Toshiba Satellite U940 Review (U945 in the USA)

Updated on 31 December 2012 by

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Performance Tests

All performance test done under ‘balanced’ battery power mode unless stated. SB= Sandy Bridge 2nd generation Intel Core CPU with HD 3000 graphics.

3DMark 06

Toshiba Satellite U940 = 2337

Toshiba Satellite U940 (mains power, performance profile) = 4335

Note: GPU appears to be heavily de-tuned under battery mode. This maybe adjustable in the Intel graphics control panel.

Previous results:

  • Lenovo Thinkpad Twist (mains power – balanced performance mode @ 1280×768 resolution) = 4023
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (1280×800) = 5224
  • Samsung Series 9 2012 15” (Core i5 3317U, balanced battery mode) = 5112
  • Lenovo U300S (Core i7 SB 1.7Ghz) high performance battery power: 3520, mains power: 3611
  • Samsung Series 5 (Core i5 SB 1.6Ghz) Battery power – high performance mode: 3416

PCMark7

Toshiba Satellite U940 = 3085

Toshiba Satellite U940 (mains power, performance power profile) =

Previous Results

 

cinebench 11.5 cpu gpu battery balanced performance

Cinebench 11.5 CPU Test (2 Core)

Toshiba Satellite U940 – 1.79

Previous results

Cinebench 11.5 OpenGL

Toshiba Satellite U940 – 12.93 fps

Previous results

  • Lenovo Thinkpad Twist – 10.73
  • Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon (battery balanced) = 13.73
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (mains, max performance) = 15.03
  • Samsung Series 9 2012 15” (Core i5 3317U, balanced mains mode) = 15.63
  • Lenovo U300s (Core i7 SB 1.7Ghz) high performance mode : 8.68

 

Toshiba Satellite U940 Performance Summary

The Toshiba Satellite U940 is a good all-round performer and well-balanced. Graphics performance is even beating some recent Core i5 Ultrabooks when under performance/mains mode and is walking all over the previous generation Ultrabooks n 3D performance. As for CPU performance there’s a noticeable performance handicap due to the missing Turbo Boost but it beats the Samsung Series 9 that we tested which was locked to 1.7Ghz under battery power. The Intel Smart Response Technology seems to be doing a good job of boosting hard drive speeds under many conditions.

Battery Life

Toshiba U940 U945The Satellite U940 is an efficient device, especially when compared to some laptops, but given that it only has a 45Wh battery it can’t compete with the likes of the HP Folio 13 or other 60+Wh Ultrabooks. On the positive side you’ve got the removable battery and due to the lack of Turbo Boost, the CPU is capped lower than others in its power usage.

We had some problems using our usual technique of measuring battery usage via ACPI readings as the battery only seems to report capacity very occasionally.  As a result of that we can’t bring you our usual detailed battery report.

Our best battery life indication came after 30 minutes of typing this review where an average of 5.5hours of total battery life was indicated. (WiFi-On)

We also tested a video playback loop. A fullHD 30Mbps video was played back with 30% screen brightness, balanced power mode and WiFi on for 3hrs and 9 minutes on 85% of battery life. That equates to a 3.6hr video playback time with a full battery. Wi-Fi off would increase that to over 4hrs.

In summary the U940 is quite efficient compared to laptops, has average efficiency in the Ultrabook segment but because of the small battery size results in lower-than-average battery life for the Ultrabook segment.

Toshiba U940 U945 (1)

Heat and Noise

The U940 can be made silent under battery power by using Toshiba’s eco mode. It’s able to maintain silence for typing input while online but the fan kicks in as soon as any heavy web activity is done. Under balanced mode the fan tends to be running all the time. The system doesn’t get overly warm even under our 3DMark test conditions but there’s some detectable warming under the right palm where the hard drive bay is. This might get uncomfortable in places where ambient temperature is more than normal. The fan noise consists of mainly air movement and not mechanical noise.

Toshiba Applications

system settings

Toshiba provide backup and imaging applications, a registration application and a central control panel for all special features.

  • Eco utility allows fine-grain control of lower-power options
  • SRS sound utility allows virtual surround and equalization to be set on the sound module
  • A system settings menu allows control of…
  • USB sleep and charge, boot-up screen, boot priority, function key function swap, wake on keyboard, disable USB3.0 controller for USB2.0 and lower-power, SATA mode (power or battery life), wake-on-LAN, built-in-LAN disable. (Many of these are the same options as found in the BIOS)

Toshiba Places is a Windows 8 up that failed on startup in our tests.

Toshiba Media Player – A DLNA and SkyDrive capable media player.

Mcafee, Skitch, Fresh Paint, WildTangent, Nero 12, Amazon kindle and Evernote are pre-installed as Windows 8 apps.

Issues and notes

Battery life estimates are averaged over a long period (5 minutes of more in our tests)

Video cam quality not tested

Toshiba Warranty is 2-years with pick-up and return in German and Austria

We experienced 2 lock-ups when using the PCMark7 test suite

 

Target Customer

The Toshiba Satellite U940 (and U945 in the USA) is clearly targeted toward the low-cost Ultrabook segment and crosses over into the mainstream laptop segment although the hybrid hard drive, access panel, relatively slim and light design (compared to mainstream 14” laptops)  and backlit keyboard are features that you rarely find together in the mainstream laptop market. CPU power however, is quite a bit lower than found on recent mainstream laptops but you’re getting premium silicon that can run quite efficiently. Customers looking for a budget lightweight and mobile laptop should definitely take a look at the Toshiba Satellite U940. Build quality appears strong enough for average usage and the back-lit keyboard is an advantage for customers wanting laptop capability while traveling on trains and planes. The strong Wi-Fi, great touchpad and upgrade features add to the overall package for budget-conscious customers.

Summary

When we tested the Acer S3 with hybrid hard drive a year ago we called it an honest Ultrabook. The Toshiba Satellite U940 is also honest, but better and, because it doesn’t look ‘flashy’ it surprised us. The touchpad beats many we’ve tested before, there are expansion options, a good set of ports and the hybrid hard drive is well implemented. Efficiency is OK too which means you get relatively good battery life times for that battery size. Core i3 might sound a little cheap but in this generation of Core it’s a really good option and more than good enough for all the needs of an average PC user. The screen is the only thing that should have been better and unfortunately it could annoy anyone that’s been used to higher pixel density, better viewing angles and truer colors.

Overall we can recommend the Toshiba Satellite U940 as a flexible and very well balanced budget Ultrabook.

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1 Comments For This Post

  1. Mun says:

    Hi, thank you so much for doing this review! Your timing is perfect! I really appreciate the details you provide. I live in Canada and there was a sale on this Toshiba ultrabook model but with an i5 chip, 8G DDR3 and 640GB HDD/32GB SSD for CAD$599 ($200 off the listed $799 price). It sounded like a good deal so I bought it. I hope the battery (they kept it at 45Wh) will be ok with the slightly more powerful setup. The screen is a concern but like you suggested, I can always use an external monitor.

    Thanks again for the detailed review and your website in general. I am not tech savvy so all these netbooks, ultrabooks alternatives to a labtop become very confusing when I started shopping. Your brief and succint articles help clarify the value proposition of an ultrabook. THANK YOU!

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    […] always nice to review an Ultrabook that’s well-balanced and good value for money. The Toshiba U940 was one. The Samsung Series 5 (Sandy Bridge) was another. Does the Samsung Series 5 with touch, […]

  3. Samsung Series 5 Ultra Touch SSD Ultrabook Review | DailyGadgets says:

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