Built for business users on the go, Acer's TravelMate P645 packs big power in a thin and light design. This carbon-fiber notebook ($1,299 as reviewed, $949 starting) touts a fast Core i7 processor, discrete AMD Radeon graphics and a host of security features built to protect your laptop inside and out. Read on to find out how this mobile powerhouse stacks up to the competition.
The Acer TravelMate P645 stays true to its namesake, as we immediately noticed how thin and light the new notebook is. At 0.8 inches thin, the P645 is just as slim as the Lenovo Thinkpad T440s (13.03 x 8.89 x 0.8 inches), Toshiba Tecra Z40 (13.3 x 9.3 x 0.8 inches) and Dell Latitude 7440 (12.2 x 8.3 x .79 inches). The 3.5-pound TravelMate outweighs the 3.24-pound Tecra Z40, but is lighter than the 3.8-pound Thinkpad T440s and 3.9-pound Latitude 7440.
Two gray hinges hold the laptop's smooth, carbon-fiber lid together, with a matte finish across the interior and exterior. It's Acer's most durable notebook yet, but the TravelMate P645 is not MIL-SPEC certified, like the Dell Latitude and Lenovo ThinkPad are.
While the P645's has a fairly sleek and minimalist chassis, it's not as attractive as the Dell Latitude 7440. We also noticed a few fingerprints on the lid after hours of use.
The TravelMate's touchpad has a fingerprint reader between the left and right click buttons, while each key has an attractive graphite finish. The top right of the deck hosts a quartet of buttons for power, wireless, microphone and the notebook's Launch Manager. The laptop's palm rest and bottom cover have a sturdy, magnesium-aluminum build to protect the device in case you drop it.
The TravelMate's all-black bottom panel sports a battery compartment at the top left, with a vent at the top right, a speaker in the center and two more speakers on either side of the bottom edge.
Click to EnlargeMost of the P645's ports lie on the left edge, where you'll find an Ethernet, VGA, HDMI, one USB 3.0 and separate jacks for headphones and microphones. The right edge hosts two additional USB 3.0 ports, as well as a power input and Kensington lock, while an SD Card slot is on the left side of the front edge.
The notebook's underside can be connected to the optional Acer ProDock, which provides additional ports while serving as a stand for the laptop.
Fingerprint Reader and Security Features
Click to EnlargeYou can use the P645's ProShield application to secure the notebook a variety of ways, from password protecting the laptop's BIOS settings to disabling specific ports on the laptop.
ProShield allows users to register up to 10 fingerprints via the notebook's fingerprint reader for an extra layer of security when logging in. We successfully registered our right pointer finger with ProShield after four quick swipes. Once that was completed, the P645 instantly recognized our finger when we logged in.
Click to EnlargeYou can use ProShield to encrypt and decrypt files, as well as delete anything that you want to be gone for good. ProShield can store your online account information, a function that allowed us to sign into Twitter with a single finger swipe as soon as we registered our credentials.
The Travelmate's Identity Card feature allows you to quickly view and print important information such as your notebook's serial number. Built-in MotionProtect technology will automatically park the head of the hard drive to a safe spot if a fall is detected. But this isn't an issue if you order a configuration with a solid-state drive.
Intel vPro and Acer Office Manager
Click to EnlargeThe TravelMate comes outfitted with Intel vPro technology, which is built to defend against advanced malware for those working in the cloud. All vPro devices feature Intel Active Management Technology, which allows you to access supported laptops remotely regardless of their power state or operating system.
Acer's included Office Manager software provides IT managers with a central hub for managing clients, creating security policies and viewing all devices in a particular network. The notebook complies with TPM (Trusted Platform Module) 1.2, which is an international standard for security processors.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Click to EnlargeThe P645's black, spill-resistant island keys are generously spaced. The TravelMate has keys for Home, Page Up, Page Down and End at the very edge next to the Enter and Shift keys, which enabled us to easily scroll through websites with our right hand.
The P645's keys provide satisfying, snappy feedback, allowing us to type at 74 words per minute with a 1 percent error rate on the Ten Thumbs Typing Test. The keyboard's blue backlighting is bright, though we noticed less light coming from the spacebar and near the Y and U keys.
