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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  • Calista - Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - link

    I sometimes wonder what ever happened to the Thinkpad T50.
    We had the T20, T30, T40 and the T60. But no T50..?

    I must say the current naming convention make sense although, TXY0 where x equals screen size and Y equals generation. It doesn't tell the whole story, but it quickly gives an idea of generation and performance.
    Reply
  • Netscorer - Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - link

    I looked at this portable briefly two weeks ago when it first started to appear at $600 price point. Ultimately, I chose Visio Thin and Light CT14-A0 14-Inch Ultrabook which is now available at the same price and is a definite upgrade to the Toshiba Satellite.
    Gorgeous IPS 1600x900 screen, 128Gb SSD Drive (ironically from Toshiba) and sleek unibody aluminium design, weighting 1/2lb less then Toshiba. Visio is not known to release laptops in the past but if they will be judged by this first attempt, they have great future. Design is a monkey copy of Samsung Ultrabook series, just more stylish. It looses few ports comparing to other portables but they are not essential. Ethernet, for example is not the port used often in ultrabooks whose primary goal is to go unhinged by any cords. With Dual Band 811.n Wi-Fi onboard I don't miss it at all. And if you have to have it, buy a cheapo USB to Ethernet adapter and you are in business. SD Card reader may be more important to me but I already have 3 or 4 USB-based mega readers, so if I need to toss one in a bag with me, I am fine with that too.
    The Core i3 ULV CPU may be the only thing that limits this Visio. Comparing to i5 in Toshiba it runs at the same (actually slightly higher) frequency but can not handle high-CPU loads, where i5 can boost it's performance significantly in these cases. Oh, and I am disappointed in battery life. It just does not last much longer then 4.5 hours for me before it needs to be recharged. I am still trying to understand if this is because of the hungry screen or design sloppiness by Visio or some bad drivers running in the background, but it is not acceptable.
    Reply
  • bji - Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - link

    Pathetic. Reply
  • elitistlinuxuser - Saturday, October 13, 2012 - link

    Why note just get an acer Aspire v5-171 if you want an ultrabook that is affordable. Even if it isn't technically ultrabook Reply
  • Thegonagle - Sunday, October 14, 2012 - link

    Lost me at 768. (As has every single other notebook/laptop that only has 768 lines.) Reply
  • marvdmartian - Monday, October 15, 2012 - link

    Something is making the Office Depot link turn into gibberish, for their product search. Direct link (without the "detonator dynamite" garbage:
    http://www.officedepot.com/a/products/337660/Toshi...
    Reply
  • raok7 - Thursday, September 05, 2013 - link

    Thanks for the updated information guys, really impressive...
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    Reply

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