Gateway P171XL FX Edition: 17″ Gaming Notebook PC

Gateway P171XL FX Edition

LCD Size: 17″
Aspect Ratio: 16:10
Pixel Format: 1920 x 1200
CPU: Intel Core2 Extreme Processor X7900 at 2.80GHz
FSB: 800MHz
Cache: 4MB L2 cache
HDD: 400GB 7200rpm Serial ATA hard drive w/ 16MB Cache (2-200GB)
GPU: nVidia GeForce Go 8800GTS with 512MB of GDDR3
Price: ~US$3000

The first question that was on my mind: is the 1920 x 1200 pixel format 17″ LCD panel driven by a LED backlight unit (BLU)? My instincts tell me, “No.” Gateway isn’t mentioning it as a selling point, so my guess is that the LCD is driven by the usual CCFL BLU. I believe Apple was the very first to incorporate a LED BLU into a 17″ notebook PC. And I think the trend toward LED BLUs will continue very strongly in the notebook PC market. There are a few very important advantages of LED BLUs over conventional CCFL BLUs:

  • No Mercury: When the notebook PCs are disposed of, we will not need to worry about mercury. Of course, there are other hazardous chemicals involved in the manufacture of notebook PCs, including the LCD, at least LED BLUs get rid of mercury, which is a nasty chemical when it enters into your body.
  • Lower Power Consumption: Compared to CCFL BLUs, LED BLUs can reduce the power consumption of a notebook PC, which allows for longer hours of operation and just the fact that you’re doing the same thing with less power is a good thing too.
  • Improved Ruggedness: I haven’t heard of CCFL tubes breaking on a notebook PC, but since LEDs are solid-state devices, the ruggedness factor improves with LED BLUs.

Enough about LED BLUs. The Gateway P171XL FX Edition is about $3000 and has an extremely fast CPU that is as fast as the fastest notebook PCs out there. The P171XL FX Edition bests even Alienware’s Area-51 m9750 that tops out with Intel’s Core 2 Duo T7600 2.33GHz (4MB Cache 667MHz FSB). The Area-51 m9750 has some catching up to do as even the 17″ MacBook Pro has a option for a 2.6GHz Core 2 Duo CPU. Of course, all that CPU power isn’t going to be much help if you’re GPU is limited. And that’s where the P171XL FX Edition gets interesting. The nVidia GeForce Go 8800GTS with 512MB of GDDR3 is one of the fastest GPUs for a notebook PC out there and the P171XL FX Edition has it. However, Alienware’s Area-51 m9750 has the option of dual 512MB NVIDIA GeForce 8700M GT in SLI mode. Which one will end up being faster? I’m not sure, but I would bet on the dual setup. A similarly configured m9750 runs about $3000 and the 17″ MBP runs a bit more at around $3200 (that’s without RAID since the MBP can only house one HDD).

Gateway doesn’t have a lot of street credibility when it comes to high-end gaming machines, but the P171XL FX Edition with a potent CPU and GPU combination might grab some mind share. We’ll see how fast it is compared to the best in class when performance reviews start to get posted up.

Source: Gateway, Alienware, Apple

[tags]16:10, 17″, 1920 x 1200, Gateway, Notebook PC, Hardcore Gaming[/tags]

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