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