Toshiba Portégé Z830 review
Toshiba delivers the first business-ready Ultrabook, and despite a few niggles it’s a serious contender
Review Date: 2 Dec 2011
Reviewed By: Sasha Muller
Price when reviewed: £907 (£1,088 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
Most manufacturers are confidently aiming their Ultrabooks at the consumer market, but Toshiba’s Portégé Z830 bucks the trend. Squeezing business-friendly features into a millimetres-thick chassis, this is the executive Ultrabook that every executive has been waiting for.
It’s no surprise to find that the Portégé Z830 is slim and light – such attributes are the very currency of the Ultrabook – but Toshiba has done a sterling job with the design. Weighing in at just 1.09kg, the Toshiba is disconcertingly light, even by the standards of its peers. And yet, somehow, it still manages to feel solid enough to inspire confidence. The base barely flexes at all, and while the lid is altogether more malleable, you have to prod viciously on it before any pressure impinges on the delicate LCD panel within.
Visually, it’s less successful. Where other Ultrabooks trade on their striking good looks, the Toshiba’s dark grey chassis looks rather ordinary. What it lacks in style, however, it more than makes up for with sheer practicality. You’ll find a USB 3 port on its right flank; an SD card reader, headphone and microphone sockets on its left. It crams even more along its rear edge, adding two USB 2 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, D-SUB and HDMI.
With a fingerprint reader nestling between the two touchpad buttons, and a TPM 1.2 module inside, security is also top of the Portégé Z830’s priorities. Wireless connectivity is good, too, stretching to dual-band 802.11n and Bluetooth 3, but the current model lacks 3G. Thankfully, Toshiba has confirmed that there's room in the chassis for future models to accommodate 3G.
This, the top-of-the-range model, has precious little lacking elsewhere. It comes with a 1.7Ghz Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD and the Intel QM67 chipset throws in vPro support for good measure. It all makes for a seriously nippy machine. Applications spring into view within seconds, and the low-voltage processor ploughs through even intense video editing without breaking a sweat.
Battery life is great – the Toshiba’s non user-replaceable battery lasted 8hrs 3mins in our light usage battery test – but the Core i5 processor is more than capable of stepping up a gear. With a result of 0.6 in our Real World Benchmarks, the Portégé Z830 is a featherweight that packs a mighty punch. So mighty, in fact, that we found the area above the keyboard and around the rear cooling vent getting rather warm with extended use. Squeezing this much power into such a dainty slice does, after all, have its downsides.
OK so it's £11 quid cheaper than
the equivalent Mac Book Air. Some might like the matt screen and it saves a tiny bit of weight. Outside of that why should I go over to Windows and buy this?
By kaneclem on 2 Dec 2011
You personally probably wouldn't. Someone wanting a Windows laptop for business needs might consider it, however.
By anthona on 2 Dec 2011
Only supports SATA2
I have been in the market for a replacement to my existing Portege and was considering a Z830, but have been put off by the bios restricting the Msata interface to SATA2 and worried about the logistics of replacing the battery. My current laptop is 7+ years old and there is a perception that hardware at this price point should last more than 5 years and should not be dulled down just because the manufacturer does not have an Msata drive running at SATA3. Also laptop batteries in business environments do not seem to last more than 3 years so unless the new battery is a new technology this is going to be a right pain.
By Steve_B on 2 Dec 2011
I might be wrong here, but it looks like Toshiba has simply taken an angle grinder to the (highly rated) R830. The battery is cut down by the trimming, as it the hard drive bay (hence the stingy 128GB SSD), but most of the rest of the internals don't seem to have had a refresh. Which is a shame.
By PaulOckenden on 3 Dec 2011
Are you saying the SSD is actually a Macbook-air style chips-on-the-board affair? If so I think that sort of thing should be pointed out in the review. A non replacable drive is a bigger issue to me than a non replacable battery.
By ChrisH on 3 Dec 2011
No, the SSD is mSATA, hence the current size limitations. 128GB is about as big as they go. The Z830 does, I believe, have some (2Gb?) of its RAM soldered to the motherboard, which may or may not worry you...
By PaulOckenden on 3 Dec 2011
Best of the rest?
It seems to be the best ultrabook yet - great keyboard, long battery life, and the processor gives enough grunt to keep on going.
For someone who just wants something light and can keep typing comfortably on for long periods of time, the only two things going against it are that the keyboard isn't backlit, and a lower screen resolution.
It just doesn't seem to make sense not to pay the extra £11 & a windows licence to get an MBA. However, its still a compelling option for a non-corporate person.
By khellan on 3 Dec 2011
I have read elsewhere that the keyboard is backlit and it is SATA3 compatible
By apples on 3 Dec 2011
I have the Toshiba satellite Z830 - largely identical except Windows Home and no finger print reader.
Keyboard is backlit - not sure if its SATA3 compatible.
Good laptop - not up to Apple MacBook Air quality but as I'm a Windows person it suits me.
Biggest downside is the noisy fan. Not a show stopper but the MacBook Air is virtually silent in comparison.
Also the touchpad is nowhere near as good as the Apple touch pad - but I think thats more a Windows issue.
By cyberindie on 5 Dec 2011
2 ordered as tests
We've just ordered two of these for work purposes and we're keen to see how they hold up in the field. Our spec was a small, light-weight, but powerful laptop with good battery life to replace netbooks and seven-year-old Vaios - this seemed to fit most of the requirements and seeing as we're restricted to purchasing Toshiba models, about the best we could obtain.
