Gateway 450 XL Review

If you are in the market for a sub $2000 notebook, you will want to take a look at the Gateway 450 XL...
If you are in the market for a sub $2000 notebook, you will want to take a look at the Gateway 450 XL...
If you are in the market for a sub $2000 notebook, you will want to take a look at the Gateway 450 XL...

Highs

  • Great performance
  • good value

Lows

  • No external audio controls
  • loud internal fan

DT Editors' Rating

Home > Product Reviews > Laptop Reviews > Gateway 450 XL Review

Key Specifications

Type
All-Purpose
Operating system
Microsoft Windows
Form factor
Mid-size
Screen size
15"
See All

Summary

The Gateway 450 XL is a mixed bag. On one hand you have a system with a large display, good performance and great external styling. On the other hand you have a lot of overlooked features. We would have liked to have seen better styling inside the notebook to match the outside, a rear cover to protect the back ports, external audio controls, and a larger battery pack. There is nothing wrong with the 450 XL, but a little more thought and polish could have made this system a serious contender for our editors choice award. If you are in the market for a sub $2000 notebook, you will want to take a look at the Gateway 450 XL as it offers tremendous value for the price.

Introduction

The 450 X and XL models are Gateway’s first Centrino based laptops and while they may not be the slimmest Centrino laptops we have seen, they offer great value and good performance for the budget conscious. Intel’s Centrino series processors and 855 chipset offer better CPU performance at lower voltages and longer battery life than their mobile predecessors. We have seen various iterations of laptops based off the Centrino processor and Gateway takes a different perspective with their 450XL notebook computer.

Features

The Gateway 450 XL offers a spacious 15″ SXGA display coupled with Intel’s Pentium M Centrino processor at 1.5 GHz. The 450 XL comes with 512 MB of system memory, a 40 GB hard drive, DVD/CD-RW combo drive and ATI’s Mobility Radeon 7500 with 32 MB of DDR memory. Of course the Centrino based 450 XL also features integrated wireless networking courtesy of Intel’s PRO 10/100 VE networking card  to top off the system.  As with most notebook manufacturers, Gateway offers a standard one year parts/labor warranty with the 450 XL. If you would like to upgrade the warranty, options are available. The base price of the 450 XL is a very reasonable $1999.

Bundled with the 450 XL is Microsoft’s Windows XP Home edition and Works Suite 2002. There are also other productivity programs installed and fortunately you can choose which software you would like by using Gateway’s online ordering system. Business users will most likely want to upgrade the operating system to Microsoft Windows XP Professional as well as upgrade the office productivity software to Microsoft’s full Office XP program.

The 450 XL comes with 2-256 MB memory modules and is upgradeable to 1 GB of total system memory. The processor can also be upgraded to a 1.6 GHz Intel CPU although we would recommend against it as you would most likely notice very little different in the speed increase. Hard drives on both the 450 X and XL run at a speed of 4200 RPM’s and although may be considered slow, the lower speed helps to increase the overall battery life of the laptop which is what the Centrino based system is all about.

Performance

Our Gateway 450 XL review unit showed great performance scores in our Mobile Mark, 3D Mark and SiSoftware Sandra tests. In 3d Mark the Gateway 450 XL pulled ahead of both the IBM ThinkPad X31 and the Sony VAIO PCG Z1AP1 systems; no doubt due to the robust ATI Radeon Mobility 7500 video card with 32 MB of DDR memory. In our SiSoftware Sandra tests the Gateway 450 XL also lead the pack with a score of 4861 on the CPU Arithmetic Benchmark showing performance scores very close to that of an Intel Pentium 4M CPU running at 2 GHz.

