Gateway 450 review: Gateway 450

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The Good Low price; long battery life; built-in wireless networking; six-in-one storage-card reader.

The Bad Comparatively slow; aging keyboard and wrist-rest design.

The Bottom Line Don't expect smoking performance from the thin-and-light Gateway 450 series, but you can count on this Centrino notebook for extralong battery life.

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7.2 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 7
  • Performance 6
  • Battery 9
  • Support 7

The Gateway 450 series symbolizes the highs and lows of the Centrino notebooks, which integrate Intel's new Pentium M (PM) processor, 855PM chipset, and Pro wireless 802.11b wireless adapter. This thin-and-light for both business and home was one of the slowest Pentium M notebooks we tested, but on the other hand, its battery also lasted longer than all but the IBM ThinkPad T40's, which uses a bigger battery. Plus, one of the Gateway 450's "lows" is its stellar $1,499 starting price--low for a true Centrino. If speed is your passion, pass on the Gateway 450 in favor of other systems, such as the Acer TravelMate 803LCi. But for those on a limited budget, it's hard to find a cheaper Centrino.

The touchpad and the mouse buttons are due for an update.
On the outside, the Gateway 450 series sports the sleek, silver look of many new notebooks. At 13.2 by 10.6 by 1.2 inches and 6.3 pounds, the 450 is slightly larger than the average thin-and-light, but its size isn't unwieldy. The system offers a single swappable bay for drives and modules; you can choose among drives for DVD, DVD/CD-RW, a floppy, or a second hard drive or battery. The bay also accommodates a useful six-in-one storage-card reader, which recognizes CompactFlash, IBM Microdrive, Memory Stick, MultiMediaCard, Secure Digital, and SmartMedia cards.

Open the lid, however, and you're greeted by the same gray plastics, keyboard layout, and touchpad design that Gateway has offered for years. While we've always liked the crisp-feedback keys, we've never been satisfied with the big waste of space allotted to the extremely deep wrist rest. Gateway should redesign the layout, allowing for more keyboard space and a bigger touchpad. Thankfully, the company has finally moved the speakers from the wrist rest to the front edge, where your hands won't muffle them, but unfortunately, the weak sound from the speakers doesn't improve with the new placement. A touchpad with two mouse buttons are your only input options (no pointing stick), and four programmable application buttons reside above the keyboard.

You can program each of these buttons.

The keyboard feels solid, with crisp keystrokes.

The Gateway 450 series' edges are loaded with ports and slots. The left edge features headphone, microphone, and audio-in jacks; a FireWire port; two USB 2.0 ports; and two Type II PC Card slots. The rear edge houses the remaining connectivity options, including 56Kbps modem and Ethernet jacks along with PS/2, parallel, serial, VGA, and composite NTSC/PAL video out, which Gateway should replace with the more up-to-date S-Video.

When buying from, you won't find as many component choices for the 450 series as you would with other Pentium M laptops. Still, average home or business users should be able to configure a Gateway 450 that will suit their needs. Pentium M processors come in 1.3GHz to 1.6GHz speeds, and the chipset is Intel's new 855PM. Fast 266MHz DDR SDRAM is available from 256MB to 1GB.

Modules for the swappable bay include DVD, DVD/CD-RW, floppy, a second hard drive, a second battery, and a nifty six-in-one storage-card reader that recognizes six different kinds of media. The 30GB, 40GB, and 60GB hard drives are all of the 4,200rpm variety. Two screen options exist: a 14.1-inch version with a 1,024x768 native resolution or a more expensive 15-inch display at 1,400x1,050 pixels. ATI's 32MB Mobility Radeon 7500 is your only graphics chip option.

The media bay can hold a variety of drives.

The 450 has ample ports and slots.

A single, internal wireless option--Intel's Pro wireless 802.11b mini-PCI card--ships with every Gateway 450, making each of these laptops a true-blue Centrino. Unlike other laptop makers, including Dell and IBM, Gateway doesn't offer a built-in Bluetooth option. You can always add Bluetooth via a Type II PC Card available from a number of third-party manufacturers.

Gateway provides a lengthy list of software options for the 450 series. Available operating systems include Windows XP Professional, XP Home, and 2000. Gateway also tosses in InterVideo WinDVD and Pinnacle Expression for creating and watching movies. Another Microsoft offering, Works Suite 2003, ships standard with the 450 series, although you can upgrade to Microsoft Office XP Small Business Edition. Gateway also sells tons of educational software, family games, Xtreme games, and reference bundles. Gateway preloads its HelpSpot software onto the system, with useful tutorials and links to the Gateway support site.

