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Toshiba Satellite C55-C5240 review: The best performance you'll find under US$500

Hayden Dingman | Aug. 18, 2015
The question you need to ask yourself with the Toshiba Satellite C55-C5240 is this: "If someone cobbled together performance car parts into a go-kart frame, would I drive it to work/school each day?"

The specs

Let's get to where the Toshiba C55-C shines: performance.

As I mentioned, the C55-C consistently outperformed every other laptop in this set of reviews. That's thanks in large part to the fact that it's packing a 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200U processor. The only other laptop to match that is the Acer Aspire E-15--but where the Acer only has 4GB of RAM, the C55-C has 8GB. The C55-C is the only laptop we looked at here with 8GB of RAM.

And rounding out the internals, we've got the standard Intel HD 5500 integrated graphics and a 1TB 5,400 RPM hard drive. Not too shabby.

Those specs helped the C55-C edge out the highest PCMark 8 scores across all three of our test categories. The Home Conventional test--web browsing, writing, minor photo editing, video chat, et al a.k.a. the things you're most likely to do with this laptop--was especially in Toshiba's favor, with the C55-C posting a score of 2,527. The Dell Inspiron 15 5000 Series was the closest competitor with a score of 2,210. (Though of course both pale in comparison to your typical gaming laptop, which typically scores around 3,500-4,000.)

The PCMark Creative and Work Conventional scores were closer calls, with the C55-C scoring 2,198 (to the Acer Aspire E-15's 2,055) and 2,771 (to the E-15's 2,669). In other words, the C55-C still edges out the competition but by an infinitesimally small amount.

It's also worth noting that the C55-C has the best gaming performance of any of these laptops--though that's still not saying much. In the 3DMark Skydiver test the C55-C turned in a score of 2,791. By comparison, even a relatively underpowered gaming laptop like the 2014 Razer Blade Pro scored 11,586. You won't be playing any high-end games on the C55-C, though you could probably indulge in some less-demanding indie titles.

The one bottleneck on the C55-C is its ponderously slow 5400 RPM hard drive. Even waiting for the C55-C to boot into Windows 8.1 is a boring proposition, and that feeling is sustained by CrystalDiskMark--the C55-C turned in the slowest scores of any laptop here, with a Read rate of 95MB/s and a Write rate of 99MB/s. And that's probably a best case scenario. This is no SSD. That likely also resulted in the E-15 scoring better on our Handbrake encode, wherein we transcode a 30GB MKV file. It took the C55-C seven minutes longer (2 hours and 29 minutes) to transcode than the E-15 (2 hours and 22 minutes), even though the C55-C outclassed the E-15 handily in other tests.

The bloat

I will say this about the C55-C: At least it's not too full of garbage software. In fact, the worst thing on this laptop is probably the thing designed to keep you safe--my old buddy McAfee. I rate McAfee as one of my least favorite antivirus programs, but you're free to run what you wish.


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