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Toshiba Portégé R930-18L review

Katharine Byrne
8 Jul 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
1,540
inc VAT

A good all-round business laptop, but it's far too expensive

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The Toshiba Portégé R930-18L may be one of the older vanguard of ultra-portables, but this premium business laptop still has a lot to offer.

Its angular, matt black chassis isn’t particularly attractive, but it looks professional and its brushed metallic finish wouldn't look out of place in a corporate environment. It's quite bulky compared to a modern Ultrabook, but even though its thickest point is 26mm, its light weight of 1.5kg means it's still very easy to take on the move. We were pleased with its long battery life, as well. We managed 9h 16m in our battery life test with the screen set to half brightness, so you should be able to get a full day’s work out of it before having to return it to the mains.

Toshiba Portégé R930-18L

Since it’s not constrained by Intel’s Ultrabook standard, this means the R930-18L can choose from a much wider variety of components. Our review sample came with a dual-core 3GHz Intel Core i7-3540M processor that can Turbo Boost up to 3.7GHz when the processor’s kept cool enough and 8GB of RAM. This is a very high clock speed for a laptop, and it certainly helped in our multimedia benchmarks where it scored a respectable 65 overall. This puts it a full ten points ahead of both third and fourth generation Core i7 Ultrabook processors, but at this price we would really have expected to see a more powerful quad-core processor. These often score between 80 and 90 in our benchmarks, which leaves the R930-18L feeling comparatively sluggish at this price.

Toshiba Portégé R930-18L

Its graphics performance was surprisingly impressive, though. It only has its Intel HD Graphics 4000 chip to rely on, but it produced a steady 24.1fps in our Dirt Showdown test at a 720p resolution on High Quality settings, and we only had to drop the settings down to Medium to get a more playable 33fps. This is excellent for an integrated graphics chip, helped in part by the processor's high clock speed, and disabling the anti-aliasing will raise the frame rate even higher. Once again, though, the R930-18L’s price makes the absence of a dedicated graphics chip a rather glaring omission.

We suspect most of what you're paying for is in the R930-18L's extensive range of connectivity options. It has full-sized HDMI and VGA outputs, two USB3 ports, a combined eSATA and USB2 port, a multi-format card reader, a DVD optical drive, a Gigabit Ethernet port and separate headphone and microphone jacks. You’ll want to make use of these, as its integrated speakers are very tinny and produce very little bass. A Smart Card slot underneath the main chassis also provides an extra layer of security for your device, and there’s even a 3G-compatible SIM card slot hidden away underneath the battery if you find yourself in a Wi-Fi dead zone.

Toshiba Portégé R930-18L

If this isn't already enough, there's a docking station to connect the R930-18L to Toshiba's Hi-Speed Port Replicator (PA3916B-1PRP from www.cclonline.com), which has even more I/O ports, but this will set you back another £145.

We’re not sure it’s all worth the extra money, as the rest of the laptop's no better than one of Lenovo’s ThinkPad business laptops that are half the price. The R930-18L’s 13.3in screen has just a 1,366x768 resolution and its matt finish helps dissipate reflections from bright overhead lights, but the downside is that it also makes colours appear much cooler and muted than they ought to be. Blacks and whites looked very grey in our solid colour image tests, and reds, greens and blues showed that the upper part of the screen was noticeably darker than the lower half. Its viewing angles were also quite poor, as we weren’t able to adjust the screen to a comfortable working position and get the entire screen to show the same colour throughout. Our high contrast test images also suffered from drab, vapid colours, but they had a good level of detail in both the light and dark areas of each photo.