What's hot: High performance in multimedia and gaming. Good audio, HDMI port and external eSATA port.
What's not: No fingerprint scanner, no SSD option. Has trouble with some 32-bit games.
Review posted April 28, 2009 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor
If there were David and Goliath in the realm of notebook computers, the Gateway P-7808u FX would be the unmistakable Goliath. This 17" laptop weighs over 9 lbs. and populates its large body with 3 USB ports, an HDMI connector, an eSATA port, a media card reader and a dual layer DVDRW drive with LabelFlash in addition to a large keyboard with a dedicated 10-key numeric keypad for gaming. But what will really impress you lies inside. The Gateway has the new Intel Core 2 Quad Q9000 processor running at 2GHz with 6MB L2 cache and a 1066MHz FSB. For the gaming crowd we have the NVIDIA GeForce 9800M GTS graphics with 1GB of GDDR3 dedicated video memory. Toss in 4GB of dual channel RAM, a 500GB SATA hard drive, WiFi and Bluetooth, and you've got a powerful notebook that will take on anything you throw at it including running Crysis at full speed.
Gateway, now part of the Acer family, makes notebooks ranging from the 8.9-inch LT series to the 17-inch P series with every notebook size in between except a 12-incher. The P series notebooks have the Intel Core 2 Duo processor while the new P-7808u FX Edition utilizes the new quad core processor. The P-7805u FX Edition (Core 2 Duo) with the same NVIDIA graphics card and even faster SATA drive costs $500 less list than the P-7808u FX Edition. The Gateway P7808u FX runs Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit with SP1.
Design and Ergonomics
The Gateway P-7808u FX is a big boy not only in size but in weight as well. Measuring 1.7 x 15.75 x 11.75 inches and weighing 9.05 pounds, the Gateway is heavier than the HP dv7t series (7.74 lbs.) and the MSI GT725 17-inch gaming notebook (7.35lbs.). It's even heavier than the Toshiba Qosmio X305-Q725 which has the same quad core processor configuration and weighs 8.99 pounds. The large body affords a 17-inch widescreen display that's bright and colorful with max resolution of 1440 x 900 pixels. Game graphics and cinematic scenes look good on the WXGA display, though not as sharp and bright as on the Lenovo Ideapad Y650's LED display. Gateway puts some flair into the notebook design with the FX Premium package that includes a brushed metal keyboard surround and high-impact composite finish. The copper-colored accents are eye-catching and match the LED lights for the quick-play touch keys above the keyboard and the hardware status LEDs below the mouse keys.
The full size keyboard feels roomy by notebook standards and the keys have good travel. The dedicated number pad is great for gaming and accounting applications. The touchpad is responsive and the mouse keys have good travel and are easy to use. The stereo speakers flank the top area above the keyboard and they sound excellent for movie playback and gaming. There is a Wi-Fi on/off slider but there is no fingerprint scanner on the Gateway P-7808u FX. The 1.3 megapixel webcam sits above the display.
Close-up of the lid finish.
The 9-cell battery doesn't sit flush with the notebook on the back, creating a hump that actually makes it easier to carry the heavy notebook. The RAM slots are on the bottom of the Gateway under a clearly marked door that's secured with Philip's head screws. In fact, the notebook has labels and symbols for many ports and card slots.
Hardware and Performance
The Gateway P-7808u FX has the Intel Core 2 Quad processor Q9000 running at 2.0GHz with 6MB L2 cache and a 1066MHz FSB. Intel currently offers the Q9000 and the Q9100 quad processor for notebooks. The Q9100 is a bit faster than the Q9000 and it runs at 2.26 GHz with 12MB of level 2 cache. In the dedicated graphics department, the Gateway P-7808u FX sports the NVIDIA GeForce 9800M GTS with 1GB GDDR3 RAM. Those games you've saved up for desktop machines will run on this puppy just fine and video editing is a joy on the Gateway.
The Gateway P-7808u FX has 4GB DDR3 RAM on 2 DIMM slots, running at 1GHz and a 500GB SATA hard drive which is on-par with high-end gaming notebooks like the Alienware products, but fans of SSD don't get that option with the P-7808u FX right now. The SATA drive doesn't have super fast speed either, running at 5400RPM. The review unit we have buzzes: both the fan and the optical drive.
We put the Gateway P-7808u FX through PCMark Vantage benchmark tests and below are the PCMark benchmark scores as well as the Windows Vista Experience Index scores. We also ran the same PCMark tests on a Sony Vaio Z550 notebook with Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 processor (2.4GHz) and provide its scores as comparison.
PCMark Vantage Benchmark results:
Gateway P-7808u FX:
PCMark Suite overall score: 4826
Memory Suite: 3572
TV & Movie Suite: 3524
Gaming Suite: 4267
Communication Suite: 4512
Productivity Suite: 4722
HDD Test Suite: 3165
Windows Vista Experience Index score for the Gateway P-7808u FX:
Total score: 5.6
Gaming graphics: 5.9
Primary hard disk: 5.6
PCMark Suite overall score: 3467
Memory Suite: 2121
TV & Movie Suite: 2619
Gaming Suite: 2377
Communication Suite: 3677
Productivity Suite: 2546
HDD Test Suite: 2800
These are indeed impressive numbers and the notebook runs applications including Office apps, DVD player, web browser and games smoothly. Bring on the games! The extra processing power should please FPS and MMO players who will enjoy watching full effects of shading and physics engines. Below is a video of the Gateway playing Crysis and F.E.A.R. 2 with power setting at high performance mode. We turned on fps and other info in the Crysis cutscenes and gameplay. The game was running at 1440 x 900 resolution. All quality settings (texture, objects, shadows, physics and shaders) were set to High. All effects, particles, water, etc. were also set to High. The frame rate in Crysis averaged 20 fps (from 17 fps-35 fps).
