CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. How we test computers

Gateway E-265M review: Gateway E-265M

This 14-inch mainstream model--Gateway's first take on the new Intel Santa Rosa platform--is a solid performer for home or office.

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Dan Ackerman
6 min read
Gateway E-265M

Forget convertible tablets and UMPCs. The one real trend we've seen recently is a move toward the 14.1-inch laptop. While the 15.4-inch screen is what most of us think of as a middle-of-the-road mainstream system, the 14-inch models are gaining ground, and vendors tell us that it's just a matter of time before it becomes the new mainstream standard.


Gateway E-265M

The Good

The Gateway E-265M laptop has a sleek, black design; wireless 802.11n technology; port replicator charges backup battery; modest performance and battery gains from new Centrino technology.

The Bad

Lower resolution than the nearly identical 15.4-inch model; only one quick-launch button; expensive when fully loaded.

The Bottom Line

This 14-inch mainstream model--Gateway's first take on the new Intel Santa Rosa platform--is a solid performer for home or office.

Intel has generated plenty of buzz by revising its popular Centrino platform with a new set of specs that promise better performance, better battery life, and better Wi-Fi connectivity. You can identify these new systems by their new Centrino stickers, (Centrino Pro for added IT manageability, Centrino Duo for everyone else). The Gateway E-265M, like the larger 15-inch E-475M, is aimed at business users, but has enough style to work for home users as well. The E-265M is packed with business-friendly security features, such as a fingerprint reader and a smart card slot. Priced upward of $2,000, this is an expensive system, but knocking down components and stripping away extras including 802.11n Wi-Fi and a fancy port replicator can shave almost $700 off the price, making this a flexible system for those who need a laptop that works in both the home and office. The 14- and 15-inch models cost around the same and have nearly identical components, so the only real deciding factor is the screen size and weight.

Price as reviewed/starting price $2,102/$1,399
Processor 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500
Memory 2GB of 667MHz DDR2
Hard drive 100GB at 7,200rpm
Graphics ATI Mobility Radeon HD2300
Chipset Intel Mobile 965 Express
Operating system Windows Vista Business
Dimensions (LWH) 13.5x10x1.2 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 14.1 inches
System weight/weight with AC adapter 6.1/7.3 pounds
Category Mainstream

Compared to the 15-inch Gateway E-475M, the 14-inch E-265M is nearly identical. It's about an inch narrower, a hair thinner and around half a pound lighter. It's still a bit too heavy for a daily commute. The keyboard and touch pad are the exact same as the ones on the larger model, leaving less wrist-rest room, but it doesn't feel cramped.

The basic, matte-black finish is attractive, if not exciting, and the inside of the system, including the keyboard, tray, screen bezel and touch pad all match, giving the E-265M a uniform black look. The touch pad has a separate scroll zone, which we always like, and the single quick-launch key brings up the Windows Vista Mobility Center menu by default. Maybe we're spoiled, but a few extra quick-launch keys are always welcome.

The 14.1-inch wide-screen LCD display offers a 1,280x800 native resolution, which is common for both 14.1- and 15.4-inch displays. However, the 15-inch Gateway E-475M has a higher 1,680x1,050 resolution, which is good for multimedia use, large office documents, and Photoshop. While our E-475M had a matte screen, the E-265M had a glossy screen coating. Both systems are available with either choice, but for business use, we prefer the glare-free matte finish.

  Gateway E-265M Average for mainstream category
Video VGA-out, S-Video VGA-out, S-Video
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data Four USB 2.0 ports, a mini-FireWire, and a multiformat memory card reader Four USB 2.0 ports, a mini-FireWire, and a multiformat memory card reader
Expansion PC Card slot PC Card slot
Networking Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional WWAN Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth
Optical drive DVD burner DVD burner

As the above chart illustrates, the ports and connections are in line with what we'd expect to see on a mainstream business laptop, plus it adds a media card reader, which some business-oriented configurations leave out. We were pleased to see the inclusion of faster 802.11n Wi-Fi technology, which we expect to see in many new laptops from this point on. Bear in mind, you'll need a 802.11n router to make use of the faster connection.

