August 18, 2012, 7:35 AM — The Toshiba Satellite U845-S406 is a reasonably priced ultraportable laptop that still manages to pack quite a punch.
It comes equipped with an Intel Ivy Bridge dual-core processor (the Core i5-3317U) that has a stock speed of 1.7GHz, but can rev up to 2.6GHz when using Intel's maximum Turbo Frequency. Those specs won't impress power PC enthusiasts, but the Core i5-3317U can handle most stressful tasks with ease.
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The S406 earned a mark of 127 on our demanding WorldBench 7 Benchmark Suite, which means that it scored about 27 percent higher than our base system--a desktop PC with a Core i5-2500K chip and a discrete graphics card. The system supports Intel's Smart Response technology. It ships with a small, 16GB solid-state drive for hard drive caching and a 500GB, 5400-rpm hard-disk drive for storage. The caching SSD probably boosted the system's WorldBench 7 score, and it also delivered average boot times of 17.3 seconds from a completely powered-off state to a fully functioning desktop.
Like many other Ultrabooks, the S406 relies on Intel's integrated HD Graphics 4000 chip set, which supplies enough power to handle some less strenuous games, but not enough to avoid choking on our high-end tests. We ran two graphics-intensive games--Dirt 3 and Crysis 2--at a maximum resolution of 1366 by 768 pixels and high settings, and the S406 managed a measly 19 frames per second on Dirt 3 and 12.1 fps on Crysis 2. At a resolution of 800 by 600 pixels and low settings, it managed a frame rate of 42.4 fps on Dirt 3 and 26.9 fps on Crysis 2, bordering on playable.
In addition to its small SSD, which it uses as the Windows 7 cache drive, the S406 carries a 500GB 5400-rpm hard-disk drive for data and application storage. Using a small caching SSD alongside a slower hard drive reduces cost, but don't expect performance to be match that of a single, large SSD.
The S406 packs 6GB of DDR3 1600MHz memory and various connectors: one USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, an SD Card/Memory Stick reader, an HDMI-out port, ethernet, and the typical headphone/microphone-out ports. It also has a front-facing camera and microphone for web-chatting. To save space, however, Toshiba omitted an optical drive; so unless you invest in an external drive, this won't be your go-to machine for disc-based movie watching.