The Bottom Line
Dec 16 2013 - At first glance, the Toshiba Satellite S50-AST3GX1 seems like a very capable systems thanks to its i7 quad core processor and GeForce GT 740M graphics. In fact, it does do very well for general purpose applications. There are two major areas of concern for the system though. This includes a very subpar screen for its class with a lower resolution and poor viewing angles. This will probably deter many buyers since there are systems with much better screens that cost only a little more. The other problem is that it has a very short running time due to a smaller than average battery pack.
- Good Performance For Price
- Includes DVD Burner
- Low Resolution Display
- Poor Battery Life
- Intel Core i7-4700MQ Quad Core Mobile Processor
- 12GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 1TB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- Dual Layer DVD Burner
- 15.6" WXGA (1366x768) Display With HD Webcam
- NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M 2GB Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth 4.0
- Two USb 3.0, One USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, 7-in-1 Card Reader
- 15.2" x 9.9" x 1.1" @ 5.3 lbs.
- Windows 8.1
Review - Toshiba Satellite S50-AST3GX1
Dec 16 2013 - Toshiba's Satellite S50 laptop uses a mix of aluminum and plastics in its design. The lid of the display and the wrist rest on the keyboard deck both use aluminum while the remaining portions use glossy plastics. The result is something that gives it a slightly more premium than basic feel but certainly is not as nice as some other models that utilize more aluminum. In terms of size, it is over an inch in thickness in order to fit in the optical drive and ports but the weight is still manageable at 5.3 pounds.
Powering this version of the Toshiba Satellite S50 is the Haswel based Intel Core i7-4700MQ quad core processor. This provides it with a good deal of performance such that it can be used with demanding computing tasks such as desktop video work. It should be noted that this is not a huge performance gain over the past i7-3630QM but the processor should be more efficient. The processor is matched up with 12GB of DDR3 memory which provides a smooth overall experience in Windows.
Storage for the Toshiba Satellite S50 relies on traditional hard drives. It does provide a lot of space thanks to the one terabyte capacity but it does use the 5400rpm spin rate which sadly does not give it a lot of performance especially compared to other systems that use some form of solid state drive for caching or data storage. If you do need additional space, there are two USB 3.0 ports for use with high speed external drives. The only downside is that these are on the front ride hand side which can get in the way for those that tend to use an external mouse with their laptop. Unlike most other companies that have dropped optical drives, Toshiba still includes a dual layer DVD burner for playback and recording of CD or DVD media.
Sadly, the display is probably the weakest feature of the Toshiba Satellite S50. Most of the laptops in its price range now feature a full 1080p capable resolution but here the 15.6-inch panel uses a much lower 1366x768 resolution. In addition to this, the color, contrast and viewing angles are all below average. About the only good aspect of the display is the use of a matte coating that is becoming less common due to the rise of touchscreens. This will help keep glare and reflections down but the display still struggles outdoors in bright sunlight. The graphics for the Satellite S50 model generally rely on the Intel HD Graphics built into the processor but this version features the NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M graphics. This is not a very high end graphics processor but because of the lower resolution of the display, it is capable of 3D gaming at lower detail levels wiht acceptable frame rates. Frankly, the graphics are much better suited for accelerating non-3D applications.
The keyboard design for the Satellite S50 uses an isolated layout design typical to many systems these days. It does feature a full numeric keypad but a few keys such as the left shift and the enter key are a bit smaller than usual to make space for other keys. The only problem wit the design is that hte keys are fairly flat with a smooth surface that can cause fingers to slide off to the wrong keys from time to time. The trackpad is a nice large size and does a decent job at tracking both single and more importantly the multitouch gestures for Windows. Since there is no touchscreen, the multitouch gesture support is more vital for navigating the operating system.
The battery for the Toshiba Satellite S50 is a bit smaller now than you average 15-inch laptop with just a 43WHr capacity rating. Toshiba does not give an estimate on the estimated running time. In digital video playback testing, the laptop was able to run for three and a quarter hours before going into standby mode. This is well below the average for this class of laptop even with the more power efficient Haswell processor. It certainly doesn't even compare anywhere close to the Apple MacBook Pro 15 with Retina Display that lasts over eight hours in the same test.
Pricing for the Toshiba Satellite S50 is $1050 at list price but can be found as low as $900. This makes it a bit more affordable than many other 15-inch laptops. The primary competition for the Satellite S50 comes from Dell Inspiron 15 7000, Lenovo IdeaPad Y410p and Samsung ATIV Book 6. All three of these systems offer a higher resolution display. Dell's offering opts for longer running times by using a slower dual core processor. Lenovo's offers higher performance thanks to a faster GT 750M graphics processor but has just a single USB 3.0 port and similar battery life problems. Samsung's has a much better overall feel and design but does not come with a DVD burner and also uses an older generation Core i7 processor.