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Dynabook Tecra X50-F review: This lightweight 15-inch business notebook falls a bit short

It's lightweight and attractive, but it falls shorts in some little ways and one big way—battery life.

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Solid software, mostly

I’m usually in favor of audio enhancements on laptops, but on Dynabook’s Tecra X50 it works both for and against it. Dynabook chose DTS Audio Processing, and it’s on by default. (There’s a graphic equalizer, though you have to set it yourself.) In general,  DTS enriched some live music I played back via the Tecra’s speakers. In one YouTube video, however—Kanye West’s “All of the Lights”—the DTS audio muddled the sound, adding a distracting “cathedral” resonant effect. In general, though, the Tecra’s speakers are sufficiently loud, with a decent range of sound with DTS disabled. The speakers themselves are licensed by Harman Kardon.

Dynabook’s utility software is a strength. While I don’t always choose to fiddle with my PCs, I appreciate options to do so. Like Lenovo’s powerful Vantage software, the Dynabook utilities are varied, deep, and useful. Is that fan annoying? While there’s not a silent mode, an “eco” option dials down the power consumption by downclocking the CPU, lowering the screen brightness, and largely turning off the fan—and it shows you how much power you’re consuming.

dynabook eco utility Mark Hachman / IDG

Dynabook’s “eco mode” needs to be hunted down, but it’s a nifty option. 

You’ll also have the option via the Dynabook Settings app to adjust features like whether the USB ports are always “on” to charge external devices, and more. If there’s any downside, it’s that Dynabook needs to employ a graphic designer to give the utilities a more professional look.

dynabook service station and settings Mark Hachman / IDG

Dynabook’s separate Service Station and Settings apps could be combined into a single piece of software, but there’s a ton of functionality in both that’s probably worth being explored separately.

Performance: Solid numbers except for battery

We expect moderate to good performance out of a business notebook, with long battery life a key priority. Dynabook achieves the first, and struggles with the second.

Our selection of comparable models includes both of the new 15-inch Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 models we’ve tested, the Ryzen 5 and the Ryzen 7 versions, as well as the Lenovo IdeaPad S340-15IWL. We’ve also included two 15-inch HP Spectre x360 laptops.

We first run the PCMark 8 Work and Creative benchmarks. Though the test’s results are becoming less relevant over time, on the other hand, we have a number of reference points. Dynabook’s Tecra X50 garners one of the top scores among its group.

Dynabook Tecra X50 pcmark 8 work Mark Hachman / IDG

Though many of the PCMark 8 results are clustered together, Dynabook’s Tecra X50 does very well.

The Creative test measures light gaming, video editing, and photo manipulation, among others. Dynabook’s Tecra X50 again rises to the top of the pack.

Dynabook Tecra X50 pcmark 8 creative Mark Hachman / IDG

Most of the notebooks we’ve tested perform quite comparably to the Dynabook Tecra X50.

In PCMark 10, which combines the disparate PCMark tests into a single, updated unified whole, Dynabook’s Tecra doesn’t perform quite as well. 

Dynabook Tecra X50 pcmark 10 Mark Hachman / IDG

Dynabook’s Tecra X50 doesn’t perform as well in this iteration of PCMark as it does in an the older version, PCMark 8..

We also compare how the Tecra performs in a short sprint. Cinebench, a benchmark published by the Maxon Corp., pushes all of the available processor cores while rendering a 2D scene. 

Dynabook Tecra X50 cinebench Mark Hachman / IDG

This score, combined with the poor PCMark 10 result, suggests that the Tecra may struggle somewhat with CPU-intensive applications.

HandBrake, an open-source tool, converts a Hollywood movie from one format to another, a prolonged exercise that helps stress the laptop CPU over time. It’s both a test of how the laptop cools itself as well as a way to measure how well the Tecra performs a useful real-world task. The X50’s results here are firmly midrange.

handbrake dynabook tecra x50 right Mark Hachman / IDG

The performance of the Dynabook Tecra X50 isn’t great, but it’s not too shabby, either.

Though there’s little chance that a business notebook will be used for 3D gameplay, we test the GPU using the 3DMark Sky Diver benchmark. We don’t expect great things from the UHD 620 integrated GPU, and that’s okay.

Dynabook Tecra X50 3dmark sky diver Mark Hachman / IDG

A number of notebooks with identical GPUs yield similar results. But the Tecra X50’s 3D performance is still poor.

Battery life, however, is where we apply a stricter eye. No matter how you cut it, a mainstream laptop should be able to run more than eight hours, with the screen on, performing various tasks. We use a fairly easy test, looping 4K video at a set display brightness, with earbuds attached and volume at 50 percent. Your mileage will vary, but the Dynabook Tecra X50 barely meets our eight-hour threshold, bringing up the rear of its competitive set. 

Dynabook Tecra X50 battery life Mark Hachman / IDG

There’s really no excuse here: with a 1080P screen and a modern Core processor inside, we’d expect better.

We did notice that the Tecra X50 lowered its own screen brightness when testing on battery, something you could certainly do, too. We adjusted the screen brightness back up to what we think are acceptable working levels.

Conclusion: Decent bones, needs updating

Dynabook’s up against a number of established business laptop lines, as well as consumer models that can be used interchangeably (minus the vPro management options that come with corporate models). Unfortunately it fails to stand out. While it’s certainly appealing from a size and weight perspective, functional aspects such as the noisy fan will probably wear on you over time. Performance varies, though its mainstream productivity scores are exemplary. The eight-hour battery life? You could swing it, but we believe a business notebook should do better. 

Correction: According to Dynabook, the chassis is made from magnesium alloy. It is also colored Onyx Blue. 

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At a Glance
  • Dynabook's Tecra X50-F is a large, lightweight, 15-inch notebook PC. But a busy fan, some hardware issues, and a scant eight hours of battery life pull it up short of the competition.

    Pros

    • Light for its size
    • Strong utility software and configuration options

    Cons

    • Frequent, noisy fan noise
    • Eight hours of battery barely cuts it for a business notebook
    • Build quality and user experience fall a bit short
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