The only problem we experienced with the Gateway in gaming tests was with 32-bit games running on the 64-bit OS. Elder's Scroll Oblivion couldn't run on the Gateway, though it ran fine on other Vista big rigs such as the HP Pavilion dv9220.
Now let's look at the Gateway's ample ports. The large notebook body provides plenty of space for ports, and Gateway wasn't shy about adding interfaces. You will find 3 USB 2.0 ports, an external eSATA port (nice!), a VGA connector, a headphone jack with SPDIF audio out support and mic port and a HDMI v1.2 connector for gamers and movie fans to watch their content on a big screen TV. For communications, the Gateway has built-in WiFi 802.11a/g/n and Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR, an ExpressCard Type 54 slot, a RJ-11 Fax/modem and a 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN port. The optical drive is 8x multi-format dual layer DVDRW with DVD-RAM featuring Labelflash technology. And for expansion, the Gateway has a 5-in-1 digital media reader (SD, MMC, MS, MS Pro, xD-Picture card).
The Gateway P-7808u FX Edition comes with Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit with SP1 and includes the usual productivity software: MS Works 9.0SE, MS Money Essentials, Windows Media Player 11, Adobe Reader 9.0 and Flash 9.0. For DVD playback, the Gateway has Cyberlink Power2 Go and like many notebooks, the Gateway has MS Office Home and Student 2007 60-day trial and Norton 360 2008 60-day trial software.
Gateway doesn't include a recovery disc with the P-7808u FX, but the notebook has a recovery partition that allows you to create your own recovery disc or recover the unit directly from the recovery partiton.
The Gateway P-7808u FX has a 9-cell Li-Ion battery that's 7800mAh/81Wh in capacity. The battery runtimes are average though being a desktop replacement notebook weighing over 9 lbs., it will likely not be away from a power source very often. Playing a DVD with Wi-Fi turned off and power management set to the default Balanced setting, the notebook played the 1 hour and 45 minute movie with 50% charge remaining. Playing Crysis on the High Performance power setting for 1 hour costs about 75-80% of a full charge. Like the notebook itself, the AC adapter is a large one and supports world charging port with 100-240V at 50-60Hz.
The Gateway P-7808u FX is indeed an elite notebook in both size and power as one of the few notebooks that can compete with desktop machines in gaming. The Gateway shows great performance in both productivity tasks and most of all handling games that require high graphics and processing power. The display is good and the stereo sound is excellent. The notebook not only has the standard set of ports but also adds HDMI for viewing content on TV and external eSATA drive support for extra expansion. The price is competitive with the small crop of quad core 17-inch notebooks. Aside from some incompatibility issues with 32-bit games, the optical drive/fan buzzing is the only major issue on our Gateway.
Pro: Four-core processor on a notebook is impressive; pair that with 1GB dedicated graphics RAM (Crysis uses the whole gig) and you've got a killer gaming notebook. Big plus for the HDMI port and the eSATA port. Good price for what you get.
Con: No SSD option. Doesn't run some 32-bit games well. Our unit buzzed (fan and optical drive).
Display: 17" diagonal widescreen backlit LED display at 1440 x 900 native resolution (WXGA). Intel PM45 Chipset. NVIDIA GeForce 9800M GTS Graphics with 1GB of GDDR3 discrete video memory.
Battery: 9-cell Lithium Ion battery pack, 5800mAh. 45W AC adapter with auto sensing, 100-240V/50-60Hz.
Performance: Intel Core 2 Quad processor Q9000 model at 2.00GHz, 6MB L2 cache, 1066MHz front side bus. 4GB memory DDR3 1066MHz Dual channel. 2 DDR slots.
Size: 1.3-1.7 x 15.75 x 11.75 inches. Weight: 9.05 lbs.
Drives: 500GB (5400 RPM) Serial ATA hard disk drive. DVD SuperMulti (+/-R double layer) with Labelflash drive.
Audio: High Definition audio 2 channels, built-in stereo speakers. Built in mic, sound volume control, mic input port and headphone out port.
Networking: Intel WiFi Link 5100AGN (802.11a/g/n) and 10/100/1000 gigabit Ethernet. RJ-11 modem port. Bluetooth v2.0 + EDR.
Ports and Slots: 3 USB 2.0 ports, external eSATA port, HDMI port, 5-in-1 card reader, VGA monitor port, ExpressCard/54 slot and 3.5mm mic-in port.
Software: Windows Vista Home Premium Edition with SP1 64-bit Operating System. Microsoft Works 9, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Cyberlink Powre2 Go and LabelPrint, and Google tools. Windows Media Player and Internet Explorer included. Recovery partition on the computer. Trial software includes: Microsoft Office Professional 2007 Edition (60-day trial) and Norton Internet Security 2008 (60-day trial).