P-6831 LCD Quality

Given that we know there are at least two different LCD models available with the Gateway FX P-series notebooks, it's important to make it clear that we are reviewing the 1440x900 WXGA+ LCD. The LCD on our particular notebook comes from Samsung, the LTN170X2. As usual, we are dealing with a TN panel, which means worse viewing angles and 6-bit colors. The good news is that the pixel response time is better than older notebook panels (16ms vs. 25ms), and the backlight is rated at 200 nits.

While Samsung states that the contrast ratio is 500:1, it seemed much worse in person and testing confirmed that at least on our particular model the contrast ratio was much lower. Images appeared to be washed out in comparison to other recent notebooks, although we did notice the improvement in brightness. Let's start with a look at brightness levels and contrast ratio.


Display
Quality

Display
Quality

Display
Quality

The white levels are good for a laptop, coming in at over 200 nits. Unfortunately, black levels scale proportionately, and the result is a relatively poor final contrast ratio of around 250:1. We've mentioned in the past that marketing has gotten a bit carried away with the importance of certain specifications, contrast ratio and response time being two of the biggest culprits. The thing is, such specifications are important when they fall below a certain point. It's difficult to tell the difference between a 2000:1 and a 1000:1 contrast ratio, but the difference between 500:1 and 250:1 is very blatant. We're not quite sure why our test results and the LCD specifications differ so much; it could be that Gateway cut some other costs related to the LCD and that's why the contrast ratio is much lower than expected. It's not enough to make us actually recommend against purchasing the P-6831, although if you demand a high-quality LCD you might want to look elsewhere or use an external display.

A new addition to our LCD testing is a look at color gamut. This is something we have wanted to add previously, but we hadn't found any good utilities for generating the appropriate charts and data. We recently found out about Gamutvision, a utility developed by Imatest LLC. They were kind enough to provide us with a copy of their software, and it does exactly what we need. We compared the color profiles of all previously tested laptops to the Adobe RGB 1998 color profile. Below is a chart of the gamut volume for the Gateway P-6831 FX, along with a graph showing the percentage of the Adobe RGB 1998 gamut from the various laptops. Prepare to be disappointed….


Laptop
Display Quality


We commented in the past about how great the LCD on the ASUS G2P looks in comparison to other laptop LCDs. We now have some more detail as to why it looks better. Nearly all of the laptop LCDs we have tested provide less than 50% of the Adobe RGB color gamut — and note that there are more exacting standards than Adobe RGB 1998. The G2P sets the high water mark at 73.28%, while the vast majority of the other notebooks fall under 50%.

More Information on NVIDIA Drivers Display Quality, Continued
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  • marsbound2024 - Tuesday, April 01, 2008 - link

    It looks as if at least Best Buy is also shipping models only with 7800mAh batteries now. So it could be that this whole 2600mAh thing was quickly changed. But basically if you buy one now, you are getting the bigger battery and it is certainly not an option to go smaller. Now for the display, I will let you know. I know for a fact it didn't have a battery jutting out, so that could be a 2600mAh or hey, none at all. If that's the case, it's an honest mistake. I will check the next time I work. But current research points at everyone getting a 7800mAh and no option now to go smaller. In fact, on Gateway's website, they removed the 2600mAh spec. Reply
  • KeithP - Friday, March 28, 2008 - link

    If you don't mind a little constructive criticism, the car analogy in final conclusion is way over done IMHO. After that first sentence, everything else could have been deleted. We got it, move on. It just seemed like filler to me.

    Regards,
    KeithP
    Reply
  • krwilsonn - Sunday, March 30, 2008 - link

    I actually really liked the car analogy! It could relate because a laptop "on the go", just like a car. The performance comparisons between laptops and cars are also very true, so I can't agree that it was filler as it did illustrate an important point about the performance characteristics of the laptop compared to others. Also, I think the idea that it is an "everyman" sort of laptop that is specifically capable for gaming at a great price makes it a perfect fit for alot of gamers who would probably be able to upgrade every couple years anyway. Obviously most people aren't going to spent $4000 on a laptop anyway. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, March 28, 2008 - link

    The latest Intel chipsets are able to run dual-channel with mismatched memory sizes, as the others above pointed out. There is a small performance penalty, but in truth RAM performance isn't the primary bottleneck, particularly on notebooks. Look at the WidowPC vs. AVADirect scores - the AVADirect uses faster RAM, but performance is still a tossup.

    Someone mentioned bloatware, and in the midst of testing and finishing things up, I neglected to cover that topic. The laptop does indeed come with a lot of crap software installed. However, it's not necessary to do a clean install - I just uninstalled all the extra stuff and that's what I tested. It took an hour or so all told (the internet security suite takes a while to remove), but the result is a much leaner setup. Highly recommended.