Gateway 450 XL Mobile Mark scores

Gateway 450 XL 3D Mark 2001 Pro Scores

SiSoftware Sandra CPU Arithmetic Benchmark

SiSoftware Sandra CPU Multimedia Benchmark

System Configurations:

Gateway DS 450 XL
Windows XP Home; 1.5GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 32MB; Toshiba MK4018GAP 40GB 4,200rpm

Sony VAIO PCG-Z1A
Windows XP Home; 1.3GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 16MB; Hitachi DK23EA-60 60GB 4,200rpm

IBM ThinkPad X31
Windows XP Pro; 1.4GHz Intel Pentium M; 256MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 16MB; Hitachi DK23EB-40 40GB 5,400rpm

Use and testing

Upon first inspection of the 450 XL it is no wonder that the system has been featured on shows such as Warner Bros. Smallville (Lex Luther uses it as his main computer); the 450 XL is very attractive on the outside. The shell is made with a polished Aluminum looking composite with the “open” button having a nice chrome look to it. What shocked us is that as gorgeous as the outside is, the inside of the 450 XL holds just the opposite. The keypad and hand rests while nice and big are also extremely bland looking. The keyboard, touch pad and associated mouse buttons are gigantic in size and offer no cosmetic styling. You would also assume that with so much free space, Gateway would care to include external audio volume controls but alas there are none to be found. The upside is that the keyboard is larger than most laptops with a 15″ screen size.

On the left side of the 450 XL you have the audio in and outputs, a single FireWire port, two USB 2.0 ports and two PCMCIA ports. On the right hand side of the system is where the DVD/CD-RW combo drive resides. The back of the 450 XL is where you will find the VGA/Composite video outputs, Ethernet/56K modem ports, and your serial ports. There is no cover offering protection to the inputs and outputs on the back of the 450 XL. This is disappointing because as a system that might be geared to business travelers, a back cover adds much needed protection for a laptop that is sure to get plenty of wear.

Boot up time is fast and easy as is the initial Windows XP Home Edition setup. Simply follow the onscreen questions and you are up and running before you know it.  We noticed that the internal fan on the 450 XL came on sporadically and is very loud when compared to other laptops in this class. The Centrino CPU offers less heat due to a smaller die and less voltage so cooling a system with a fan this loud and big in size could only mean one of a couple things: the ATI 32 MB video card puts out a lot of heat, or Gateway didn’t bother to do their homework. The 4200 RPM drive should put out minimal heat as well so we do not think that is the main reason for the large system fan.

Our Gateway 450 XL review unit showed great performance scores in our Mobile Mark, 3D Mark and SiSoftware Sandra tests. In 3d Mark the Gateway 450 XL pulled ahead of both the IBM ThinkPad X31 and the Sony VAIO PCG-Z1AP1 systems; no doubt due to the robust ATI Radeon Mobility 7500 video card with 32 MB of DDR memory. In our SiSoftware Sandra tests the Gateway 450 XL also lead the pack with a score of 4861 on the CPU Arithmetic Benchmark showing performance scores very close to that of an Intel Pentium 4M CPU running at 2 GHz.

In our Mobile Mark tests we were surprised to see the Gateway 450 XL not only show a good score of 140, but to have a battery life of 180 minutes, only 4 minutes behind the smaller Sony PCG-Z1. The reason for our surprise is because the Gateway 450 XL comes with a mere 3800 mAh battery pack, while the other two test systems carried a 4400 mAh battery pack. We are not sure what Gateway was thinking, but we would like to see a system based on performance, and portability to have a larger battery pack, not a smaller one. Imagine the extra time you could have if they had included a larger battery.

Click on the performance tab above and below this review to see benchmarks.

Conclusion

The Gateway 450 XL is a mixed bag. On one hand you have a system with a large display, good performance and great external styling. On the other hand you have a lot of overlooked features. We would have liked to have seen better styling inside the notebook to match the outside, a rear cover to protect the back ports, external audio controls, and a larger battery pack. There is nothing wrong with the 450 XL, but a little more thought and polish could have made this system a serious contender for our editor’s choice award. If you are in the market for a sub $2000 notebook, you will want to take a look at the Gateway 450 XL as it offers tremendous value for the price.