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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  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - link

    Glossy plastic looks good in photos and that's about all it's good for; using glossy plastic for the keyboard is insane. Reply
  • mmatis - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - link

    I no longer touch any Toshiba products. Your mileage may vary. Reply
  • Vincent - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - link

    I see 10/100 ethernet offered on a surprising number of notebooks. Why cripple a machine like this? I wish reviewers would criticize manufacturers for not offering gigabit ethernet. Reply
  • alent1234 - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - link

    almost everyone uses wifi these days, and this is a way to cut some costs on a low margin product. most people won't care about no gigabit since no one has gigabit broadband and the whole home media server thing is a tiny niche Reply
  • anactoraaron - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - link

    yeah but let's face it, we're talking about a difference of about a dollar to Toshiba for the gigabit upgrade. And to say whole home media server or even media sharing is a niche in regards to a laptop with a blu-ray player seems a bit off base. Reply
  • piroroadkill - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    No. If you want to use the laptops in a small business situation, imaging over gigabit is much, much faster.

    Believe me, consumer laptops DO get used in small business/education environments.

    Also, gigabit ethernet would cost almost nothing to add over 10/100. There's simply no reason not to have it.
    Reply
  • piesquared - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - link

    I recently bought an Acer 5552G with one an N660, and it's a terrific notebook. It has a 6470M but I never bought it for the gaming, even though it has no problems for what I use it for. Highly recommend the processors, and i'd wouldn't touch one of those flakey sand bridge things, or whatever they're called. It's a big risk buying one of those unstable and flawed parts. Reply
  • Kibbles - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - link

    I'm curious as to why glossy plastic is so adamantly deemed as bad, as if it's fact. I myself prefer the ultrafine matte that's almost like a paper texture, but that's a personal preference. I'm sure there's lots of people out there that like glossy plastics. I know my mom likes it. Could it be that the demographics that these low end laptops target predominantly prefer glossy plastics? Has any manufacturer ever given any statistical feedback on this? Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - link

    The amount of crap loaded on Toshiba laptops disguised as useful software makes me avoid them. Hey, we have a separate widget for managing absolutely everything, and each one runs in a separate process that takes up additional RAM, and each one is a separate executable that takes up disk space too! Isn't that NEAT?

    Toshiba, a bit of advice: Look at apps like Dell ControlPoint, or even a few of Lenovo's (not as cohesive, but still better thought-out), and realize what a great service you could do your users by bundling nearly a dozen system utilities into a single, unified app. That way, the average user doesn't have to send a system to me to figure out what is useful, what is not, and why all of the stock software is sucking half a gig of RAM (on top of what the OS takes) out of the box, and thrashing the disk. Actually, you're also less likely to have a user say "I'll never buy a Toshiba again, they're ungodly slow."
    Reply
  • KiwiTT - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - link

    After nearly 8 years since that model was released, I would have thought we would have had double or even triple the resolution in a 14" form-factor.

    And it is not just Toshiba, it is nearly all the manufacturers. And if you want comparable resolution to the T41, you have to pay almost double. While you may say that the new notebooks have better brighter Screens, CPUs, Graphic Cards, Battery life, etc., it seems as if screen resolution has been stuck in neutral. This is the main portal to all that is available in the notebook, so it should be the best it can be.

    I think major review sites like this one and others should actually start bemoaning this lack of increase in resolution for more mainstream notebooks. Even the new ipad2 was rumored initially to have a better resolution, but no, this was false again.
    Reply

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