It's a given fact that computers have been getting smaller since the days of vacuum tubes and ENIAC. What was once a glorified calculator that took up a space the size of a football field can now fit in something the size of your watch. Tasks that used to take months to compute on a mainframe can now be calculated in minutes on a midrange desktop system. Even in a relatively short period of time, we still see progression so that your top-end desktop gaming powerhouse from two or three years ago can be surpassed by a modern laptop.

That's all well and good, but a big problem a lot of people have with gaming notebooks is that their size relative to typical laptops is rather large, making them less convenient to carry around. Relatively short battery life is another drawback. But perhaps the biggest drawback is a very simple one: price.

We recently looked at the Dell XPS M1730, which is arguably the fastest gaming notebook currently available. With its 8800M GTX SLI graphics chips and overclockable Penryn X9000 CPU, you get performance that surpasses most desktops from 18 months ago, or if you prefer performance that will match a reasonably configured midrange desktop system. If you put together a Core 2 Duo E8400 system with something between GeForce 9600 GT 512 SLI and 8800 GT 512 SLI graphics, you should have roughly comparable performance. The problem is that such a desktop system can be assembled for less than $1500, whereas the powerful XPS M1730 costs about three times as much.

What would be really nice is if we had a viable midrange gaming laptop alternative — something that offers reasonable performance for under $1500. We're not talking about any of the junk shipping with integrated graphics, or low-end stuff like GeForce 8400 or even 8700M GT. And while they're reasonably fast, even single GPU 8800M GTX notebooks like the AVADirect (Clevo) M570RU start at over $2000. How about a laptop with graphics performance that can at least match the GeForce 9600 GT? After all, the 9600 GT can be had for a mere $150 and it doesn't seem to consume that much power; how hard can it be to put something like that into a laptop?

In fact, it's not really all that difficult, and NVIDIA launched exactly that sort of chip in late 2007 with the GeForce 8800M GTS. It has 64 Stream Processors, just like the 9600 GT. Most of the gaming laptops have opted for the more powerful (and more expensive) 8800M GTX with its 96 SPs, so we were quite interested to see exactly how much performance you give up by going with the 8800M GTS. Unfortunately, we can't really do an apples-to-apples comparison here, because Gateway didn't stop at cutting down the GPU. In the system we received, they also trimmed the CPU performance quite a bit, dropping all the way to a 1.66GHz Core 2 Duo T5450. That certainly means CPU performance isn't going to match up well against something like a 2.8GHz X9000; what we want to find out is whether it can still provide adequate performance.

If you've ever looked at buying a gaming notebook, you have likely been very disappointed in the offerings that cost less than $2000. In fact, up until Gateway dropped the P-6831 FX on the mobile gaming market, we honestly haven't seen anything that would even qualify as a good midrange gaming notebook. Gateway didn't just break a $2000 price barrier, however. Available at locations like Best Buy for a mere $1350 (and currently with a $100 rebate), the P-6831 FX completely redefines the midrange gaming notebook. Let's look at how they managed to do this.

Gateway P-6831 FX Overview


View All Comments

  • asusftw - Friday, March 28, 2008 - link

    asus g2p? what era are we in? benchmark the g2sg-a1 or the g2s-b2. don't use notebooks that are past their expiration date please. Reply
  • pnyffeler - Friday, March 28, 2008 - link

    Ouch. :-) Reply
  • kenbx84 - Friday, March 28, 2008 - link

    I like how these guys like to compare the outdated Asus G2P to this gateway as oppose to the more up to date G2Sg or even G2S-B2...

    Hey guys try comparing the latest notebooks with the latest notebooks please.
  • ap90033 - Sunday, March 30, 2008 - link

    Are you talking about this one?">;hl=en&...

    If so 5200 in 3dmark06 isnt really close to 7000 that I get with the P6831FX...
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, March 30, 2008 - link

    Note that in order to compare 3DMark06 scores properly, you need to test at 1280x1024... that link only does so at the end and then scores a paltry 4715. For the 6831FX, you need to use an external LCD (which I did). 6820 is a respectable score, held back quite a bit by the CPU (which contributes something like 1/4 to 1/3 of the total points, I think).

    But really, who cares about 3DMark? We don't play that; we play actual games. Compared to the 8700M GT in the X205:

    Battlefield 2, Bioshock, Quake 4, Stalker, and Supreme Commander are roughly half the performance. Meanwhile Far Cry, the HL2 games, and Oblivion are about 2/3 as fast. So in tested games, the P6831 is usually at least 50% faster than the X205, and frequently twice as fast. I wish I still had an 8700M GT system so I could run some of the new games through the wringer, but regardless it's not looking pretty.
  • MrX8503 - Friday, March 28, 2008 - link

    "I like how these guys like to compare the outdated Asus G2P to this gateway as oppose to the more up to date G2Sg or even G2S-B2...

    Hey guys try comparing the latest notebooks with the latest notebooks please. "

    Reading is your friend. Theres a reason why they did this.
  • deshiboy - Monday, January 25, 2010 - link

    8690 HYA HYA! Reply
  • jburgett - Friday, March 28, 2008 - link

    Frequently reviewers of laptops neglect to measure the heat radiating from the top and bottom of laptops. This can be a major factor in the actual use of a system. For example, I had a Gateway nx860XL that reached 52 deg C on the underside while sitting on a flat surface! Such hot temperatures prevent using it on your lap for even short periods. Further, the area under your left hand while gaming (the WASD keys) reached 45 deg after a long gaming session, and this was while raising the back of the laptop to provide maximum fan airflow!

    Please consider adding temperature measurements on teh top and bottom to your reviews. It would be very helpful, as the differences from one laptop to another are dramatic.
    Currently only and provide temperature readings.
    Thanks for the review!
  • ap90033 - Sunday, March 30, 2008 - link

    Interesting point, its not important for me, I use the Ideazon Fang... Its way better than using a keyboard and makes this a non issue. I have used mine a lot gaming and surfing the net and never noticed but of course when gaming my fang gamepad allows me to play with no distractions. Actually for a gaming laptop I was suprised at how cool it runs... Reply
  • Wolfpup - Friday, March 28, 2008 - link

    I'm wondering if this comes with a real Vista DVD like Dell's systems do (not no one else does) so you can reinstall it from scratch when you get it.

    It actually sounds like it does from the manual for the FX series, as it talks about reinstalling from the Vista DVD. Presumably if it didn't HAVE a DVD included, they'd at least mention "oh you have to buy it".

    I also wonder if this can run Folding @ Home whenever it's on. Sounds like maybe it can actually handle it, if 100% CPU utilization doesn't require it to ramp up the fans all the way.

    Overall, I hate the slow CPU, but even that's not much different from a lot of notebooks in the price range. I probably should have bought one during that sale (DOH!) But maybe I'll still pick one up...

    Oh, and to the person who said people reading Anandtech won't use this as their main machine...why not? I've got a pretty big backlog of games to get through, so I might be an exception, but I figure I can get at LEAST a year or two of use out of this before I start getting held back by the CPU and GPU. And the price is low enough that I can just figure I'll buy a new notebook or desktop in 1-3 years when needed, and it'll still be cheaper then buying something more expensive now.

    Actually another question...I wonder how getting the memory in dual channel mode would help performance? 3GB is beyond adequate, but I'd assume these newer systems still give up 10%+ performance when running single channel.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now