Introducing the Toshiba Portege R835

With the deluge of ultrabooks stemming from Intel's initiative over the past few months, it's easy to forget ultraportables have been a part of the Windows PC landscape for quite some time. One of the unlikeliest sources was Toshiba; in 2010, a company that had been spending the last few years aggressively pursuing budget consumers produced a remarkably compelling ultraportable in the form of the Portege R700. We reviewed the R700 and found a lot to like, and Toshiba must have appreciated the notebook's excellent performance in both critical and commercial arenas.

Despite the steady march of progress with ultrabooks (due to get a shot in the arm soon with Ivy Bridge), Toshiba's Portege R700 hasn't gone untouched. Toshiba refreshed it with the R835, keeping the same basic chassis but enjoying the benefits of Sandy Bridge hardware and USB 3.0 connectivity. Forced to compete in a market with ultrabooks, the R835 strengthens the R700's value proposition with models starting at just $799 and featuring full voltage mobile processors from Intel while maintaining the same portable form factor.

Ultrabooks offer a healthy amount of performance in the sleekest of form factors, but sometimes end users just need a little more power and flexibility. Features that may have to be excised to hit that class can still be found in a notebook like the Portege R835, which enjoys all the comforts of a full-sized notebook without breaking your back...or the bank. Here's what our review unit came equipped with:

Toshiba Portege R835 Specifications
Processor Intel Core i5-2450M
(2x2.5GHz + HTT, Turbo to 3.1GHz, 32nm, 3MB L3, 35W)
Chipset Intel HM65
Memory 1x4GB Samsung DDR3-1333 and 1x2GB Samsung DDR3-1333 (Maximum 2x8GB)
Graphics Intel HD 3000 Graphics
(12 EUs, up to 1.3GHz)
Display 13.3" LED Glossy 16:9 768p
TOS5091
Hard Drive(s) Hitachi Travelstar 5K750 640GB 5400RPM SATA 3Gbps HDD
Optical Drive Matsushita DVD-RAM
Networking Intel WiFi Link 1000 802.11b/g/n
Intel 82579V Gigabit Ethernet
Audio Realtek ALC269 HD Audio
Stereo speakers
Headphone and mic jacks
Battery 6-Cell, 11.1V, 66Wh
Front Side -
Right Side SD Card Reader
Optical drive
Headphone and mic jacks
USB 3.0
Ethernet
Left Side AC adaptor
Exhaust vent
VGA
eSATA/USB 2.0 combo port
USB 2.0
HDMI
Back Side -
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit SP1
Dimensions 12.4" x 0.72-1.05" x 8.94" (WxHxD)
315mm x 18-27mm x 227mm
Weight 3.2 lbs
1.45kg
Extras Webcam
USB 3.0
Warranty 1-year limited
Pricing Starts at $799
As configured: $849

Just from the dimensions and weight you can tell the R835 isn't really that much bigger than an ultrabook would be, but Toshiba outfits it with a full voltage Intel Core i5-2450M, a latter day incremental update from the i5-2430M (100MHz higher base and turbo) for Sandy Bridge released early this year. Alternately, the i5-2450M is comparable to the older i5-2520M, but has slightly lower (100MHz) turbo clock speeds. Attached to the i5's memory controller is 6GB of DDR3-1333; realistically the only difference between our review unit and the base level R835 is the extra 2GB of memory and $50 on the price tag. I wouldn't expect the boost in memory to impact performance greatly, particularly in our benchmarks, so prospective shoppers can probably steer clear and save some money buying the least expensive model.

What should attract some attention is the relic sitting in the 2.5" drive bay. We get a lot of higher end systems in for review, and with the push for ultrabooks we've gotten so used to seeing SSDs in notebooks that it's surprising to see a mechanical hard disk in a machine, much less one as slow as the 640GB, 5400RPM drive by Hitachi that occupies the R835. Thankfully it's user replaceable, but using a slower drive is a shock to the system when you've been playing with machines that come equipped with SSDs.

One of the major points where the Portege R835 sets itself apart is the inclusion of an optical drive. While the optical drives in my notebooks very seldom see use, I can recognize enough situations where one can be useful that it's easy to understand why someone might be willing to sacrifice a little bit of extra carrying weight just to get that perk included.

Everything else is pretty much par for the course, although it's nice to see a 66Wh battery standard in the Portege R835 instead of a smaller capacity one. This is usually one of the first places major vendors shave costs for consumer notebooks, and while 66Wh isn't mind-blowing, it's healthy enough to keep the R835 on its legs for a while. Other than the lack of an SSD and a stock voltage CPU (not that that's a bad thing), the only area where the Portege fails to achieve ultrabook status is in thickness: it's about 0.2" too thick at the back.

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  • MooseMuffin - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    I actually have this laptop and I replaced the HDD with a SSD within two weeks of owning it. Reply
  • TrackSmart - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    Ditto. I have the R700 (basically the same laptop). I installed a small SSD and put the original hard disk in the optical drive bay. A nice compromise that wouldn't be possible in an ultrabook.

    Now if they would only start making decent screens on these things...
    Reply
  • agent2099 - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    That is really the way to go. Manufactures charge a huge premium for adding ssds. Reply
  • steven75 - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    Anandtech isn't a site for "most people", it's a site for tech enthusiasts. They are right to recommend SSDs over HDDs at this point in time. The cost-to-benefit ratio is very much in favor of SSDs. Reply
  • pdjblum - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    This is a crapple-centric site that used to be an enthusiast site. Now Anand and all his sheep primarily use crapple and measure everything against it. Reply
  • TrackSmart - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    I have no love for apple, but I don't see the problem here. If you are not willing to buy a laptop with a crappy screen and and less than stellar build quality, that doesn't leave you with many other options outside of Apple, a few very expensive models from Sony, and the HP Envy series (which doesn't always have the display upgrade available). Like it or not, Apple sells a lot of laptops and also sets a pretty high bar for overall build quality, which is why they are so often used as a benchmark for comparison. Reply
  • Snotling - Saturday, March 31, 2012 - link

    Dell XPS also have a few decent offers... Reply
  • frostyfiredude - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    Are you saying Anand's standards have gone up because they use Apple machines now?

    If so, I don't see how that is an issue.

    You have to admit that Apple makes excellent machines, hence why they are the reference; they use some of the best displays, two of the best chassis designs, consistently excellent battery life, and they do all the little things like keyboards and trackpads right every time.
    Reply
  • ImSpartacus - Saturday, March 31, 2012 - link

    Yup. I wish I could buy a PC, but Macbooks are way too damn good (the TRACKPAD). And bootcamp works well enough, so it's little inconvenience. Reply
  • MrSpadge - Saturday, March 31, 2012 - link

    Sure, the average buyer just goes for "cheap enough", maybe with a little extra. But that doesn't mean this is good or the right way for them. Instead of upgrading this Toshiba with 2 GB more RAM for 50$ it should have gotten a 128 GB SSD for maybe 100$+. That would have turned it into a much more usable machine (for most purposes.. external storage is still your friend). Reply

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