Acer’s may not be as well known in Canada for their business notebooks as some of the other vendors in this article, but their TravelMate series of notebooks have always been good business machines at excellent prices. The TravelMate P645 is the latest model, and is their first business Ultrabook.
The P645 has a sleek looking all black minimal design, and its carbon fibre lid and magnesium/aluminium chassis makes it strong and light. However, while Acer has stress tested the chassis, it is not MIL-STD (United States Military Standard) tested like the models in this list from Lenovo, Dell and HP. Also, the Graphite Black satin finish shows fingerprints easily. It is pretty compact for a 14-inch notebook, being closer in size to many 13-inch models, but it is also one of the thickest machines here at 2.08 cm. That is close to the maximum allowed by Intel for it to be officially called an Ultrabook.
It has a nice backlit and spill-resistant keyboard. The island-style keys are nicely spaced and have good feedback. The touchpad is of a decent size and works well, and it also has physical mouse buttons below, something missing from a number of notebooks in this list. Sadly, there is no track-point mouse pointer for those who like that style of cursor control, one that many find to be more precise. There is also a fingerprint reader below the touchpad between both buttons.
The P645 has a lot of ports for an Ultrabook, which is not surprising since it is a 14-inch machine. It has three USB 3.0, VGA, Ethernet and a full-sized HDMI port. We would have preferred to see a DisplayPort instead since that is more of a business standard connection. The TravelMate also has a docking port on its bottom to connect to Acer’s ProDock II that adds four more USB 3.0 ports, and adds DVI and DisplayPort video-out connections.
The P645 is available with either an anti-glare HD (1366 x 768) screen or an FHD (1920 x 1080) screen. We recommend going with the 1080p screen since it is IPS and has better colour, contrast and viewing angles. The HD screen is a lower-quality TN panel. Unfortunately, the P645 is not available with a touchscreen for those of you like having this feature.
There are models available with vPro Intel Core- i5 & i7 CPUs (apart from the base model with the i5-4200U, which does not have vPro.), so the P645 can be easily managed remotely for Enterprise use. It has a discrete 2 GB AMD Radeon HD 8750M GPU, and it is the only Ultrabook in this list to come with discrete graphics as standard. This gives the P645 much better graphics performance than the other Ultrabooks in this list that have integrated Intel HD 4440 graphics, which is most of them.
There is access on bottom to easily upgrade the RAM and SSD but, unfortunately, there is only one accessible DIMM slot, so the P645’s maximum RAM can only be 12 GB (since 4 GB of RAM is built-in and not upgradeable). It has excellent battery life, and has been tested to run for 9.5 hours with average use, however the battery is not removable, as is the case with many Ultrabooks. Another missing feature is wireless-AC. Also, the P645 only comes with a two year warranty, when most of the other machines here have three.
As for pricing, the TravelMate P645 is great value for money. It starts at $900, and even the top-end i7 model is only $1,500, which is a lot cheaper than some comparable machines in this top 10.
Acer TravelMate P645 Specs
- 14? anti-glare LED backlit display, either HD (1366 x 768, TN) or 1920 x 1080 (IPS)
- 1.6 GHz Core i5-4200U CPU (no vPro), 1.9 GHz Core i5-4300U – 2.1 GHz Core i7-4600U CPU
- 2 GB AMD Radeon HD 8750M
- 4 GB or 8 GB of DDR3 RAM
- 120 GB – 256 GB SSD
- Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n
- 32.8 x 23.5 x 2.08 cm (12.9 x 9.3 x 0.80 in)
- 1.50 kg (3.3 lb)
- Windows 8 Pro 64 w/Windows 7 Pro downgrade (pre-installed)
- 2-year warranty
- Models from $900 – $1,500