Looking for a mainstream everyday notebook with a little extra power under the hood for tricky situations? While you are at it, take a look at the new Toshiba Satellite L50-C because it’s notebook that’s hard to miss. Seriously, this machine really has a lot to offer in return for your money. First of all, the notebooks ships in several variants with a wide selection of processors – from Pentium to Core i3, i5 and i7 with the most expensive configurations reaching Core i7-5500U and the grand surprise – Full HD IPS panel. This is a really rare find in this price range since most laptops feature a TN panel with poor viewing angles and low image quality in general. Furthermore, for more demanding applications you can snatch a variant with NVIDIA GeForce 930M GPU that can handle light gaming with settings set to low-medium, but it’s mostly an everyday multimedia machine.
The design of the machine is as impressive as the hardware inside. Nice details, glossy plastic finish mimicking metal surface that doesn’t attract fingerprints and smudges and overall sturdy design. What’s not to like then? Well, just like every notebook out there, this one needs polishing as well. Continue reading for a more thorough and comprehensive analysis of notebook.
The notebook ships in a slim box with the usual stuff like AC charger and cable, user manuals and the notebook itself. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Design and construction
Quite frankly, the design is definitely the strong suit of this budget machine and while this is a rather subjective opinion, the notebook really looks sleek and polished. Probably one of the best-looking laptops in this price range on the market right now.
Just like the whole chassis, the lid is entirely made of plastic imitating brushed aluminum, but with glossy finish. That one last part surely prevents the surface from attracting nasty smudges and fingerprints. That’s a really important aspect to consider. It looks clean without any distractions except for the Toshiba logo at the bottom left corner. On the other side of the lid, you will find the 15.6-inch Full HD screen, built-in microphone and webcam on top. It’s also worth mentioning that the bezels around the screen are quite thin – something we are not used to seeing in Toshiba laptops. The back of the lid bends a lot when pressure is applied, but interestingly enough, pushing it doesn’t cause ripples to appear on the screen. So besides the fact that the back of the lid bends easily, your LCD screen will most probably remain undamaged. However, putting heavy objects on top of it might not be such a good idea. On the contrary, the bottom panel of the laptop doesn’t bring anything too interesting – a couple of screws holding the cover, the battery is user-accessible and there’s a big grill at the bottom for an external cooling pad.
Going around the sides, we are left with little to be desired. The thin profile of just 23.5 mm is rarely matched in this class as well as the weight – only 2.2 kg. Regardless the thin profile, Toshiba Satellite L50-C includes all the peripherals and ports needed – one USB 2.0, LAN port and DC charging slot on the left and HDMI, 2x USB 3.0 and SD card reader on the right side. Also, the thin profile didn’t stop Toshiba to cram up an optical drive as well, but not everything is so good as it seems. We have concerns about the port placement. The majority of connectivity options are on the right side (2x USB 3.0 and HDMI), not to mention that those are the most commonly used ones. This limits the space and might get in the way of using your external mouse. Moreover, the main grill for dispersing the heat is located on the right side that might leave unpleasant experience, but we will make sure to check that out in the “Temperatures” section.
Opening the lid reveals the same design signature as we saw outside. Edges around the machine are sharp with black hard plastic strip housing the Skullcandy-branded loudspeakers and power button at the top. The rest of the interior, however, features the same glossy plastic that’s used on the lid. And here are the two features we liked the most about this machine. Unusually for a machine at this price range, our complaints about the quality of the keyboard and touchpad are somehow negligible. Buttons are big enough, evenly spaced, comfortable, but provide e relatively low key travel. It’s all about getting used to it. As for the touchpad, it has a similar design to other Satellite machines we’ve come across, but the usability is far superior to other notebooks on the market. Even those with higher price tag. The touchpad is responsive, easy to use, precise without any wobbling and the better part of the surface registers left click button. This is an important detail to consider for comfortable and productive use. Nonetheless, the buttons are a bit hard to press and a lighter touch would have been appreciated.
Our overall opinion on the design and construction is more than positive. We are happy with the appearance, thin profile and weight. The notebook just looks and feels amazing but small irregularities in the build quality are present. The bezels around the screen creak when pressed harder and the back of the lid bends a lot. Oppositely, the hinge design is just perfect – it’s tight enough for secure usage and you can easily open the notebook with only one hand (without holding the main body).
