Introduction

It's a given fact that computers have been getting smaller since the days of vacuum tubes and ENIAC. What was once a glorified calculator that took up a space the size of a football field can now fit in something the size of your watch. Tasks that used to take months to compute on a mainframe can now be calculated in minutes on a midrange desktop system. Even in a relatively short period of time, we still see progression so that your top-end desktop gaming powerhouse from two or three years ago can be surpassed by a modern laptop.

That's all well and good, but a big problem a lot of people have with gaming notebooks is that their size relative to typical laptops is rather large, making them less convenient to carry around. Relatively short battery life is another drawback. But perhaps the biggest drawback is a very simple one: price.

We recently looked at the Dell XPS M1730, which is arguably the fastest gaming notebook currently available. With its 8800M GTX SLI graphics chips and overclockable Penryn X9000 CPU, you get performance that surpasses most desktops from 18 months ago, or if you prefer performance that will match a reasonably configured midrange desktop system. If you put together a Core 2 Duo E8400 system with something between GeForce 9600 GT 512 SLI and 8800 GT 512 SLI graphics, you should have roughly comparable performance. The problem is that such a desktop system can be assembled for less than $1500, whereas the powerful XPS M1730 costs about three times as much.

What would be really nice is if we had a viable midrange gaming laptop alternative — something that offers reasonable performance for under $1500. We're not talking about any of the junk shipping with integrated graphics, or low-end stuff like GeForce 8400 or even 8700M GT. And while they're reasonably fast, even single GPU 8800M GTX notebooks like the AVADirect (Clevo) M570RU start at over $2000. How about a laptop with graphics performance that can at least match the GeForce 9600 GT? After all, the 9600 GT can be had for a mere $150 and it doesn't seem to consume that much power; how hard can it be to put something like that into a laptop?

In fact, it's not really all that difficult, and NVIDIA launched exactly that sort of chip in late 2007 with the GeForce 8800M GTS. It has 64 Stream Processors, just like the 9600 GT. Most of the gaming laptops have opted for the more powerful (and more expensive) 8800M GTX with its 96 SPs, so we were quite interested to see exactly how much performance you give up by going with the 8800M GTS. Unfortunately, we can't really do an apples-to-apples comparison here, because Gateway didn't stop at cutting down the GPU. In the system we received, they also trimmed the CPU performance quite a bit, dropping all the way to a 1.66GHz Core 2 Duo T5450. That certainly means CPU performance isn't going to match up well against something like a 2.8GHz X9000; what we want to find out is whether it can still provide adequate performance.


If you've ever looked at buying a gaming notebook, you have likely been very disappointed in the offerings that cost less than $2000. In fact, up until Gateway dropped the P-6831 FX on the mobile gaming market, we honestly haven't seen anything that would even qualify as a good midrange gaming notebook. Gateway didn't just break a $2000 price barrier, however. Available at locations like Best Buy for a mere $1350 (and currently with a $100 rebate), the P-6831 FX completely redefines the midrange gaming notebook. Let's look at how they managed to do this.

Gateway P-6831 FX Overview
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  • deshiboy - Monday, January 25, 2010 - link

    I use the FX for school and my Sager 8690 for gaming. Sager looks plain but preforms likes a desktop, I wish they did a better job on the battery life. But thats where my FX comes in to save the day. Reply
  • atlmann10 - Tuesday, August 05, 2008 - link

    Gateways doing the same thing with the next on this line except its centrino 2/core2duo with ddr3 and a 9800 GTI for 1449 frickin awesome these will be hard to come by after the last one (the one in this review) Reply
  • atlmann10 - Tuesday, August 05, 2008 - link

    oh with a 7200 rpm Hard drive and wireless N oh did I mention ddr3 can you say lower power better performance Reply
  • xeryx - Thursday, June 05, 2008 - link

    Obviously Gateway and Best Buy has decided to blow away the competition with this notebook!!

