With a focus on durability, performance, and affordability, Gateway's NX570X has a lot to like. Starting at $649 (though our tested configuration would cost $1,203), this system doesn't skimp on design, battery life, or performance. Aside from a couple of minor quibbles, we think the NX570X is tough to beat for the price.
The NX570X doesn't look like your typical bargain-bin, mainstream laptop. The textured gray lid, brushed-metallic interior, and glowing blue status lights lend it an elegant, contemporary look equally appropriate for the home and the office. Both the scratch- and fingerprint-resistant lid and palm-rest case are reassuringly inflexible and feel much more solidly built than the average laptop.
At 14.1 x 10.4 x 1.3 inches and 6.4 pounds, the case is average sized and a little light for a mainstream notebook, though it's still a bit too heavy for regular travel. The firm, serviceable keyboard is unremarkable, but we're fond of the NX570X' textured touchpad, with its horizontal and vertical scrolling zones and its two very large, convex mouse buttons.
The 15.4-inch widescreen glossy display with a standard 1280 x 800-pixel native resolution isn't the brightest in the mainstream class, but it delivers enough screen real estate for most productivity tasks, including editing documents side by side and working in multiple windows. And while the NX570X' integrated Intel GMA 950 graphics card doesn't have enough muscle to run today's hottest games at full power, our Gladiator DVD looked lush and detailed, even during the fast-moving battle scenes. The two front-mounted stereo speakers project clear but not particularly loud audio.
In addition to a dual-layer DVD burner, which can read and burn all of the major DVD and CD formats, the NX570X has four USB 2.0 ports clumped on the right edge, and one four-pin FireWire port for connecting accessories. You'll find S-Video and VGA outputs for connecting to an external display, one Type II PC Card slot, and a 4-in-1 media card reader. The ports are clearly labeled, making them easy to access from above, but we wish the USB ports were spread out a bit. A/V aficionados will rue the absence of the dedicated multimedia controls commonly available on competitive mainstream systems.
Also included is Windows XP Media Center 2005, although you can now get the NX570X with Windows Vista Home Premium for the same price. This system is fully capable of handling Vista and includes enough graphics power to support the Aero interface. Basic users will find pretty much everything they need in terms of connectivity. The built-in networking features include Gigabit Ethernet, modem jacks, and 802.11a/b/g; our test unit also had integrated Bluetooth (a $49 upgrade). The NX570X' Wi-Fi throughput of 14.6 Mbps at 15 feet and 11.8 Mbps at 50 feet was quite good.
Gateway offers a fair degree of customization options for the NX570X, and our test unit included a competitive array of hardware. In addition to a high-end 2-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 processor, we got 1GB of DDR2 RAM (upgradable to 4GB) and a small but speedy 80GB, 7,200-rpm hard drive.
These components delivered strong results on our benchmark tests: 276 on MobileMark 2005 and 1,617 on 3DMark03-proof that the NX570X will easily shoulder any productivity or processing task. That said, its integrated GPU makes it unsuitable for serious gaming and demanding graphics work.
After hours of use, the laptop became very warm, but the fan remained quiet. The NX570X' eight-cell battery, a worthwhile $40 upgrade from the standard six-cell, lasted for more than five hours on our drain tests-exceptional for a laptop in this weight and price class.
Though it lacks dedicated multimedia controls and discrete graphics, the NX570X delivers vigorous performance, terrific battery life, and a high-quality design for a fair price.