Review: Gateway NV5933u

Intel’s new Core i3 microchip line is finally finding its way into laptops, and that’s a good thing for two reasons: The machines it powers are not only incredibly fast, they’re also unbelievably affordable.

Gateway’s NV5933u is just such a beast, powered by a 2.13-GHz Core i3 330M and backed by 4 GB of RAM and a 320-GB hard drive. And it shredded our benchmarks.

In recent months, only a handful of machines (all priced $1,500 or more and using high-end Core 2 Duo or Core 2 Extreme CPUs) bested the NV5933u at general app performance. This isn’t theoretical speed, either: The Gateway really feels fast, under all sorts of scenarios.

But the NV5933u is no luxe lappie. $650 will get you this notebook outright, and that includes an upgrade to an integrated Blu-ray optical drive.

How is this possible? We don’t want to ask too many questions, but sacrifices — as always — will have to be made. Most notably, you will have to step down to integrated graphics (despite the i3’s promise of an upgrade, they’re not noticeably better than what Core 2 Duo machines came with), an average-at-best 15.6-inch, 1366 x 768–pixel LCD, and middling battery life (2 hours, 21 minutes in our tests).

For most users, those trade-offs are certainly worth the insane cost savings. But now we’d like to see what an i-series machine can do with a little graphics oomph to propel it forward.

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