It's not one of AMD's new Turion X2 Ultras, but the Gateway's Turion 64 X2 TL-60 processor is a respectable 65-nanometer-process, 2.0GHz CPU with 512K of Level 2 cache for each of its two cores. It's paired with an ATI RS690T chipset, which is paired with 128MB of dedicated memory (and can borrow more from system memory) for its Radeon X1270 integrated graphics.
The latter is an old and humble DirectX 9.0 graphics solution, which put on a slide show (6 frames per second) in our DX9 benchmark test Gun Metal 2 at XGA resolution. It improved to 9 fps in the OpenGL test Lightsmark 2007 at 1,200 by 800 resolution.
Other results weren't quite as rock-bottom, with a 3DMark06 score of 311 at full-screen resolution with no antialiasing. The Gateway rendered Cinebench 10's sample scene in 4 minutes and 20 seconds with both CPU cores firing.
As for overall performance, our usual SysMark 2007 application benchmark doesn't run under 64-bit Windows, but the Gateway gets a Windows Experience rating of 3.0 on Vista's 5.9-point scale. The notebook's suitability for gaming graphics is the low point, but it earns relatively high ratings for both system memory and the 250GB, 5,400-rpm Western Digital hard drive.
Speaking of graphics, the M-1626's widescreen display is reasonably bright (at its top two or three backlight brightness settings) and colorful, if not particularly vivid despite its glossy coating. None of our test unit's 1,280 by 800 pixels were bad, and Gateway's wise/thrifty decision to forgo any higher resolution for its 15.4 diagonal inches made easy reading of even small icon and menu text, even in dimly lit rooms.
The laptop's keyboard is spacious and holds no layout surprises -- all right, the Ctrl key is second from left instead of far left in the bottom row, as we inevitably grouse about, but Delete is in the top right corner where it belongs, and there are real Home, End, PgUp, and PgDn keys instead of Fn-plus-cursor-arrow impostors.
We wound up disabling horizontal scrolling, which seemed to pop into play whenever we wanted simple horizontal cursor movement, but both the touchpad and twin mouse buttons below it are amply sized and comfortably smooth to use.
In addition to Vista Home Premium 64-Bit, the Gateway comes with 60-day trial versions of Symantec's Norton Security 2008 and Microsoft's Office Home and Student 2007 plus Works and Money Essentials. The Wild Tangent game service and Napster music player are also standard, as is Gateway's consumer-friendly BigFix upgrade notice utility. A nice pull-out sidebar at one side of the screen controls the 1.3-megapixel webcam centered above it.
Frankly, mainstream 15.4-inch notebooks are getting squeezed between 14- and 13-inch and smaller lightweight travelers and 17-inch deluxe desktop replacements. That said, the M-1626 (or another Gateway M Series model, some with Intel and some with AMD power), is a solid, workmanlike choice for its $850 price, especially for anyone shopping for 64- rather than 32-bit Windows. The trouble is, we don't think there'll be swarms of such shoppers at Office Depot.
On a 5-star scale:
This article was first published on Hardware Central.