We've seen a trend as of late towards sleeker, lighter mainstream notebooks. The days of cheap, bulky machines are slowly fading behind us as Intel's Core 2010 processors are being engineered into slimmer, lighter chassis. Gateway's entry (in some ways on behalf of its parent company, Acer) is the ID49C, a unit designed to be portable and at least a little flashy without being gaudy. Does it deserve to be shortlisted for your next purchase, or is the bling wrong-headed? That's what we're here to find out.
|Gateway ID49C08u Specifications|
|Processor|| Intel Core i5-450M |
(2x2.4GHz + HTT, 2.66GHz Turbo, 32nm, 3MB L3, 35W)
|Memory||2x2GB DDR3-1066 (Max 2x4GB)|
|Graphics|| NVIDIA GeForce GT330M 1GB DDR3 Optimus Technology |
Intel HD Graphics IGP
|Display|| 14" LED Glossy 16:9 768p (1366x768) |
LG Philips LP140WH2-TLA2
|Hard Drive(s)||500GB 5400 RPM Hitachi Travelstar Hard Disk|
|Optical Drive||8x DVD+/-RW SuperMulti|
|Networking|| Atheros AR8131 Gigabit Ethernet |
Realtek RTL8192SE Wireless 802.11n (150Mb capable)
|Audio|| Conexant Cx20585 HD Audio |
Stereo speakers, headphone (combination digital out) and microphone jacks
|Battery||6-Cell, 11.1V, 4400mAh, 48Wh battery|
|Front Side||4-in-1 Flash reader|
|Left Side|| Ethernet jack |
|Right Side|| 3x USB 2.0 |
|Operating System||Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit|
|Dimensions||13.46" x 9.64" x 0.87-0.99" (WxDxH)|
|Extras|| 1.3MP Webcam |
Flash reader (MMC, SD/Mini SD, MS/Duo/Pro/Pro Duo, xD)
Aluminum lid and inside surface
|Warranty||1-year standard warranty|
Gateway seems to be betting on the form factor and style of the ID49C to sell the machine, but they at least didn't skimp on the configuration. The usual mainstream contenders make themselves known: married to the Intel HM55 chipset and two 2GB sticks of DDR3-1066 running in dual-channel mode is the Intel Core i5-450M processor. It's a dual-core affair sporting a 2.4GHz nominal clock, able to turbo up to a reasonably fast 2.66GHz. Intel's "Core 2010" series of mobile processors hasn't been very wanting for performance, and the 450M should allow the ID49C to handle most tasks with aplomb.
A welcome inclusion is the NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M, which brings NVIDIA's Optimus technology with it. Getting a decent mobile GPU in a 14" form factor from any vendor other than ASUS is actually fairly uncommon, so we're happy to see it here. The GT 330M isn't that exciting on paper: 48 "CUDA cores" and a 128-bit memory bus recalls the milquetoast desktop GeForce GT 220, but we're not looking to have our minds blown here, we just need enough juice to game comfortably at the unit's 1366x768 resolution. It does bring Optimus to the table, though, allowing the notebook to completely and typically seamlessly shut down the GT 330M and just use the Intel HD graphics built into the i5 processor when running on the battery.
Spec-wise, the rest of the ID49C is a bit of a head-scratcher, a mish-mash of poorly chosen cuts aimed at hitting a price point. There's a healthy amount of storage in the 500GB hard disk, but that drive runs at a meager 5400 RPM when prices on 7200 RPM notebook drives are going through the floor. In fairness you'll need the capacity, since there isn't an eSATA port or really any expansion connectivity other than the four USB 2.0 ports. There's also your bog standard DVD rewriter, but it doesn't have a physical eject button on it: you have to use the touch-based eject button above the keyboard. That makes sense for the kinds of in-built slot-loading drives you'll find on Dell's Studio series, but on a regular tray-based drive it's unusual. The standard multi-card reader and webcam are included, and the HDMI and VGA ports on the left side are welcome. Wireless networking is handled by a Realtek 802.11bgn controller, and the Ethernet jack is good for Gigabit wired networking.