Gateway P-6831 FX: Best Midrange Gaming Notebook Everby Jarred Walton on March 28, 2008 6:00 AM EST
- Posted in
Gateway P-6831 FX Overview
Okay, so Gateway cut down the graphics card a bit and they went with one of the cheapest Core 2 Duo processors available. What else did they trim in order to that price point? As amazing as it may seem, there really weren't any other serious compromises:
|Gateway P-6831 FX Specifications|
|Processor||Core 2 Duo T5450 (1.67GHz 2MB 667FSB)
Note: New versions are shipping with the T5550 (1.83GHz 2MB 667FSB)
|Chipset||Intel GM965 + ICH8-M|
|Memory||1x1024MB + 1x2048MB DDR2-667|
|Graphics||NVIDIA GeForce 8800M GTS 512MB|
|Display||17" WXGA+ (1440x900) UltraBright|
|Hard Drive||250GB 5400RPM 8MB Cache|
|Optical Drive||8X SuperMulti DVD+/-RW|
|Networking||Integrated Gigabit Ethernet
Intel 4965AGN WiFi
|Audio||Intel 2-Channel HD Audio|
|Front Side||Front LCD Latch
WiFi On/Off switch
|Left Side||2 x USB 2.0
Optical Drive (DVDRW)
GPU Cooling Exhaust
1 x USB 2.0
5-in-1 Flash Reader (MS, MS Pro, MMC, SD, xD)
|Back Side||Power Connector
CPU Cooling Exhaust
|Operating System||Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit|
|Dimensions||15.75" x 11.75" x 1.3"-1.70" (WxDxH)|
|Weight||9.2 lbs (single HDD)|
1 x 2.5" HDD bay available
You get everything that you would
expect to find in a reasonably high-end notebook. First, Gateway equips the
notebook with a whopping 3GB of memory. Why use 3GB rather than 2GB or 4GB? Since
the system is running Windows Vista 32-bit, going beyond 3GB won't really help.
We would have been content with 2GB, but we see no reason to complain about the
extra 1GB. Should you choose, you can of course remove the 1GB SO-DIMM and try
upgrading the laptop to 4GB of memory — and a 64-bit OS if you're willing to install it on your own. The specs say the laptop only supports up to 3GB of RAM, but we can't think of any reason why that should be the case.
For communications, you get Gigabit and 802.11N networking, plus Bluetooth support; heck, you even get a modem. On the storage side, you get a DVD burner plus 250GB of hard drive storage. There's even a second empty hard drive slot (populated on higher-end FX notebooks). USB ports, HDMI and VGA video connections, a flash memory reader, and ExpressCard/54 slot are all par for the course. All of this is put into a 17" chassis.
There are a few other compromises made, of course. First, the hard drive is a slower 5400RPM model, but considering the capacity even that isn't much of a compromise. The only larger 2.5" notebook drive currently available is a 320GB model, which also runs at 5400RPM but costs quite a bit more. Still, a 200GB 7200RPM Drive would be slightly faster. The only remaining compromise we can see is their use of a 1440x900 LCD panel. The higher-end FX notebooks include 1920x1200 LCDs, but their prices start at $2000.
Perhaps one of the biggest drawbacks to Gateway notebooks is that there are no customization options in terms of components. On the Gateway website, there are currently five versions of the Gateway FX P-series available, and each one comes with a specific memory, storage, graphics, and CPU configuration. Perhaps you don't need high performance graphics but would like a faster processor? Too bad — that's not an option unless you want to do the upgrade on your own. More shocking is that the P-6831 isn't even for sale directly from Gateway — it's only available at retail outlets. So in total, there are six notebook configurations that use the same chassis, but unlike Dell and other competing OEMs, you can't custom build a laptop to your specifications. If that's the price we have to pay, we're okay with making the sacrifice. The P-6831 is undoubtedly the most interesting of the six models anyway... though we really would have liked the option to get a 1920x1200 LCD for a few hundred dollars more.
Note: Several readers have written and mentioned that Gateway is now shipping some P-6831 laptops with T5550 CPUs. Over time, we expect this transition to extend to all new laptops, so performance will be up to 10% faster than the system we tested. The T5450 works well for gaming already, so a faster CPU for free is merely icing on the cake.