Display and sound
Toshiba Satellite L50-C’s display uses Full HD (1920×1080) IPS panel with glossy finish manufactured by LG Display with model number LP156WF6-SPA1. Its diagonal is 15.6″ with 16:9 aspect ratio and thus 141 ppi and pixel pitch of 0.1799 x 0.1799 mm. The screen can be considered as “Retina” if viewed from a distance equal or greater than 61 cm.
Due to the use of IPS panel, viewing angles are excellent.
The measured maximum brightness on the surface is 263 cd/m2 with a deviation of only 10%. Also, color temperature is 7185K – a bit colder than the optimal one of 6500K(D65) but we are not keen on the fact that it has considerable deviation of the color temperature on the surface of the screen.
To put things into perspective, we would like to give you a little introduction of the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. Starting with the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy. Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that has been used by millions of people in HDTV and the Web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used by professional cameras, monitors and etc. used for printing. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy.
The yellow triangle represents the area of the color gamut that Toshiba Satellite L50’s display covers or in other words – 91% of the sRGB and 70% of the Adobe RGB color gamut. Colors will appear vibrant with small compromise.
The image below is practically the same but with the recorded results – the one on the left before calibration and the one on the right after. Color circles represent the reference colors and white circles being the result. You can see mainly additional colors with 100% and 50% saturation inside the sRGB gamut. Blue and red colors with 100% saturation are inaccurate due to the absence of a significant number of colors.
We tuned the display at 140 cd/m2 brightness and 6500K color temperature.
For this calibration, we used X-Rite i1Display Pro. We also measured the color accuracy before and after calibration.
After calibration, the display almost reached the optimal white balance.
With the help of 24 commonly used colors we checked the color accuracy of the panel. Colors that we used represent skin tone, grass, blue sky, orange and etc. The average DeltaE 2000=0.7. Lower score is desirable and deviations under 1.0 can be detected only with a lab equipment.
Pulse-width modulation (PWM, Screen flickering)
Satellite L50’s display uses pulse-width modulation throughout all brightness levels except 100%, but at least the frequency of the emitted light is 20 kHz which means it can lead to eye fatigue only on users with sensitive eyes.
Gaming capabilities (Response time)
We recorded the refresh time of the pixels from black to white and white to black for 10 to 90%. So we were able to measure Fall Time + Rise Time = 22.1 ms. It’s a relatively good result for an IPS panel as they have mostly slower response time compared to the TN panels.
Toshiba’s Satellite L50 features a nice IPS panel with accurate color reproduction (after calibration), but without can be used only for presentation purposes, web browsing, and multimedia in general. In addition, the panel offers good contrast ratio, excellent viewing angles and wide color gamut coverage. However, the screen flickering effect should be considered if you have more sensitive eyes than usual, otherwise 20 kHz will be fine for most users. Also, the maximum screen brightness may not be sufficient for outdoor use, but we are getting too picky at this point as not all notebooks offer such great viewing experience in the mid-range class.
If we assume a distance of 58cm (~23in) between the human eye and the notebook monitor, then normal (20/20) vision would require a pixel density of at least 150ppi in order to interpret an image as perfectly detailed.
|Toshiba Satellite L50-C 15.6-inch, LG Display, 1920 x 1080 pixels||141.21|
|Lenovo E31-70 13.3-inch, LG Display, 1920 x 1080 pixels||165.63||+17.29%|
|Acer Aspire E5-572G 15.6-inch, Acer, 1366 x 768 pixels||100||-29.18%|
|Dell Latitude E5550 15.6-inch, AU Optronics, 1920 x 1080 pixels||141.21|
|Dell Inspiron 5558 (15 5000) 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels||141.21|
Higher panel brightness is of key importance for visual comfort when working outside or in a brightly lit room.
|Toshiba Satellite L50-C 15.6-inch, LG Display, 1920 x 1080 pixels||263|
|Lenovo E31-70 13.3-inch, LG Display, 1920 x 1080 pixels||235||-10.65%|
|Acer Aspire E5-572G 15.6-inch, Acer, 1366 x 768 pixels||198||-24.71%|
|Dell Latitude E5550 15.6-inch, AU Optronics, 1920 x 1080 pixels||334||+27%|
|Dell Inspiron 5558 (15 5000) 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels||207||-21.29%|
Delta E is a CIE measurement unit of color difference. Higher values indicate that the display produces less accurate colors. (lower results are desirable).
