Toshiba Portégé X20W review: power, but at a price

Toshiba's latest 2-in-1 is a serious powerhouse, but it'll cost you

Specs

Shipping with 8GB of RAM and an Intel Core i7-7500U processor, the Portg isn't exactly skimping on power. The inclusion of a proper, full-fat Kaby Lake processor as opposed to the low-profile Y-series models seen in other ultraportables means that the Portege can handily compete with its main rivals on performance.

Not only does it run rings around most of the other ultraportables we've tested, an overall score of 53 puts it above even Dell's excellent XPS 13, which is high praise indeed. Scoring highly for both single and multi-core operations, the Portg can safely handle all the workloads you'd expect from a high-end business device.

Of course, the price of using a full-power processor is that the Toshiba has had to sacrifice the fanless design sported by competitors, opting for a 'Hybrid Air Cooling System' in order to keep things chilled. Not only does this increase the thickness, it also means that the Portg can occasionally go into what we at IT Pro call 'hairdryer mode' when over-taxed, emitting a loud and incredibly irritating whine as the fans go into overdrive to maintain thermal efficiency.

An image of a closed Toshiba laptop

Theoretically, this should only happen when you push it to the absolute limit, but we found it happening with some regularity - at least once a session, in fact. This is a real embarrassment on a machine of this price, and it was loud enough to actually be disruptive in an office environment, which is hardly ideal.

The battery life, thankfully, was a brighter note. In our battery benchmark tests, the Portg racked up a mammoth score of 10hrs 58 mins. This outstrips not only Dell's XPS 13, but even the mighty MacBook family - another seriously impressive feat.

Ports and features

As is common for ultraportables, connectivity options are light - there's just one USB Type-C Thunderbolt 3 port for power and data and a USB 3.0 port, in addition to a 3.5mm jack for headphones and microphones. While this is about the standard for ultraportable devices, the fact that the Portg is a quite a bit thicker than a standard ultraportable makes it feel a little bit mean that more options weren't included.

If the connectivity features are somewhat lacking, however, the security features certainly aren't. The Portg features support for Windows Hello's biometric authentication in two forms, courtesy of a fingerprint reader built into the trackpad and an IR camera. This is in addition to Toshiba's BIOS and TPM 2.0 encryption, giving you peace of mind that your business data is going to stay secure.

Verdict

Don't be fooled by its unassuming exterior - under its demure shell, the Toshiba Portg is secretly an enterprise-grade powerhouse. It blows other ultraportables out of the water, and even manages to match the mighty Dell XPS 13 in terms of raw performance.

Toshiba has also managed to pack in a superbly high-quality display. The resolution might not match up to more impressive rivals, but in terms of colour accuracy, contrast and general fidelity, it's a professional-grade panel.

There is, however, a fly in the ointment, and that's the price. At 1,399 - excluding VAT - the Portg is stonkingly expensive. It's around 200 dearer than the XPS 13 2-in-1, for example, and more than 250 more expensive than the touch-enabled XPS 13 (which comes with a QHD+ display).

This somewhat sours what is otherwise an excellent proposition. It feels like a high price, especially given the handful of niggles like the fan noise and build quality. However, there's still an awful lot to recommend the Toshiba Portg X20W, and if you can look past the expensive price tag, you'll find yourself with a frighteningly capable business machine.

Verdict

The Toshiba Portege X20W is a beast of a machine, with performance and battery life that quashes even Dell's excellent XPS 13. It's pricey, but if you want an ultraportable that doesn't compromise on power then the X20W will scratch your itch.

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