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The landscape of budget laptops often looks like a police lineup of suspects: a muddy confusion of similar-looking faces and bodies. For $600 you can buy a lot of computer lately, though you're not likely to get something that's particularly sexy.
The $629 Gateway NV55S05u is one of more than a dozen 15-inch Gateway NV laptops with a galaxy of different processors. In the case of our 15.6-incher, an AMD A8-3500M APU is inside. AMD's A8 processor is part of a new line of AMD Fusion processors with graphics and CPU on one chip (called an APU). The A8-3500 in this Gateway is a quad-core CPU paired with AMD 6620G graphics, which gives a better-than-Intel integrated-graphics experience playing mainstream 3D games. As for the CPU power, it's comparable to an Intel Core i3, but slightly less fast.
A 640GB hard drive and 6GB of RAM are more than you're likely to get elsewhere for the same price, but otherwise this $629 laptop is the picture of decently made mediocrity. Get it if you're desperate for an all-around laptop with some better-than-average graphics at the lowest price possible. Just be aware that even at its reasonable price, there are other options out there.