Mobile application performance
In CNET Labs' benchmark tests, the Gateway 450 scored 17 points behind its nearest competitor, the IBM ThinkPad T40. The 450, however, was hindered by having only half of the RAM--256MB--of its Pentium M peers. (We will update this review in the coming months with the results from a Gateway 450 with 512MB of RAM.) In addition to its relatively slow, 4,200rpm hard drive, the lack of RAM sealed the system's fate in mobile performance. This system is still faster than most non-Pentium M systems, and we're curious to see how much the scores go up with more RAM.

Mobile application performance  (Longer bars indicate faster performance)
BAPCo MobileMark2002 performance rating  
Dell Inspiron 600m
IBM ThinkPad T40
Gateway 450
SysMark2002 performance
Compared to other Pentium M systems, the Gateway 450 earned below-average marks in maximum performance. Its low office-productivity score is most likely due to its slow 4,200rpm hard drive, as well as its relatively low amount of primary memory (256MB). However, the Gateway's performance improved at Internet-content-creation tasks, resulting in slightly below-average scores.

Maximum application performance  (Longer bars indicate faster performance)
BAPCo SysMark2002 rating  
SysMark2002 Internet content creation  
SysMark2002 office productivity  
Dell Inspiron 600m
IBM ThinkPad T40
Gateway 450
To measure maximum notebook application performance, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's SysMark2002, an industry-standard benchmark. Using off-the-shelf applications, SysMark measures a desktop's performance using office-productivity applications (such as Microsoft Office and McAfee VirusScan) and Internet-content-creation applications (such as Adobe Photoshop and Macromedia Dreamweaver).

3D graphics performance
The Gateway 450 couldn't cut the mustard in CNET Labs' 3D tests. Scores on these tests come down to the quality of the graphics adapter as well as the speed of the CPU. Despite the Gateway 450's fast 1.6GHz Pentium M processor, its average 32MB ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 graphics chip didn't do it any favors.

3D graphics performance  (Longer bars indicate faster performance)
Futuremark's 3DMark2001 SE  
Dell Inspiron 600m
IBM ThinkPad T40
Gateway 450
To measure 3D graphics performance, CNET Labs uses Futuremark's 3DMark2001 SE. We use 3DMark to measure desktop-replacement notebook performance with the DirectX 8.1 interface at the 32-bit color setting at a resolution of 1,024x768.

Find out more about how we test notebooks.

System configurations:

Dell Inspiron 600m
Windows XP Professional; 1.6GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 64MB; IBM Travelstar 40GN 40GB 5,400rpm

Gateway 450
Windows XP Professional; 1.6GHz Intel Pentium M; 256MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility M7 32MB; Toshiba MK6021GAS 60GB 4,200rpm

IBM ThinkPad T40
Windows XP Professional; 1.6GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 32MB; IBM Travelstar 80GN 80GB 4,200rpm

When it comes to laptop battery life, anything longer than four hours is impressive. The Gateway 450's five-hour-and-11-minute battery life is flat-out phenomenal. This score isn't surprising in light of the system's powerful 14.8V, 4,200mAh battery. Sure, the IBM ThinkPad T40 lasted almost seven hours, but it carries an even more powerful (and bigger) battery than the Gateway.

Battery life  (Longer bars indicate longer battery life)
BAPCo MobileMark2002 battery life (in minutes)  
IBM ThinkPad T40
Gateway 450
Dell Inspiron 600m
To measure mobile application performance and battery life, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's MobileMark2002. MobileMark measures both application performance and battery life concurrently using a number of popular applications (Microsoft Word 2002, Microsoft Excel 2002, Microsoft PowerPoint 2002, Microsoft Outlook 2002, Netscape Communicator 6.0, WinZip Computing WinZip 8.0, McAfee VirusScan 5.13, Adobe Photoshop 6.0.1, and Macromedia Flash 5.0).

System configurations:

Dell Inspiron 600m
Windows XP Professional; 1.6GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 64MB; IBM Travelstar 40GN 40GB 5,400rpm

Gateway 450
Windows XP Professional; 1.6GHz Intel Pentium M; 256MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility M7 32MB; Toshiba MK6021GAS 60GB 4,200rpm

IBM ThinkPad T40
Windows XP Professional; 1.6GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 32MB; IBM Travelstar 80GN 80GB 4,200rpm

Gateway has built its reputation on providing extensive support for its customers; the 450 series' long list of support options adheres to that tradition. While the standard one-year parts-and-labor warranty with mail-in service serves as the baseline, Gateway offers plenty of add-on support options lasting up to five years with or without onsite service for up to $249. Accidental damage coverage for one to five years is also available from $119 to $229. Toll-free, 24/7 telephone support lasts for the length of your warranty. The Gateway support site is just as extensive, offering online tutorials, a vast knowledge base, and lots of drivers.

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