|Toshiba Satellite L50-C 15.6-inch, LG Display, 1920 x 1080 pixels||5.84|
|Lenovo E31-70 13.3-inch, LG Display, 1920 x 1080 pixels||0.81||-86.13%|
|Acer Aspire E5-572G 15.6-inch, Acer, 1366 x 768 pixels||3.54||-39.38%|
|Dell Latitude E5550 15.6-inch, AU Optronics, 1920 x 1080 pixels||2.0||-65.75%|
|Dell Inspiron 5558 (15 5000) 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels||0.87||-85.1%|
The sRGB color gamut, introduced as a standard for the Web, shows the percentage of colors used on the Web that can be displayed on the screen of the device being tested (higher values are better).
|Toshiba Satellite L50-C 15.6-inch, LG Display, 1920 x 1080 pixels||91|
|Lenovo E31-70 13.3-inch, LG Display, 1920 x 1080 pixels||61||-32.97%|
|Acer Aspire E5-572G 15.6-inch, Acer, 1366 x 768 pixels||59||-35.16%|
|Dell Latitude E5550 15.6-inch, AU Optronics, 1920 x 1080 pixels||97||+6.59%|
|Dell Inspiron 5558 (15 5000) 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels||62||-31.87%|
The specs sheet provided below is for the model used for the writing of this review. Hardware specification may vary depending on your region.
|CPU||Intel Core i7-5500U (2-core, 2.40 – 3.00 GHz, 4MB cache)|
|RAM||8GB (1x 8192MB) – LPDDR3L, 1600MHz|
|GPU||NVIDIA GeForce 930M (2GB DDR3)|
|HDD/SSD||1TB HDD (5400 rpm)|
|Display||15.6-inch Full HD (1920×1080) IPS panel, glossy|
|Optical Drive||DVD burner|
|Connectivity||LAN 10/100/1000 Mbps, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0|
|Battery||4-cell, 45Wh (2800 mAh)|
|Thickness||23.5 mm (0.92″)|
|Weight||2.2 kg (4.85 lbs)|
Toshiba Satellite L50-C configurations
For testing purposes, we used Windows 8.1 (64-bit) and if your notebook didn’t come with pre-installed copy of the OS, you can perform a clean install with all the drivers needed here:
We weren’t very satisfied with the battery life not because the hardware isn’t energy-efficient but more likely due to the small battery capacity provided here (4-cell, 45 Wh (2800 mAh). Also, the extra pixels on the Full HD IPS panel have taken a toll on the battery performance as well. We ran the usual web surfing, video playback and gaming tests with the following settings: Wi-Fi turned on, Bluetooth off, power saver on, and screen brightness set to 120 cd/m2.
In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.
This is a result typical for lower-end devices or gaming notebooks – 257 minutes (4 hours and 17 minutes).
For every test like this, we use the same video in HD.
Similar result to the web browsing test – 224 minutes (3 hours and 44 minutes).
For accurate simulation, we used the Metro Last Light benchmark running on a loop with graphic settings set to minimum.
We doubt that you will leave your notebook away from the power source during a long gaming session, but for evaluation reasons we run this test – 87 minutes (1 hour and 27 minutes)
Intel Core i7-5500U is a high-end processor released on January 05, 2015. It is part of the “Broadwell” generation and operates at a base frequency of 2.40GHz. If a higher frequency is needed, its two cores can overclock, and if they both operate in tandem, they go to 2.9GHz. The frequency goes up to 3GHz for only one core.
The chip is equipped with 128KB of first level cache, 512KB of second level cache, and 4MB of third level cache. The Core i7-5500U has been developed using a 14nm process, allowing for the integration of the Intel HD Graphics 5500 controller. It operates at a base frequency of 300MHz, while Turbo Boost can increase that to 950MHz. TDP consumption of the whole SoC (System on a Chip) is 15 watts with a maximum operating temperature of 105C.
Intel Core i7-5500U supports TurboBoost (increasing the clock frequency when necessary), HyperThreading (additional virtual core for every physical one), PCI Express 3.0, DDR3/L/ 1333/1600 memory, AVX, AVX2.0, FMA, QuickSync and the SSE4 instruction set.
You can browse through our top CPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-cpu-ranking/
Here you will find other useful information and every notebook we’ve tested with this processor: http://laptopmedia.com/processor/intel-core-i7-5500u/
Results are from the Cinebench 15 CPU test (the higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Fritz chess benchmark (the higher the score, the better)
Fritz is a chess benchmark which tests the computing capabilities of the CPU with various chess moves. The Intel Core i7-5500U managed to get 5.751 million moves per second. For comparison, one of the most powerful PCs, Deep(er) Blue, was able to squeeze out 200 million moves per second. In 1997 Deep(er) Blue even beat the famous Garry Kasparov with 3.5 to 2.5.
