After much debate and many hours spent researching on NotebookReview.com and other review sites, I purchased a Gateway M320X Plus laptop. I initiated a sales conversation online with gateway, and then ordered on the phone to confirm details. Payment was 6 months no payments no interest. This was a major plus in Gateway’s favor as other vendors required payments, but you accrued no interest for one year.
I have now had the computer two full months and can weigh in on my experience as far as likes, dislikes, and overall satisfaction with my purchase.
Gateway M320X Plus Specs
- Intel Pentium M 1.6GHZ Dothan Core CPU, 2MB L2 Cache, 400 FSB, Intel 855PM MB
- Intel Wireless Card 801.b/g
- 2 DDR 333 Dim slots, shipped with 1 — 512mb stick ddr 333
- 80 GB with 8 MB cache 4200 RMP Hard Drive
- 15 inch ultra bright screen
- Intel integrated graphics
- 8X DVD R-R+ Burner
- 4 USB 2.0 Ports
- 1 Mini fire wire port
- 1 VGA port
- 4 in one memory card reader
- 56 Kbps Dial-up modem
- Built-in stereo speakers
- 1 PCMCIA Slot
- Lithium-ion Battery
- Touchpad with vertical scroll zone
- Windows XP Home Edition SP2
- Weighs 5.5 pounds with battery, slightly more with extended battery
$1143.99 shipped after $150 rebate.
I had the laptop within 7 days of ordering and was pleased with the turn around. Initially I was wowed by the sleek look of my new shiny notebook. This is a fully feature unit , but with a small thin profile. As pictured below, noticed the quarter for size comparison. Thickness ranges from .87″ to 1.23″ with the lid closed. You would think that a laptop this thin would be flimsy, but to my surprise this unit is far superior to that of many Dell Inspirons that I have used recently. No creaky plastic or shoddy materials feel here.
In the picture above you can see the integrated DVD burner and the power input on the far right. The audio in /out is to the left with 1 usb port on this side.
The screen is a 15-inch XGA (1024x 768). It looks very sharp in all lighting except bright light sources do produce some glare due to the ultrabrite feature. This is tolerable for the most part. In the below picture you can see the thin screen from the side. One thing I noticed is the screen does not freak out if touched from behind on the plastic side as many thin laptops are known to do. I was unfortunate enough to get one dead pixel. Although not thrilled by it, it does not show up except on pink/red screens.
CPU and Performance
The Intel Pentium M 1.6GHz on board this machine is faster than my old Pentium 4 2.8GHz Northwood CPU. When using the program Super Pi to calculate the number Pi to 2 million decimals of accuracy the laptop completed the calculation in 2:12. The notebook starts up in 28 seconds from push of the power button to a usable state (I don’t have many start up items which helps with the fast boot).The HD at only 4200 RPM could be upgraded, and I hope to in the near future, but the 8mb cache moves it along nicely. I am very pleased with performance overall.
Video is frankly, terrible. The graphics are powered by Intel’s integrated processor. This laptop is suitable for everything, but games! 3dmark 2001se only scored 2037 points. One lacking feature is there is no S-video output.
Keyboard and Mouse
The full size keyboard works very well. As with any laptop, it takes some adjustment from a normal keyboard, but all keys feel firm and make little to no noise when typing.
The mouse and scroll work great and I have no complaints regarding that. In fact, the scroll feature is not choppy and very smooth when compared to other notebooks around. One annoyance of the mouse is the lack of a button to turn off touchpad when typing or have an external mouse plugged in.
Sound and Speakers
Speakers are adequate for most, but don’t expect bass like sound. The positioning of the speakers due to size, were put right below the touchpad on the underside. This is a dislike, but they do arch up so it’s not as bad as you would think.
From the view in the image above you see the left side of the laptop. 3 USB ports, memory card reader, pc card slot, and fire wire can all be seen.
I was amazed at the quality of the wireless reception. My friend has a newer HP with integrated wireless b/g non Intel and when in the same building, he is barely getting signal and I am at 50% or more at the same exact spot. The notebook always connects right away, it’s amazing. Range is outstanding for an internal card and works better than my desktop in the same room with a PCI card with a 4 inch external antenna out the back.
I upgraded for $20 to the 9 cell battery. Notice how it sticks out the back by 1 inch. I was not told that this would physically change the dimensions and would prefer to have it flush with the rear of the laptop. All and all, run time on max battery is roughly 4.5- 5 hours with constant web surfing. DVD playback is 2.5-3 hours depending on screen brightness setting.
The M320 is dead silent except when the fan comes on. When plugged in, the fan comes on more frequently as the CPU is running at 1600MHZ instead of 600 MHz when unplugged. The DVD drive can be loud at times, but all with in tolerances. Hard Drive noise is non-existent.
This notebook is not a gamer’s laptop. But for those who want excellent battery life, lots of features, and a good price for that budget you’re on, then look to Gateway M320 series. I found it to be an excellent laptop and am happy I purchased it.
- Ultra compact, yet full of features
- Crisp 15 inch screen
- Light weight
- Solid feel and build
- Good performance
- Good price
- Extended life battery sticks out
- Can’t disable touchpad with button
- Screen has some glare in bright light conditions
- No S-video output
Pricing and Availability