by Kevin O’Brien
The Gateway M-152XL is a compact multimedia powerhouse aimed directly at the Toshiba A305, HP Pavillion dv6700, or Dell M1530. Each of these notebooks offer the same basic features, including high glossy chassis, fast processor, dedicated graphics, HDMI outputs, and their own brand specific styling elements. So how well does the Gateway stack up to the rest? Read on to find out.
Our Gateway M-152XL ($1,299.99) had the following specifications:
- Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T8300 (2.4GHz)
- Windows Vista Home Premium 32-Bit w/ Service Pack 1
- 15.4″ WXGA Ultrabright TFT Active Matrix (1280×800)
- ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2600 w/ 512MB GDDR3 Memory
- 3072MB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM
- 160GB Seagate 7200RPM SATA Hard Drive
- 8x Multi-Format Dual Layer Slot Load DVDRW w/ DVD-RAM
- 5-in-1 Digital Media Manager
- Integrated Intel 802.11a/b/g/Draft-N Wireless Networking
- Bluetooth 2.0+EDR
- 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- HDMI Connector v1.2
- 6-Cell Lithium Ion Battery (5200 mAH)
- 1-Year Warranty (Tech Support / Parts / Factory Labor)
- Retail Price: $1,299.99
Build and Design
The Gateway M-152XL has a very stylish design with glossy metallic blue paint contrasting the brushed aluminum trim around the frame of the notebook as well as the keyboard. This silver theme also continues onto keyboard which is painted with a matte silver metallic finish. One thing to note is while other manufacturers are going with glossy finish for even the keyboard, Gateway is staying with their matte finish for now.
The optical drive, following the sleek and stylish theme is slot loading, just like the Dell M1530 or Apple notebook line. While it does remove the CD tray from the equation for a streamlined design, I still can’t get over the “optical drive is consuming my disc” noises that all slot loading drives make.
Build quality is above average with a durable chassis that feels pretty solid in your hand. The plastic is tough, flexing little under stress and producing no squeaks when tossed around. The chassis as a whole feels like it would hold up well, even in the hands of less than friendly students.
The glossy paint quality is one aspect of this notebook that falls short, leaving much to be desired. Our review sample had some paint application quirks such as paint not being applied all the way to the edges of the plastic and as well as discoloration that gave off a wavy gasoline on water effect. If you were looking at the glossy surface at an object like an overhead light being reflected from it, the reflection would be obscured by purple and green fringe. This by no means impacts the performance of the notebook or changes the texture of the painted surface, but is almost impossible not to see once you notice it.
Glossy finish on M-152XL. (view large image)
Glossy finish on T-6828. (view large image)
Display quality is average, with a very narrow viewing angle which can make enjoying a movie or game difficult until you find a sweet spot. Vertical viewing has about a 10 degree +/- range before the screen either gets dark or washed out. Horizontal viewing angles are much better, keeping colors accurate even at extreme viewing angles. No screen defects were found on our review model, which includes dead/stuck pixels or backlight leakage.
When inside the viewing sweet spot, the color and brightness of the screen is very nice. My preferred brightness setting was 70 percent, or a bit darker if I was at home without as much overhead light.
Keyboard, Touchpad, and Media Keys
The keyboard on the Gateway M-152XL notebook was very nice, with a very solid feel when typing. The structure underneath the keyboard provided a great deal of support, preventing any unwanted sag during use. The key action felt great, with a decent throw height, and very little key wobble. Key spacing was fine, and the key size itself was normal for a 15″ notebook.
This notebook offers a Synaptics style touchpad, which I absolutely love to find on a notebook. Sensitivity is excellent, tracking is near perfect, and above all the configuration software offers a ton of adjustments to get the touchpad working to your exact specifications. The touchpad buttons were of decent size and provided a shallow throw with an audible click.
The Gateway M-152XL offers a mixture of soft touch and touch sensitive keys for the media functions. The volume control is a touch sensitive strip that detects tapping as well as sliding action to adjust the volume. The rest of the keys are soft touch, that provide a small click when pressed. With the media keys, you can control volume, mute, play/pause, stop, skip, DVD, Music, and TV.
Performance and Benchmarks
The overall system performance of the Gateway M-152XL notebook is excellent, with its Intel Penryn T8300 processor and ATI Mobility HD2600 graphics card. This combination gives you plenty performance to play most modern games on average settings, and more than enough power for day to day tasks. The 7200rpm Seagate hard drive helped load media applications such as Windows Media Center without lag, and gave the notebook a very snappy feel when just tooling around. Compared to the other notebooks in this price segment, the Gateway M-152XL clearly leads the pack in overall system performance from what we have seen in our testing.
wPrimeis a program that forces the processor to do recursive mathematical calculations, the advantage of this program is that it is multi-threaded and can use both processor cores at once, thereby giving more accurate benchmarking measurements than Super Pi. (Lower numbers mean better performance.)
