Designed for both the durability needs of business travelers and the style-conscious desires of 20-something professionals, the Gateway NX570X is a new mid-sized laptop that definitely sets itself apart from previous Gateway laptop models. A sleek new design paired with Intel’s latest Core 2 Duo line of mobile CPUs promises to deliver improved performance and battery life over earlier models, all while remaining competitively priced compared to Dell, Sony and other laptop manufacturers. With a huge market for mainstream laptops at stake, Gateway hopes to deliver a knockout with their newly styled NX570X.
Feature and Design
The new design of the NX570X serves in both a functional capacity (the materials are designed to be resistant to scratching and to fingerprint smudges) as well as to stylistically differentiate the laptop from the competition. The cover for the laptop is made of a textured, hard casing that is a departure from the traditional smooth casing found in previous Gateway models. Along each side of the laptop is a silver stripping around each of the connection ports that further distinguishes this laptop as more than just a box of chipsets and components.
Most notable to the new design is the interior portion of the laptop. Surrounding the touchpad and the bottom half of the laptop is a brushed, aluminum palm rest. While the palm rest is not the most comfortable surface in the world, it does give the laptop a sleek, modern look that begs to be shown off to family and friends. This aluminum is completely smooth to the touch and is accompanied by a silver finish surrounding the keyboard. The 15.4-inch display is surrounded by a smooth, thin, black-colored lining that doesn’t distract from the screen display.
Thankfully, the magnesium alloy casing and the brushed aluminum interior don’t add a significant amount of bulk to the NX570X. Weighing in at 6.5 pounds, and measuring 1.4-inch (H) x 14-inch (W) x 10.5-inch (D), this laptop is comparable to other mid-sized notebooks in its class. This respectable size is both small enough and light enough for use when traveling and for the daily commute, but it is not the lightest or the smallest in its class.
Overall, the laptop has an industrial look that is as modern and hip as any other competitor in its class. Aside from the power button in the upper right-hand corner next to the keyboard, there are no other buttons outside of the keyboard to complicate the layout. No volume controls, mute button, “sleep” button or any other controls muddy up the intentionally minimalist layout. Traditionally, look and feel of this caliber has been reserved for the flagship models from each manufacturer, such as the Ferrari 5000 from Acer. Gateway should be commended for choosing to bring a higher fit and finish to the mainstream without bringing the corresponding higher cost.
Price from the Gateway website at the time of publishing: $1160 as tested
– Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T7200 (2.00 GHz, 667MHz FSB, 4MB L2 Cache)
– 1024MB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM (2x512MB)
– 15.4″ WXGA TFT Active Matrix (1280 x 800 max. resolution)
– 100GB 7200rpm Serial ATA hard drive
– 24x/10x/24x CD-RW / 8x DVD-ROM optical drive
– Windows® XP Media Center Edition 2005 (Rollup Update 2)
– 6-cell lithium-ion battery with AC pack and 1 yr. limited battery warranty
– Mobile Technology: Features Intel® Centrino® Duo Mobile Technology
– 4-in-1 media card reader (Memory Stick®, MemoryStick Pro®, MultiMediaCard™, Secure Digital™)
– One type II PC card slot
– (4) USB 2.0, VGA, S-Video (TV Out), IEEE 1394 (FireWire)
– Integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950
– Full-size keyboard and EZ Pad® touchpad
– Integrated SigmaTel audio and stereo speakers, headphone/speaker jack, and microphone jacks
– Integrated V.92 56K modem
– Integrated Marvell® 10/100 Ethernet adapter
– Integrated Intel® 802.11a/b/g wireless networking card
The NX570 line is a very configurable line of notebooks with CPU, hard drive and RAM options that can be tweaked to cater to either the budget conscious crowd (the most basic configuration can be had for a mere $649) or the power hungry crowd looking for a fully-loaded desktop replacement machine.
The most notable exception is the lack of options available for upgrading to a more powerful graphics card. With the NX570X, you are limited to using the integrated graphics chip with the motherboard. This is fine for most day-to-day tasks and will fit the needs for most users, but rules out using this laptop for any gaming or heavy duty video-editing tasks. With the inclusion of Windows Media Center Edition as the OS, I would have expected an option to upgrade the video card for those users who want to take full advantage of the video recording and TV features offered by Windows MCE.
Note that at the time of publishing this review, Gateway is now offering Windows Vista Home Premium Edition as the standard OS on the NX570X. Windows Vista Home Premium Edition offers many of the same TV, video and music features as Windows Media Center Edition.
Image Courtesy of Gateway
Out of the Box Setup
The laptop arrived neatly and securely packaged in a white box adorned with the Gateway logo and typical cow spots decorating the sides. Unpacking the box revealed a set of user manuals, backup CD for Windows MCE and Works, an AC power adapter, the 6-cell lithiom ion battery and a quick start guide. Installing the battery and plugging in the AC adapter was a snap, and the laptop booted up quickly after I located the power button. The power button emits a faint blue glow once the laptop is turned on, which is a nice departure from the traditional green LED that is used in most laptops today.
Once the desktop screen appeared, I experienced my first and only major issue with using the laptop. The touchpad used to control the mouse pointer was DOA. I tried fiddling with the settings under the Mouse options in the Control Panel, I tried searching through the BIOS for any settings related to the touchpad and then finally tried to install different drivers – but nothing was able to resuscitate the touchpad.
