by Kevin O'Brien
The Gateway P-7805u FX is a 17-inch gaming notebook for users who want the performance to play the latest games, but don’t want to empty their wallets in the process. Priced at $1,299 the FX offers an Intel Core 2 Duo Processor and NVIDIA GeForce 9800M GTS dedicated graphics with 1GB of video memory. Can an affordable gaming notebook compete in a market segment usually reserved for notebooks sometimes costing twice as much? Read our full review to find out.
Gateway P-7805u FX Specifications:
Build and Design
The outside of the P-7805u FX looks great with a glossy black finish and a carbon fiber pattern band across the lid showing the FX insignia. The three primary colors used throughout the body are glossy black, silver or brushed silver, and orange to outline various components. The side profile of the notebook shows an orange ban dividing the notebook horizontally and surrounding the exterior ports. Opening up the notebook the keyboard is surrounded by orange trim, which is also outlined with brushed metal trim. While I normally take the stance that bright colors and LED’s can make some gaming notebooks stand out in a negative way, Gateway keeps the flare to a minimum in a very classy manner.
Build quality is average with some flex apparent in areas around the chassis. The palm rest and screen lid flex under moderate pressure, but it is really only felt when carrying the notebook around gripping the palmrest. The brushed metal surfaces feel stronger than the glossy plastic, and don’t bend as much when you press down on them (except around the media keys as intended).
Internal components are easy to access for upgrading through panels on the bottom of the notebook. The hard drive cage has one panel, whereas the processor and RAM are located underneath another. Although this model ships with only one hard drive, the notebook has a fully functional open bay with cage ready to have another drive installed with it. This is actually the first notebook with dual bays with a single drive that included the other cage I have seen, most don’t include it.
Screen and Speakers
Our review unit was equipped with a 1920x1200 WUXGA screen, although this model is actually supposed to include a WXGA+ 1440x900 panel. We think this was a pre-production change, probably to lower the price of the notebook. Colors on the WUXGA panel are bright and vibrant, with high levels of contrast thanks to the glossy surface. Screen brightness is adequate for gaming in a bright lecture hall or office setting, but isn’t bright enough to overpower glare from sunlight in an outdoor setting. Vertical viewing angles are very good with a broad viewing range before colors start to distort. Horizontal viewing angles are much better, showing almost no color changes at steep angles.
The P-7805u FX includes stereo speakers located beneath the screen right above the keyboard. For listening to YouTube clips or streaming internet radio they are more than capable, but compared to speakers on other 17” notebooks they leave much to be desired. Bass and midrange performance is weak, and peak volume levels could be greater. I think headphones are a much better alternative than the internal speakers, giving higher audio quality and greater privacy.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Taking advantage of the large 17” frame, Gateway included a full-size keyboard with number pad on this notebook. The keys are painted with a slightly glossy matte texture which gives just a bit of traction, but doesn’t show fingerprints as much as completely glossy keys. It is comfortable to type on for extended periods of time, with a smooth key action that doesn’t’ require much pressure to trigger. The keyboard has good support and shows very little flex under strong typing. The keyboard does hint towards its gaming abilities, with the WASD keys labeled with the appropriate direction arrows.
The Synaptics-based touchpad was quick to respond to movement, showing no signs of lag when quickly moving around. The surface texture is a smooth matte finish that is easy to move across even when your finger is slightly sweaty. I think Gateway could have improved the touchpad buttons by giving them a longer throw that would increase feedback, instead of using “clicky” style buttons.
Ports and Features
Port selection seemed limited for the size of the notebook, with plenty of open space that could have been used to add additional ports. The P-7805u FX offers three USB ports, eSATA, HDMI, VGA, LAN, FireWire, and a modem jack. A forth USB port could have been easy to add with a combo USB/eSATA port, which should almost be mandatory these days.
Left: Kensington Lock slot, 2 USB, optical drive
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