Performance and Benchmarks
The Toshiba Satellite M640/M645 offers solid overall performance thanks to the combination of its Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, and Nvidia graphics. The Intel Core i5 450Mprocessor is one of the nicer Core i5 processors currently on the market and provides a nice little boost over other 14-inch laptops equipped with slower Core i3 and i5 processors. Honestly, the Toshiba Satellite M645 is one of the best performing 14-inch notebooks we’ve reviewed.
Unfortunately, the slow Toshiba hard drive doesn’t help in terms of the synthetic benchmark tests. In test after test the single weakest link in terms of performance was the Toshiba hard drive. Does it make this notebook painfully slow? No. Does it prevent this notebook from crushing the competition? If you want the best possible performance from this laptop I’d recommend replacing the hard drive with a faster model or a SSD if you want extreme performance.
The Nvidia GeForce 330M graphics are similar to the discrete graphics found in the popular Alienware M11x, so the Satellite M645 is a perfectly capable gaming machine. Well, with a few minor annoyances. First, the slow hard drive that I previously mentioned adds several lengthy delays during level and map load times in games. Second, in-game frame rates were sometimes a little slower when playing games like Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age: Origins … but the difference was only a few frames per second. Since the Toshiba has a faster CPU, I can only assume that the marginally worse gaming performance is due to the slow drive and the lack of gaming optimization found in Alienware notebooks.
Regardless, the Satellite M645 can still handle most modern games at the native 1366×768 screen resolution and thanks to Nvidia Optimus technology this notebook automatically switches between the Intel integrated graphics (for extended battery life) and the Nvidia dedicated graphics (for better video and gaming performance). You don’t have to worry about pressing any extra buttons to get the best out of this laptop.
Wprime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):
PCMark05 measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):
PCMark Vantage measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):
3DMark06 measures overall graphics performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):
3DMark Vantage measures overall graphics performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):
Heat and Noise
The Toshiba M645 does a very good job producing low heat and noise. The self-adjusting fan speeds usually stay well below what you can hear in a quiet room, and the heat pours out of the vent on the right hand side. The location of the vent might bother people who use right-handed external mice, because the laptop pushes heat out where your hand is likely located. The only other obvious hot spot on this notebook is on the bottom right next to the heat vent. In general, the M645 stays very “lap friendly” as long as you avoid the area around the heat vent.
In the “balanced” power mode with 75% screen brightness, the Satellite M645 lasted for four hours and nine minutes of non-stop use while surfing the Internet and using a word processor. This is pretty good for a notebook with a stock 6-cell battery, but we’re seeing more and more notebooks with this level of performance deliver five hours or more continuous run time, so we’d have to call this “average.” That said, the battery can last even longer if you lower the screen brightness and occasionally let the system go to sleep. Of course, if you’re running applications that stress the processor, hard drive, or Nvidia graphics then you can expect the battery life to drop even lower.
The Toshiba Satellite M645 is an impressive 14-inch notebook with a nearly perfect balance of everything you want in a back-to-school laptop. Starting configurations priced at just $720 make this notebook a very good value. This higher-end configuration, priced at $1,050, is a little more expensive than we prefer (we’d like to see it for less than $1,000). Still, Toshiba offers a lot of notebook for a fair price in this package.
The only two areas where the Satellite M645 failed to meet or exceed our expectations were screen lid protection and hard drive performance. Since this laptop was clearly designed with students in mind, we want to see a durable lid (students aren’t always careful with laptops). The slow hard drive probably won’t be an issue for the overwhelming majority of users, but if you want to get the best possible performance from this laptop it really needs a faster drive.
Bottom line, despite a few minor issues, the Toshiba Satellite M645 makes a great choice for students who are looking for a 14-inch laptop and want the “best bang for their buck.”
- Attractive design
- Excellent performance
- Great keyboard
- Weak screen protection
- A little expensive as configured