The notebook's 3.8 x 2.1-inch touchpad provided instant response for both physical and touch-based clicks, and we were able to pinch-to-zoom with ease.
Click to EnlargeOur configuration of the P645 packs a 1920 x 1080 IPS LCD display, which is sharper than the Tecra Z40's 1366 x 768 screen. The Latitude E7440 and ThinkPad T440 have the same screen resolution as the TravelMate, but both competitors give you the option of a touch screen, which is not available on the TravelMate.
The colorful 1080p trailer for "Thor: The Dark World" looked rich on the P645's screen, though the faces of characters Thor and Jane Foster were somewhat lacking in detail. The clip remained watchable at sharp viewing angles, but everything was a bit dim at full brightness.
The TravelMate's 235-lux display failed to outshine the 238-lux Latitude E7440 or 294-lux ThinkPad T440s. Still, Acer's screen is brighter than the 169-lux Tecra Z40 and the 205-lux category average.
With three speakers on the underside, the P645 filled a small room with music. We could clearly hear the muted bass in the intro of Fall Out Boy's "Just One Yesterday," but the song became a bit muddy once the strings and guitars kicked in at full volume.
Kanye West's "I Am a God" gave similarly mixed results, as the song's deep bass and rapid vocals were easy to distinguish but sounded a bit fuzzy with the volume all the way up.
On the LAPTOP Audio Test (sound output as measured from 23 inches), the TravelMate was a loud 83 decibels, higher than the ThinkPad T440s (81 dB) and Tecra Z40 (79 dB), and on a par with the thin-and-light category average. However, the notebook's speakers fell short of the Latitude E7440's 88-decibel performance.
Webcam and Voice Chatting
Click to EnlargeAcer Crystal Eye is the manufacturer's stock webcam app, featuring adjustable brightness, contrast and noise reduction, with the option to take photos and videos in up to 1280 x 720 resolution. The software also lets you share images via Facebook and YouTube.
In self-portraits taken on the notebook's 720p webcam using Crystal Eye's default 640 x 480 setting, our brown sweater looked washed out and our birthmarks were barely distinguishable. However, we noticed much richer colors and better detail when we kicked the settings up to 1280 x 720.
The TravelMate P645 utilizes Acer's Purified Voice technology, which is meant to reduce background and keyboard noise during voice chat. Our Skype test call sounded mostly clear on the notebook, though we could still hear some keyboard clicking coming from our coworker on the other end.
Heat and Noise
You can count on the TravelMate P645 to keep its cool throughout long work and play sessions. After we watched 15 minutes of HD video, the laptop's touchpad reached 78 degrees, the underside 88, and the G and H keys a warmer 90 degrees. All are below our comfort threshold of 95 degrees. The P645's vent stayed mostly silent during our time with the notebook.
Click to EnlargeOur fully loaded TravelMate P645 packs a 1.8-GHz Intel Core i7-4500 processor with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. By comparison, the more expensive ThinkPad T440s has a 2.6-GHz Intel Core i5-4200U chip with the same RAM and storage, while the Tecra Z40 features a 1.9-GHz Intel Core i5-4300U processor with the same RAM and a 320GB SATA drive. The Latitude 7440 has the same CPU as the Tecra Z40, with 4GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.
The TravelMate took 23 seconds to boot Windows 7, longer than the Windows 8-based ThinkPad T440s and Latitude 7440 (both 14 seconds), but outperforming the Tecra Z40's sluggish Windows 7 boot time of 49 seconds as well as the 27-second category average.
Click to EnlargeThe P645 netted 4,886 on the PCMark 7 performance test, falling just short of the higher-end ThinkPad T440s (4,970) while outperforming the Tecra Z40 (2,542), Latitude 7440 (4,544) and the thin-and-light average of 3,538.
When duplicating 4.97GB of mixed media on the LAPTOP File Transfer test, the P645's transfer rate of 175.5 MBps is slightly less than that of the ThinkPad T440S (188 MBps) but better than the Latitude 7440 (130.50 MBps) and miles ahead of the Tecra Z40 (23 MBps) and category average of 63 MBps.
