Toshiba’s Satellite series is billed as a affordable notebook for the masses. It usually comes with reasonably good specifications, but they’re definitely not top-of-the-range by any means. The Satellite U40t-A that we have here is priced at RM2,799 which isn’t exactly a budget machine, so you can expect slightly better internals.
The Intel Core i5-4200U processor is a dual core/four thread piece of silicon. It runs at 1.6GHz but that can be bumped up to 2.6GHz with Turbo Boost 2.0. It’s a 4th generation processor which consumes a paltry 15 watts of power and I’d consider it a very good chip for those who find themselves running on battery juice very often.
Our test unit came with 4GB of DDR3-1600MHz memory which is the bare minimum I’d recommend. 8 Gigabytes would be much more comfortable, plus RAM isn’t very expensive nowadays. The hard disk is a 5400RPM, 500GB drive made by Hitachi which is quite small by today’s standards but there’s also a small SSD dedicated to speeding up Windows.
There’s no discrete graphics card on the Satellite U40t, so it relies on the CPU’s Intel HD Graphics 4400 which has a maximum clock speed of 1.1GHz. This isn’t a gaming machine, but you can play less-demanding titles like DotA 2, Starcraft II, Simcity or even Dead Space 3, all on low settings, of course. The 14-inch LED display boasts 10-point multi-touch capability and has a native resolution of 1,366 by 768 pixels. The screen brightness is pretty good and the touch sensor works very well with Windows 8.0 which came pre-installed.
As for ports, it has a total of three USB ports – two USB 3.0 on the right and an older 2.0 port on the left. There’s a HDMI port sitting next to the USB 3.0 ports, as well as an RJ-45 Ethernet connector. This is quite welcome as some Ultrabooks have gotten rid of the RJ-45 port which makes it inconvenient for travelling as some hotel rooms only offer wired Internet. As usual, there’s a SD card reader and a combo headphone/microphone jack on the left.
One thing that’s typical of Toshiba notebooks is the build quality – they’re often very well built and the chassis is very rigid. Even the display doesn’t flex much, but I suspect that’s due to the touchscreen panel that is usually thicker compared to its non-touch cousins. The hinge design prevents users from fully opening up the screen so the touchscreen isn’t as useful, compared to a convertible ultrabook.
Moving on to performance, the Satellite U40t-A posted reasonably good results in our benchmarks. It garnered 8277 points in PCMark05 thanks to its Max Turbo frequency of 2.6GHz. This CPU is great for Ultrabooks as it is able to throttle down to 1.6GHz when idling, thereby conserving battery power (more on that later), but it can also pack quite a punch when needed.
PCMark7 gave it 4246 points which is also very good; it posted good marks in all the sub-category tests which confirms that the Satellite U40t-A is a very capable machine which road warriors might want to take a closer look at.
Speaking of mobility, one of the most important benchmarks is battery life; what good is a powerful notebook that runs itself flat in two hours? Thankfully, this Ultrabook lasted much longer – 5 hours and 32 minutes, to be exact. Okay, it isn’t the 10 hour battery life that many people expect out of Ultrabooks, but still, it is a reasonably long time to be working on your notebook without AC power.
Overall, the Satellite U40t-A proves itself to be a very capable mobile companion. The battery life could have been a bit longer, but then it would weigh above 2kgs, which isn’t ideal for lugging around. As it is, I would say the Satellite U40t-A strikes a good balance between all these factors and that makes it one of the best all-round Ultrabooks we’ve seen to date.