Inside the case is a current-generation Centrino platform that uses a 1.8GHz Pentium M processor along with Intel's 915 graphics engine and 512MB of fast, 533MHz RAM; the system can hold up to 2GB of RAM chips, but most users will find 512MB sufficient. The 4,200rpm 40GB hard drive is small and slow, but Gateway offers a 60GB 5,400rpm drive for only $30 more. That said, our test unit's components were enough to earn the M460S a respectable score on CNET Labs' benchmark tests, just ahead of the MPC TransPort T2300, which also has a Pentium M 750 1.8GHz processor but faster, 533MHz RAM. Both machines, however, lagged significantly behind the ThinkPad R52, even though it has a slightly slower, 1.73GHz processor.
The M460S proves that it's sometimes worthwhile to pay a little extra for a larger battery. The M460S, equipped with a $40, 12-cell battery pack, excelled in our battery-drain tests, lasting a phenomenal 6 hours, 58 minutes of runtime between charges. That's more than twice as long as the MPC TransPort T2300 and 2 hours longer than the, both of which are more expensive than the Gateway, even when you factor in the cost of the battery. Truly power-hungry users can add Gateway's $140 modular battery for about 10 hours on a charge--more than enough for workaholics or avid movie watchers on an international flight.
Our unit shipped with the Windows XP Professional operating system. Like most corporate notebooks, the M460 doesn't come preloaded with a ton of software; you get a 90-day subscription to , the , and BigFix, a helpful program for diagnosing problems and updating software.
Gateway keeps the price of the M460S low by including just one year of tech support in its warranty; the upgrade to three years adds $160, with onsite service and accidental damage insurance costing even more. Even with the basic three-year warranty, the M460S is competitively priced, and Gateway offers warranty extensions up to four and five years--something many of its competitors don't offer. The standard warranty includes access to a 24-hour tech support line; you can also e-mail questions to the company. The Web site has the expected BIOS and driver updates, setup and troubleshooting tips, and manuals, but it lacks an online chat room for technicians and users to work through problems together.