Powerful Core i7 processor; Impressive graphics capabilities; Excellent keyboard
Dim, low-res display; Poor viewing angles; Below average battery life
Toshiba's Satellite S55t-A5277 has the power needed to handle anything you can throw at it, but a poor display and short battery life hold it back.
In search of a back to school laptop that can handle both your class work and some gaming in your downtime? Toshiba's Satellite S55t-A5277 may be just what you're looking for. This 15.6-inch touch-screen notebook features a powerful Intel Core i7 processor, 12GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce 740M graphics chip with 2GB of RAM and a massive 1TB of hard drive space. At $989, though, this laptop won't leave much room in your back to school budget for anything else. Then again, the Satellite S55t might just be worth it.
See our List of Favorite Laptops
Click on one of our top pick pages below to see which were selected as “Best in Class” by our seasoned tech editors.
Toshiba has put quite a bit of work into sprucing up its notebooks for the back to school season, and the Satellite S55t is no different. Like its sibling the Satellite P55t, the S55t sports Toshiba's new Skyline design language, the primary focus of which is to afford Toshiba's notebooks a more refined look. That starts with the Satellite S55t's Ice Silver-colored brushed aluminum lid. Adorned with a chrome Toshiba logo in the bottom right corner, the lid's appearance is sleek and understated.
MORE: Best Laptops
Measuring 14.9 x 9.6 x 1.2 inches and weighing 5.4 pounds, the Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277 is both smaller and lighter than the Acer Aspire V5-571PG-9814, which measures 15.4 x 9.9 x 0.96 inches and weighs 5.6 pounds.
Images and videos such as a trailer for "The Wolverine" were a bit pixelated, while colors appeared dull and washed out. The low resolution also means you don't get the kind of desktop screen real estate offered by notebooks with higher resolution displays. Similarly, games suffer from a lower image quality and lose out on the kind of minute details that make them look great.
We were also let down by the S55t's extremely low display brightness, which measured just 115 lux. That said, the Acer Aspire V5's display, which also sports a 1366 x 768 resolution, barely outshined the S55t with a brightness rating of 121 lux. Those scores are nowhere near the mainstream notebook category average of 208 lux.
MORE: Toshiba Brand Rating
Further affecting the Satellite's display are its poor viewing angles. While playing the aforementioned trailer for "The Wolverine," colors became distorted and eventually inverted when viewed on an angle.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Ports and Webcam
After streaming a 1080p Hulu video for 15 minutes, the Satellite S55t-A5227's touchpad topped out at a relatively cool 75.5 degrees Fahrenheit. The keyboard, meanwhile, reached just 78 degrees, while the notebook's underside hit 82 on the thermometer. The highest temperature we recorded was a 94.5 degrees spot below the large cooling vent on the notebook's right side. We consider temperatures of 95 degrees and lower to be comfortable.
On the PCMark7 benchmark, which tests a laptop's overall performance, the Satellite S55t-A5277 scored a 4,842. That's far better than the 2,566 scored by the Acer Aspire V5-571PG-9814 and its 2.0-GHz dual-core Intel Core i7-3537U processor, 8GB, 1TB hard drive and Nvidia GeForce GT 710M graphics processor with Optimus technology. The mainstream notebook category average, meanwhile, came in at 2,949.
On Geekbench, another benchmark that tests a notebook's overall performance, the Satellite S55t pulled down a score of 8,238, easily topping the category average of 6,769, as well as the Acer Aspire V5's score of 6,913.
Where the Satellite S55t's hard drive becomes a pain is when you want to move data. It took the S55t 2 minutes and 52 seconds to complete the LAPTOP File Transfer Test, copying 4.97GB of mixed media files, at a rate of 29.5 MBps. And while that's better than the Acer Aspire V5's transfer rate of 16.6 MBps, it's far slower than the mainstream notebook category average of 43 MBps.
The star of the show, the Satellite S55t's 2.4-GHz quad-core Core i7 processor, was lights out on our GeekBench test, taking just 4 minutes and 23 seconds to match 20,000 names to their corresponding addresses. The Core i7-equipped Acer Aspire V5-571PG-9814 finished the test in 4:47, while the average mainstream notebook ran through the test in 5:47
The S55t's performance came in handy during gaming sessions, too. While playing "World of Warcraft" with the settings on autodetect and the resolution at 1366 x 768, we saw average frame rates of 92 frames per second. Kick up the graphics to max and frame rates held solid at 54 fps. That's much higher than the Acer Aspire V5's 36 fps, as well as the category average of 37 fps.
MORE: Best Gaming Laptop
On the significantly more taxing "Bioshock Infinite," we saw frame rates as high as 45 fps with the graphics on low and the resolution at 1366 x 768. Turn the graphics all the way up, however, and the Toshiba hits a wall, with frame rates plummeting to just 16 fps. Still, the only laptops out there that can handle playing a game like "BioShock Infinite" with the graphics set to high are those made specifically for gaming.
If the Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277 has one major flaw, it is battery life. The laptop's lithium-ion battery lasted just 4 hours and 20 minutes on the LAPTOP Battery Test, which involves continuous Web surfing with the display brightness set to 40 percent. And while that may be better than the Acer Aspire V5's pitiful 3:29, it's still well off the category average of 5:35.
Software and Warranty
Toshiba offers customers who purchase a Satellite S55t-A5277 a one-year warranty on parts and labor.
Our Satellite S55t-A5277 comes equipped with a 2.4-GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-4700MQ processor, 12GB of RAM, a 1TB 5,400-rpm hard drive and an Nvidia GeForce 740M with 2GB of RAM and Optimus technology for $989. If you're looking for something a bit more affordable, and are willing to sacrifice the power, you can grab a Satellite S50-ABT2N22 for $579. That notebook comes with a 1.9-GHz dual-core Intel Core i3-3227U processor, 8GB of RAM, a 750GB 5,400-rpm hard drive and integrated graphics chip.
Looking for more power? You can always customize your Satellite to include a 1.7-GHz Intel Core i7-4700MQ processor, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive and an 8GB hybrid drive, Nvidia GeForce 740M with Optimus technology, a Blu-ray writer and touch-screen display, all for $1,389.
VerdictAcer Aspire M5-583P-6428, which has a slightly slower processor but longer battery life. But if you simply want an attractive laptop with major horsepower and great sound, the Toshiba Satellite S55t-A5277 could be for you.
|CPU||2.4-GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-4700MQ processor|
|Operating System||Windows 8|
|RAM Upgradable to||16GB|
|Hard Drive Size||1 TB|
|Hard Drive Speed||5,400rpm|
|Hard Drive Type||SATA Hard Drive|
|Secondary Hard Drive Size|
|Secondary Hard Drive Speed|
|Secondary Hard Drive Type|
|Optical Drive||Super-Multi DVD|
|Optical Drive Speed|
|Graphics Card||Nvidia GeForce 740M with Optimus|
|Wi-Fi Model||Realtek RTL8188E Wireless LAN 802.11n PCI-E NIC|
|Touchpad Size||4.5 x 2.65 inches|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Microphone|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Headphone|
|Ports (excluding USB)||HDMI|
|Ports (excluding USB)||VGA|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Ethernet|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 3.0|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 2.0|
|Ports (excluding USB)||security lock slot|
|Card Slots||3-1 card reader|
|Warranty/Support||1 Year Standard Limited Warranty|
|Size||14.9 x 9.6 x 1.2 inches|