    I have been laptop Gaming for years, because my job keeps me on the road alot. It is a great way to pass the time away from family, and stay out of trouble.

    I currently own a Sager 17" laptop with the 7800m 2gb, and a 80gb hd. When I bought it new it was $2200.

    As a comparison to the Gateway, (Best Buy version)get an almost equivalent system from Sager, your looking at $2200. In all fairness, that is the 8800gtx ($395) and a 2.1 ghz (t8100) with no option of a second HD, let alone Raid 0. It also has the fingerprint scanner.

    To me the 2nd hd (even though 5400) is very important, let alone the potential for raid 0. I find that laptop HD performance is not very good overall, and can cause delays when gaming.

    Screen resolution, I have been gaming at 1680x1050 and in all honesty, it is too high for a 17" screen. Especially in the desktop. 1920 is way too high for a 17" screen, unless you have SLI8800m's. That is a completely different bracket.

    In my opinion they did an excellent job in trading off, and adding in some very key features. SO you basically save $1000.00 for a little bit less performance than a 8800 GTX machine. The key here though is at @ $1200, not $2000 you get a machine that will be able to handle just about anything you can through at it (Crysis doesn't count).

    If you are thinking about getting a laptop, for gaming...this is the absolute best smoking deal you can find!!
    Reply
  • Rekonn - Friday, April 11, 2008 - link

    Anybody have an update on when the P-6860fx will be out? Reply
  • Rekonn - Friday, April 11, 2008 - link

    Found answer today on Yahoo finance:

    The Gateway P-6860FX comes with Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit Edition with SP1 and will be available beginning this weekend at Best Buy with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $1,349.99. It comes with NVIDIA® GeForce™ 8800M GTS 512MB GDDR3, an Intel Core 2 Duo T5450 processor, 3072MB of DDR2 SDRAM and a 250GB(1) 5400RPM SATA hard drive. This system also comes with a multi-format dual layer DVD-R/RW/DVD-RAM drive with LabelFlash technology(2) for burning images and text onto a DVD or CD.
    Reply
  • teknomedic - Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - link

    I've returned both my P-6831s because of the P-6860FX... the above post is a bit wrong about the specs... here's what I know:

    Gateway P-6860 FX
    Basically the same as the P-6831 with a few nice upgrades:

    Proc = T5550 @ 1.83-1.86Ghz (up from T5450 @ 1.6Ghz)
    RAM = 4GB (up from 3GB)
    HDD = 320GB SATA (5400rpm) (up from 250GB)
    OS = Vista Home Premium SP1 (64bit) (up/down from 32bit?)
    MSRP Price = $1,349.99 (same price before BB $100 off online)

    All other hardware appears to be the same... there's a small chance that the CD-Burner supports one more Dual Layer format, but that could simply be because of Best Buy not listing specs correctly.



    Side note... has anyone had issues with the right speaker having bad distortions on certain sounds or speach from games... both my P6831s had this issue (another reason I returned them).


    TK.



    HEY, Anandtech.com.... any chance we can get a refreshed review including the P-6860... it would be interesting to see if the extra boost of Proc and RAM with 64bit OS helps or hurts the laptop.

    ***please, please, please, please, please***

    Reply
  • xeryx - Thursday, June 05, 2008 - link

    You did forget a couple of other differences.

    BTW Get this Laptop at Best Buy!! The upgrades are well worth it as compared to the Gateway website!!!

    1) Comes with the Bluetooth the Gateway 172s does not
    2) The wireless adapter is the upgraded to support b/g/n
    3) 64bit operating system vs 32bit

    Thank goodness you can Raid 0 this puppy later, I was worried! The specs for the 172s says no raid support??
    Reply
  • kyp275 - Monday, April 21, 2008 - link

    aye, a refresh on the review for the 6860 would be great :) Reply
  • Rekonn - Tuesday, April 22, 2008 - link

    Yes, please update the review! I'm planning to buy a laptop soon and would love to see how the faster Proc, more RAM, and 64bit OS affect results. Reply

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