The notebook being reviewed here is the Gateway MX7515, recently Gateway has replaced the MX7515 with the MX7525. There is only one difference between these two models. The MX7525 has 128MB of dedicated video ram, while the MX7515 has only 64MB of dedicated video ram. This extra VRAM would allow the MX7525 to have a better 3Dmark score, and in turn allow it to be a slightly better gaming machine.
Gateway MX7515 / MX7525: Specs
Difference Between MX7515 and MX7525
Reasons For Buying:
Prior to this laptop purchase, I knew nothing about notebooks, or the notebook market. Like most people, I only browsed the big name companies, like Dell and HP. Nothing these companies offered was really enough to "seal the deal" with me.
I happened to be browsing Best Buy one day, and the MX7515 caught my eye. The specs were nothing like what I was seeing on the internet (for the price). Gateway was not in my top choices though. I had heard declining quality of Gateways PCs, and decided to mull it over for a couple days.
Like most of the purchases I make, I did a little bit of research before putting my cash on the line. I couldn't find a single review online, just positive statements made about the notebook. I decided that was enough to convince me, so I purchased the notebook online at BestBuy.com, also receiving a 512mb flash drive, a cool little incentive.
I have to admit, my buying experience at Best Buy (in the actual store) was pretty bad. When I finally decided on the MX7515, I went to the store with my debit card in hand, ready to pay $1500 for a notebook plus a service plan. I was brushed off by 2 employees, who were obviously not very busy at all. When I complained to a manager about what was going on, he didn't seem very concerned and just pointed me to another employee. I complained to one more manager, and I left pretty disgruntled.
Purchasing online is a whole different story. It took me about 10 min, and then I went to the store later that day to pick up my order. No problems here, and I actually left with my notebook in hand.
MX7515 Design and Build Quality:
The MX7515 is designed very well in my opinion. I love the layout of the keys and the overall look of this notebook, and I wouldn't change a thing in this regard. The design is very simple, and doesn't attract attention. Its not going to win a fashion award, then again its not going to be mocked for its hideousness.
Gateway MX7515 above view (view large image)
At 7.5 pounds, the MX7515 is about the perfect weight. Even with the 8.65 pounds travel weight, this laptop is a breeze to carry around in my backpack. I am constantly on the move with this notebook, and have never actually felt "bogged down" by it. This is pretty much based on personal preference though. I can't make the decision if the weight is right for you, so I suggest taking a trip to your local Best Buy.
The touchpad is smooth and feels very nice. I would recommend tweaking the settings in mouse properties to your own personal liking though, as the factory settings can be annoying.
The build quality on this laptop is a little iffy. Although acceptable for my needs, this thing does tend to feel a little cheap. Opening the laptop, and adjusting the screen produces a minor creaking noise, which makes me question the lasting quality of these hinges. Already my screen is losing its nice "tight" feeling from when I first bought it. When opened, the screen feels wobbly. There is about 1/8th inch movement at the top of the screen before the hinges catch. While this may not seem like much, but imagine being on a bumpy bus ride (or whatever form of transportation you may use).
Pressing hard on the back of the screen produces minor ripples in the display. Right in the middle the lid seems to be the weakest point, which is no doubt expected. The plastic on the lid, although cheap feeling, could probably survive a small beating, as I had to press hard to even recieve minor ripples.
I have to say, I was expecting the screen to be much worse than what it is. At my local Best Buy, the model on display had a couple dead pixels, and a little light leakage. The dead pixels kind of scared me, but did not deter me from the purchase at all. The screen I received has no dead or stuck pixels, and the light leakage is less than what the display model had. The light leakage is only apparent when the screen is completely black, otherwise I can't even notice it.
I was actually impressed with how clear the display was. The MX7515 has an Ultrabright screen, which is just a fancy name for a glossy screen. The resolution is 1280x800, which is just about perfect for a 15.4 inch screen. The contrast is decent, and with minor tweaking in the color properties, the display can look even more bright and vivid. I do kind of wish that the max brightness was about one notch brighter though. The notebook has 8 different brightness settings, and at even the lowest brightness, its still very usable without too much eyestrain.
