The Toshiba Satellite C55-B5100 is a competent desktop-replacement laptop for a nice price, but drawbacks, like a non-removable battery and a somewhat flimsy keyboard, keep it in the middle of the pack.
- Blazing fast for the price
- 8GB of RAM—more than any of its peers
- Tons of storage space
- Flimsy construction and screen
- Clunky mouse buttons
The Toshiba Satellite C55-B5100 is a budget desktop-replacement laptop priced in the middle of the road mark for Windows 8.1 laptops, for a good reason. This one is a more powerful and feature-rich Windows system (can be upgraded to Windows 10 for free) with a full numeric keypad and a DVD burner. It is faster, and offers value for money but it eliminates some of the traditional features of a desktop-replacement (like a user replaceable battery and memory) that let you keep using it for many years.
However, if you’re not on a budget our Editors’ Choice in the desktop-replacement category, the Toshiba Satellite C55-C5241 or the ASUS F555LA-AB31 – both of which we reviewed a while back- gives you faster processing power thanks to Intel Core i5 and Intel Core i3 processors respectively, a roomy 1TB of storage. Still, if you plan on upgrading from an older laptop and want to spend less, put the C55-B5100 in the middle of your shopping list.
The laptop’s design is old school, with a textured, black, polycarbonate shell. It measures 10.25 by 14.96 by 1.05 inches (HWD) and weighs a manageable 4.8 pounds. Thanks to that 15-inch width, there’s room for both a full-size keyboard and a numeric keypad. The traditional scissor-switch keyboard has keys that can accidentally pop off and are a little slippery to type on, compared with the chiclet-style keyboards seen on more modern-looking laptops. For example, the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E545 has scalloped keycaps that are much more comfortable to type on and are more durable.
most users won’t need to upgrade since the system is at par with other budget laptops with the 4GB memory and 500GB storage space. The 4GB of memory will help you keep dozens of browser tabs open simultaneously, and 500GB is plenty for music, photos, and videos. The drive spins at a relatively slow 5,400rpm, but that’s a fair tradeoff for this amount of space.
The C55-B5100 is equipped with a 2.16GHz Intel Celeron processor N2840 with integrated Intel HD graphics. It helped the system return a decent 1,867 points on the PCMark 8 Work Conventional test, ahead of the Dell Inspiron 15 (1,554 points) and Lenovo E545 (1,777). The Intel-powered ASUS X551MA (2742) Inspiron 17 (2,097) and Acer E5-471-59RT (2,688) returned higher scores, however.
Multimedia scores are mostly good, at 4 hours 50 minutes for the Handbrake video test and 157 points on the CineBench test. However, the system lagged behind rivals on the Photoshop CS6 test (10:13). Gaming tests returned slideshow-like, single-digit frame rate scores, similar to the other budget laptops.
The 15.6-inch screen has a 1,366-by-768-resolution and lacks touch capability, which is typical in the budget category. Text and graphics can look a little blocky when blown up to fill a 15.6-inch screen.
That’s forgivable for this ilk of less expensive systems and even the the Toshiba Satellite C55-C5241, and as you go higher in the price range you begin to see better resolutions such as Our Editors’ Choice the Intel Core i3-powered ASUS F555LA-AB31 with Full HD (1920-by-1080) resolutions. We’re stopping short of mandating a touch screen at this price point, but we do admit that Windows 8.1 and the latest Windows 10 are a lot easier to use if you have one.
On the sides of the system you’ll find a gigabit Ethernet port, an HDMI port, a SD card reader, two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, and a VGA port. Wireless network connections are handled by the system’s 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, but there’s no Bluetooth for other wireless devices like keyboards and mice. The DVD burner is a throwback, one that might be necessary in your family for watching old DVDs or if you need to access archived pictures on optical discs.
On our battery rundown test, the system lasted 5 hours 25 minutes. That’s 5 minutes better than the Dell Inspiron 17, and almost an hour-and-a-half better than the and Lenovo E545 (4:01). The Acer Aspire E5-571-37SY is the class leader, however, having lasted 8:45 on the same test.
Some of the hard drive is occupied by some bloatware including programs and shortcuts to sites but that is not much of a problem. To be sure, there’s a lot of drive space to spare, but you’ll have to budget an hour or two to remove all the programs you don’t want to use or be prepared to ignore all the tiles in the Start screen and in the taskbar. The system comes with a standard one-year warranty.
The Toshiba Satellite C55-B5100 is a competent desktop-replacement laptop for a nice price, but drawbacks, like a non-removable battery and a somewhat flimsy keyboard, keep it in the middle of the pack. Even features like 4GB of system memory and a 500GB hard drive can’t elevate the system much higher. The ASUS X551MA Series remains our top pick for the budget desktop-replacement category, thanks to its ability to grow, removable battery, more expensive feel and build quality, all for a list price that’s less than the Toshiba model.
However, if you can spare some bucks, the newer models such as the Toshiba Satellite C55-C5241 and ASUS F555LA-AB31 as they come with Windows 10 pre-installed, premium build and more processing power for your daily home-office computing needs.