We also only paid £750 each for the i3 model (more than enough for our jobs, especially with 4GB RAM) - £100 cheaper than the cheapest Air.
By bioreit on 5 Dec 2011
Not as good as I hoped
I bought this because I really liked the look of it and the online reviews (like this one) looked great. Unfortunately it's nowhere near as good as it seems..
My one Z830-104 (core i5) has a battery which lasts 4.5 hours fully charged even on eco mode. This review and all the other sites said 8 hours. All I can say is that on mine it's only 4.5.
It also has a horrible noise coming out of it constantly (very very irritating) from the fan which they are using to cool the CPU. If you look it has vents on the bottom. That is a very noisy cheap fan they stuck in... Clearly they tested this in a very noisy environment or just don't care about damaging your hearing with high frequency whirring.
Lastly windows seems to be struggling to find folders and I've had the file open dialog crash in various different applications (gmail - chrome, word and excel). This is a first for me.
Overall it looks great, is really light and the keyboard is great. Basically though, it's let down by the battery (though mine may be broken) and the awful noise.
For me the noise is a deal breaker alone. I am not spending over a grand on a something which is that loud. It's already starting to give me a headache...
I will be returning mine as not fit for purpose shortly and investigating other options.
Currently I'm looking at a zenbook.
By zltm111 on 5 Dec 2011
Noise is a major issue for me too. I've got used to it but compared to other laptops its very noisy.
Plus its a higher and more annoying pitch of noise compared to a normal laptop fan.
Very few of the reviews - including the PC Pro one - mention the noise.
The fan is on ALL of the time - even if the laptop is idle.
It doesn't have to be like this - the MacBook Air is virtually silent in comparison. The Air also feels much better made.
Also on mine it doesn't sit flat on the desk so there's a bit of a wobble - one side must be higher than the other and a coaster or bit of card is needed to even it out. The MacBook Air sits flat on the desk with no wobble!
However I use mine mostly for travel and the amazingly lightweight is the main reason I'm keeping it.
By cyberindie on 6 Dec 2011
Needs 3G for the weight and SSD drive to make any sense
There seems to be hardly any point in creating a portable that's just over 1kg and which has an SSD drive only to then not include 3G inside every model. [At the present price]
By MikeW2 on 6 Dec 2011
Well... Mine arrived yesterday and... it's probably going back after I try a clean install.
Out of the box
-81 running processes
-1.05Gb memory used (Superfetch is set to manual on this machine)
-23 seconds from off to desktop
-48c sat idle (Room temp 25.5c)
After tweaking the machine for a few minutes (removing ticks from ALL of the startup MSConfig items, turning off a whole load of services, setting everything to max battery and cpu max 10%, max battery cooling) I simply cannot get the fan to turn off.
-31 running processes
-672Mb memory used (Superfetch is set to disabled)
-21 seconds from off to desktop
-42c sat idle (Room temp 23.9c)
It's damn quick after tweaking but I refuse to accept that in this day and age a fan has to stay on especially seeing as this is 'only' a 1.4Ghz cpu. The HP 5330m(i5) and Dell Vostro 131(Celeron) are basically SILENT at idle. (I, however, do appreciate that this is a new (but not at all) form factor)
P.s. 0% cpu usage... flatline, nothing running. Fan still on.
By rhythm on 9 Dec 2011
P.s. The fan
"Very few of the reviews - including the PC Pro one - mention the noise.
The fan is on ALL of the time - even if the laptop is idle."
Come on PC Pro... when reviewing portable machines mention the fan noise and if it ever switches off. :)
By rhythm on 9 Dec 2011
This does not claim to be a macbook competitor
Why are people comparing this to a macbook air. This is a machine for people who want a windows laptop.
If I wanted a Macbook air I would buy one and be happy. This laptop is very good for a windows machine for people in business it is not a gaming machine.
By curiousclive on 11 Dec 2011
I echo the comments about the fan. I don't mind some noise but the frequency of this noise is really bothersome. Irritating to hell and despite liking everything else, since I can't shut the fan off at all - its got to go back. Buyer beware.
I will however call Toshiba and see if there is something I can tweak to regulate the fan. Not too hopeful.
By ddeubel on 14 Dec 2011
Battery Consumption during stop
Acquired the Z830 a few weeks ago and mostly happy about it.
One thing though is that I notice a significant battery consumption even when the PC has been shut down. I even had a case when after 3-4 days of non-operation I could not restart because battery was down. I had to restart plugged in.
Any suggestion on what could be the cause ? A bad setting ?
I updated the Bios but no change.
By smenard on 9 Jan 2012
fan noise and standby
fan noise has been fixed by bios update....poor battery performance might be because you need to set to hibernation instead of standby
By apples on 15 Mar 2012
I love this computer, very happy with performance and price so far except for the uber sensitive mouse pad, it hides the desktop, closes out, changes font unexpectedly. Is that me being a clutz or is it a glitch? Obviously I am a work in progress on computers....but I really didnt think I was that bad. If there is any tricks or suggestions to make my mousepad usage more enjoyable, :) i'd greatly appreciate it. Thank you either way fellow posters!!!!
By jehnavi on 14 May 2012
Toshiba Z830 SSD Upgrade
Great unit but SSD limited size. Can anyone advise on options for upgrading to 256GB?
By Pxdmnl on 22 Dec 2012
Do not buy it
if you want to use it. I bought one 18 months ago until the most often used keys stopped working. Toshiba refused the guaranty because "I had used the keyboard excessively". Ever heard that before? I have worked with many laptops before, some for three, some for 5 years without problems - however, none of them was a Toshiba.
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