Gateway MT3705 Vista Notebook Review

by Reads (133,107)

by Morgan Kay

The Gateway MT3705 is a budget notebook that was recently on sale at best buy and Circuit City in conjunction with the release of Vista.  This notebook also has a new processor from Intel, the Dual Core Pentium T2060 processor.

Gateway MT3705

Specs for the MT3705 as reviewed:

  • Processor: Intel Pentium Dual-Core Mobile Processor T2060 (1.60GHz, 533MHz FSB, 1MB L2 cache)
  • Operating System: Windows Vista Home Premium
  • Display: 14.1" Widescreen Ultrabright™ XGA TFT (1280×800)
  • Chipset: ATI Radeon Xpress 200M
  • Memory: 1024MB DDR2 at 533MHz (2 x 512MB), expandable to 2GB (total of 2 DDR2 slots)
  • Video: ATI Radeon Xpress 200M Integrated Graphics
  • Audio: High-definition 2-channel audio
  • Hard Drive: 100GB PATA hard drive (4200 RPM)
  • Optical Drives: 8x multiformat dual-layer DVD RW drive
  • 4-in-1 Digital Media Manager™
  • Modem: 56K ITU V.92 ready fax/modem (RJ-11 port)
  • Network: 10/100Mbps Ethernet LAN (RJ-45 port)
  • Integrated 802.11g Wireless LAN
  • Interfaces
    • 3 USB 2.0 ports
    • VGA connector
    • RJ-45 Ethernet port
    • RJ-11 modem port
    • Headphone/audio out
    • Microphone
    • Kensington lock slot
    • AC adapter connector
    • Synaptics Touchpad with Vertical Scroll
    • Expresscard Type 54
  • Battery: 6-cell lithium-ion
  • Dimensions: 1.41"H x 13"W x 9.45"D
  • Weight: 5.23 lbs.
  • Warranty: 1 year parts and labor

Reasons for Buying:

I purchased this Gateway after a long search for a budget laptop with decent performance to give as a gift.  I didn’t want to spend a ton of money, and also didn’t want to give someone a slow piece of junk either!  After a long search online and a general lack of good deals on budget level notebooks I purchased this notebook on sale at Circuit City for $599.  I had been scouring the internet for a few weeks looking for a good deal on a new laptop, and for $599, including a free printer (after rebates),  Dual Core Processor , DVD Burner,  100GB HD, Vista Home Premium already installed, and 1GB of RAM, it was the best deal I had seen in awhile. The brushed aluminum and flat black case make it an attractive notebook as well — better looking than the budget offerings from Dell, although the new HP notebooks do look pretty slick.  The 14.1” widescreen seems to be a good compromise between usability and portability.  I think that overall I got a good deal on the laptop.

Build and Design:


(view large image)

The build of the notebook is average.  There are some aspects I really like; the area around the keyboard and palm rests is made of aluminum and feels very sturdy, the lid is a textured flat black plastic that does not show fingerprints, the notebook feels solid when lifted by the corner. The screen shows no wobble when pushed, and the hinges, while plastic, do feel sturdy.  However, you can press on the back of the screen and see ripples without too much effort, I wouldn’t recommend throwing this notebook in a book bag with a bunch of books and things — the plastic behind the screen probably doesn’t provide much protection.  The keyboard is very spongy, especially on the right side.  If keyboard flex is a problem for you, then do not buy this notebook.  For me, I don’t think it’s such a big deal and I got used to it, although it does make me appreciate the keyboard on my T41 ThinkPad!   For a notebook with these specs in this price range- I wasn’t expecting build quality on the same level of more expensive notebooks.  Overall though, I would say that this notebook exceeded my expectations in build and overall attractiveness.


Gateway MT3705 next to ThinkPad T41 (view large image)

Screen:


Gateway MT3705 compared to Toshiba Satellite and IBM T41 (view large image)

The Screen is a Widescreen 14.1” XGA  type with Gateways “ultrabright” glare-type treatment.  I think the screen looks good, especially next to my IBM T41, but it does have a stuck pixel on the right side in the middle.  The screen is very bright and crisp otherwise.  The stuck pixel is hardly noticeable and doesn’t bother me too much, but it still sucks that it isn’t perfect.  It’s probably worth noting that the display model at Circuit City had a dead pixel as well.  I don’t notice any light leakage.