The NVIDIA GeForce 930M is a lower-mid-range GPU that’s included in budget notebooks or multimedia-oriented ones. It was released in March 2015 and it is based on last year’s GeForce 840M with GM108 GPU inside. We are expecting the GPU to be marginally faster than its predecessor since the Maxwell generation GPUs mostly improve power consumption and don’t emphasize on performance as much. However, the TDP is rated at 25W (for this particular version as there’s another variant with GDDR5 memory controller). Furthermore, GeForce 930M offers 2GB of DDR3 memory, 16 ROPs, 32 texture mapping units and 384 shaders. The graphics processor runs at 928MHz with Boost clock being 941MHz which should be enough to run most of the new games at lower settings or other software that isn’t that demanding. Memory speed is 1800MHz with a bus width of 64 bit. Notable features like DirectX 12, NVIDIA Optimus support, OpenGL 4.5 and CUDA cores are at hand.
You can browse through our top GPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-graphics-ranking/
Here you will find other useful information and every notebook we’ve tested with this GPU: http://laptopmedia.com/video-card/nvidia-geforce-930m-2gb-ddr3/
Results are from the 3DMark: Fire Strike (Graphics) benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Heaven 4.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Superposition benchmark (higher the score, the better)
|Tomb Raider (768p, Low)||Tomb Raider (768p, Medium)||Tomb Raider (768p, Max)|
|94 fps||33 fps||15 fps|
|F1 2014 (768p, Low)||F1 2014 (768p, Medium)||F1 2014 (768p, Max)|
|79 fps||64 fps||38 fps|
|Thief (768p, Low)||Thief (768p, Medium)||Thief (768p, Max)|
|33 fps||22 fps||14 fps|
|GTA 5 (768p, Low)||GTA 5 (768p, Medium)||GTA 5 (768p, Max)|
|37 fps||16 fps||8 fps|
This is an essential part of the review where we assess the cooling system and the overall stability of the machine in the long run. However, the conditions presented below are highly unlikely to be reproduced during normal usage.
We start off with a normal CPU stress test and the goal is to reach 100% load. For the first hour or so, the CPU ran at around 70 °C ticking at 2.9 GHz most of the time. Everything seemed to be running perfectly smooth, even the clock speeds were matching the Turbo Boost frequency, but after a while the temperature of the CPU rose up to 100 °C, almost reaching the maximum operating temperature of 105 °C. The CPU started throttling in attempt to cool off. We suspect that this is due to the engineering sample we used for the writing of this review and we hope this problem has been resolved in the retail version. You can see the graphic below for more information. The red line represents the temperatures while the green one stands for CPU load.
After an hour, we ran the GPU stress test along the CPU torture test. Temperatures rose up again, going back and forth from 79 °C up to 103 °C. On the contrary, the GPU was running at 77 °C all the time and didn’t throttle a bit.
This is how the inner temperatures affect user experience. Overall, the surface of around the keyboard remains cool with a bit of temperature rise on the right side of the palm rest area. Also, the main grill for dispersing the heat may blow some extra hot air on your right hand when using a mouse, but it will be felt only under heavy load.
We must say that this is one of the most well-balanced notebooks in this class. It features an overall appealing design with small negligible irregularities which are common for budget notebooks. However, the IPS panel came by a surprise and offers great viewing experience that’s rarely matched by devices in this price range. Some more expensive notebooks nowadays tend to be equipped with TN panels, but we are happy that Toshiba has taken the highway here. Furthermore, the keyboard and touchpad quality is just great, although, the touchpad is a bit on the stiff side but we really prefer this scenario rather than getting stuck with a wobbling platform.
Let’s talk more about the hardware, though. The Core i7-5500U CPU paired with GeForce 930M are a great combination for everyday usage, multimedia experience and light gaming. Basically, as we said earlier, it’s a well-balanced mid-ranger. Nevertheless, we would like to address our concerns about the heat management as the CPU reached dangerously high temperatures, but we like to believe that this occurred due to the use of an engineering sample for the writing of this review. And last, but not least, the battery life. It could have been improved if the battery capacity was bigger because the hardware inside isn’t so demanding.
- Overall appealing design with thin and light chassis
- Great keyboard and touchpad performance
- Quality IPS Full HD panel
- Better all-around hardware than most competitors
- Impractical port placement and heat dispersing grill
- Mediocre battery life
- The CPU reaches dangerously high temperatures under heavy load