Our preproduction unit included a host of upgrade options--a high-end CPU, the 802.11n Wi-Fi chip, 2GB of RAM, a 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon X2300 graphics chip, and a port replicator with a DVI output and a slot for recharging an additional battery--to drive the price up almost $700 above the $1,399 base. We won't know exactly what your options for knocking the price down are until Gateway officially launches the system on May 9, but we do know the port replicator is a brand-new model and added $179 to our configuration.

Intel claims that Santa Rosa, with its new 800MHz front-side bus CPUs and Turbo Memory (extra flash memory built into the motherboard to speed up access times), will give systems a boost. Testing three Santa Rosa systems with the new 2.2GHz Intel Core Duo T7500, we saw nearly identical scores on CNET Labs' Multimedia multitasking test from the Gateway E-475M, the Gateway E-265M, and the Lenovo ThinkPad R61. They were faster than a similarly configured non-Santa Rosa system, the Dell Inspiron E1505, and even edged out one of the few laptops we've seen with a high-end T7600 CPU, the Alienware Area-51 m5790 Special Edition. The differences were minor to be sure, but as we test more new Centrino Pro and Centrino Duo systems, we'll get a better picture of the performance gains to be found in the Santa Rosa platform. For now, we think that while it's not a huge leap forward, the fact that this system is one of our top performers is a good sign. In anecdotal testing, the system certainly felt powerful, even while multitasking--but we'd expect nothing less from any recent laptop.

Despite the impressive benchmark numbers, neither the Gateway E-265M nor the other early Santa Rosa systems we've seen are suitable for serious gaming. Instead of integrated Intel 965 graphics, the Gateway at least has the new ATI Mobility Radeon HD2300, with 256MB of dedicated RAM. The system was too slow, however, to run our standard gaming benchmarks at our bare minimum acceptable frame rate of 30fps, but in anecdotal testing on both the E-265M and E-475M, we were able to get a playable, if not always smooth, frame rate on the upcoming Vista-only game Halo 2 by knocking the resolution all the way down to 800x600.

The Gateway E-265M ran for an impressive 2 hours, 32 minutes on our DVD battery drain test, using the included six-cell battery. Our DVD battery drain test is especially grueling, so you can expect longer life from casual Web surfing and office use. One of the major selling points of Santa Rosa is improved battery life, through more efficient CPUs and smart throttling of the CPU and front-side bus. The E-265M matched, within minutes, the larger E-475M, so you're not getting any real battery benefit from the smaller screen.

Gateway backs the system with a three-year mail-in warranty. A variety of upgrades are available, including next-business-day on-site service, which will add only $30. Upgrading to a three-year plan with accidental damage protection, however, costs $199 more than the default warranty. Gateway offers 24-7 toll-free technical support, 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.

Find out more about how we test laptops.

Multimedia multitasking test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
In seconds  
Gateway E-265M

Adobe Photoshop CS2 image-processing test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
In seconds  

Apple iTunes encoding test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
In seconds  

Microsoft Office productivity test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Gateway E-265M

DVD battery drain test
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
In minutes  

System configurations:

Gateway E-265M
Windows Vista Business; 2.2GHz Intel Core Duo T7500; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD2300; 100GB Seagate 7,200rpm

Gateway E-475M
Windows Vista Business; 2.2GHz Intel Core Duo T7500; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD2300; 100GB Hitachi 7,200rpm

HP Pavilion dv9500t
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 8600M GS; 120GB Western Digital Scorpio 5,400rpm / 80GB Western Digital Scorpio 5,400rpm

Lenovo ThinkPad R61
Windows Vista Business; 2.2GHz Intel Core Duo T7500; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB Nvidia Quadro NVS 140M; 100GB Hitachi 7,200rpm

Toshiba Tecra M5-S4333
Windows Vista Business; 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7200; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB Nvidia Quadro NVS 110M; 120GB Toshiba 5,400rpm