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AMD's Fastest Mobile Dual-Core

Okay, so that's not technically accurate: as of this writing there's a 45-watt Phenom II X620 BE running at 3.1GHz, but I challenge our readership to find a notebook employing that chip. That leaves us with the L645D enjoying the mobile equivalent of an Athlon II X2 250, a $60 desktop chip that still offers enough horsepower to do general computing fairly comfortably. Remember that AMD is the reigning budget champion on the desktop. So that said, can a 3GHz AMD chip close the gap with Intel's hardware?

The two main take-aways here are that at 3GHz, AMD can at least hang with the i3-370M for the most part, and that AMD's mobile tri-core and quad-core chips were probably ill-advised. The extra headroom afforded by only having two cores allows the N660's 3GHz core clock to meet or beat the P920 with its four 1.6GHz cores and the N830 with its three 2.1GHz cores in even heavily threaded workloads. Ultimately the N660 is going to seem a little slow by comparison, but it's still offering a healthy amount of performance for most tasks and I wouldn't be completely aggravated doing more processor-intensive work (like video editing) on it.

Unfortunately, though the extra 800MHz on the processor gives the L645D a leg up on Sony's EE34, the HD 4200/4250 starts to show its age again. Intel's HD graphics in the Dell Latitude post numbers on par with it in most disciplines (beating it soundly in 3DMark Vantage), but when we get to actual game testing we'll find that to be less the case.

This is where it would be good to point out that Toshiba loses one of the main points of leverage AMD's integrated graphics have over Intel's solutions: driver quality. As Jarred has mentioned in the past (and it does bear repeating), Toshiba has inexplicably opted out of AMD's mobile driver program, leaving you at their mercy. Sony doesn't get off any lighter: they opted out, too. There's really no good reason for this (especially since downloading the actual driver on another machine and then installing it on these notebooks still works), and it actively sabotages one of the strongest aspects of AMD's graphics hardware.

 

Lose the Gloss, Toshiba Still Not Enough to Game
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  • ArKritz - Wednesday, March 09, 2011 - link

    I'm looking forward to a very different Toshiba: The Portege R830. If they've managed to get the noise level down (from the R630), or at least stable, and they've kept the anti-glare, I NEED THAT LAPTOP.

    Please, please, please don't refrain from reviewing it even if Toshiba also makes bad laptops.
    Reply
  • Hrel - Wednesday, March 09, 2011 - link

    1366x768 screen... done, right there. No need to read further, not interested.

    700 bucks with the inclusion of blu-ray? Please, keep your useless blu-ray drive give me a useable screen and drop that price down some. This isn't 700 dollar hardware, 500 tops given the performance and already outdated parts.
    Reply
  • RamarC - Wednesday, March 09, 2011 - link

    i understand why 1366x768 came to be (16:9), but i don't understand why it's practically the only alternative. where did 1280x800 go? and1600x900 is next-to-impossible to find without spending $1K. Reply
  • Althernai - Wednesday, March 09, 2011 - link

    Most of the arguments in favor of this laptop seem to boil down to "it's only $619," but that is actually not that cheap nowadays. For example, HP's new ProBook 4430s (also 14" form factor, but with Sandy Bridge, a matte display and Professional rather than Home Premium Windows) is only $579. I guess you could make the argument "it's only $619 and it comes with a Blue Ray drive," but the notebook is pretty lousy in most other ways so it's probably not worth it unless you really want Blue Ray. Reply
  • alent1234 - Wednesday, March 09, 2011 - link

    some people live with their computers and watch all their movies on their computers.

    laptops are a niche market where you try to make products for everyone's lifestyle. if you're a non-gamer and want something to watch your blu-ray collection on the road this is a good deal

    it's not like the old days where you need a supercomputer to push HD video. a cell phone will do it these days
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, March 09, 2011 - link

    @RamarC: Keep in mind that the HP 4330S uses an i3-2310M (2.1GHz with no Turbo). Hyper-Threading will still put it ahead of the P660 in some performance benchmarks, but I'm not sure pure single-threaded performance will be one of them. Granted, the HD 3000 IGP is about twice as fast as the HD 4250 (at least when it all works properly, which is about 90% of the time), but while $579 isn't bad it's also not the greatest when you factor in everything else.

    Blu-ray combo drives for laptops are still over $100 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8... 640GB 5400RPM vs. 320GB 7200RPM is also about $30 more for the Toshiba drive (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8... compared to http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8... So add $130 for comparison and you're talking about $710 versus $620. But you're right: the HP is probably still better for many simply because it will have better battery life, better build quality, and none of the glossy crap.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, March 09, 2011 - link

    Is there a version of the Toshiba available without the Blu-Ray drive but all else the same? Because I can't see that being a major selling point for a lot of the budget market, given the listed HP plus $30 to match hard drives vs this Toshiba I'd think the majority of people would be better off with the HP for the same money. Reply
  • ImSpartacus - Wednesday, March 09, 2011 - link

    I'm not sure how to interpret this comment. Is it a sentence? I'm definitely not an English major, so I don't know.

    "I've griped about this before but it bears repeating: glossy plastic photographs reasonably well and that's about it, and using it on the keyboard is a horrendous idea."

    What exactly is being said?
    Reply
  • 7Enigma - Wednesday, March 09, 2011 - link

    What Dustin is saying is that glossy plastic looks good in photos (ie on a website, in a review article, on a sales circular), but in practice it's awful due to all the reflections and glare. And putting it on a keyboard where it's going to reflect is even worse since it is very close to the screen and much larger in area than the normal areas of complaint (wristpad for instance). Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Wednesday, March 09, 2011 - link

    "I have complained about this in the past. Glossy black plastic only looks good to the people in the marketing department. Everyone else hates it. It definately should not be used on the keyboard." Reply

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