To further test the TravelMate P645 as a work machine, we had the notebook match 20,000 names to their addresses on OpenOffice. The Acer laptop completed the task in four minutes and 42 seconds, getting the job done faster than the ThinkPad T440s (5:14) and edging out the Tecra Z40 (4:45) and Latitude 7440 (4:46).
MORE: 5 Best Acer Laptops
Click to EnlargeOur configuration of the TravelMate P645 contains a discrete AMD Radeon HD 8750M GPU, while our review models of the ThinkPad T440s,Tecra Z40 and Latitude E7440 packed integrated Intel HD 4400 graphics.
Acer's notebook scored 32,231 on the 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme graphics benchmark, beating out the T440s (25,913), E7440 (21,259) and Tecra Z40 (22,606) by a long shot while also outperforming the 30,785 category average.
The TravelMate's GPU was similarly superior on the 3DMark11 test, as its score of 1,783 far outpaces the T440s (930), Tecra Z40 (869),
E7440 (801) and the thin-and-light average of 967.
The P645 ran "World of Warcraft" at a less-than-stellar 28 frames per second on Ultra settings and 1366 x 768 resolution, but that was higher than the T440s (21 fps) and Tecra Z40 (17 fps) at the same settings. It was just a notch below the 29-fps category average. Still, it was nice to see 60 fps at 1366 x 768 on low settings.
The game slowed to 24 fps at the TravelMate's native resolution, which was once again more playable than the T440s' output of 15 fps, the Latitude 7440's 11 fps and the 22 fps category average.
If you stick with low settings, the P645 can even run "BioShock Infinite" at a playable 43 fps clip. However, that dipped to 18 fps on high.
Click to EnlargeUsers have their choice of Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro when purchasing a Travelmate P645. Our unit shipped with Windows 7, allowing us to access the classic Windows start button at the bottom left of the screen as well as the traditional Windows toolbar with customizable app icons.
Our Windows 7-based Travelmate P645 includes common Microsoft programs such as Windows Media Player, Skype and Microsoft Office. There are a handful of Acer-specific apps on the P645, including Acer Crystal Eye Webcam for photos and Acer Updater for downloading software updates.
Click to EnlargeThe Travelmate's 4,850-mAh battery is truly travel worthy, as it lasted nine hours and 46 minutes on the LAPTOP Battery Test (Web surfing via Wi-Fi). That's longer than the Tecra Z40 (9:28), the Latitude 7440 (5:52), the category average (6:46) and the ThinkPad T440s (7:01). However, the T440s lasted a whopping 14 hours and 36 minutes with its extended battery.
Configurations and Warranty
The Travelmate P645 starts at $949 for the TMP645-M-6839 model, which packs a 1.6-GHz Intel Core i5-4200U processor, 4GB of RAM, a 120GB SSD, Intel HD Graphics 4400 and a 1366 x 768 display. The TMP645-M-6427 goes for $1,099, offering the same i5 processor, graphics and screen resolution with double the RAM and storage.
The next step up is the $1,199 TMP645-MG-6429, which offers 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD with a sharper 1920 x 1080 display and AMD Radeon HD 8750M graphics.
We received the fully loaded $1,299 TMP645-MG-9419, which adds a faster 1.8-GHz Core i7-4500U processor to the $1,099 configuration.
The entire P645 series comes with a two-year parts and labor warranty, which covers mail-in and carry-in repairs and also includes 90 days of software support. As with all Acer notebooks, the TravelMate is backed by toll-free phone service. See how Acer fared in our Tech Support Showdown
Click to EnlargeWith a speedy processor, discrete graphics and long battery life, the Acer TravelMate P645 ($1,299 as reviewed, $949 starting) is an excellent choice for corporate users. The notebook's thin design makes it easy to take to any office, and the host of ProShield security options will keep your files and information safe. While this laptop is durable, some users may miss the reassurance of MIL-SPEC certification available on competing business notebooks.
The TravelMate's processing performance is right on par (and sometimes better than) the Lenovo ThinkPad T440s ($1019 starting, $1,749 as reviewed), which has less RAM and storage than TravelMate but can be outfitted with a touch screen. Throw in the TravelMate P645's Radeon GPU, which blows the competition out of the water, and you've got a thin-and-light powerhouse.