Gateway MT3705 compared to Toshiba Satellite and IBM T41 (view large image)

Speakers:

The speakers are typical notebook speakers: relatively tinny with no bass.  They probably sound better then my ThinkPad’s (no real accomplishment there) and they are definitely louder, but not nearly as good as my roommates Toshida Satellite 3300.

Processor and Performance:

The Gateway MT3705 comes with the new Pentium Dual Core T2060. The main difference I see is the smaller 1 mb L2 cache.  This shouldn’t be a huge deal for most users, and I couldn’t justify a minimum $100 price jump for another MB of cache in a Core Duo as I didn’t feel the performance increase would be noticable for basic tasks, although I could be wrong.

So far I am pretty impressed with the performance of this notebook.  When used for what it is intended for — a gift for someone that needs internet, email, and light multimedia machine, not a gamer.  Although the hard drive is only 4200rpm, the notebook isn’t too slow.  Everything is snappy and smooth.  Initially booting up and shutting down are a little long, and programs pause when loading, but nothing horrible- I was actually expecting worse.   I should mention that this is after I uninstalled all the trial bloat ware that came with the computer (Napster, McAfee, BigFix, AOL, etc). 

While there was a lot of trial and bloat ware on there, it wasn’t as bad as recent Dell or HP offerings I have seen.  Before removing these programs, the notebook was almost unbearably slow, and I was at first worrying I made a mistake and contemplated returning it to Circuit City.  Gateway does include a system restore disk so a clean install of Vista is possible, but since there wasn’t all that much unwanted software on there I just deleted what I didn’t want manually. 

Websites load very quickly, and there is virtually no lag when navigating the internet or between programs that are already running.  A faster hard drive would certainly improve load times, but at this price point and for the notebooks intended use, I feel the performance is more then acceptable.  The MT3705 is noticeablely quicker then both my T41 with a Pentium M 1.6ghz 1GB memory, as well as my roommate’s Toshiba Satellite with Pentium M 1.73 1GB memory, and is of course much less expensive then either system was when new. 

The 1GB of RAM and ATI Radeon Xpress 200m in the MT3705 runs Vista Home Premium with Aero without a hiccup that I can see, although I have no real experience with Vista on other systems.   I am no power user, but so far the main differences between Vista and XP I notice are the graphics.  My friends have commented on the similarities in looks to apple’s OSX, and the new IE is a lot like Firefox.  Vista seems like an improvement over XP to me, although I am not going to go through the trouble of installing it on my own computer anytime soon.  The windows User Account Control Window that pops up anytime you open a program is very annoying, although you can probably disable it, I haven’t done so.

Benchmarks:

Super Pi

The Super Pi performance for the T2060 dual core processor was quite bad, slower than some 2-year old Dothan Pentium M processors:

Notebook Time
Gateway MT3705 (Intel Pentium Dual-Core Mobile Processor T2060) 1m55s
HP dv6000t (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo) 1m 03s
Fujitsu LifeBook A6010 (1.66GHz Core 2 Duo) 1m 22s
LG S1 (2.16 GHz Core Duo) 1m 11s
Dell Inspiron e1505 (2.0GHz Core Duo) 1m 16s
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo) 1m 18s
Toshiba Satellite M100 (2.00GHz Core Duo) 1m 18s
Samsung X60 (1.66GHz Core Duo) 1m 29s
Sony VAIO FS680 (1.86 GHz Pentium M) 1m 53s
IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86 GHz Pentium M) 1m 45s

 

PCMark05 Comparison results:

According to comparison results the T2060 with integrated graphics in the Gateway performed just slightly worse than the Toshiba Tecra M6 with a 1.66GHz T2300E Core Duo (previously the "weakest" dual core Intel mobile processor offering):

 Notebook PCMark05 Score
Gateway MT3705 (Intel Pentium Dual-Core Mobile Processor T2060), ATI XPress 200m 2,639 PCMarks
HP dv6000t (2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo, Nvidia Go 7400) 4,124 PCMarks
Fujitsu LifeBook A6010 (1.66GHz Core 2 Duo, Intel GMA 950) 2,994 PCMarks
Fujitsu N6410 (1.66GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400) 3,487 PCMarks
Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60, Nvidia Go 7800GTX) 5,597 PCMarks
Sony Vaio SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400) 3,637 PCMarks
Toshiba Tecra M6 (1.66GHz Intel T2300E, Intel GMA 950) 2,732 PCMarks
Asus V6J (1.86GHz Core Duo T2400, Nvidia Go 7400) 3,646 PCMarks
Sony VAIO FE590 (1.83GHz Core Duo, Nvidia Go 7400) 3,427 PCMarks

Heat and Noise:

I guess one of the upsides of a 4200rpm drive is that the notebook stays quiet and cool.  The palm rest barely gets warm, and when the fan does run it is quiet and hardly noticeable.  The exhaust vent is on the left side of the notebook.  The underside of the machine gets warm, but not to the point where I felt any discomfort.  

