At CES, Toshiba showed us its forthcoming 14” Ultrabook, a system that they said would debut alongside Ivy Bridge in Q3. At the time, it was overshadowed by their new tablets (which hit the market as the Excite series), but true to their word, Toshiba dropped off their new 14” Satellite U845 Ultrabook in our labs and gave us a chance to take a look at it. It’s one of the new “budget” Ultrabooks, which hit the low end of Intel’s Ultrabook spec for around $800, with designs that are still very thin and light but typically not as premium as class headliners like the Samsung Series 9 and ASUS Zenbook Prime. It’s a breed that includes the Samsung Series 5 Ultra, HP’s new Envy 4t and 6t Ultrabooks, the Sony VAIO T13, and Lenovo’s U310/410.

Toshiba Satellite U845-S406 Specifications
Processor Intel Core i5-3317U
(2x1.7GHz + HTT, Turbo to 2.6GHz, 22nm, 3MB L3, 17W)
Chipset Intel HM77
Memory 6GB (4GB + 2GB) DDR3-1600 (Maximum 8GB)
Graphics Intel HD 4000 Graphics
(16 EUs, up to 1.05GHz)
Display 14.0" LED Glossy 16:9 768p
LG Display LGD033F
Hard Drive(s) 500GB 5400RPM HDD (Hitachi HTS54505)
32GB mSATA caching drive (Intel Smart Response Technology)
Optical Drive -
Networking Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2230 2.4GHz 802.11b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0+HS
Atheros AR8152 10/100 Ethernet
Audio Realtek ALC269 HD audio
Stereo speakers
Headphone/mic combo jack
Battery 6-Cell, 54Wh
Front Side -
Right Side SD/MMC card reader
2 x USB 2.0
Ethernet 10/100
Left Side Kensington Lock
Power/AC Adaptor
HDMI
USB 3.0
Line-in/microphone jack
3.5mm headphone jack
Back Side -
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit SP1
Dimensions 13.4" x 9.1" x 0.79"
340.4mm x 231.1mm x 20.1mm
Weight 3.90 lbs
1.77 kg
Extras VGA webcam
Warranty 1-year limited international
Pricing $879 MSRP, Online starting at $600

The U845 follows the usual pattern here, with Ivy Bridge ULV processors, a mechanical hard drive paired with an SSD cache, Intel’s onboard graphics, a ho-hum 14” 1366x768 display, and a 3.9lb/0.8” thick form factor. With an MSRP starting price of $749 (our evaluation unit goes for $879), it’s a pretty good representative of the budget Ultrabook market, essentially matching the price and specsheets of the competing Series 5 Ultra and Envy 4t. Of course, that's assuming you have to pay MSRP, and right now the U845 is going for much less than $879: $600 (plus tax) for the i5-3317U equipped version. How's that for a discount?

You get a so-so collection of ports, with HDMI, a single USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, and a 10/100 Ethernet jack. At nearly $900 the lack of Gigabit LAN is rather sad; I’d have liked to see Toshiba go with GigE and a second USB3 port. I suppose that it’s not all that common for Ultrabooks to have Ethernet connections anymore, so maybe we should just be thankful for what we were given. As noted above, however, $600 is far more pallatable for such hardware and we're willing to forgive the omissions.

There are three SKUs for the U845, and all of them look pretty similar. The base model U845-S402 comes with an SNB i3-2377M, 4GB memory, and 16GB SSD cache in addition to the 500GB spindle, with an MSRP of $749. Office Depot lists it at $449 with a current $300 discount, however that doesn't show up as being available for purchase right now; B&H has it going for $625. The lack of Turbo on the i3 line plus the use a a previous generation SNB CPU (and HD 3000 graphics) makes the 2377M’s 1.5GHz clock speed look painfully low, so I’d recommend avoiding it. The mid-level U845-S404 model adds $100 to the MSRP and bumps it to the i5-3317M (1.7GHz, with a max Turbo of 2.6GHz), but it's currently the most expensive of the three models at $700 online, so there's no reason to even look at it. Our top shelf U845-S406 model has the same CPU but with a 32GB SSD cache and 6GB RAM, with online pricing starting at $600 at Office Depot, or $680 at B&H.