Without the option to use the touchpad, I was left only with the option of using an external mouse. Luckily I had an extra USB mouse that was immediately recognized by Windows once plugged into the USB port. I used this USB mouse throughout the testing process.
With the mouse up and running, I was finally able to start using the machine and to complete the setup process. Unfortunately the bulk of the setup required uninstalling demo software and other unwanted programs. This process alone took nearly 30 minutes to remove the programs and unclutter the desktop and system tray. I can understand the usefulness of some software that was pre-installed, such as Microsoft Works and Google Desktop, but I really dislike the trial antivirus software, AOL software and similar programs. One of the more annoying pop-ups that kept interrupting me was an offer from Gateway to upgrade to an extended warranty service. While some people may not mind getting pop-ups for an offer to purchase an extended warranty, I was really irked by it. If I wanted the extended warranty, I would have purchased it when buying the laptop!
The performance evaluation of the NX570X was completed over a 30 day time period. All of the typical tasks you would perform with this type of notebook – watching DVDs, surfing the web, listening to music, spreadsheet calculations, word processing, burning CDs, etc. – were undertaken in order to put the NX570X through the paces to see how well it would stack up to the competition.
When considering the performance of a Core 2 Duo laptop, it’s important to understand that nearly all of these laptops are based on the Intel 945PM or Intel 945GM chipset. This chipset is the current standard for Core 2 Duo laptops and is part of the Intel Centrino Duo platform. Similarly, in order for the laptop to be labeled as a “Intel Centrino Duo” laptop, the integrated wireless adapter will be the Intel Pro/Wireless adapter. Simply put, this means that the real differentiators in terms of performance from one Core 2 Duo laptop to the next will be the speed of the CPU, RAM and hard drive as well as the graphics chip. The motherboard chipset and the wireless adapter are all the same, and thus will have no bearing on performance.
A true performance test of any laptop is the number of applications it can run simultaneously without getting bogged down. The NX570X handled every application I could throw at it, and then some. At one point during the testing I had 8 web browser windows open, 2 Works documents, iTunes and a DVD playing – while also running Folding@Home in the background – and I was able to quickly switch between each application without experiencing any pauses or stutters. The DVD movie played smoothly without dropping any frames and I could pause the movie, switch to iTunes to start up some music and then start surfing the web without any of the annoying 2-3 second delays you would normally expect with a less powerful laptop. In this area, the Core 2 Duo CPU really delivers and the NX570X doesn’t miss a beat.
The Right and Left side of the NX570
Graphics Performance and Display Quality
Unfortunately, the graphics portion of the testing was limited to just watching video clips on the Internet and DVD movies. The integrated graphics processor just doesn’t have enough power to handle any of the current generation 3D games such as F.E.A.R., Quake 4 or Far Cry. The 15.4-inch WXGA display handles video clips, pictures and DVD movies sufficiently. No dead pixels, clear image display and smooth video playback are the minimum requirements to be expected for a mid-range laptop display, and the NX570X provides all of the above.
Testing of the battery life showed that the NX570X carries plenty of juice in its 6-cell lithiom ion battery. However, if you want to go 5+ hours before needing to recharge the battery, you’ll need to spend the extra money to upgrade to the 8-cell or 12-cell battery.
DVD playback with the display brightness turned up all the way, wireless enabled: 3 hours 10 mins.
DVD playback with the display turned to 25%, wireless disabled: 3 hours 50 mins.
General use with display turned to 50% and wireless enabled: 4 hours 15 minutes.
The tactile feedback of the full-sized keyboard is excellent, and extended typing sessions were a breeze. I spent a full 45 minute session working through email, interrupted by a few IM’s from friends, and the keyboard response was crisp and solid throughout the session. The NX570X keyboard was a little louder than other laptop keyboards I have used, but it is well worth the bit of extra noise for such a comfortable typing experience.
The keyboard of the NX570
The integrated SigmaTel audio chipset and the two integrated speakers provide sound quality that is on par with other mid-range notebooks. While watching movies I had no trouble hearing the dialogue or following the action during fast sequences. The speakers offer essentially the same dynamic range as other notebook speakers, with very little bass and high frequencies that are overemphasized. Mid-range is acceptable, but not as smooth or well defined as you will find with a decent pair of headphones.
Heat and Noise
The NX570X uses a single exhaust vent on the left-hand side of the laptop to keep the internal components cool. While I typically prefer laptop designs that place the exhaust vent on the back of the laptop, so that the air is blown away from me, the single exhaust of the NX570X does a fine job of keeping the laptop cool without creating too much noise. The fan is noticeable, especially under heavy loads, but it is negligible and is no louder than similarly configured laptops from other manufacturers.
In summary, the Gateway NX570X does an impressive job in both the style and performance departments. Enough horsepower to easily run multiple applications and a long-lasting battery highlight the capabilities that the NX570X has to offer. This laptop will clearly differentiate itself from previous models with updated design and styling, and the sleek look is sure to stand out from other run-of-the-mill laptops. At a very competitive price, the NX570X offers an outstanding overall package for a mid-range laptop.
• Outstanding application performance
• Long-lasting battery
• Sleek styling
• Durable build quality
• Unimpressive out of the box experience and setup
• Limited graphics power
• No option to upgrade the video card.