    If you want to upgrade the CPU, my recommendation would be to go for the T8300. eWiz http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?p=T8300BOX">has it for $240, and it would totally remove the CPU bottleneck in games. If you want to go for the T9300 to get the additional cache and 100MHz more, http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?p=T9300BOX">it costs around $320, so I'm not sure it's worth the money for most people.

    Folding@Home can run on the system - that leaves the CPU fan on max, which may reduce the life expectancy of the fan (okay, it *will* reduce the fan life), but it's not terribly loud. With the T5450, however, Folding@Home SMP needs to run pretty much 24/7 to complete work units within the alloted time.

    Regarding temperatures, a lot will depend on the operating environment. During the winter months when few houses or offices are much above 70F, I doubt many will complain. In the summer, I imagine it will be quite a bit warmer. This is at its heart a desktop replacement, like all other 17" notebooks. You can carry it around and use it on a bus/plane if you want, but that's not the primary intended role. At maximum load after 30 minutes the bottom of the laptop gets relatively warm... I'll run some tests quick and update the article in the next hour or so.

    Finally, a bunch of people complain about my mentioning the ASUS G2P. Here's the deal: the G2P was a $1900 laptop when it launched, and in my review at that time I loved the LCD but lambasted the weak GPU choice. Only laptops with a Go 7900 GS were adequate, but those cost well over $2000 at the time (not counting prices obtained via auction sites and short-term sales). The G2S is a decent notebook today, but NOT FOR GAMING! Look at the results from the Toshiba X205; that includes an 8700M GT, which is moderately faster than the 8600M GT in the G2S (higher clock speeds). The X205 had a T7200 (more cache and a 2.0GHz clock) and the P-6831 already outperforms it by up to 100%! The G2S is a great multimedia laptop, but gaming performance is still very weak. If ASUS had a laptop with an 8800M (GTS or GTX - I don't care) in it, I'd be all over it. If they could do it for $1500 or less, then the Gateway P-6831 would have some competition.
    Reply
  • VooDooAddict - Friday, April 04, 2008 - link

    Can anyone confirm that the T8300 or T9300 work in this laptop?

    I saw a post that someone fitted the laptop with a 65nm T7500 but I've seen no mention of the 45nm T8300.

    Thanks.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, April 04, 2008 - link

    The higher end models of this same chassis ship with Penryn chips, so it *shouldn't* be a problem putting a T8300 in a lower-end FX system. Reply
  • Wolfpup - Saturday, March 29, 2008 - link

    Thanks for the Folding @ Home info! I hope it'll do okay. Wish laptops were like desktops where it just doesn't matter :-/

    I'm kind of baffled by this dual channel with mismatching DIMM sizes thing. I've never seen that covered in chipset reviews. I guess it's leaving SOME of the RAM in dual channel mode, and some (the left over 1GB)? Weird. So just randomly some memory accesses would have double the bandwidth of others.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, March 29, 2008 - link

    It's been around since the Intel P965/975X chipsets. It's called Intel Flex Memory Technology. All I can find on the subject says that it "Gives users a more flexible memory upgrade option by allowing different memory sizes to be installed while maintaining dual-channel mode/performance." There's no clear indication of what exactly they're doing (maybe in a white paper somewhere?), but I suspect the interleaving of data between the memory channels is modified in this arrangement. Performance may not be as high as a matched dual-channel config, but it's still better than single-channel.

    Of course, last I recall seeing this tested, dual-channel only improved actual system performance by 5-15% depending on the platform. Since notebook chipsets are already bottlenecked by a slower FSB, the improved memory bandwidth probably doesn't matter that much. The FSB is 133MHz base, quad-pumped. The RAM is 333MHz base, double-pumped. Both deliver the same bandwidth before dual-channel ever comes into play.
    Reply
  • jburgett - Saturday, March 29, 2008 - link

    Thank you for updating the article with temperature info! That is definitely something you can't infer from the spec sheet.
    Nice job!


    Reply
  • dtonnes - Friday, March 28, 2008 - link

    Back in October '06 I bought (via ebay) a new Dell Inspiron 9400, 100GB 7200HD, Geforce 7900gs, 2gb ram, T7200 processor, 1920 X 1200 screen for $1684. I've since updated it with a 200GB 7200HD and 4gb DDR667 RAM.

    It doesn't really seem like there's much more bang for the buck today than when I bought my machine a year and a half ago. Perhaps the most sensible upgrade right now would be to replace the 7900gs. Does anyone know if this is possible?
    Reply

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