What's hot: Good price for a laptop with built-in Blu-ray. Great display.
What's not: The graphics power is too low for serious gaming, battery life should be better when playing movies.
Reviewed August 2, 2010 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor
Gateway has come out with a new notebook design. One of the first models featuring the new design is the Gateway NV59 15.6” laptop that also comes with a Blu-ray Disc/DVD combo drive. The NV59 is one of the most popular models in Gateway’s full laptop line up thanks to its affordable price and up to date hardware specs. The Gateway NV59 is designed to be a multimedia notebook with CPU options ranging from the Intel Core i3 to Core i5, integrated Intel GMA graphics, up to 500GB hard drive, an HDMI port and built-in WiFi 802.11 b/g/n. The notebook comes with Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit and media playback software that works well with Blu-ray.
In typical Gateway fashion, the Gateway NV59 (also referred to as the NV59C) comes in many model numbers/SKUs because Gateway uses these SKUs to track sale channels. The Gateway NV59C09u used in this review is one of the first notebooks with the new design and is sold exclusively through Costco. The benchmark tests and real life tests however should reflect on general performance of the series. The Gateway NV59C09u has the Intel Core i3-M330 at 2.13MHz dual core CPU, 4GB DDR3 memory, a 320GB hard drive and a 4X Blu-ray/DVD disc combo drive that’s quite slim. Unlike Gateway’s NV79 series that offer dedicated graphics, the NV59C currently only has Intel’s integrated graphics. Most games run fine on the NV59C, only FPS titles with high graphics requirements won’t run well on the integrated graphics. The notebook handles multimedia tasks with ease.
Design and Ergonomics
Since the NV59C represents the new notebook design, we will look at the new form closely. While we liked how the Gateway NV79 and the LT21 looked, we like the new design even better. It has a more modern look and better defined lines. The biggest functional changes are the hinges and keyboard. The new Gateway notebook has gone away from the barrel hinge featured on virtually every Gateway notebook except the very large P Series, and instead the NV59C has two hinge arms that connect the display panel to the main body. The keyboard now sits inset from the surrounding edges, creating sleeker lines and better key travel. The keyboard has chiclet keys and they are great for typing. Balancing the piano black shiny lines is a sliver of mirror strip that houses LED lights along with the power button, and above the mirrored strip you’ll find the speaker grille strip. The wrist rest has a waved pattern corresponding to the wave pattern on the notebook cover, and looks nice against the black background. The glossy multi-touch touchpad is off center to the left and the mouse rocker is separated from the touchpad and clicks when pressed. Other than the new pattern on the cover, it doesn’t look too different from the previous design and it keeps the chrome Gateway badge intact.
The Gateway NV59 has a glossy screen with wide viewing angles. The screen looks gorgeous for Blu-ray movie watching and playing games. If you don’t like glossy screens though you are out of luck since the Gateway screen is very glossy. The 15.6” backlit LED display has 1366 x 768 native resolution with 16:9 aspect ratio, and it looks bright and color saturated. To compliment the nice screen, the Gateway also has loud and full built-in speakers. The webcam also got an upgrade to 1.3 megapixels.
Horsepower and Performance
The Gateway NV59C scores not only a new design but also a built-in Blu-ray drive for a better movie watching experience, and a very nice screen and sound package to go with it. Gateway is currently offering the new NV59C with a Blu-ray Disc drive option in a range of processors including the Intel i5-430M and i3-M330 and i3-M350. We ran the benchmark tests with the relatively lower-spec’d NV59C09u that runs on the Intel Core i3-M330 at 2.13MHz dual core with Intel Hyper-threading technology and 3MB L2 cache. Obviously, if you get higher spec’d models in this series you will get even better benchmark numbers. The NV59C09u has 4 gigs of DDR3 1066MHz RAM in two DIMM slots and a 320GB SATA drive spinning at 5400rpm (ours was made by Hitachi).
There isn’t any dedicated graphics option yet for the NV59C series, and the NV59C09u has the Intel Graphics Media Accelerator HD with 128MB of dedicated system memory that supports Microsoft DirectX 10. The laptop runs on the Mobile Intel HM55 Express chipset. Without any dedicated graphics option, the Gateway NV59C can’t handle the latest first person shooter games that demand high graphics power. If you are a gamer in your spare time, then look at the Gateway NV7902u that comes with dedicated ATI graphics. If you are getting a notebook to watch movies rather than play serious 3D games, the NV59C09u is the machine for you. It comes with a Slimtype 4X Blu-ray Disc and DVD-Super Multi double-layer combo drive.
We put the Gateway NV59C09u through PCMark Vantage X64 benchmark tests and provide the score comparison with its bigger brother, the Gateway NV7901u that has ATI graphics and the Fujitsu LifeBook NH570 with NVIDIA graphics.
