Introducing the Toshiba Satellite L645D-S4106

While the drought of Sandy Bridge notebook hardware is thankfully approaching its sweet, merciful end, there are still a healthy amount of AMD-based notebooks on the market at good prices awaiting happy homes. Toshiba was kind enough to send us their L645D, a 14" notebook sporting a mobile Phenom II dual-core processor running at a speedy 3GHz, Radeon HD 4250 integrated graphics, and a Blu-ray drive: all yours for a potentially exciting value proposition of just $619. Is it worth it?

The Toshiba L645D would seem bog standard for a budget AMD notebook if not for two things: the Phenom II N660 powering it is the fastest "non-extreme" dual-core mobile processor AMD offers, and Toshiba packs it into a 14" chassis instead of the 15.6" ones we've become accustomed to. Top that off with a Blu-ray drive and you have the makings of a strong multimedia contender at a reasonable price. So let's see how Toshiba specs it.

Toshiba L645D-S4106 Specifications
Processor AMD Phenom II N660
(2x3GHz, 45nm, 2MB L2, 35W)
Chipset AMD RS880M Northbridge + AMD SB800 Southbridge
Memory 2x2GB DDR3-1066 (Max 2x4GB)
Graphics ATI Radeon HD 4250 IGP
(40 stream processors, 500MHZ core clock)
Display 14" LED Glossy 16:9 1366x768
(AU Optronics B140XW01 V6 Panel)
Hard Drive(s) Toshiba 640GB 5400RPM SATA 3Gbps Hard Disk
Optical Drive BD-ROM/DVD+-RW Combo Drive w/ Labelflash
Networking Atheros AR8152 10/100 Ethernet
Realtek RTL8188CE 802.11b/g/n
Audio Conexant Cx20585 HD Audio
Stereo speakers
Headphone and microphone jacks
Battery 6-Cell, 10.8V, 48Wh battery
Front Side Indicator lights
SD/MS/MMC reader
Left Side Kensington lock
Exhaust vent
Ethernet jack
HDMI
Combo eSATA/USB 2.0
USB 2.0
Microphone jack
Headphone jack
Right Side Optical drive
USB 2.0
VGA
AC adaptor jack
Back Side -
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Dimensions 13.3" x 9.13" x 1.34"-1.50" (WxDxH)
Weight 4.98 lbs
Extras Webcam
Flash reader (MMC, SD/Mini SD, MS/Duo/Pro/Pro Duo)
Blu-ray drive
Warranty 1-year limited warranty
Pricing MSRP at $699
Available online at $619

Right off the bat, there's the dual-core AMD Phenom II N660 processor running at 3GHz. AMD now has an ungainly three different mainstream mobile processor lines with the Athlon, Turion, and Phenoms basically in order of "good, better, best" and sporting borderline indecipherable model numbers, so hats off to them for following Intel's footsteps into the realm of being utterly mystifying to the end consumer. The mobile Phenom IIs are largely equivalent to the desktop Athlon II chips, which means the N660 doesn't have any L3 cache. That leaves it specced with 1MB of L2 cache per core and enjoying a 1.8GHz HyperTransport clock. In fact the only differentiator between Phenom II and Turion II mobile processors is clock speed; the Turion IIs stop at 2.6GHz, while 2.6GHz is the lowest-clocked Phenom II (but at a 25-watt TDP). The N660's 3GHz results in a 35-watt TDP.

Supporting the N660 is 4GB of DDR3-1066 and the aging Mobility Radeon HD 4250. As I've harped before, the 40-shader 780G was a fine IGP when it landed, but time has been unkind to this particular core design, and the minimal update to DirectX 10.1 just hasn't been enough. The 4250's 40 shaders run at 500MHz, down from the 700MHz the 4250 runs at on the desktop. It's still more desirable than Arrandale's Intel HD graphics due to generally superior driver quality and compatibility along with similar overall performance, but as you'll see, Sandy Bridge's Intel HD 3000 graphics mop the floor with it. Thankfully the 4250 is not long for this world; AMD's ultraportable platform now favors the E-350 with its far more capable Radeon HD 6310 IGP, and Llano is drawing ever closer.

Rounding out the L645D is the bare minimum of connectivity and an anemic 640GB 5400RPM hard disk. Toshiba's mobile hard disks have typically been poor performers, but I imagine it keeps costs down and at least the capacity is generous. The highlight, however, is the inclusion of a combination Blu-ray reader/DVD writer. With an asking price of $699 MSRP and online price of $619, this notebook comes within striking distance of the recently reviewed Sony EE34.

Lose the Gloss, Toshiba
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  • ArKritz - Wednesday, March 9, 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 9, 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 9, 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 9, 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 9, 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 9, 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 9, 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 9, 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 9, 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 9, 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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