The Toshiba Satellite P70 makes up for its lack of eye candy with powerful core components.

The Core i7-4700MQ is one of Intel's new Haswell chips, and it deploys a 22nm manufacturing process and several architectural improvements to boost both performance and battery life when compared to last year's Ivy Bridge silicon.

The chip used here is a quad-core, 2.4GHz part that uses Hyper-Threading and, via Turbo Boost, reaches a top speed of 3.4GHz.

It compares well with the chips used in rival laptops: the Samsung Series 7 Chronos has a similarly specified Ivy Bridge part, while the HP Spectre XT TouchSmart has to make do with a weaker low-power Core i5 processor.

Graphics power is delivered by an Nvidia GeForce GT 745M. It's a step ahead of most integrated graphics cores, but it's not exactly a high-end GPU: it's only got 384 stream processors, which is half as many as Nvidia crams inside its mid-range GTX 760M core, and they're clocked to a modest 837MHz.

The Toshiba's graphics core falls in the middle of its rivals. The Chronos has a more powerful AMD Radeon HD 8800M GPU, and the Zenbook U500 has an Nvidia GT 650M chip, but the Spectre relies on Ivy Bridge integrated graphics.

Toshiba Satellite P70-A-109 review

The pair of hard disks - one from Hitachi and another from Toshiba - ensure that there's a huge amount of capacity for games and media, but there's no room in the budget for an SSD - so systems with solid-state storage will feel more responsive when booting and in Windows 8.

The Satellite P70 has 16GB of RAM, which is more than the amount included in most other machines, and there's a Blu-ray writer - a step ahead of the Blu-ray readers included with most high-end laptops.

Gigabit Ethernet and Bluetooth 4 get connectivity off to a good start, but there's no excuse for single-band 802.11n Wi-Fi in a machine at this price.