Notebook / CPUwPrime 32M timeGateway M-152XL (Core 2 Duo T8300 @ 2.4GHz)31.792s Gateway T-6828 (Core 2 Duo T5550 @ 1.83GHz) 45.457s Toshiba Satellite M305(Core 2 Duo T8100 @ 2.1GHz)38.532s Toshiba Satellite A305(Core 2 Duo T8100 @ 2.1GHz) 36.442sAsus M51S (Core 2 Duo T5550 @ 1.83GHz)46.293s Lenovo IdeaPad Y510(Core 2 Duo T5450 @ 1.66GHz) 50.184s HP Pavilion dv6700t(Core 2 Duo T5450 @ 1.66GHz)50.480sDell Inspiron 1525(Core 2 Duo T7250 @ 2.0GHz)43.569sDell XPS M1530(Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz)
37.485sPortable One SXS37 (Core 2 Duo T7250 @ 2.0GHz)41.908sSony VAIO NR(Core 2 Duo T5250 @ 1.5GHz)58.233sToshiba Tecra A9 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz)38.343sToshiba Tecra M9 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz)37.299sHP Compaq 6910p (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2GHz)40.965sSony VAIO TZ (Core 2 Duo U7600 @ 1.20GHz)76.240sZepto 6024W (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2GHz)42.385sLenovo T61 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz)37.705sAlienware M5750 (Core 2 Duo T7600 @ 2.33GHz)38.327sHewlett Packard DV6000z (Turion X2 TL-60 @ 2.0GHz)38.720sSamsung Q70 (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2.0GHz)42.218s
PCMark05 overall performance comparison results (higher scores mean better performance):
NotebookPCMark05 ScoreGateway M-152XL (2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T8300, ATI Mobility HD2600)6,256 PCMarksGateway T-6828 (1.83GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5550, Intel X3100)3,656 PCMarks Gateway M-6816 (1.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5250, Intel X3100)3,480 PCMarksLG R500 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GS 256MB)4,702 PCMarksHP dv2500t (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB)4,522 PCMarksDell Inspiron 1420 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS)4,925 PCMarksSony VAIO FZ(2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100)3,377 PCMarksDell XPS M1330(2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS)4,591 PCMarksLenovo ThinkPad X61(2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100)4,153 PCMarksLenovo 3000 V200 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100)3,987 PCMarksLenovo T60 Widescreen (2.0GHz Intel T7200, ATI X1400 128MB)4,189 PCMarksHP dv6000t (2.16GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400)4,234 PCMarksFujitsu N6410 (1.66GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400)3,487 PCMarksAlienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60, Nvidia Go 7800GTX)5,597 PCMarksSony VAIO SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400)3,637 PCMarks
3DMark06 gaming performance comparison results (higher scores mean better performance):
Notebook3DMark06 ScoreGateway M-152XL (2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T8300, ATI Mobility HD2600)3,754 3DMarksGateway T-6828 (1.83GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5550, Intel X3100) 469 3DMarks Gateway M-6816 (1.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5250, Intel X3100)529 3DMarksLG R500 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GS 256MB)2,776 3DMarksHP dv2500t (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB)1,055 3DMarksDell Inspiron 1420 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB)1,329 3DMarksSony VAIO FZ(2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100)532 3DMarksDell XPS M1330(2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB)1,408 3DMarksSamsung Q70 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7300 and nVidia 8400M G GPU)1,069 3DMarksAsus F3sv-A1 (Core 2 Duo T7300 2.0GHz, Nvidia 8600M GS 256MB)2,344 3DMarksAlienware Area 51 m5550 (2.33GHz Core 2 Duo, nVidia GeForce Go 7600 256MB2,183 3DMarksFujitsu Siemens Amilo Xi 1526 (1.66 Core Duo, nVidia 7600Go 256 MB)2,144 3DMarksSamsung X60plus (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7200, ATI X1700 256MB)1,831 3DMarksAsus A6J (1.83GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 128MB)1,819 3DMarksHP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400)827 3DMarks
Ports and Features
Port selection on the Gateway M-152XL was decent, but I felt it was missing Firewire and an additional USB port. It was nice to see VGA still included, even though HDMI is taking the lead.
Front: Headphone/Mic Jacks
Rear: Modem, VGA, AC Power
Left: HDMI, LAN, two USB ports, 5-in-1 Media Card Reader, ExpressCard/54, Wireless On/Off
Right: Slot Loading Optical Drive, one USB port
The webcam performed quite well, working just as I would have hoped. Clarity of the image was decent, but you can’t really expect a great deal of performance from a image sensor so small.
The integrated speakers on the M-152XL were below average, sounding very tinny and lacking all bass and most midrange. For listening to the occasional YouTube clip they would be fine, but I would really suggest a pair of headphones for longer use.
Heat and Noise
Thermal performance of this notebook was excellent, operating at stealth noise levels during most activities, and mildly ramping up in speed under benchmarks. Temperature levels of the notebook a bit higher than average, but it did have the high performance excuse. When compared to other notebooks in its class, it might have been a couple of degrees warmer overall.
For having a standard, non-extended battery, the Gateway M-152XL brought in good off the grid battery time of 2 hours and 35 minutes on the Windows Vista “Balanced” profile, with screen backlight set to 50 percent and wireless on. With the extended 9-cell battery I think it would be possible to break the 4 hour mark using these same settings.
The Gateway M-152XL offers a great deal of performance and very good build quality for a very attractive price. While the standard retail price of this notebook is $1,299, at the time of this writing Gateway is currently selling it on their website with a $250 discount, bringing the final price down to $1,050. The only big complaint I had with our review model was the paint defect that gave off the shimmery discoloration, which didn’t directly affect the performance or durability of the notebook and is not a common problem.
- Excellent performance
- Cool brushed aluminum trim
- Responsive touchpad
- Odd paint discoloration with the blue paint on our test unit
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