Toshiba has been making some pretty slick ultrabooks since the format was introduced a year and a half back. They also like to dabble in some unorthodox designs, their recent ultra-widescreen Satellite U840W ultrabook being a good example. Today, though, I’ll be looking at the Toshiba Satellite U940 ultrabook which promises to bring some decently high-end hardware (by ultrabook standards) in a very reasonably priced package.
On the outside our U940 ultrabook came in a nice silver blue plastic body that was pretty thin, 1.8cm to be precise, although it does taper off from the front and the rear. There is one USB 2.0 port on the left, two USB 3.0 on the right along with a LAN port, and HDMI port, and card reader and 3.55 audio jacks as well as the power plug. On the back we have an easily accessible panel to upgrade the hard drive and RAM.
Open inside and we have a 14-inch glossy screen, a very nicely laid out backlit keyboard that works like a charm, however the clicky plastic mousepad leaves a lot to be desired. Of all the things in the Toshiba Satellite U940, the mousepad is the weakest link. Sure, the plastic body doesn’t feel as sharp or tight as other high0end ultrabooks, especially those which are made from aluminum, but it’s decently sturdy.
Inside the U940 packs a low-voltage dual-core Intel Core i5-3317U @ 1.70GHz, with 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive with 16GB mSATA SSD for cache and most importantly an Nvidia GeForce GT 630M graphics card with 2GB dedicated RAM. I’m told that in the new 2013 models hitting store shelves soon, the RAM is bumped to 6GB along with a 750GB HDD and 32GB SSD for cache.
Just on paper, the Toshiba U940 represents one of the best value ultrabooks in the market right now. Nothing comes close to giving you these specs in this form factor plus a backlit keyboard and a dedicated graphics card.
However, let’s see if the Toshiba Satellite U940 holds up against our benchmarks.
For comparison we have the Samsung Series 5 ultrabook with the AMD A6-4455M dual-core CPU @ 2.1GHz and HD 7500G graphics card, while the ASUS Vivobook has an Intel Core i3-3217U CPU @ 1.8GHz and integrated Intel HD 4000 GPU. All ultrabooks cost roughly the same.
Gaming benchmarks are done at 1366×768 with Low preset for Battlefield 3 and Low settings for Guild Wars 2.
As you can see, the Toshiba Satellite U940 comes off as a decent all rounder thanks to the Core i5 processor and SSD cached hard drive. When it comes to games, the GT 630M does a very decent job on the perfectly mated 1366 x 768 resolution. For most current PC games that are still ported from consoles, the GT 630M should be able to handle medium settings with ease.
Heat & Noise
During normal operations there’s a slight whirring sound from the U940’s fans, going to full speed when playing games. The sound isn’t annoying, but if you can imagine a hair dryer being blown into a cushion, you’ll get the idea. It does get borderline uncomfortable to play games on the lap, but the top surface and palmrest area remains fairly cool.
There’s very little to fault with the Toshiba Satellite U940, because for its price, it does a lot of things right. If you’re in the market for a semi-gaming ultrabook, the Toshiba Satellite U940 should be at the top of your list.