Going for the Gold

For our first look at benchmarks of the P-7811, we thought it would be best to focus on comparisons to Gateway's other FX series laptops. We have earlier results from the P-6831, but since it has such a slow processor we also added results from the upgraded P-171XL. The P-171XL is no longer in production, but it provides a better indication of graphics performance when the CPU is not a bottleneck, as it has a Core 2 Duo X7900 (2.8GHz, 4MB cache) processor. It also ships with two 200GB hard drives in RAID 0, 4GB of RAM (but a 32-bit OS, so only 3GB is visible), and a WUXGA display. It had an initial launch price of $3000, which quickly dropped to $2500, and now it has been replaced by the $2000 MSRP ($1630 at TigerDirect) P-173XL - the primary difference being the inclusion of a T8300 processor instead of the X7900. Here are the three test configurations for this first look at the P-7811.

Gateway P-6831 FX Test System
Processor Core 2 Duo T5450 (1.67GHz 2MB 667FSB)
Memory 1x1024MB + 1x2048MB Samsung DDR2-667 5-5-5-15
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce 8800M GTS 512MB
GPU/Shader/RAM Clocks: 500/1250/799
NVIDIA drivers: 167.46
Display 17" WXGA+ (1440x900) UltraBright
(Samsung LTN170X2-L02)
Hard Drive 250GB 5400RPM Western Digital
(Scorpio WD2500BEVS-22UST0)
Optical Drive Optiarc AD-7563A SuperMulti DVD+/-RW
Battery 9-Cell 86WHr
Operating System Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit

Gateway P-171XL FX Test System
Processor Core 2 Extreme X7900 (2.80GHz 4MB 667FSB)
Memory 2x2048MB Samsung DDR2-667 5-5-5-15
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce 8800M GTS 512MB
GPU/Shader/RAM Clocks: 500/1250/799
NVIDIA drivers: 175.95 (Hacked from LaptopVideo2Go.com)
Display 17" WUXGA (1920x1200) Matte
(Samsung LTN170WU-L02)
Hard Drive 2x200GB Seagate Momentus 7200.2 in RAID 0
Optical Drive Toshiba DVDR/HD-DVD TS-L802A
Battery 9-Cell 86WHr
Operating System Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit

Gateway P-7811 FX Test System
Processor Core 2 Duo P8400 (2.26GHz 3MB 1066FSB)
Memory 2x2048MB Samsung DDR3-1066 7-7-7-20
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce 9800M GTS 512MB
GPU/Shader/RAM Clocks: 600/1250/799
NVIDIA drivers: 176.02 (beta from Gateway)
Display 17" WUXGA (1920x1200) Glossy
(AU Optronics AUO 1088)
Hard Drive 200GB Seagate Momentus 7200.2
Optical Drive 8X SuperMulti DVD+/-RW
Battery 9-Cell 86WHr
Operating System Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit

Note that we won't have all benchmarks on all three laptops; in particular, we no longer have the P-6831 for testing and so we were unable to run some of our latest benchmarks. We were able to run all of our tests on both the P-171XL and the P-7811. We do expect the P-7811 to perform faster in all of the gaming benchmarks, since the 9800M GTS offers more graphics horsepower because of the increased GPU core clocks. Similarly, we expect the P-171XL to outperform the other two configurations in application benchmarks that depend more on CPU and hard drive performance.

Features and Specifications Standard Gaming Performance
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  • ezinner - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    I've been searching for days on this. Gateway has a Broadcom driver and an empty slot next to the Intel wi-fi card. Plus, many reviews have a preproduction model with Bluetooth. Anyone have the part number, cost and where you can buy this so I can hook up a wireless mouse and/or keyboard without needing a dongle?
  • Urbanos - Friday, September 26, 2008 - link

    i've noticed elsewhere on the net that the P-7811 supports 2 harddrives, and some have even had the luxury of enabling raid 0/1. can anyone confirm that? reviewers?
  • jfdmit - Saturday, September 13, 2008 - link

    I took my malfunctioning 7811 back to Best Buy today and exchanged it for another. The difference couldn't be starker. Whereas the old one was a crash-happy piece of junk, the replacement machine looks like it was made by a completely different company...a competent one. The performance, stability, and overall quality are first rate. I'm glad I managed to get my hands on one of the good ones at last.
  • jfdmit - Thursday, September 11, 2008 - link

    The statements in the article about the 7811's poor stability are accurate. I bought the machine yesterday, and must say I'm pretty disappointed.