All productivity software ran well in our tests including Office applications, Photoshop, Outlook, IE 8 and more. Blu-ray movies play at a steady 24 fps in full screen mode using CyberLink PowerDVD player that comes with the Gateway (note that the display resolution is actually lower than Blu-ray resolution so there’s downsampling unless you plug it into a larger monitor or TV using HDMI). Hulu playback in full screen mode stayed at 30-32 fps which is a very good performance.
We knew that the Gateway NV59 wouldn’t be a gaming notebook, but we put it through 3DMark 06 benchmarks anyway to show you the comparison against notebooks that have dedicated graphics. We also tested a few FPS games to see if they’d run at all. Battlefield 2 Bad Company was able to run, but at low frame rates. With the in-game graphics setting to Medium, the game ran at about 9 fps which essential wasn’t playable. When we switched the graphics setting to Low, the game ran at about 12-14 fps and looked very jerky but playable if you are desperate. Casual games that came with the notebook ran flawlessly.
The Gateway NV59C CPU runs at 32-33 degrees Celsius while performing productivity tasks such as creating Office documents, checking email and surfing the web. While watching a DVD and using Photoshop and other image processing tools, the notebook barely increased temperature and felt cool to the touch. The Gateway never reaches higher than 50 degrees even after running games for a few hours. The fan also runs very quietly.
Ports and Slots
The Gateway NV59 has a good number of ports including 3 USB 2.0 (two on the right side and one on the left), a Gigabit Ethernet port (RJ-45), a VGA out and an HDMI port. The notebook has two audio jacks, one for a mic and one for headphone/Speaker/Line-Out Jack with S/PDIF support. A media card reader lives under the notebook’s front edge and it works with Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, Multi Media Card, Secure Digital and xD-Picture cards. The notebook fan blows out on the left side through the fan grille. There is no built-in fingerprint scanner.
The Gateway NV59C comes with a 6-cell 4400 mAh Lithium-Ion battery that can provide about 4 hours of productivity usage. Playing a Blu-ray disc at the Balanced power setting (except we turned the screen to max brightness), the laptop made it to 2 hours. Playing Hulu movies via Wi-Fi with the same hardware settings used for Blu-ray playback just made it past the 2 hour mark with no more juice to spare. The battery charges very fast using the included AC charger.
The Gateway NV59C comes with Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit and Microsoft Works. For DVD and Blu-ray Disc playback, the Gateway comes with CyberLink PowerDVD 9. Gateway includes its backup and recovery software which comes in very handy when you need to create recovery and restore discs. Webcam software is also included along with pre-installed Skype. Like many notebooks today, the Gateway NV59C comes with Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 60-day trial and a Norton Internet Security 2010 60 day trial.
For list price of $799, the Gateway NV59C is an ideal notebook for students and business users who enjoy a capable laptop with a large and bright display to do their homework and office work on the road. As a side quest, the Gateway NV59C is a very capable multimedia notebook that plays Blu-ray Disc and Hulu with impressive performance. The notebook is slim and quite portable at 5.72 pounds. If you are not into high-end gaming, the Gateway has the power and the looks to handle almost anything you can throw at it. And if you need just little more power and space, you can get the Intel Core i5 model with 500GB HDD.
Pro: Good price for a laptop with built-in Blu-ray and solid multimedia performance. Great display.
Con: The graphics power is too low for serious gaming, battery life should be a better for a Core i3 machine without dedicated graphics.
Price: $799 as tested, other configs are available at different prices
Display: 15.6” widescreen backlit LED display, 1366 x 768 native resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio, native support for 720p content. VGA port onboard. Intel Graphics Media Accelerator HD with 128MB of dedicated system memory supporting Microsoft DirectX 10 and Mobile Intel HM55 Express chipset.
Battery: 6-cell 4400 mAh Lithium Ion battery. Power supply: 100-240V, 50-60Hz, 65W (19V DC, 3.4A) Auto-sensing. Claimed usage time: up to 4.5 hours.
Performance: Intel Core i3-330M at 2.13 GHz with hyper-threading, 3MB L3 cache, 1066 MHz FSB. 4GB DDR3 1066MHz memory, 8 gigs max. Two main memory slots, both may be occupied. 320GB Serial-ATA drive.
Size: 4.13 x 17.08 x 12.8 inches. Weight: 5.72 pounds.
Drives: 4x Blu-ray Disc / DVD-Super Multi Dual-layer drive.
Ports and Slots: 3 USB, VGA, Ethernet RJ45, mic input port, headphone and S/P DIF combo jack, HDMI port and multimedia reader. Multi-media card reader works with Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, Multi Media Card, Secure Digital and xD-Picture Cards.
Audio: Stereo speakers, Hi-Def audio support.
Software: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. Microsoft Works included, also Windows Media Player, IE8 and Microsoft Silverlight preinstalled. Gateway Recovery Management software and Gateway MyBackup solution included. 3rd party software includes Adobe Reader, CyberLink PowerDVD and Nero 9. MS Office 2007 60-day trial software and Norton Internet Security 2010 60-day trial included.