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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  • kmmatney - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - link

    Agreed. I have 4-year old 1930 x 1200 Dell, and had a look at a possible replacement. I couldn't find anything at Dell with more than 1080 pixels, and even that was hard to find and cost a lot. I have to give Apple credit for still using 1920 x 1200 resolution in their laptops. 1366 x 766 is total crap - especially with the extra vertical bloat in Windows 7.
  • KiwiTT - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - link

    and on the 768 height, once you add the toolbars etc. You may only have half the screen left.

    Don't manufacturers do real user usability testing? If they did, they'd soon come to light that 768 is abysmally small.
  • bhima - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - link

    Your colorful language throughout the article made it a blast to read. Kudos Dustin!
  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    Thanks, much appreciated. :)
  • helboy - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    "It seems like manufacturers almost deliberately cripple AMD-based notebooks."

    Had been my doubt also for the past one year or so!! Almost all the notebooks that carry the "not enough battery life" label after reviews,the battery provided will be of inferior capacity.AND the reviewers mostly ignore this fact when highlighting poor backup.I wonder whether winning the anti-trust case is helping AMD much in the marketing war.
  • cdeeter - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    +1 Yeah what's the deal with giving AMD systems smaller batteries? They are using the same chassis so use the same battery!
  • silverblue - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    I can just imagine Intel realising they can't use one method to push AMD out of the market and then deciding to use another, albeit more subtle method. :P After all, battery life is king for a lot of people, so you need to prove those claims of long running times...

    And anyway, on an unrelated note, isn't it about time AMD got a stupid jingle for people to associate their products with? Everyone knows the Intel jingle.
  • jackylman - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    I picked up my new baby at a liquidation sale for the same price. It has the same CPU/GPU combo, but a 15.6" screen, webcam, gigabit LAN. On the downside, the hard disk is smaller (500GB) and no Blu-ray, but I'd rather have a bigger screen and a webcam.
  • fumigator - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    Despite all the criticism, I like this laptop. Thanks for the great review.
    Only thing I would like to say is that I miss somehow the lack of nvidia chipsets on laptops.

    I've owned an MSI VR630 that came with a geforce 9100 IGP and Turion X2 RM70 and I miss it all day. It was simply superb.

    Later on the ATI 3200s and 4200s IGP started to pop up like maries and somewhat the 9100 started to look old. But even those MSI that came with Nforce 8200 and intel Core solutions were far better than any HD4500 based notebook. Lets say, MSI CR400, CR500, CR600 all came with Nforce 8200 and Intel something (Celeron dual core / Pentium dual core / Core 2 Duo etc, depending on submodel) Now they are all discontinued and nobody did serious reviews on them.

    Moreover, i own an AM2+ motherboard with the Nforce chipset 8200 IGP as well, and I can't complain.
  • swaaye - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    My mom wanted a notebook with a Bluray drive because she travels a lot for work and lives in a hotel for days at a time. So it's her mobile media center. I found a $600 Sony with a 2.0 GHz Core 2, 4GB and GMA 4500 something like 18 months ago.

    This Toshiba seems like the latest edition of that kind of thing. For what these are used for the performance might not even be tangibly different.

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