    The first problem I noticed was that the Webcam only works sporadically. It'll activate the first time you click on it after boot, but thereafter it just craps out with a "Graph Render Failure" error message. This is apparently a fairly common problem with the Chicony webcam used by this machine and a number of others (including Toshiba and Acer laptops). I've tried the various solutions proposed on various web forums, but the problem remains unsolved.

    The next (and from my perspective more important problem) is graphics performance. As long as the 7811 isn't taxed too hard, it will work fine with the standard driver. Run games like Spore, Crysis, or Sins of a Solar Empire, however, and you'll suffer through total lockups, bluescreens, and assorted other nastiness. Using the LaptopVideo2Go.com 177.92 with the patched .INF doesn't make any difference. Nor does the 177.98 driver. The lockups can happen as infrequently as every four or five hours or as frequently as every fifteen minutes. Even shutting down every service not essential to running the game makes no difference.

    While, on paper, this looks like a good machine and excellent value for money, it's just too unreliable to be of any use. I'm a keen MMORPG fan, and I have no intention of spending three hours trying to find a pickup group, only to have my PC die the second I get into a dungeon.

    Sorry Gateway, nice try but no cigar.
  • atlmann10 - Thursday, September 4, 2008 - link

    Bloatware removal http://www.pcdecrapifier.com/">http://www.pcdecrapifier.com/
    then run the next after download
    Then download and run this http://www.auslogics.com/registry-defrag">http://www.auslogics.com/registry-defrag
    then this http://www.defraggler.com/download">http://www.defraggler.com/download
  • atlmann10 - Thursday, September 4, 2008 - link

    Gateway just released a BIOS update for the 7811 FX here's a link

  • wakasenshi - Thursday, August 21, 2008 - link

    I am looking at purchasing a Gateway P-7811 FX from Best Buy and I was wondering if the 3 year warranty they offer is worth $379? (They have a few cheaper/different warranty plans available in-store, but the $379 one is all they offer online.)

    In addition, Geek Squad offers an optimization service which essentially wipes out all the trial software (something I am sure I can do myself) but they also go into the registry and clean out some of the hidden resource hogs (something I could learn but presently have little experience in). Geek Squad charges $129 for this service coupled with some antispyware and antivirus programs. They said they spent something like $1.5 million in R&D for this optimization process, but that was from someone trying to up-sell me. How hard would it be for me to learn to do this myself?
  • JarredWalton - Friday, August 22, 2008 - link

    I did it before testing. I think AV and Firewalls are for people that don't know how to surf safe... you know, use Firefox, don't visit porn sites, and don't download all sorts of silly executables. It's amazing how sluggish even a fast system can feel with AV software running... at least in my experience.

    Anyway, if you want a "clean" boot, run msconfig, go to the services and hide all Microsoft services, and then hit "Disable all". You can probably go to the startup tab and disable all of those as well. Then watch how fast your PC starts up! Just be careful of malicious websites....

    As for the warranty, $379 for an additional three years is a lot, but I often feel consumer laptops aren't really designed to run for more than two years reliably. Considering it's pretty much impossible to find reasonably priced Gateway laptop parts online ($80 for a keyboard, $70 for a cooling fan, etc.), if you don't just want to toss it should something go wrong, I'd grab the warranty. FYI, having Gateway repair a laptop out of warranty is usually a $400 charge I think, plus parts.
  • wakasenshi - Friday, August 22, 2008 - link

    Thank you, I appreciate it.
  • okron1k - Tuesday, August 19, 2008 - link

    i'm curious if can configure when purchasing these? for example a different gpu or processor?

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