly 100 MB/s in sequential read. The same model does not achieve more in most other laptops, either. The scores vary strongly depending on the laptop in the 4K read performance (4K Read), which is important for launching programs and booting the operating system. Unfortunately, it performs on an overall below average level in the Toshiba despite 7200 RPM. All opponents do not stand a chance in every respect against the two SSDs in the test.

Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545050A7E680
Transfer Rate Minimum: 5.2 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 102 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 77.8 MB/s
Access Time: 18.5 ms
Burst Rate: 172.4 MB/s
CPU Usage: 3.6 %

Graphics Card & Gaming Performance

The weak but also frugal Intel HD 520 is not of much use. It usually even renders older 3D games smoothly only in low settings and resolutions. Possible games are, for example, "Diablo III", "FIFA", "StarCraft II" (newest: "Legacy of the Void") or other games with isometric reproduction. The GPU even gives up in medium presets in the modest "BioShock Infinite" from 2013, which does not look at all bad even in minimum settings at 1280 x 720 pixels.

High-definition video material is no problem thanks to advanced hardware decoding. However, more than Full HD can only be transmitted at 30 Hz to external monitors due to the lack of DisplayPort and HDMI. Approximately 20 % higher frame rates would sometimes be possible if the working memory, which also accesses the GPU, operated in dual-channel mode.

3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance GPU
Dell XPS 13-9350
Intel HD Graphics 520
1398 Points ∼100% +17%
Lenovo ThinkPad X260-20F60041GE
Intel HD Graphics 520
1210 Points ∼87% +1%
Toshiba Satellite Pro A30T-C-111
Intel HD Graphics 520
1198 Points ∼86%
Asus Zenbook UX305CA-FB055T
Intel HD Graphics 515
1083 Points ∼77% -10%
3DMark 11 Performance
1307 points
Help
low med. high ultra
BioShock Infinite (2013) 35.620.617.25.4fps

Emissions & Energy Management

Noise development
Noise development

System Noise

It takes a few seconds for the fan to start up after initiating the stress test Prime95. It can then just be discerned from normal ambient noises a meter away. Adding Furmark does not change that. Subnotebooks are normally not faced with these high loads, and the user can usually count with noiseless operation.

Noise Level

Idle
31.8 / 31.8 / 31.8 dB(A)
HDD
32.2 dB(A)
DVD
39.6 / dB(A)
Load
37.5 / 36.3 dB(A)
  red to green bar
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   Audix TM1 Arta (15 cm distance)   environment noise: 31.2 dB(A)

Temperature

No matter what we did with Toshiba's Satellite Pro A30T-C-111, it never surpassed absolutely uncritical 34 °C anywhere on the casing. Exactly this was also expected in view of the CPU. It did not throttle even under extreme conditions: The core rates clocked stably at the specified 2.7 GHz even when running Prime95 and Furmark simultaneously.

Max. Load
 26 °C
79 F
31.8 °C
89 F
34.4 °C
94 F
 
 24.7 °C
76 F
29.2 °C
85 F
32.8 °C
91 F
 
 24.1 °C
75 F
27.3 °C
81 F
29.9 °C
86 F
 
Maximum: 34.4 °C = 94 F
Average: 28.9 °C = 84 F
25.734 °C
78 F
33.1 °C
92 F
25.7 °C
78 F
32.4 °C
90 F
32.2 °C
90 F
25.1 °C
77 F
27.8 °C
82 F
25.2 °C
77 F
24.1 °C
75 F
Maximum: 33.1 °C = 92 F
Average: 27.9 °C = 82 F
Power Supply (max.)  41.4 °C = 107 F | Room Temperature 21.1 °C = 70 F | FIRT 550-Pocket

Speakers

Pink Noise
Pink Noise

The last time the tester heard such a thin sound as from the Toshiba was on his old Nexus 4 - even the Samsung Galaxy S6 (mono speaker...) sounds considerably richer, more natural and more dynamic. At most a dollhouse-studio can be meant when speaking of "DTS Studio Sound" because the incredibly low maximum volume cannot be used for more. Regardless whether the tweaks are enabled in the driver, the speakers elude any further analysis and urgently require external improvements.

Power Consumption

The power consumption is overall in the midfield of the relatively few 13.3-inch subnotebooks based on the i5-6200U in our database. Asus' Zenbook proves to be especially frugal in the test field, while Lenovo's ThinkPad consumes the least from the battery or outlet in idle mode.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.15 / 0.43 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 4.2 / 8.4 / 8.5 Watt
Load midlight 30 / 29.5 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy

Battery Runtime

Among the subnotebooks in the test, only the 56 Wh battery in Dell's laptop steps out of line slightly. All others have 45 Wh and can therefore be compared well. Our Satellite Pro takes a marginal lead. We would have actually seen Asus' Zenbook in first place due to its frugal CPU. It can be noted that every opponent achieves outstanding runtimes of around seven hours in the real world WiFi test (Our test criteria), and thus completely fulfill the mobility claim.

Battery Runtime
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3
6h 52min

Pros

+ rigid, well-built casing
+ pleasant surfaces
+ good input devices
+ nice IPS screen
+ ideal Turbo utilization
+ very quiet and cool
+ very good battery life

Cons

- somewhat high RRP
- not particularly light and compact for a subnotebook
- unlit keyboard
- no dual-channel RAM
- no SSD

Verdict

In review: Toshiba Satellite Pro A30T-C-111. Test model courtesy of Toshiba Germany.
In review: Toshiba Satellite Pro A30T-C-111. Test model courtesy of Toshiba Germany.

Toshiba presents an almost thoroughly well-conceived subnotebook - though not particularly compact or lightweight in the category comparison - in a solid casing that is characterized by good input devices, an impeccably implemented CPU, quiet and cool operation, and very long battery runtimes. The bright and color accurate IPS panel also has to be lauded. The extremely weak sound system and unlit keyboard are noteworthy, but they will unlikely be decisive for most potential buyers.

The only real drawback of the otherwise overall convincing Toshiba Satellite Pro A30T-C-111 is, in view of the high price, the incomprehensible lack of an SSD that unnecessarily limits the overall performance.

Toshiba Satellite Pro A30T-C-111 - 04/18/2016 v5.1
Sven Kloevekorn

Chassis
82 /  98 → 84%
Keyboard
75%
Pointing Device
84%
Connectivity
57 / 80 → 72%
Weight
68 / 35-78 → 77%
Battery
89%
Display
89%
Games Performance
53 / 68 → 78%
Application Performance
68 / 87 → 78%
Temperature
95 / 91 → 100%
Noise
92%
Audio
30 / 91 → 33%
Camera
58 / 85 → 68%
Average
72%
83%
Subnotebook - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Toshiba Satellite Pro A30T-C-111 Subnotebook Review
Sven Kloevekorn, 2016-04-15 (Update: 2018-05-15)