The Bottom Line
Apr 4 2012 - With street price of right around $600, the Gateway NV55S22u is one of the most affordable laptops available with strong multimedia features including the AMD APU for near dedicated graphics performance and a Blu-ray compatible drive. It is nice to see a few extras such as 6GB of DDR3 memory as well which helps the quad core processor for those that like to multitask. For those not looking to use it with demanding tasks, the AMD processor does tend to trail behind Intel Core i3 based laptops in the same price range. In addition to this, the system is plagued with a large amount of software installed that makes it a bit slower than normal for booting up.
- Blu-ray Drive
- 6GB of DDR3 Memory
- Better Integrated Graphics
- AMD Processor Lags Behind Intel In Many Tasks
- Large Amount of Installed Software Slows Down Boot Speeds
- AMD A8-3520M Quad Core Mobile Processor
- 6GB PC3-10600 DDR3 Memory
- 500GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- Blu-ray Reader And Dual Layer DVD Burner Combo Drive
- 15.6" WXGA (1366x768) LED Backlit Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- AMD Radeon HD 6620G Integrated Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless
- Three USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, 5-in-1 Card Reader
- 15" x 10" x 1.3" @ 5.7 lbs.
- Windows 7 Home Premium, Office Starter
Review - Gateway NV55S22u
Apr 4 2012 - Rather than using the popular Intel platform for the Gateway NV55S22u, Gateway has opted to use the AMD A8-3520M quad core processor. The extra cores should help boost the overall performance compared to the Intel platform, but that is only going to be in a certain set of applications and tasks that can utilize all the cores. In many cases, applications that users tend to do such as the web, email and even media watching generally only requires one or two of them. The result is the system is going to be slower in many tasks than an equivalent dual core Intel Core i3 based system but it will do a bit better in multitasking. Helping with the multitasking and more demanding applications, Gateway also includes 6GB of DDR3 memory compared to many similarly priced systems.
The most enticing feature of the Gateway NV55S22u is going to be the Blu-ray compatible optical drive. This makes the system one of the most affordable systems that has the ability to playback the high definition media format. It also can record to DVD or CD media types as well. The hard drive for the system is a much more typical 500GB drive that offers a good amount of storage space and it inline with other budget classed systems. The drive does spin at the more traditional 5400rpm rate which makes data access slower than more expensive systems with larger and faster drives or solid state drives. Like many budget class laptops, high speed external storage upgrades are limited due to the lack of any USB 3.0 or eSATA ports.
Since the system is designed for multimedia with its Blu-ray compatible drive, the graphics system is a bit more important than many budget laptops. Unfortunately, the 15.6-inch display uses the typical 1366x768 native resolution meaning that it can't take full advantage of 1080p high definition video. It is hard to really fault Gateway much for this as higher resolution panels would increase the cost. There is an HDMI video connector though for connecting the laptop up to a standard HDTV. One advantage that the AMD APU platform offers over the Intel one is the integrated graphics. The AMD Radeon HD 6620G built into the A8 processor offers a higher level of performance than Intel's HD Graphics. While it still trails compared to a dedicated graphics processor, it does allow for some casual PC gaming at lower resolutions and detail levels which Intel cannot. In addition, it also offers a better level of performance gains when used with non-3D applications such as Photoshop.
The battery for the Gateway NV55S22u uses a fairly common 4400mAh capacity battery pack found in laptop of this size and price. Now, the AMD A8 had greatly improved its efficiency over past AMD processors but it still seems to trail a bit when it comes to overall battery life. In DVD playback testing, the system is able to run just under two and a half hours before going into standby mode. This isn't much shorter but still something to consider. It should be noted that Blu-ray playback will be closer to two hours as it is more demanding on the system. More typical usage should yield roughly an extra hour.
One problem that has plagued a lot of the Acer group of systems including Gateway is the preinstalled software. A fair amount of the applications that come installed on the system are of a trial or ad based nature. While the speed of systems make the impact when the system is running less noticeable, the various toolbars clutter the desktop and the do impact the performance in situations such as booting up the operating system. It is advised that that users take time to remove unwanted applications to help improve the boot times and clean up the interface.