- Nice price for the features
- Great performance
- Good looks and build quality
- Limited port selection
- Few changes from previous models
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:
- Windows Vista Home Premium (SP1, 64-bit)
- Intel Core 2 Duo Processor P8400 (2.26GHz, 3MB L2, 1066MHz FSB)
- 17″ WXGA+ Glossy LCD display at 1440×900 (Reviewed with a 1920×1200 WUXGA Panel)
- NVIDIA GeForce 9800M GTS with 1GB GDDR3 memory
- Intel 5100AGN Wireless
- 4GB PC3-8500 DDR3 SDRAM (2GB x 2)
- 320GB Western Digital Scorpio Black hard disk drive (7200RPM)
- DVD SuperMulti (+/-R double layer) drive with Labelflash
- 1.3 megapixel webcam, stereo speakers
- 120W (19V x 6.32A) 100-240V AC Adapter
- 9-cell 86.6Wh Lithium Ion battery
- Dimensions (WxDxH): 15.75” x 11.75” x 1.3” – 1.7”
- Weight: 8lbs 15.6oz, 10lbs 8.8oz with AC adapter
- 1-Year Standard Limited Warranty
- Price as configured: $1,299.99
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 1920×1200 WUXGA screen, although this model is actually supposed to include a WXGA+ 1440×900 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.
Performance and Benchmarks
The P-7805u FX has an Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 and NVIDIA 9800M GTS working together to give excellent results while gaming. The processor might not seem as high end or fast as others, but one reason for it is to keep costs down as well as power consumption. In our tests the notebook performed very well across a wide range of games including Call of Duty 5: World at War, Left 4 Dead, and Bioshock, even at the WUXGA native resolution of our review machine. For our game tests we generally disable or lower Anti-Aliasing, disable V-Sync, and turn the detail settings to high. Below are screenshots showing the average frames per second under high motion scenes.
Another nice aspect of this notebook was the 7200rpm drive, which helps speed up load times between game levels, and can even lower the amount of time needed to install applications.
Outside of gaming the P-7805u FX performed quite well as a media hub for a home theater, decoding 720p and 1080p videos without any problems. Most modern full-size notebooks have the ability to decode HD movies using software decoding with the processor, but if you have dedicated graphics you can put that in charge and lower processor usage, allowing you to multitask better if needed.
wPrime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):
|Notebook / CPU||wPrime 32M time|
|Sony VAIO FW (Core 2 Duo T9400 @ 2.53GHz)
|Dell Studio 17 (Core 2 Duo T9300 @ 2.50GHz)||31.574 seconds|
|Dell Studio XPS 16 (Core 2 Duo P8600 @ 2.40GHz)||31.827 seconds|
|ASUS F50SV-A2 (Core 2 Duo P8600 @ 2.40GHz)||31.857 seconds|
|Gateway P-7805u FX (Core 2 Duo P8400 @ 2.26GHz)||34.287 seconds|
|HP Pavilion dv6z (AMD Athlon X2 QL-64 @ 2.10GHz)
PCMark05 measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):
|Gateway P-7805u FX (2.26GHz Intel P8400, NVIDIA GeForce 9800M GTS 1GB)||6,637 PCMarks|
|Dell Studio XPS 16 (2.4GHz Intel P8600, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3670 512MB)||6,303 PCMarks|
|ASUS F50SV-A2 (2.4GHz Intel P8600, Nvidia GeForce GT 120M 1GB)||6,005 PCMarks|
|Sony VAIO FW (2.53GHz Intel T9400, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3470)||6,002 PCMarks|
|Dell Studio 17 (2.50GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3650)||5,982 PCmarks|
|HP Pavilion dv6z (2.10GHz AMD Athlon X2 QL-64, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4530 512MB)||4,119 PCMarks|
3DMark06 graphics comparison against notebooks @ 1280 x 800 resolution (higher scores mean better performance):
|Gateway P-7805u FX (2.26GHz Intel P8400, NVIDIA GeForce 9800M GTS 1GB)||9,190 3DMarks|
|ASUS F50SV-A2 (2.4GHz Intel P8600, Nvidia GeForce GT 120M 1GB)||5,152 3DMarks|
|Dell Studio XPS 16 (2.4GHz Intel P8600, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3670 512MB)
|HP Pavilion dv6z (2.10GHz AMD Athlon X2 QL-64, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4530 512MB)||3,254 3DMarks|
|Dell Studio 17 (2.50GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3650)||2,974 3DMarks|
|Sony VAIO FW (2.53GHz Intel T9400, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3470)||2,598 3DMarks|
Heat and Noise
Under the light load of normal activity the Gateway P-7805u FX kept temperatures to a minimum and fared just as well as other non-gaming notebooks. Once under the stress of a game though the notebook warmed up significantly. Exhaust temperatures were high enough to make your hand uncomfortable if near the vent on the side, and sometimes the notebook would seem as though it would overheat if the air intake on the bottom was blocked. While it never fully crashed or stopped a game, there were some instances where odd glitches would happen, and then I would notice I was blocking the intake with my leg. The external temperatures below are listed in degrees Fahrenheit.
Noise from the cooling system was higher than average, since it has to move more air to cool its processor and powerful GPU. Under light loads depending on how long the notebook has been on the fan was at a faster speed than most notebooks, and under load it kicked it up an additional notch. It is probably loud enough to be noticed in a small lecture hall or conference room.
Battery life for a 17” gaming notebook was very good, with plenty of time to take notes or surf the web away from an outlet. With the screen brightness set to 70%, wireless active, and Vista on the Balanced profile the system stayed on the 3 hours and 29 minutes. Using the same settings, but having the system set to Power Saver or High Performance, the notebook stayed on for 3 hours and 43 minutes and 3 hours and 20 minutes respectively. Compared to some gaming notebooks that can barely get an hour and a half on battery, getting 3.5 hours is pretty amazing.
The Gateway P-7805u FX is a very competent gaming notebook, capable of playing modern games at good frame rates and gets impressive battery life under light activity. Compared to when we last saw this series of notebook it has received a slightly better graphics card with double the video memory and larger hard drive, while still managing to drop in price by $100. Overall for the price it is hard to pass up this notebook if you are in the market for a gaming rig below $1,500.
- Nice price for the features
- Great performance
- Good looks and decent build quality
- Limited port selection
- Few body changes from previous models