Performance is right where you would expect, solidly in the middle of the Ultrabook class. Ultrabooks are approaching CULV levels of dull performance metrics—all of them perform roughly the same, because there are only a handful of CPU parts (only three of which are commonly seen in review units) and they’ve all got roughly the same baseline performance specs otherwise (the differences between 4GB and 6GB RAM are rarely statistically significant in our benchmark suite). Obviously, some Ultrabooks come with optional dedicated graphics cards, like the ASUS Zenbook UX32Vd and Acer TimelineU M5, but other than that, the spec sheet a lot of times boils down to SSD vs cached HDD. Here's our current list of candidates:

Laptop Configuration Overview
Laptop CPU Graphics Storage Battery
Acer TimelineU M3 Intel i7-2637M GT640M/HD3000 256GB SSD 55Wh
AMD Trinity Prototype AMD A10-4600M HD7660G 128GB SSD 56Wh
ASUS Zenbook Prime UX21A Intel i7-3517U HD4000 256GB SSD 35Wh
ASUS Zenbook Prime UX31A Intel i7-3517U HD4000 256GB SSD 50Wh
ASUS Zenbook UX31E Intel i7-2677M HD3000 256GB SSD 48Wh
Clevo W110ER Intel i7-3720QM GT650M/HD4000 750GB Hybrid 62Wh
Dell XPS 13 Intel i7-2637M HD3000 256GB SSD 47Wh
HP Envy 14 Spectre Intel i7-3667U HD4000 2x128GB SSDs 56Wh
HP Folio 13 Intel i5-2467M HD3000 128GB SSD 60Wh
Ivy Bridge Ultrabook Prototype Intel i5-3427U HD4000 240GB SSD 47Wh
Toshiba Satellite U845 Intel i5-3317U HD4000 500GB+32GB SSD 54Wh

The U845 falls at the midlevel of the class, with the i5-3317U, a 1.7GHz dual core 17W Ivy Bridge part with a max turbo clock of 2.6GHz and a GPU clock of 1.05GHz. This is the standard CPU in sub-$1000 Ultrabooks, and typically the only step lower would be the SNB i3 or i5 that’s used in the base U845 and other entry level systems. Performance is adequate if uninspiring, with the lack of a dedicated SSD definitely being noticeable during regular use.

Cinebench R11.5—Single-Threaded Benchmark

Cinebench R11.5—Multi-Threaded Benchmark

x264 HD Benchmark—First Pass

x264 HD Benchmark—Second Pass

Toshiba has always been pretty bad at bloatware, so much so that I once wrote them a letter about it halfway through my review of the Portege R700. Unfortunately, things have not gotten too much better since then, with Toshiba loading the U845 with a Norton Internet Security trial, NetZero, and about 30 different Toshiba utilities that are for the most part pointless. (Okay so I went back and counted—the actual number is 29, but close enough right?) Of those 29, I’d say they could dump about 18-20 of them. This is 2012, bloatware should not be acceptable as standard operating procedure when selling a computer. Microsoft’s Signature optimization on PC hardware sold at the Microsoft Store proves that. There is simply no excuse.

Toshiba Satellite U845: Design Toshiba Satellite U845: Battery Life
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  • Zodiark1593 - Monday, October 08, 2012 - link

    At $600, I can almost forgive the bad screen, but the fact that cheaper tablets are shipping with vastly superior displays want to make want to go to a Best Buy, and smash all their laptops (with eww displays) with a baseball bat. Reply
  • Yorgos - Monday, October 08, 2012 - link

    the funny(actually it is ridiculous) thing is that a smartphone at this price range has a 720p screen that costs about 30 $(not retail).
    imagine how people would react to a product that has 4 of those screens, even if there are bezels in the screen and give you a 1280+1280X720+720 screen, that's a 2560X1440.
    we have seen many crazy staff going on with the computers, that's one that is going sell like hell.
    Reply
  • Hrel - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    I think you are very ignorant and should do some research on everything you just said. Reply
  • peterfares - Monday, October 08, 2012 - link

    At least the RAM is a little better than the pathetic 4GB machines have been shipping with since 2009. Reply
  • Calista - Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - link

    I have been playing around with computers for almost two decades and as a role of thumb a computer should support three times what can be considered a 'normal' amount of RAM to not be memory starved before the rest of the system has reach it's useful end of life.

