The Gateway NX570X is a midsize workhorse, and its flexible configuration options let you put together a system that ranges from the truly budget base price of $899 (currently $699, thanks to a $200-off promotion) to our reasonably upscale $1,368 review unit ($1,168 with same the promotion). HP's Compaq Presario V6000T is a similarly configurable jack-of-all-trades, and the differences largely come down to aesthetic considerations such as the Compaq's look-at-me shiny finish versus the Gateway's understated matte look. For what is essentially an entry-level system, the NX570X leaves a very positive impression.
Despite the wallet-friendly price, the NX570X looks and feels like a much more expensive system. A textured, scratch-resistant surface gives the lid a heavy-duty quality. Add to that the brushed-aluminum palm-rest inlay, and you have a low-cost laptop that you won't be embarrassed to be seen with at a coffee shop or an airport.
Measuring 14 inches wide, 10.5 inches deep, and 1.5 inches high, the Gateway NX570X sits firmly in the mainstream category of laptops: small enough to tote around on occasion without too much hassle but big enough to be your main PC. The NX570X weighs 6.5 pounds (7.3 pounds with the AC adapter), which we feel is too heavy for a daily commute. Plus, we've seen similarly sized laptops that shave a pound or so off that, such as the Fujitsu LifeBook A3110.
The 15.4-inch LCD screen offers a standard 1,280x800 native resolution, which is the sweet spot for readability and detail at this size. An upgrade to a 1,400x1,050 display is an available option for an extra $100. (Our review unit featured the standard screen.) The system's thin, black bezel helps the screen stand out, making it a fine choice for watching movies or multimedia use.
The system features a standard set of connections, including four USB 2.0 jacks, a mini FireWire jack, a PC Card slot, headphone and mic jacks, a media card reader, and VGA and S-Video outputs for hooking up an external monitor. The only thing missing is an ExpressCard slot, which is not a deal breaker for casual users. All users will come to appreciate the small icons surrounding the keyboard tray; they mark the ports on the edges of the notebook and save you from having to crane your neck around to the side to find a USB jack. Networking connections include a modem and Gigabit Ethernet jacks, built-in Bluetooth, and integrated 802.11a/b/g wireless.
The Gateway NX570X is highly configurable, and you can build it out to meet your needs, be it processing power or price. The CPU in our $1,168 review system is a 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7200, but you can go all the way down to a Core Duo T2050 and save $270 in the process. Up to 4GB of RAM are available, although that required two exorbitantly expensive 2GB RAM modules, which more than doubled the laptop's price. The default 80GB hard drive is a little small for a modern laptop, but ours does run at the desktop speed of 7,200rpm. You can upgrade to a 100GB 7,200rpm drive for $80 or to a 200GB 5,400rpm drive for $150. Unless you're working with lots of large files, the faster drive speed isn't all that important for mainstream users.
Compared to other similarly configured systems, the Gateway NX570X performed well on CNET Labs' Multitasking test, falling slightly behind the HP Compaq nc8430, but outperforming the Lenovo ThinkPad T60 and the Fujitsu LifeBook T4215. These systems all share the same Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 CPU. It makes sense then that our iTunes encoding test, which relies almost entirely on a laptop's CPU capabilities, produced virtually identical scores for these different T7200 systems. The NX570X is more than capable of handling any multimedia or productivity chore you throw at it.
Unfortunately, one of the few parts of the Gateway NX570X that is not configurable is its graphics subsystem. You're stuck with the integrated Intel 945GM GPU, which is fine for casual gaming and some older games at lower resolutions, but won't even run many of today's high-end 3D games. But integrated graphics are fine for just about any nongaming task. On the bright side, according to Intel, the 945GM will support the Aero interface in Windows Vista.
The system ran for a very respectable 4 hours, 57 minutes on our MobileMark battery life test using the included six-cell battery. Midsize laptops often have the most impressive battery life, and the NX570X is no exception; larger desktop replacements are too power hungry, and smaller ultraportable systems use tiny batteries with limited life spans.
Gateway backs the system with a standard one-year mail-in warranty. Upgrading to three years of coverage costs a reasonable $159, or $259 if you want onsite service. Gateway offers 24/7 toll-free technical support during the warranty period, and the company's support Web site includes the expected driver downloads and FAQs, as well as the capability to send e-mail or chat live with a technician.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)