Before we even get to the performance, it's worth a short tangent to note the drastic price cuts seen on Toshiba's entire U845 line—and such cuts aren't limited to Toshiba Ultrabooks. A quick search on Newegg turns up nine Core i5 Ivy Bridge Ultrabooks priced under $800, with the cheapest Lenovo U310 going for $600. Intel had big plans for Ultrabooks when they first hit the scene last year, but they're not selling all that well with pricing closer to $1000. It's not clear if Intel is helping to reduce the pricing by dropping CPU costs or with other incentives, or if the manufacturers are just trying to move inventory, but $600 is a far more realistic starting point. The U845 we have now hits that same mark, so let's see how it performs along with a subjective evaluation.

Toshiba Satellite U845: Design
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  • Bull Dog - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    While I understand where some of the other commenters are coming from with regards to seeing a 1366x768 display and not bothering to read further, I am disappointed by the apparent lack of appreciation for Vivek's hard work in actually reviewing the product.

    I too, abhor low-rez, low-quality panels as much as the next guy. These low quality LCD screens need to die, three years ago. And this notebook in particular is even worse than "normal'.

    That all being said, I still enjoy reading through the review in it's entirety. My thanks to all the hard work that the Anandtech crew does to make these reviews happen.
    Reply
  • KaarlisK - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    Basically, the idea is to replace the mSATA SSD with a 128/256gb SSD, disable SRT, and use it as a laptop with two drives. Is this possible (does the bios/Intel RST driver allow this option?)? Reply
  • nbgambler - Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - link

    I second this... This, and a reasonably priced mSATA drive, would go a long way to un-mass market a lot of these laptops! Reply
  • StrangerGuy - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    We need to slap designers repeatedly in the face until they get the message of:

    NOBODY WANTS GLOSSY SURFACES OTHER THAN THE SCREEN...GET IT?
    Reply
  • hybrid2d4x4 - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    That should say "NOBODY WANTS GLOSSY SURFACES." (emphasis on the period) Reply
  • Belard - Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - link

    Only the power light can be glossy. Reply
  • Calista - Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - link

    You guys seem to have such short memory, it was only a few years ago that glossy plastic was all the rage while dull matte plastics was considered low-end. And yes, I'm sure you bought those products as well, support the very same design you now moan at. Reply
  • Hrel - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    I agree with others. The whole idea of the "ultrabook" brand is to guarantee consumes a higher level of quality and refinement than most are used to; ie those cheap 300-500 dollar notebooks. Intel places requirements on ultrabooks, to use that brand, I cannot fathom why one of those requirements isn't AT LEAST a 1600x900 screen with a brightness of AT LEAST 300cd/2 and a contrast of at least 300:1, preferably 500:1.

    I don't really want to pay for an SSD. But use a Seagate Hybride 500GB or 750GB drive. They'll probably have a hybrid 1TB 2.5" drive out soon too. I have the 500GB one in my gaming laptop right now. Let me tell you, the difference between loading levels on my desktop (RAID 0) and on my laptop is night and day. I don't even want to play Mass Effect on my desktop anymore because the load times are literally 10 times longer. At the same time I couldn't possibly get by with anything below 500GB; even that is kind of a pain to have to manage. So having only an SSD in anything is out of the question, because 512GB SSD's are just too expensive.
    Reply
  • nbgambler - Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - link

    By no means blazing fast write speeds, but for the gamers among us, a sub $300 512GB SSD ($0.58 per GB) solves most storage problems I can think of!

    http://www.amazon.com/OCZ-Technology-2-5-Inch-Max-...
    Reply
  • Belard - Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - link

    OUCH!! $300.... we are getting there. But honestly, a hybrid setup still works pretty good. $150 80~160GB SSD + $100 1 or 2 TB HD.

    Yeah, the point of the "ultrabook" is a level of quality and specs... which this thing is not.

    There is a reason Apple is selling a lot of $1000~2500 notebooks... as much as I hate Apple, their hardware is consistent.

    Toshiba Satellite U845
    Zenbook UX31E.
    ACER M3-581TG... Notice something about these? The NAMES!
    What the hell is a M3-581TG or UX31 or U845? "OMG!! I got the M3-581TG, I've been dreaming about this notebook for weeks" - doesn't happen. Who really knows those names?

    Go to Apple: MacBook Air (11 or 13") , MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac, etc.

    How about ThinkPad? They at least keep the model names for years. T400~T430...
    Reply

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