Gateway P-6831FX Gaming Notebook

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In the last six months we've seen a wide variety of cost effective, yet powerful, video cards hit the market. First came NVIDIA's superb GeForce 8800 GT last October which, despite being introduced at an upper mid-range price point, provided top-notch performance not far off from the best cards of the day at nearly 1/3 the price. The 8800 GT was followed closely by the launch of the thrifty GeForce 9600 GT just a few months later which provided similar performance for even less. Then, last week, ATI fired back with the excellent Radeon HD 4850 and Radeon HD 4870 video cards which retail at the same affordable mid-range prices but provide strong performance that is eclipsed only by the most monstrous and expensive cards currently available. Indeed, building a capable gaming computer hasn't been this cost effective in years and at this time we have an unprecedented number of solid video card choices in the mid-range price segment.

Unfortunately, nearly all of the action has been on the desktop. While notebook graphics have received a few updates in the last year, relatively little progress has been made in terms of performance in the mid-range. Since its debut last May, the
GeForce 8600M has been the poster child for mid-range mobile graphics. Until recently, it was the graphics card most commonly seen in multimedia and gaming inclined mid-range notebooks. This is unfortunate since the GeForce 8600M has shown that it simply isn't an ideal gaming card and it can't begin to compete with the superb mid-range desktop video cards of today. The introduction of the GeForce 9600M series and the Mobility Radeon HD 3600 series greatly expanded the number of graphics card choices available for mid-range notebooks, but unfortunately performance has not improved much over the previous generation.

The result of this stagnation in the mid-range mobile graphics segment is that gamers will need to upgrade to a high-end GeForce 8800M equipped notebook in order to enjoy gaming performance similar to a mid-range gaming desktop system. While there are quite a few manufacturers building 8800M equipped notebooks, almost all of them are high-end products that demand top dollar for the pleasure. Gateway's "P-Series FX" line-up of 17" gaming notebooks seems no different at first glance. However careful inspection of product specifications reveals that their most junior P-Series FX model weighs in at just $1,349.99, a decidedly mid-range price point. Yet it's still powered by a GeForce 8800M, just like the rest of the otherwise high-end FX notebook line-up. This GPU choice alone potentially makes the junior P-Series FX model one of the best gaming and multimedia machines in the entire mid-range notebook price segment, so we couldn't resist taking a closer look.




Gateway P-6831FX Gaming Notebook
System Specifications - As Reviewed
Processor
Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T5450 (1.67Hz,2M L2 Cache,667MHz FSB)

Operating System
Windows Vista Home Premium

Memory
3GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM @ 667MHz

Screen
17" WXGA+ (1440x900) Ultrabright

Graphics Card
512MB NVIDIA GeForce 8800M GTS

Communications
Gigabit LAN Controller
56k ITU v.92 ready Fax/Modem
Integrated 802.11a/b/g/n
Built-in Bluetooth™ V2.0+EDR

Camera
Integrated 1.3 MP web camera

Audio

HD 2-channel Audio
Built-in speakers and microphone


Hard Drive
250GB 5400RPM SATA Hard Drive

Optical Drive
Multi-format, Dual Layer, DVD-R/RW with DVD-RAM and LabelFlash Technology

Power
9-cell 7800 mAh Li-Ion Battery
120 Watt AC Adapter


Weight & Dimensions
Width: 15.75" (400 mm)
Depth: 11.75" (298 mm)
Height: 1.3"-1.7" (33 mm - 43 mm)
Weight: 9.2 lbs (4.2 kg) - includes 9-cell battery

External Ports
3 x USB 2.0 ports
1 x VGA port/Mini D-sub 15-pin
1 x HDMI v1.2 Port
1 x eSATA
1 x 4-pin Firewire port
1 x RJ11 Modem port
1 x RJ45 Ethernet (
10/100/1000
) port
1 x 5-in-1 card reader
1 x ExpressCard 54mm slot
1 x headphone port (S/PDIF)
1 x stereo line-in (microphone) port



Included Accessories and Extras

Phone/modem cable
Manual & Quickstart Guide
Recovery DVD
Microsoft Works 9.0
Microsoft® Money Essentials
Microsoft® Office Home and Student 2007 (60-day complimentary trial period)
Norton Internet Security™ (60-day live updates)


Warranty And Support
1-year parts & labor limited warranty
1-year battery pack warranty




Price: $1,349.99 USD (as configured here)







 



Unlike the rest of the P-Series FX models, the P-6831FX can't be ordered from Gateway's website, nor can it be customized. It's only available at BestBuy in a single fixed configuration. Thankfully, it's fairly well equipped and you get a lot of bang for your 1,350 bucks. The P-6831FX is powered by a 512MB GeForce 8800M GTS, a very capable video card. The 17" screen only sports a somewhat low resolution for its size of 1440x900, but this may actually be a blessing in disguise. A lower resolution means you'll seemingly get even more gaming performance out of the GeForce 8800M than you would with a screen capable of a higher 1680x1050 or 1920x1200 resolution.