As most of you probably already know, keeping this kind a screen clean can be quite a chore. Even in the lowest amount of sunlight, every spec of dust and streaks can be very apparent. If your anything like me, this will drive you crazy.
The speakers on the MX7515, like most laptops, are pretty weak. The sound is very crisp, but the bass is almost non existent. I personally don't mind using the speakers for listening to music or playing games, but for a "fuller" gaming or music experience, I would definitely recommend headphones or external speakers.
Processor and Performance:
The Mobile AMD Athlon 64 Processor 4000+ was definitely the selling point for me, and this thing does not disappoint. This is the fastest processor I have ever used. I am a very heavy multitasker, running multiple programs like photoshop, windows media player, firefox, internet explorer, running virus scans, etc. and I have yet to cripple this processor. There are moments now and then that the processor has to stop and "think" for a split second, but this is very minor in my opinion, and much less frequent than even the fastest of Pentium M's (I'm not talking about the core duo as I have no experience with these).
From the moment the power button is pressed till all the background tasks are loaded, this notebook takes 37 seconds exactly to boot up. Keep in mind that this is with a clean install of Windows XP Home. Out of the box it took nearly 1 minute 30 seconds, and this to me was unnacceptable.
I currently have 1 gig of ram, which comes standard in the MX7515. This seems like the perfect amount of ram these days, and I have yet to actually need an upgrade. This notebook comes with 2 ram slots, but only one is considered user accessable. This puts the max ram at 1.5GB. The other one is located under the keyboard, and while it is upgradable, it can void the warranty.
This computer includes a dedicated GPU, which is a must for anybody into heavy video editing or gaming. The GPU included is a 64mb ATI x600. While not considered great for gaming, it definately is no slouch. The only game I'm playing right now is Half-Life 2, and it runs great. With the resolution set at 1280x800, and all the settings set to max, I get about 40-70fps. This GPU is not upgradable.
On the box of my MX7515, it is stated that the laptop was supposed to come with a 4200 RPM hard drive, but instead I received a 5400 RPM hard drive. This is probably due to shortages in the manufacturing process, but I'm definitely not complaining.
Below are some comparison results for the Gateway MX7515 versus other laptops in 3DMark05 results:
|Notebook||3DMark 05 Results|
|Gateway MX7515 (Athlon 64 4000+, ATI X600 64MB)||1243 3D Marks|
|Lenovo ThinkPad Z60m (2.0GHz Pentium M, ATI X600 128MB)||1659 3DMarks|
|ThinkPad T43 (1.86GHz, ATI X300 64MB graphics)||727 3DMarks|
|Asus V6Va (2.13 GHz Pentium M, ATI Radeon Mobility x700 128 MB)||2530 3D Marks|
|Quanta KN1 (1.86 GHz Pentium M, NVIDIA GeForce Go 6600 128mb)||2,486 3DMarks|
|HP dv4000 (1.86GHz Pentium M, ATI X700 128MB)||2536 3D Marks|
|Acer TravelMate 8204WLMi (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 256MB)||4157 3DMarks|
Below are the results from Super Pi for the Gateway MX7515 for calculating Pi to 2-million digits:
|Notebook||Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits|
|Gateway MX7515 (Athlon 64 Processor 4000+)||1m 25s|
|Samsung X60 (1.66GHz Core Duo)||1m 29s|
|Dell Inspiron e1505 (2.0GHz Core Duo)||1m 16s|
|Fujitsu LifeBook N3510 (1.73 GHz Alviso Pentium M)||1m 48s|
|Dell Inspiron 6000D (1.6 GHz Alviso Pentium M)||1m 52s|
|Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo)||1m 18s|
|Sony VAIO S360 (1.7 GHz Dothan Pentium M)||1m 57s|
|HP dv5000t (1.83GHz Core Duo)||1m 17s|
|Sony VAIO S380 (1.83 GHz Alviso Pentium M)||1m 42s|
Heat and Noise:
This notebook is on my lap 90% of the time, so the heat issue was very important. Surprisingly, for being so fast, the MX7515 does not get very hot at all. Even while gaming for hours on end, I would never consider the heat to be intolerable. I have even found the heat to be much less than my girlfriends Inspiron 6000.
The area around the touchpad sometimes gets warm enough for my palms to get a little damp, but its nothing major.
