The appearance of the Toshiba Satellite is let down by its cheap looking keyboard. It not only looks economy level, but it feels this way too. The letters printed on the keys are probably to blame for this, as their white against the glossy black plastic keys doesn't complement the stylish textured satin silver finish chassis. One good point here though is that the keyboard is backlit and appears bright, which is great for working in low-light conditions.
The keyboard also isn't bad to type on. The keys have decent travel but in our opinion they are made from a material that counteracts grip. Keys are also perhaps spaced a little far apart.
As for the multi-gesture track pad, this operates as you'd expect without noteworthy concern.
Performance and OS
Our Toshiba Satellite review model was powered by an Intel Core i7-3630QM quad-core 2.4GHz CPU with a rather sizeable 16GB of DDR3 RAM.
Running Microsoft's Windows 8 Professional 64-bit operating system (OS), our test unit scored an overall Windows Performance Index score of 5.3.
We don't have any recently reviewed desktop replacement notebooks to compare this score to, but surprisingly, that's 0.3 less than the result of the much smaller Sony Vaio Duo 11 and just 0.6 better than the Lenovo Ideapad Yoga 13, which scored 4.7 in our tests.
However, the score is determined by the lowest sub-score - in the Satellite's case, the primary hard disk transfer rate - and not an average result of the performance of components. The Sony Vaio Duo 11 was let down by its desktop graphics performance, which the Toshiba Satellite far surpassed, scoring 6.7 as opposed to the Vaio Duo 11's 5.6 score. As you'd expect, this is probably because the Toshiba is a much more powerful machine with double the amount of RAM installed.
The Satellite performed very well in all other aspects of the Windows Index Score. The result was pulled down by the system's disk data transfer rate because the score is run from the Satellite's HDD as opposed to its 8GB cachine SSD. However, all other results scored much better, with processor calculations per second scoring 7.8 out of 9.9, gaming graphics gaining a 6.7 score and RAM operations per second earning a score of 7.8. Here we can see that a full-blown SSD drive would have pushed the score much higher and saved its overall Windows Index Score from such a low result.
Unless you're running several demanding applications at once - for instance, a graphically intense game with a music streaming service running in the background along with downloading content - you're not going to notice any lag in processing, as in our tests all operations seemed very fluid, with the Satellite responding very quickly to commands. This is likely due to its quad-core 2.4GHz CPU and dedicated Nvidia GeForce GT 640M GPU chip with 2GB of video RAM.
Generally we found the Satellite met all our daily needs seemingly effortlessly. It also boots Windows 8 exceptionally fast in 12 seconds, so users won't have to wait too long to get going with what they need to do.
Overall, Toshiba's powerhouse laptop handled the Windows 8 OS exceptionally well, with zero lag when moving from one application to the next, and programs popped up as soon as we selected them. With the 16GB of RAM, we can imagine that even after installing many applications this level of performance will continue, unless the user decides to run them all at the same time.
Next: Display, storage and battery.