Toshiba Satellite L830-10X review

Pros

  • Impressive battery life
  • Reasonably light and portable
  • Good value
  • Comprehensive connectivity

Cons

  • Modest performance
  • Soggy keyboard action

Toshiba's Satellite range has long been a dependable option for value. In keeping with the brand, the L830-10X we have here is definitely towards the value end of the market. But it's also not short of features, either. Like the Satellite L855-118 we reviewed recently, it has a fair bit to offer business or consumer users alike.

The level of design is no MacBook Air beater. This may be a relatively light 1.86kg unit, but at 26.8mm thick the L830-10X is pretty standard fare for a 13in chassis model. The finish is mostly white, patterned and pearlescent, although there is a black option as well. Even the white version has a black base, however, which will be beneficial if you ever put the system down onto a dirty surface. The patterned finish will also mean fingerprints won't show up too badly. Overall, it's a respectable look that, whilst it won't turn any heads, also won't turn any stomachs either.

The 1.4GHz Core i3 2367M processor may be a bit light on power, but it's also light on power consumption, and often found in ultrabooks. This is still a dual-core CPU based on Intel's Sandy Bridge architecture. It doesn't offer a Turbo Boost mode, so will always be clocked at 1.4GHz or less, but it does support Hyper Threading, so presents itself as four virtual cores, which will give it a bit of a boost when executing multiple tasks in parallel. Nevertheless, whilst the Core i3 will be up to general office tasks and multimedia consumption, it's still an ultra-low power model, trading processing grunt for its meagre 17W consumption. Its capabilities have been surpassed by the recent ultra-low power Ivy Bridge update, too, which offers quite a bit more processing for the same overall power consumption.

Toshiba has at least taken the sensible step of partnering the Core i3 with a standard 4GB of DDR3 memory for the 10X version of the L830, although it's only the 1,333MHz variety, not 1,600MHz. This is fast becoming the sensible minimum, even on a notebook aimed more at portability than power, and upgrading to 8GB is possible, although this would entail swapping out the existing SODIMM modules. Another power saving comes from the L830-10X's graphics, which are integrated into the processor in the shape of an Intel HD 3000 GPU running at between 350 and 1,000MHz depending on load. Like the host processor, the HD 3000 GPU will be cope with multimedia tasks such as movie playback just fine, and even the odd game at low quality settings and resolution, but won't have you fragging your way through Battlefield 3 at anything like a top quality setting, if at all.

Despite the relatively small chassis and portability, the L830-10X doesn't skimp on connectivity or removable storage options. On the left can be found one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 port, alongside the 8x Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology TS-U633J DVD rewriter. Underneath the ports lurks an innocuous SD card reader with SDXC support. On the right is another USB 3.0 port, plus headphone and microphone minijacks, Gigabit Ethernet, plus both HDMI and VGA. Internal storage is relatively generous, too, with a 640GB Toshiba 5,400rpm hard disk supplied. A smaller SSD might have made more sense if you really want a total road warrior machine, but the regular hard disk provides plenty of space whilst keeping the cost down. There's 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 for wireless connectivity, so all the bases are covered here too, with the exception of 3G.

The 13.3in screen offers a decent but unexceptional 1,366 x 768 resolution, with reasonable horizontal viewing angles, although the TruBrite surface means the finish is a little too glossy for some lighting conditions. It does pretty well when watching movies, with good contrast and colour range, but very bright conditions aren't its forte. Audio is pretty thin from the built-in speakers, however, lacking bass response. So headphones would be more appropriate if you really want a pleasurable film experience.

The trackpad and buttons both have a textured finish, which is a little unorthodox but they're responsive enough. A range of multi-touch functions is available, too. The keyboard also has a slightly textured finish, which isn't in itself a problem, but the action is shallow and a little soggy. It will still be fine for extended typing, but certainly isn't in the top notebook keyboard echelons.

Illustrating the L830-10X's limited processor performance, it achieved a very modest 1.36 in Cinebench R11.5's render test - compared to the Toshiba L855-118's 6.19, thanks to the latter's quad-core Core i7 processor. This won’t be a problem if your main activities are email, word processing, spreadsheets and web browsing. Video playback is faultless, too, even with Full HD content. However, since Intel's HD 3000 integrated graphics is only DirectX 10.1 compatible, the L830-10X wouldn't run 3DMark11. We ran 3DMark06 instead, and the score of 3,104 implies this notebook won't be completely useless for playing a few older games, but not a lot more.

On a much more positive note, Toshiba claims up to 6.5 hours of mains-free activity from the L830-X10’s removable 4,200mAh battery. In our gruelling 100 per cent CPU utilisation test, it managed to last nearly three hours, which is impressive for a portable running at full pelt. So it will easily play you a movie or two on the move, and is quite likely to live up to Toshiba's claims of 6.5 hours of general usage on battery. In other words, this will be a very effective portable companion you can use for most of a working day on a single charge.

Verdict

The Toshiba Satellite L830-10X doesn't have the aesthetic pleasures of the latest ultrabooks. It's also not particularly powerful. But at under £500 it's also reasonably good value, and the excellent battery life means you will be able to get plenty of work done when out and about. Or you will be able to enjoy a fair amount of self-provided audio-visual entertainment during a journey. Either way, this is a flexible, if not particularly exciting notebook for the money.

Manufacturer and Product

Toshiba Satellite L830-10X

Processor

1.4GHz Intel Core i3 2367M

Operating System

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

RAM

4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM

Graphics

Intel HD 3000 with up to 1,696MB (shared)

Hard disk

640GB Toshiba MK6475GSX 5,400rpm hard disk

Optical disc

Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology TS-U633J DVD rewriter

Display

13.3in Toshiba TruBrite HD TFT with 1,366 x 768 pixels

Networking

Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0

Interfaces

2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, SD card reader

Width x Depth x Height

329 x 221 x 26.8mm

Weight

1.86kg

Warranty

1 year collect and return