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
Combo eSATA/USB 2.0
USB 2.0
Microphone jack
Headphone jack
Right Side Optical drive
USB 2.0
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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  • Taft12 - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - link

    Starcraft II has higher requirements than the rest of this list, but it is the most popular PC game on the market by a mile. Please include it (low settings of course)
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - link

    This is the list of *old* games I'm testing. Anything on the current list will also be tested. You can already see those results in the HP dm1z review:
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - link

    We already have low settings SC2 numbers for every low-powered notebook we test, SC2 is in our suite.
  • LeftSide - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - link

    COD4 or COD5. My Dell studio 14 with nvidia 9400m can play cod4 at 1366x768 with low settings. World at War is too much too handle.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - link

    Hmmm... I've got so many FPS titles in there already. I suppose I can try COD4, which is a slightly newer take on Quake 4 engine IIRC.
  • UNHchabo - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - link

    I have two suggestions:

    1) Killing Floor or Red Orchestra. As far as I know, you don't have any UT2.5 games on your list, and some lower-end graphics chips can still struggle on it.
    2) At least one racing game: maybe Need For Speed: Undercover, or Trackmania Nations.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - link

    I figure if Unreal Tournament 3 can run okay, anything on the UT2.5 engine should be okay as well.

    The racing genre is pretty unrepresented, true. I suppose one of the NFS games will do; I'm trying to remember what the last one I purchase is. NFS: Carbon I think. I remember playing Underground 1 or 2 and then Carbon, and felt like the series had lost me. What about NFS: World? Is that too demanding, or have they made it work well with slower systems?

    Also, I forgot that League of Legends is supposed to be in the above list as well. I suck at it, but I can at least play against the computer. :-)
  • cdeeter - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    How about one of the older Need for Speed games like Most Wanted or Underground? That way you would have a racing game in the mix.
  • HHCosmin - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - link

    this is so stupid what this companies do. i think they deserve a little suing. they give you crap autonomy because they are too lazy to care about integration. for some time i thought that amd cpus were not that great as power usage goes. well... not anymore. sony proved that you can get good runtime with even a small battery with an amd platform. toshiba, asus, dell etc care crap about optimizing the platform (and think this is the case for intel to some degree). these machines are for mobile use so runtime is more important than raw power! do you hear me dear integrators?! they also make life harder for users by feeding crapware and opting out of programs that would assure good quality for drivers and would not cost them anything.... the platform is as good as the software is so use you brainz so good, uptodate drivers we need. do not really see much use for optical drives especially in small laptops and mostly in general. why is gbit lan missing? why all this obsession for gloss? i have some hard time what kind of person makes such decisions? do they know anything about IT in general? if they do it really does not show. i believe these companies really deserve some protests. my protest is simple... right now i believe has some dumb people around that make dumb selections of hardware.
  • HHCosmin - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - link

    fully agree with Dustin. why have a expensive blueray drive in a budget machine? why not bigger battery? why not gbit lan? why not bluetooth? there are some decisions that make this look like some people at toshiba are very confused. this laptop could have been a lot better and cheaper but some toshiba dorks screw around. this really pisses me off.

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