Gateway MT6451 Review

by Reads (35,053)

by John Padgett

The Gateway MT6451 is one of Gateway’s entry level retail versions from their M series notebook line. Though it comes in at a budget price point of $699, it packs an impressive set of features and a great build quality that you would expect at a higher price point.

Specs for MT6451:

  • AMD Turion 64 X2 Mobile Technology TL-50 1.6GHz
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 15.4-inch Ultrabright WXGA TFT display with Max Resolution of 1280×800
  • ATI Radeon Xpress 1150M
  • 1GB DDR2 667MHz Dual Channel memory, upgradable to 2GB’s
  • 120GB PATA 4500RPM hard drive
  • 8X Multi-format double layer DVD/RW
  • 6-in-1 Media card reader
  • 56K ITU V.92 ready Fax/Modem
  • Broadcom wireless LAN 802.11g
  • Kensington lock slot
  • PCMCIA Card bus slot
  • Integrated 10/100 Ethernet
  • IEEE 1394 Firewire 400 4-pin interface
  • Four USB 2.0 ports, one S-Video port, one VGA port
  • Six-cell lithium ion battery
  • SigmaTel 9250 high definition audio, integrated speakers, microphone and headphone jack

Reasons for Buying

This laptop was a replacement for my Gateway Solo 9550 which broke right before Christmas. Based on the experience I had with that laptop I was almost certain that my next one would also be a Gateway. The previous laptop was a workhorse. I had it for almost five years and it ran like a champ and I never had to send it in for service or warranty repair. This pretty much determined the brand I was going to get but I had to decide which components I would get inside: Intel or AMD? I researched the Turion 64 X2 vs. the Core 2 Duo and of course the Core 2 beats the Turion hands down in benchmarking but more important to me was price. I went to a local retailer right after I got my tax refund back and they had this notebook for sale. I compared this one to the rest of the Vista notebooks available and decided on this one. As you can see from the specs above it was a major upgrade from my P3 1GHz and 512MB RAM that I had before and I couldn’t wait to get it home and pull it out of the box. Considering that other OEM’s are offering the same notebook with roughly the same features at prices upwards of $900 I really feel like this was a good deal.

Build and Design

This laptop is very aesthetically pleasing. The power button and the status indicators are all blue LED which happens to be my favorite color. The keyboard leaves a little to be desired as it has a lot of flex and doesn’t seem to be as sturdy as my previous laptop. The touch pad is flush and is responsive upon touch. I rarely use this feature as I have a portable mouse but on the occasions that I have it has worked well. The buttons below the touchpad are a glossy black as well as the the status indicators which let you know about the wireless, hard disk usage, caps and num lock status. The wrist rest portion is made of titanium and never gets hot even with extended use. The fan is located on the left side along with the DVD burner. The USB, Firewire, Media Card Reader, Network and PCMCIA slots are all on the right. This is one thing that I really like because the ports that I will tend to use the most are all readily available when I need them. Most notebooks in this price range only have two USB ports and almost none of the ones I looked at have a Firewire port. The back of the laptop has both VGA and S-Video ports which is good considering most people don’t use those ports very often other than to hook up and let it be. The display build quality leaves a little to be desired. You can push in the top center of the laptop with one finger and it seems to flex a little more than I would like. The plastic seems a little cheap compared to the CPU case. The LCD panel shows ripples, but you have to apply a fair amount of pressure to see this. The outer casing of the LCD has some space between the LCD panel and the case. This is the only downfall to an otherwise superbly built laptop. In my opinion, a laptop is not meant to sit on a desk all day so the LCD protection should be just as good as the rest of it. Its almost like a $1500 laptop with a $50 screen. On a more positive note, the screen is very bright and has no dead pixels as of yet after 4 months of use. There is also no backlighting and the color replication is very good for an LCD.

Top View open

Top View closed

 

Bottom View

Right Side View

Left Side View

Back View

Front Side View

Speakers

The speakers are standard laptop speakers but the sound is very good. One of the things I did not like about my previous laptop was that the speakers weren’t very loud and sounded like they were in a can. There is minimal distortion with the volume at 100% but this was just to test. I usually keep the volume around 55% with good results. The Sigmatel audio interface offers some settings for room correction and virtual surround. This came in handy when I purchased the Logitech X540 surround sound system. Although the computer only has a 2.1 sound port, the virtual surround feature allowed me to emulate 5.1 surround sound.

Processor and Performance

This is my first experience with the AMD processors and I must say that I am very impressed with the performance of the TL-50. For multitasking the TL-50 performs exceptionally well. At any given time I will have Winamp, Firefox, Thunderbird and Star Office open with no hiccups or lags. I have noticed a downside and this is in Paint.net. When I apply filters to a photo and it has to render the TL-50 takes a lot longer then I would expect it to. An example is applying a simple color to black and white filter to a 2560×1920 picture which takes about 25 seconds. This could be that Paint.net is not optimized for dual core operation or that the Turion doesn’t handle these processes very well. In my research of the Turion 64 X2 vs. Core 2 Duo I noted that the Core 2 Duo handles photo and video editing in a much faster timeframe then the Turion 64. This is the only real downside I have found in the few months of using this laptop. Overall, I would give this processor 8 out of 10 stars since the processor is great for what I use it for. If I were heavy into photo editing, video editing or gaming then I would most definitely go with a Core 2 Duo. This fits well with my budget notebook’s price vs. performance ratio.