Keyboard and Touchpad:


Gateway MT3705 keyboard view (view large image)

As I stated earlier, the keyboard has a good amount of flex.   The flex seems to be worse towards the edges of the keyboard.   I like the touchpad, but would recommend setting the sensitivity towards the lighter end of the spectrum, it comes from the factory requiring a firm touch to get it working. 

The touchpad has a textured finish to it that I like, and the vertical scroll area on the right side is clearly separated by a small raised section.  The buttons below the touchpad are firm and require some pressure to click, I prefer this over them being too sensitive, but it may bother some.  They do feel sturdy though.

There are shortcuts on the keyboard that you can use with the function button, like adjusting volume, screen brightness, CD controls, etc.  Pretty standard stuff, there are no extra volume or other media control buttons like on some other consumer notebooks out there.  Below the touchpad are the indicator lights for, caps lock, scroll lock, Number lock, and hard drive.  There is also a purple light that shines on the front of the notebook when charging, it switches to blue when charging is complete and blinks red when the battery is low.

Input and Output Ports:

The 3 USB ports are all on the left side and the Ethernet connection is on the right side which is annoying.  If you use a mouse and are right handed, this may be an issue for you.  There is a 4-in-1 card reader which is nice if your camera uses any of the media supported.  There is also a VGA connection and ExpressCard slot.

Wireless:

The MT3705 comes with an 802.11G Wireless card.  I don’t know what brand card it is and can’t find the information online, but it has no trouble picking up my home network. Bluetooth and Infrared are not included

Battery:

In “Balanced” mode, Gateway’s medium power saving setting, this notebook gets almost 4 hrs of battery life from the 6-cell lithium ion battery.  Balanced mode is basically medium settings across the board.  If you turn down the screen brightness and make a few other tweaks, surely you could squeeze out some more time.  I am very impressed with the battery life of this system.  Not only is it faster then my ThinkPad, it can last longer away from the plug as well.  I was happy that Gateway didn’t try to cut corners with a 4 cell battery.

Operating system and Software:

Vista Home Premium looks cool and is easy to use.  I would say it is an improvement over XP, although nothing revolutionary for my uses. After I use it more and learn more about its features I am sure more disparities between the 2 will emerge.   The system responds quickly, and looks great. Recovery disks were included by Gateway, and I want to mention that Circuit City was pushing people hard to pay them $69 to burn off recovery DVD’s for this computer at check out.  I don’t think that is very ethical when they know that people can just burn them on their own time at a fraction of the cost, not to mention a recovery CD is included. 

I thought I would mention it for anyone that might be thinking of purchasing this machine from one of the larger retail shops and didn’t know any better.  I removed most of the free software with the exception of the Wild Tangent Games, because I figure they can’t hurt.  The other stuff (McAffee, Napster, BigFix, Etc) was taking up too many system resources and slowing things down, especially during start up, so I removed them manually without doing the clean install. 

Customer Support:

Thankfully I haven’t had to call customer support for this notebook, and hopefully I never will.  I did read on this website that Gateway’s customer support is excellent.

Conclusion:

I am happy with this notebook, I think it represents an excellent value and offers more then enough performance for the average home user needing something for everyday tasks.  I would recommend it to anyone on a budget with average computing needs looking for something portable, or anyone that is simply not looking to blow a huge chunk of change on a notebook.  The MT3705 can also be upgraded with a faster hard drive and maybe another gig of RAM if desired down the road, but I feel that it has exceeded my expectations and is quite quick as delivered.  This laptop has an appealing design and feels sturdy, the lid resists fingerprints and it has great battery life. We’ll have to see how it holds up over time. 

Pros

  • Vista Home Premium already installed and all features work
  • Better looking then other notebooks in this pricerange, and many more expensive models as well
  • Excellent performance
  • Very Cool and Quiet
  • Overall Sturdy build
  • Long battery life
  • Great price for what you get
  • Media card reader can be useful

Cons

  • Keyboard flex may bother some
  • Some screen rippling when pressing on back of lid
  • All USB ports are on the left side, Ethernet on right may be awkward if you use a mouse.
  • Bloat ware slows down the system


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