    So in 2012 a laptop should support 12 GB of RAM even if only 4 GB is needed right now. But who knows, maybe we have made computers disposable too a much larger extent since they are so much more affordable today than ten years ago.
    Reply
  • Belard - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    "it’s quite disappointing to see the lack of emphasis on notebook display quality. Let's hope Windows 8 changes that."

    Why would windows8 change anything? It's software. The point is to get sales from people who tend to not know the difference. Same with the $1200-1500 slates with windows7... How is 8 going to change the price of the hardware... It doesn't.

    Hence win8 tables are already fail.
    Reply
  • VivekGowri - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    Just from the Windows 8 systems that have debuted, it should be pretty clear that manufacturers are completely rethinking the way PCs are designed and built. If you haven't realized that yet, I'd suggest paying a bit more attention. Reply
  • Belard - Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - link

    I've been paying attention.

    MS came out with the Surface, blaming their partners for making crappy tablets... in which case, please point out a tablet-oriented OS MS has ever shipped? WP7 was only for phones.

    I completely understand WHAT and WHY Microsoft is doing with Windows 8. They did it wrong. They hired untalented brain-dead middle-management to design a new OS UI called Metro, which at best - works on phones.

    I too think the Desktop as we know it, will become a very rare thing in the homes 5+ years from now. Win8 is a bad mixture of a consumer mobile UI and a classic desktop that has been cut off at knees.

    Ultrabooks are just think notebooks, nothing more. For 1/3 the price you gain about 1.5lbs and about 3/4 of an inch. They have been selling badly since Intel has started pushing it. Typical PC notebook sales are in the $350~500 range. A low end gamer notebook can be had for about $750~900. If you really want something thin and light, a tablet with a keyboard will do.

    WART tablets are really no different than WP7/8 are "Windows". They are going to sell for $400~600 to go against Android and iPads... *yawn*. bait and switch there, when the buyer realizes he doesn't have a "windows" device at all and would need to spend $1000~1400 for a good Slate.
    (In case you missed it, Ultrabook sales are tanking) So with ZERO compatibility with actual Windows Software, why bother? Then why bother with a $1200 Win8 tablet when you can get an iPad with a better screen for $500?

    Lets see those Win7 tablet sales... not exactly flying off the shelf there, are they?

    The same people who didn't buy WP7 phones, won't be buying WP8 models either. MS is in a battle 3rd place with RIM... and that is sad.

    The bad consumer experience many/most people will have with Win8's METRO will NOT generate sales of WP8/WART devices.

    The success of WP8/WART *IS* based on the reception of Windows 8. (Which I have running all by itself on a notebook)

    How do I feel about Windows8? I finally replaced my Q6600 desktop with a new i5-3570K build with SSD, 16GB of RAM, etc this week. Installed with a $140 Win7Pro, as I have ZERO plans of spending a dime on Win8. I have 4 various WinXP Retail discs from PC's retired long ago. So getting the $40 Win8 is a none issue. I would like to have gone for the deal, but Win8 isn't worth $1 to put onto my hardware.

    So again... Windows8 *WILL NOT* change the sales of Ultrabooks.
    Reply
  • silverblue - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    Well, let's put it this way. Windows 8 is Microsoft's first REAL entrance into the consumer touchscreen market, so now, we're talking touchscreens aplenty on not just laptops. Secondly, you get tablets with extremely good screens and resolutions and you're not having to spend the earth on them anymore. Finally, Microsoft Surface is coming in two flavours, and chances are it's going to rip Intel's Ultrabook strategy out from under its own feet. Why wouldn't you at least attempt to make a viable product? Reply
  • Belard - Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - link

    Ultrabooks are bombing... What Win8 tablet sells will only eat into Ultrabook sales.

    Remember the Netbook craze from 3~4 years ago? Cute little portable notebooks that were $250~300. The iPad murdered the market.

    I was in FRYs yesterday... the Ultrabook section has lighted displays... $$$ being spent by Intel. I was the only one there, I walked by - I think I touched one. *meh*. Most of the customers and sales staff were in the $350~500 notebook isle and I saw two people at the gaming notebook area.

    Ultrabook is sad.
    Reply

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