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Gateway P-7805u FX Edition review: Gateway P-7805u FX Edition

Gateway P-7805u FX Edition

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
5 min read

Editors' note: This review is part of our Winter 2009 Retail Roundup, covering specific configurations of popular laptops that can be found in retail stores.


Gateway P-7805u FX Edition

The Good

Good gaming scores, thanks to the Nvidia GeForce 9800 graphics; very inexpensive for a gaming laptop.

The Bad

Lower screen resolution than its predecessor; lacks a few basic amenities, such as Bluetooth.

The Bottom Line

Our favorite budget gaming laptop returns as the Gateway P-7805u FX, and while it's still the best deal going in mobile gaming, we're bummed the screen resolution has been dumbed down to sub-HD levels.

Gateway's budget-minded 17-inch gaming laptops have impressed, offering a mix of decent components and high-end video cards for around $1,200. The most recent version, the P-7811 FX, was the best of the bunch, bumping the screen resolution up to 1,900x1,200 while only marginally raising the price. Sadly discontinued (but still hunted for on message boards and eBay), Gateway now has a mostly worthy replacement, the P-7805u FX.

This new system is a Best Buy exclusive that has a list price of $1,299, but is usually available for $1,149 or less, depending on promotions. We're sorry to say that despite the Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 CPU and Nvidia GeForce 9800 graphics card, it's a step backwards for the line, pulling the 17-inch display's resolution back to a more pedestrian 1,440x900.

You'll still probably have to play most games at that lower resolution to crank up the details, so it's not a deal-killer, but the cost-cutting is still a disappointment (and bad for watching HD video). Of the high-resolution P-7811 model, we once said that we didn't see how Gateway could make money selling these things, and it turns out we were probably more right than we knew.

Price as reviewed $1,299
Processor 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8400
Memory 4GB, 1066MHz DDR2
Hard drive 320GB 7,200rpm
Chipset Mobile Intel PM45 Express Chipset
Graphics Nvidia GeForce 9800M GTS
Operating System Windows Vista Premium (64-bit)
Dimensions 15.8 inches wide by 11.8 inches deep
Height 1.3 -1.7 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 17.0 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 9.1/10.5 pounds
Category Desktop Replacement

Physically, this new model is virtually identical to earlier Gateway FX laptops, such as the P-7811FX. It features a glossy, black, plastic chassis, with brushed-metal detailing and copper accents around the keyboard. It's a subtle look, unlike over-the-top gaming rigs from Toshiba or Alienware.

The full-size keyboard and separate number pad have roomy, comfortable keys. Above the keyboard is a row of media controls, with buttons cut right into the brushed-metal border, along with one touch-sensitive control--a volume slider--which adjusts the volume a little too slowly for our tastes.

The first budget Gateway FX gaming laptops from early 2008 had a native resolution of 1,440x900, which was one of the biggest concessions to cost. As we said, we were pleased to see the Fall '08 model, the P-7811, move up to a 1,920x1,200 display, while keeping the price down.

Unfortunately, the new P-7805u slips back to 1,440x900, perhaps a victim of shrinking profit margins. In real-world terms, you'll probably play most games at the lower resolution in order to keep detail levels turned up high anyway, but downloading and playing 1,080p HD video content loses some of its appeal with the lower resolution.

  Gateway FX P-7805u Average for category [desktop replacement]
Video VGA-out, HDMI VGA-out, HDMI
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks Stereo speakers with subwoofer, headphone/microphone jacks.
Data 3 USB 2.0, mini FireWire, SD card reader, eSATA 4 USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, SD card reader
Expansion ExpressCard/54 ExpressCard/54
Networking Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Optical drive DVD burner DVD burner or Blu-ray player

We liked the eSATA port for hooking up an external hard drive, as well as the full ExpressCard/54 slot, and FireWire connection (something of a rarity these days). This is a fixed-configuration system, so you're stuck with what it ships with (or what it ships without, in the case of Bluetooth).

The 7805u sticks with the same 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 CPU from the P-7811, which is a strong performer, especially when combined with 4GB of RAM and a fast 7,200rpm hard drive. In the mainstream category of our Winter 2009 Retail Laptop Review Roundup, the Gateway easily beat out the Asus G50VT, which had a slightly slower Core 2 Duo P7450, but both are fast performers suitable for serious multitasking, video editing, and, of course, gaming.

The high-end Nvidia GeForce 9800 GTS graphics card is this laptop's main selling point. We were able to get 120.8 frames per second in Unreal Tournament 3 at 1,280x800 resolution. Crank it up to the max possible resolution of 1,440x900, and it's still a very playable 101.4 frames per second. In an anecdotal test, we loaded up the most recent PC game in our pile, FEAR 2, and had a smooth gaming experience at 1,440x900, with graphics options set to medium.

Our battery testing, using CNET Labs' video playback battery drain test, gave us 3 hours and 1 minute of battery life, which is very impressive for a desktop replacement. Because desktop replacements spend most of their time tethered to a single location, battery life isn't usually a big factor here.

The system includes an industry-standard, one-year warranty, with parts-and-labor coverage and return-to-depot service. Gateway offers a 24-7, toll-free, technical-support phone line, and the Web site has the usual driver downloads and FAQs, plus options for e-mailing or online chatting with technicians.

Multimedia Multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Gateway P-7805u FX

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Gateway P-7805u FX

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Gateway P-7805u FX

Unreal Tournament 3 (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1280x800, 0X AA, 0X AF*  
Gateway P-7805u FX
Asus G50VT-X5 @ 1280 x 720

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Gateway P-7805u FX

Find out more about how we test laptops.

Sony Vaio FW351J/H
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6400; 4,096MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 4500MHD; 320GB Western Digital 5,400rpm

Asus G50VT-X5
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.13GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P7450; 4,096MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 512MB Nvidia GeForce 9800M GS; 320GB Seagate 7,200rpm

Gateway P-7805u FX
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8400; 4,096MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce 9800M GTS; 320GB Western Digital 7,200rpm


Gateway P-7805u FX Edition

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 9Battery 0Support 6