Benchmarks:

PC Mark05 Comparison Results

 

Notebook PCMark05 Score
Gateway MT6451 (1.60GHz Turion X2, ATI XPress 1150m) 2,447PCMarks
HP Compaq 6515b (1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52, ATI x1270) 2,420 PCMarks
Toshiba Satellite A135 (Core Duo T2250, Intel GMA 950) 3,027 PCMarks
HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400) 4,234 PCMarks
Fujitsu LifeBook A6010 (1.66GHz Core 2 Duo, Intel GMA 950) 2,994 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) 3,427 PCMarks

 

Vista Windows Experience Index

Super PI Comparison Results

Notebook Super Pi to 2 Million Digits Time
Gateway MT6451 (1.60GHz Turion X2) 2m 06s
HP Compaq 6515b (1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52) 2m 05s
HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T2400) 59s
Dell Inspiron e1705 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo) 1m 02s
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo) 1m 18s
Toshiba A100 (2.0GHz Core Duo) 1m 18s
Samsung X60 (1.66GHz Core Duo) 1m 29s
Sony VAIO FS680 (1.86GHz Pentium M) 1m 53s
IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86GHz Pentium M) 1m 45s
HP dv5000z (2.0GHz Sempron 3300+) 2m 02s

 

 

HDD Tune

HDTune measures hard drive performance results

 

Graphics

The integrated graphics are the ATI Radeon Xpress 1150 solution which has 128MB of onboard memory and 128MB of shared memory. I have found that I am able to play older games at standard resolutions such as Star Wars Empire at War with minimal problems. For this review in I installed Half Life 2 Lost Coast and a Tomb Raider demo. As one would imagine this did not go so well. Even with the settings on the lowest possible the integrated card had trouble rendering semi complex scenes. I did a video stress test on Half Life 2 at the lowest settings and got a startling 15.6fps. For the minimal amount of computer gaming I do the integrated card has performed above expectations, though newer games will bring this card to its knees. The Aero interface works well with no problems whatsoever and performs exceptionally well under standard web and desktop use.

Battery Life

Battery life is on par with the six-cell lithium ion battery that comes with this laptop. With no power saving features used I get about an hour and a half off of a full charge. When I undervolt, use power saving profiles and very light use such as simple word processing, internet and email, I get about 2 hours and 15 minutes. This is acceptable for me given the minimal amount of time I carry around my laptop.

Heat and Noise

Heat and noise is minimal. When the fan does come on its very quiet and runs for a few seconds. I use RM Clock to undervolt my laptop depending on what I am using it for. Under standard configuration which is 1.6GHz I have a steady temperature of 60 degrees. When I drop down to .80GHz the temperature is 45 degrees. I also use an Antec Notebook Cooler with the fans on the cooler positioned to match the CPU and memory fan vents on the bottom to keep things pretty cool. Laptops are well known for getting very warm inside and hopefully this will extend the life of my laptop. The DVD drive is very quiet and performs well.

Warranty and Service

The laptop comes with a one year manufacturer’s warranty. Thankfully I have not had to use this but my experience with Gateway’s customer service in the past has been exceptionally above expectations. They are polite, knowledgeable and prompt.

Software

The amount of bloatware pre-installed on this laptop is what displeased me the most. When I got this computer I was expecting a nice speed boost with 1GB of RAM, twice the processor, and seven times the hard drive space as my last notebook. I got it home, turned it on and it ran as slow as my old P3 1GHz did. There was more than enough bloatware installed to hinder the initial performance. On the positive side, Gateway did something that I don’t hear of very often. I received two restore discs with one being a full system restore DVD with Vista, drivers and all the bloatware included. The other disk said it was an operating system disk with Gateway’s logo on it. I put in this disc and much to my suprise it was my pre-activated clean Vista install disc. It only installed Vista with default settings, no bloatware at all and my first startup after install was above expectations considering my initial out of the box startup. The only thing I had to do was go online and find my drivers, but that was an easy task from the Gateway website for my computer model. I applaud Gateway for giving me a choice of having a bloated or clean install. Some people use the programs and it would be fine for the average user, but for a power use who will go in and tweak and optimize for their liking the clean install was a nice option.

Conclusion

The Gateway MT6451 definitely is a good laptop dollar for dollar. After a few months of everyday use I can say that I am very pleased with my purchase. I’ve had no hardware problems to speak of yet and for what I use this laptop for it has met my expectations in most areas and exceeded my expectations in others. I have recommended this laptop on more than one occasion taking into consideration what the user would be doing with it. I am a long time customer of Gateway and based on my current experience with this laptop will most likely continue to be in the future. One feature that I would have liked to see is a SATA hard drive or at least a 5400rpm PATA hard drive. As it stands my only option to upgrade is to use a PATA interface vs. the more standard and better performing SATA.

Pros:

  • Great performance when multitasking
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Very quiet during operation
  • Feature packed and affordable
  • Speakers sound very nice even at high volume levels
  • Plenty of available ports
  • Processor is upgradable in the future

Cons:

  • LCD screen is not very sturdy and poorly built
  • Could have had a SATA hard drive
  • Came with RAM configuration of 512MB x 2, had to buy 1GB x2 to upgrade to 2GB
  • Bloatware on initial setup, but this is offset by the operating system only disc
  • A little on the heavy side: 6lbs.
  • Keyboard flex on the left side


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