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For several months we’ve been talking about what a great value Gateway’s P-7811 FX gaming notebook was (reviewed October 2008). So we were anxious to see how the update to that model, the P-7808u FX, holds up.
At first glance, “update” seems too strong a word for Gateway’s latest 17-inch performance-oriented notebook. The P-7808u FX looks identical to its predecessor, sporting the exact same black-and-orange chassis as the P-7811 FX, the exact same arrangement of ports— three USB, FireWire, eSATA, HDMI, VGA—and the exact same right-angle power connector that we griped about the first go-round.
The P-7808u FX even features the same videocard, a GeForce 9800M GTS. This card helped last year’s P-7811 FX win us over with impressive scores in our standard gaming benchmarks and the new P-7808u FX’s performance in those tests was equally strong. But compared with a dual-GPU notebook such as CyberPower’s Extreme M1 (May 2009), Gateway’s graphics solution shows its age. When faced with a more graphically intensive title like UT3, the P-7808u FX mustered a score of 64fps compared with the Extreme M1’s 114fps—and it would no doubt fare worse in more modern titles.
Where the P-7808u FX most differs from its predecessor is in processing power. The P-7808u FX features a Core 2 Quad; and while it’s 10 percent slower than the P-7811 FX’s Core 2 Duo, it’s the cores that really count in multithreaded apps. In our Premiere Pro, ProShow, and MainConcept benchmarks, for instance, the 2GHz P-7808u FX surpassed its 2.24GHz sibling by 42 to 78 percent. The P-7808u FX also did better than its predecessor in Photoshop, albeit by just four percent.
It’s interesting that Gateway focused its improvements on the applications side and yet went with a lower-res screen for its new P-series model. The drop from 1920x1200 to 1440x900 makes sense for gaming—if this notebook were actually capable of truly demanding games—but for applications work, a higher resolution is generally preferable. Another questionable change was moving from a 7,200rpm hard drive to the 5,400rpm in the P-7808u FX, although we welcome the capacity jump from 200GB to 500GB.
The P-7808u FX’s 9-cell battery maintained a charge for approximately two and a half hours in power-saving mode—enough time to get through most movies, and a pretty good run for a notebook of this size. And as far as big, honking 17-inch notebooks go, the P-7808u FX at least has a slim, and slightly less-cumbersome formfactor.
Nevertheless, we can’t help but feel disappointed. While the P-7811 FX hit just the right mix of price and gaming performance for its time, the P-7808u FX is more expensive than its predecessor, yet offers gamers last year’s tech.
Quad-core performance; budget price.
Same 'ol look and feel; same 'ol game performance.
|Zero Point ||Gateway P-7808u FX |
|Premiere Pro CS3 ||1, 860 sec||1,200 sec |
|Photoshop CS3||237 sec ||183 sec |
|ProShow Producer ||2,416 sec ||1,382 sec |
|MainConcept ||3,498 sec||2,346|
|FEAR1.07 ||14 fps ||105 (650%) |
|Quake 4||29.1 fps ||122 (319.2%) |
|Gateway P-7808u FX |
|CPU||Intel 2GHz Core 2 Quad Q9000 |
|RAM||4GB DDR3/1,066MHz |
|Chipset||Intel PM45 |
|Hard Drive ||500GB Western Digital WDC WD5000DEVT-22ZATO (5,400rpm) |
|Optical||HL-DT-ST DVDRAM GSA-T50F|
|GPU||Nvidia GeForce 9800M GTS |
|Boot/Down||61 sec / 19 sec |
|Lap/Carry||8 lbs, 15.4 oz / 10 lbs, 8.4 oz |