In order to keep costs down, Gateway has equipped the P-6831FX with a relatively low-end Core 2 Duo T5450 processor, one of the slowest of the mobile Core 2 Duo's. Thankfully the processor is the weakest link in the whole system and nothing else is notably lacking. While the T5450 is a perfectly fine office productivity and basic multimedia processor, we're a little worried about how it will perform in today's games. As you'll see in our benchmarks on the following pages though, our fears were relatively unfounded, at least when it came to gaming.

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Comments

Comments
ice91785 6 years ago

I am a bit confused why the author referrs to this notebook as a mid-range notebook? On a consumer-level I would definately consider it high-end -- the only way that it may be mid-range is if you start to toss workstation NBs in the picture.

Anyway, with the exception of the CPU and (I believe it was a 6-cell) battery I would definitely like this NB for myself. Its a bit costly however, but the look of it is great and I like the semi-upgradability as well.

Toss it down to like $1,100 and I would probably jump on it -- either that or throw in current-gen CPU and a 12-cell battery and I will gladly pay the $1,300

 

MikeL_HH 6 years ago
It's your lucky day. The P-6860FX is on sale right now for $1,100. The exact price you asked for.

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?skuId=8780198&type=product&id=1204332501169
MikeL_HH 6 years ago
Hey Ice, i'd say $1,350 is pretty mid-range for a notebook. Upper mid-range if you want to divide it further. Low-end would be sub-$800 and high-end would start in the $1,800 range and just keep going.

You're not going to find a notebook less than $1,500 with gaming performance close to the P-6831FX. Although the processor could definitely use an upgrade, but that would ruin the excellent price. All other 8800M equipped notebooks I can think of start in the $2,000 range.

It is a 9-cell, no typo.
ice91785 6 years ago

[quote user="LovelyCrap"]Hey Ice, i'd say $1,350 is pretty mid-range for a notebook. Upper mid-range if you want to divide it further. Low-end would be sub-$800 and high-end would start in the $1,800 range and just keep going.[/quote]

Let me ask you this (not trying to argue, just questioning is all): How could one improve the performance of the notebook further (while keeping this at a 32-bit OS) ... The only possible performance upgrade I would be able to think of is the CPU. The T5550 is definitely no slacker -- I guess if anything I may consider this CPU to be mid-range. 4GB of RAM, 8800M based video card, 17" screen, wireless N card is all pretty top-notch. Now maybe I have misunderstood but when you describe it as mid-range are you referring to the price or the performace?

I guess bottom line, again, what would you throw into the laptop to make it high-end?

[quote user="LovelyCrap"]It's your lucky day. The P-6860FX is on sale right now for $1,100 [at Best Buy]. The exact price you asked for. [/quote]

Yeah I noticed that too and cursed that I had mentioned it -- haha the sale had to come at the worst possible time for me. Alas, I've not enough dinero for the guy right now....I am sure the sale will be over next Friday when I would be able to pick it up Murphy's Law I suppose...

 

MikeL_HH 6 years ago
I see what you're saying Ice, but the ranges are determined by what the market provides at certain price points. Frankly, look at the $800-$1800 range in general. I don't mean only focus on great products and good deals. I mean look at everything available. That range is middle of the road in terms of the hardware you get. For over $1800 you start to get crazy stuff like 8800M, SLI, Core 2 Extremes, and even quad-core. For under $800 you start to get integrated graphics and low-end processors.

To make it high-end, I'd throw in at least a T9300. Then it would be high-end, no arguement, in my books. T5550 is not a high-end chip, at all. CPU and vid card are two of the biggest deciding factors and although you get a high-end 8800M, the CPU is pretty stale. Consider that you can grab a Dell for $499 and get a T5450 or a T5550 on a good day.

As for the sale. I'd wait for the next one. Being BestBuy, it'll happen again within 3 months.
ice91785 6 years ago

[quote user="LovelyCrap"]s for the sale. I'd wait for the next one. Being BestBuy, it'll happen again within 3 months.[/quote] 

Being a worker @ Best Buy, I can tell you that the item is on sale due to the fact we will not be selling it anymore -- that is it'll be deleted from our systems.......

I couldn't agree with ya more in terms of deciding factors on performance for notebooks. I guess when I look at a notebook that is a Core 2 Extreme or quad core I would not consider that even a true notebook just due to the fact that the mobility factor is shot unless you drop another $200 on a 12 or 15 celll battery.

Basically performance to this guy means good hardware (8800M, T7xx or T8xx series CPU, and 3-4GB of RAM) and is what I'd expect. It just gets to that point that you might as well buy a desktop if you wanted straight performance.....but that is the fine line that these manufactors dance I guess when they engineer such specs

emgoodman 6 years ago

 Ice,

 

Just stumbled accross this post.  I purchased a 6860 this past week right before the sale price went back up.  Do you know if GW is replacing it with an upgraded version?

 

Thanks.

 

ice91785 6 years ago

Sortof....it will still be of the "FX" series but essentially all new guts; don't quote me but i have heard the likes of 6GB of RAM and a T8xxx series CPU (obviously these are just rumors however).

Basically until we get them off our truck though I don't have any idea the exact specs............

Leafer 6 years ago

Anyway 6GB of RAM and a T8xxx series CPU sounds very attractive.

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