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Gateway E-475M review: Gateway E-475M

Gateway's first take on the new Intel Centrino platform (aka Santa Rosa) is a solid performer that will fit in at home or in the 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
7 min read
Gateway E-475M

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 the new Centrino stickers, (Centrino Pro for added IT manageability, Centrino Duo for everyone else). One of the very first laptops based on this new platform--developed under the codename Santa Rosa--to come our way is the Gateway E-475M, a mainstream Centrino Duo 15-inch model aimed at business users that has enough style for home users as well. The E-475M boasts plenty of business-friendly security features, including 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.


Gateway E-475M

The Good

The Gateway E-475M 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

A bit on the heavy side; only one quick-launch button; expensive when fully loaded.

The Bottom Line

Gateway's first take on the new Intel Centrino platform (aka Santa Rosa) is a solid performer that will fit in at home or in the office.

Price as reviewed/starting price $2,186/$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) 14.2x10.1x1.3 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 15.4 inches
System weight/weight with AC adapter 6.8/7.9 pounds
Category Mainstream

The Gateway E-475M sits firmly in the mainstream category of laptops: big enough to work comfortably on for long stretches but small enough to carry around occasionally without much hassle. It's about a half-pound heavier than similar business-minded 15-inch laptops, such as the Toshiba Tecra A8, but feels slightly unbalanced, with most of the weight at the rear of the system where the battery sits.

If you're looking for something slightly more compact, the E-475M has a sister system, the 14.1-inch E-265m. It comes in a little lighter, around 6 pounds, and packs almost the same components into a smaller package, although at the expense of screen size and resolution.

The Gateway E-475M's basic, matte-black finish is attractive, if not exciting, and the pieces inside of the system--including the keyboard, the tray, the screen bezel, and the touch pad--all match, giving the E-475M 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 would be welcome, even on a business-minded system.

One interesting point: Our review unit came equipped with both a trackpoint and a touch pad, but the trackpoint has been removed from the final shipping version of the E-475M. While the trackpoint has dedicated fans, we won't miss it.

The 15.4-inch wide-screen LCD display offers a 1,680x1,050 native resolution, which is better than the 1,280x800 resolution more commonly found on a screen this size. After seeing so many systems with media-friendly, glossy screen coatings, it was refreshing to find a good, old-fashioned matte screen that was easy to see even under the glare of our desk lamp.

  Gateway E-475M 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 Draft N (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 that 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 with 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 application performance, neither the Gateway E-475M nor the other early Santa Rosa systems we've seen are suitable for serious gaming. Instead of integrated Intel 965 graphics in the new Santa Rosa standard, our E-475M review unit featured an ATI Mobility Radeon HD2300 with 256MB of dedicated video RAM. The system was too slow, however, to run our standard gaming benchmark tests at our bare minimum acceptable frame rate of 30 frames per second, but in anecdotal testing, 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-475M ran for 2 hours, 37 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 during 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-475M had impressive battery life, and beat other 15-inch non-Santa Rosa systems, such as the Toshiba Satellite A135-S4467 and the Systemax Pursuit 4155, by more than 30 minutes. While it's not a game changer, none of the Santa Rosa laptops we've tested to date have lasted less than two hours.

Gateway backs the system with a three-year mail-in warranty. A variety of upgrades are available, including next-business-day on-site service for 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 to or chat live with a technician.

Find out more about how we test laptops.

Multimedia multitasking test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Gateway E-475M

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)
In seconds  
Gateway E-475M

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 and 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 NVS110M; 120GB Toshiba 5,400rpm


Gateway E-475M

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 8Performance 7Battery 7Support 7