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
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
Left Side AC adaptor
Exhaust vent
eSATA/USB 2.0 combo port
USB 2.0
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
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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  • damianrobertjones - Saturday, March 31, 2012 - link

    "I think you guys pay too much attention to the high end. Maybe you should start doing reviews on more mainstream models that people actually BUY"

    +1. The site might get a whole new flood of people paying a visit. I don;t know five people that would even THINK about spending over £600 on a laptop as it's ALL around the basement price.
  • SongEmu - Saturday, March 31, 2012 - link

    If you're in the market for a super cheap notebook, you're probably not an Anandtech regular. And even if you are, you're not reading reviews on your craptop. You're typically ticking off check boxes, i.e.:
    dual core proc
    DVD drive
    HDD > 120 GB
    X inch monitor.

    There is nothing exciting under $600. not for notebooks.
  • ScottHavens - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    I saw the resolution was only 1366x768 on a 13.3" display and just skipped the rest.
  • ScottHavens - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    I gave in and read the rest of the review; I see that my complaint has been addressed by the author. When will it get addressed by the manufacturers?
  • rudolphna - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    Such snobs people are anymore. So this is basically the same thing as my previous post, but did you not realize that 99% of laptops sold to actual normal consumers are 1366x768, both in 14" and 15.6" versions? At the price point, maybe you should not complain. And seriously? 768 in a 13.3" screen isn't good enough? My my my.
  • welshy992 - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    768p in a 15.6 inch screen is really bad. You can't do anything useful with that. The resolution is so cramped. You can't even open an entire word document or a web page without always having to scroll. Did you not realize that 99% of laptops sold USED to have a higher vertical resolution than 768p?

    If all you do on your laptop is Facebook, watch movies, and play games, then yes 768p in a 15.6 inch form factor is fine. For spreadsheets, coding, word docs, or any other form of content creation it is not worth it. I'd rather chain myself to a desk with an external monitor like I'm doing right now.
  • Coup27 - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    rudolphna this is quite clearly a enthusiasts website by enthusiasts. The people who walk into bestbuy and buy a $400 laptop with a 1366x768 TN LCD with a 5,400rpm HDD and think it's great because they have no knowledge to say otherwise. These people will also not be reading Anandtech. I don't want Anandtech to read like a BBC Technology review or equivilent.

    I also disagree with you on another point. Long before SSDs we had to accept the performance from a 5400rpm HDD. Now, it's quite clear that this performance for any user who knows how to use a laptop to its potential, is crap.
  • rudolphna - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    Well considering that I AM an enthusiast, and I have a desktop using Anandtech recommended components (2500k, P8Z68-V Pro, Crucial M4, Fractal Design Define R3 etc) I understand the point of view. However there are enthusiasts like me, that don't need or want a high end laptop.

    My aforementioned laptop IS 768p, and I can do everything you just mentioned, perfectly fine. Sure I have to scroll. That's not really a big deal to me. Well, except coding.

    Anandtech does reviews of low end PSUs, and laptops with A6s, etc. But they do the most expensive ones they can find. Anandtech may be an enthusiast site, but it wouldn't hurt to do a mainstream review every now and again.

    YES the SSD is fast. But for what I need my laptop to do, I don't NEED one. Nor do 99% of people who buy laptops who the most intensive thing they will do is facebook games. If you keep your laptop clean and running light, as I do, I have no problems with a standard 5,400RPM drive. Granted, I'm pretty sure that Western Digitals 5400RPM drives are faster than Toshiba and Hitachis, but that' s beside the point.
  • steven75 - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    If you're happy with a junky, poor performing laptop, more power to you. But don't expect most enthusiasts to agree with you. It's odd that you think they will.
  • TrackSmart - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    I respectfully disagree. I personally don't need to see lots of reviews of the cookie-cutter $400 laptops you describe. Maybe one or two examples per year, just to set the benchmark for what you get for that price point. If one of them breaks the mold in an important way, then yes, review it. But otherwise, why bother? I can describe most of them to you already.

    That's not snobbery. I also agree that these $400 laptops it will do everything that the average person needs to do. But they occupy a part of the market where there profits are so low that there is little room for differentiation between models.

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