On paper the A500 ought to be a very quick machine, so good things were expected from the benchmark results. It duly delivers, putting in a great performance in PCMark Vantage and only just failing to break the 4,000 score barrier. Had Toshiba installed a 64-bit OS it would have done even better, but all the same the A500 has genuine desktop replacing speed on its side.
This is matched by some serious gaming muscle, too. Though it's not a gaming laptop per se, it comes as close as possible without actually crossing the divide. We managed to ramp Trackmania Nations to 'Very High' settings and still maintain a playable 33.5fps, so the likes of Call of Duty 4 and Left 4 Dead should be more than playable and at good settings, too. Naturally the system does get fairly noisy when running games, but show us a laptop that doesn't.
Inevitably there is a penalty to pay for all this performance. Just less than two hours in the Productivity segment of MobileMark 2007 is a pretty poor result, reflected in equally miserly outcomes in the other tests. However this machine weighs a considerable 3.18kg and measures 384mm across, so portability is hardly high on the agenda. As such, the A500 gets a low score for battery life, but it doesn't factor very heavily in the overall score.
And it's a fine overall score, too. While the A500-11U doesn't do a great deal to set hearts racing - it's not outstandingly good-looking or particularly innovative - it is (mostly) well made, flexible and powerful. In short, it's everything you'd want from a desktop replacement and it does it all for a good price to boot.
Minor fit and finish issues aside, the Toshiba Satellite A500-11U is a cracking desktop replacement laptop. It'll gobble up CPU intensive tasks and games with aplomb, while the addition of a TV tuner and ample storage space makes it perfect for people short on space. We'd like to have had a 64-bit OS to go with the prodigious processing power, but it's still a system well worth recommending.