Gateway MD7801u Review: Perfect laptop at affordable rate

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It can be slightly misleading for calling the all new Gateway MD7801u, a perfect laptop at affordable rate, to be a budget version of MC7803u, even though both of them are priced below $1,000. Both their frames have been designed beautifully, supplemented with ample features and offer satisfactory performance. Although the more recent MD7801 lacks some features, the lowered price makes it an adequate choice for you.

Build & Design

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Gateway MD7801u has been designed using automobile styling. Its shiny black lid has been accented with steel strip, which runs straight down the middle, making your notebook look classy. Acer Aspire 6930G-6723, available at a similar range, has a basic design and an unembellished glossy cover. The Gateway MD7801u weighs 6.7 pounds, which is exactly a pound less than its predecessor is. The reason behind this lightness is twofold: The 15.6″ widescreen is quite small when compared to 16-inch display of MC7803u, and the edge-to-edge glass screen in the latter’s case weighs it down.

Screen

Although the screen in MD7801u lacks the clean glass look, the size and brightness available are perfect for every multimedia enthusiast. The 1366×768 resolution of the laptop is consistent with 16:9 aspect ratio, which is quite common in most latest consumer HDTVs.

Keyboard & Touchpad

Gateway MD7801u is without the illuminated keyboard of MC7803u. Although this doesn’t put a blemish on the model, its presence comes in handy during flights and poorly-lit rooms. Its full-size keyboard is very much similar to the one in Dell 16. The keys have been packed together and grooves in between them are less discernable than most other popular models in the market today.

Performance & Benchmarks

In terms of features, Gateway MD7801u forgoes the flash for substance. It has a 500 GB hard drive, which is great when you consider the price of the entire package. The hard drive is bigger than the ones in Gateway MC7803u and 6930G from Acer (both 320 GB). Apart from a FireWire port, each and every imperative standard features are available in MD7801u. The model is provided with 4 USB ports, latest Wi-Fi 802.11 draft-n chip from Intel, ExpressCard slot and 6-in-1 card reader. HDMI port, which is tough to find in $800 laptops, is sported in this affordable model from Gateway.

The 2.0-GHz T6400 Core2Duo processor from Intel incorporated in the Gateway MD7801u operates significantly faster than the one in MC7803u (T5800) and works more than adequately for average users. When it is paired with 4 GB of memory, the processor can tackle jobs from basic processing of Word to advanced image rendering and video editing. What you will not find in the model is a discrete Graphics Card, which is a must for most 3D-intensive applications and hardcore games. Integrated platform from Intel has been used in MD7801.

When it comes to working on applications like CineBench R10, Photoshop CS4 test and video encoding, Gateway MD7801u scores more impressively than its MC7803u model and Acer 6930G. 3D performance of the model is a complete different story, as the integrated chipset of Intel in MD7801u is better equipped for tackling online games similar to WoW (World of Warcraft).

Battery Life

Battery Life of the model is where Gateway MD7801u holds an edge over its predecessor. With 4 hours 17 minutes, MC7801u completely overpowers MD7803, which only delivers 2 hours 47 minutes after being unplugged and put on full load.

Gateway MD7801u has left out some extra features that made MC7803u attractive, which include the glass screen, discrete graphics and illuminated keyboard. However, in return, it provides you with a better processor, bigger hard drive and an excellent battery life. In the end, the decision comes down to how much you are willing to pay for your laptop.

Specifications of Gateway MD7801u

Processor: Core2Duo, T6400 2-GHz Mobile Processor from Intel (800 MHz FSB, 2 MB L2 Cache)

OS: Genuine Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium Edition with SP12 (64-bit)

Memory: 4-GB 667 MHz DDR2

Display: 15.6-inch WXGA Ultra Bright (1366×768)

Hard drive: 500 GB SATA 5400 rpm

Optical Drive: 8x Dual Layer, Multi-Format DVDRW & DVD-RAM

Battery: 8-Cell Lithium Ion 48.24Wh

Weight: 11.1 lbs (With box)

Dimensions: 13in x 17in x 6in

Pros: Brilliant Design, Good mix of components, great battery life and big hard drive

Cons: Weak Speakers and lacks several standard features like illuminated keyboard, Firewire Port & Bluetooth

MSRP: $699 (Base Price)

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