The fans are usually very quiet, and are nearly inaudible. When the MX7515 is under heavy strain however, the fans will usually kick into high gear for a couple minutes, cooling the processor and GPU. While gaming, the fans will usually stay on the highest setting. The heat doesn't bother me, but the noise of the fans do. I picked up a cheap laptop cooling pad for this purpose, and it works great keeping the fans running at a minimum.
Keyboard and Touchpad:
The touchpad on the MX7515 is fantastic. I have used this touchpad for everything since my mouse broke, and its probably the best I've ever used. Whether its gaming or image editing, the presicion is right on. My finger just glides along the smooth surface. The buttons below the touchpad are pretty big, and when pressed, make a nice quiet click.
Gateway MX7515 keyboard view (view large image)
The keyboard is also very nice. The keys offer plenty of resistance without feeling too firm. Nothing on the keyboard looks or feels cluttered, which can be an important factor for the fast typers. The layout of the keys was very easy to get used to. The keyboard offers no flex anywhere.
The Fn key has some very useful functions. It can be used to control music in the media player, put the computer into stand-by, turn off the wireless card, and most importantly, turn off all status lights. By pressing Fn+F1, all the status lights that most laptops run all the time (even while you try to sleep) can be turned off. This, I have found, can be a very important feature.
Input and Output Ports:
Front side view of MX7515 (view large image)
Back side view of MX7515 (view large image)
Right side view of Toshiba MX7515 (view large image)
Left side view of MX7515 (view large image)
Under side view of MX7515 (view large image)
The MX7515 came with a Broadcom 802.11g wireless card. The range is decent, as I can travel anywhere in my home while still maintaining an adequite connection. I can also detect many surrounding wireless networks. There is no bluetooth built into this notebook. There is also no infrared port.
I recieved exactly 2 hours of battery life before my computer was forced into hibernation. This was with the screen brightness maxed, and light/medium usage with the wireless card on. I have been able to squeeze out about 2:25 with the brightness at half. While not great, the battery life was not an important factor on the decision of this notebook. Because of this fact, I am actually very happy with the battery life.
The charging cycle for this notebook is very short. It charges at about 1% per minute up until about 90%. It takes a little longer to go from 90%-100%. The whole process takes about 2 hours.
The battery included with this unit is an 8-cell Lithium-ion Battery. There is no option for a larger battery.
Operating System and Software:
The MX7515 came with an ungodly amount of junk software that was preinstalled. Some of it was good, most of it was useless. The good included Nero 6 Suite, PowerDVD, and Microsoft Works 8. Most of the programs come with a complimentary trial period (Micro Office 2003, Norton Internet Security 2005, McAfee Antispyware, Image Starter Edition 2006). While this is great, what happens when they run out? Then you gotta fork out some money to keep them running. Rather than deal with this later, I just did a clean install of Windows XP right out of the box.
When first starting up the MX7515, your asked to burn a series of backup CD's which would contain all the preinstalled software and the system drivers. If these are ever lost, you can contact Gateway and order a new set.
I have not had a chance to deal with Gateway customer service support, and I hope I never have to. It seems like many companies these days care little about their customers. Gateway offers a phone number for their live tech support, but the number provided is not an 800 number. This means that you pay for their services by whatever long distance charges that may apply.
When purchasing through Best Buy, I was given the option of buying a 3 year service plan. Since Gateway's quality is questionable, I decided to buy it. This service plan also entitles the buyer to a free battery replacement when needed. At $250, I thought it was a pretty reasonable deal for the added peace of mind.
It's hard to recommend this laptop to everyone. If your primary purpose is for gaming, the weak GPU will really be a bottleneck for the newer games. If your always on the go, the battery life and the weight might become a factor. However, If your looking for one beast of a processor to rip through anything you throw at it, a big hard drive, and a decent amount of ram, all for a great price, the MX7515 might be for you. The only thing holding the MX7515 back from being truly great is the weak GPU. If there was a way to upgrade this, the MX7515 would make one heck of a gaming machine.
more than 100 focused websites providing quick access to a deep store of
news, advice and analysis about the technologies, products and processes crucial
to the jobs of IT pros.
All Rights Reserved, Copyright 2000 - 2013, TechTarget | Read our Privacy Statement