First Impressions - Gateway P-7811FX

These are my first impressions of the Gateway P-7811FX. After reading many rave reviews on several different websites and sources, my experiences may surprise some.

PROS: Attractive specs and price

CONS: Pretty much everything else


Have read the many "expert" reviews on Best Buy's website that so "highly praise" this product, I actually went out and BOUGHT one. Sadly, I must tell you, it is a useless piece of rubbish.

For starters, the build quality is as cheap as they come from China. The bezel on the optical drive always catches when you try to close it, so much so that it came off in my hands after only a few disc swaps. The battery on the back squeaks and wobbles because the holding mechanism uses only a single latch. The clickety-clack mouse buttons feel cheap and are annoyingly loud. The shiny gloss finish on both sides of the lid attracts fingerprints like mad - you'll be wiping it after every use.

Second, the LCD has serious backlight bleeding problems along the bottom, making dark scenes in DVD movies impossible to watch.

The speakers on this laptop are also horrendous. I'm talking almost transistor radio quality. They are so bad, you will not want to listen to music on this.

But the most serious problem though, is with the graphics. No matter what game I tried (and I have a dozen altogether) all have failed to run on this machine because it would simply freeze and lock up. And I'm talking serious lockups, where the display would freeze, the keyboard would go dead and the only way to get out was to hold down the power button until the unit rebooted.

This is NOT a driver related problem, it is defective hardware. I tried MANY different drivers ( and even the updated Gateway driver released on 9/9) and none worked - the machine would lock up 5-20 minutes into any game.

I should NOT have to spend hours searching online for drivers and stress-testing a laptop just to make sure it works properly out of the box. Gateway makes the customer do it's quality control??? - that says everything!!!

Trust me, I have had three units returned to one BB store already with this problem, another 2 returned to another location and am looking to see if other stores all carry the same defective units.

For something that is advertised as a GAMING LAPTOP, it is COMPLETELY USELESS. I have not been able to get ANY GAME of mine to run on the units that I have been through so far, and no driver update in existence is going to fix a hardware issue.

One final pet-peeve of mine, especially for something touted for gaming, is the compressed cursor key (arrow key) arrangement on this laptop. From my experience games mostly use 8 keys on a keyboard, the WASD keys and the up/down/left/right arrow keys. The arrow keys on the Gateway are spaced very tightly together, making comfortable use difficult if you have larger fingers. While most average users won't care much or pay attention (or even gamers themselves at first), you will realize that having full-sized cursor keys makes a big difference once you see what it's like without it. This is a 17" form-factor with plenty of keyboard real-estate, I see no need to compress the cursor keys, and many other manufacturers do have laptops with the proper cursor key spacing on them.

Also, watch out - the control and function keys have been swapped around on the bottom left. Why the hell they would do that is beyond me.

Best Buy needs to pull these units quick and should send them back to Gateway or have them issue a recall. Gateway also better have a warehouse big enough to handle the RMA pile.

I am well aware that there are plenty of users out there that have perfectly working P-7811FX units out of the box, but I have also seen just as many users with units showing the same problems as I have described here. I cannot explain why this is, and perhaps Gateway may have an answer for us. My guess is they have made some changes in the past few weeks since the unit was announced. I can only hope that as this is the first of the Montevina units to go retail the ODM will correct the flaws in the coming months and have something that I can look at again maybe later this year.

On the plus side though, I do have to admit is an easily upgradeable unit - CPU, HDD, RAM and optical drive are all user-replaceable. With a 9800GTS GPU and WUXGA screen already installed, it would seems worthwile for hard-to-please users to bump up the unit with a Blu-Ray drive, T9600 CPU, and add a second hard drive later on.

While I know some others will criticize my review here and come flaming back at me, the bottom line is I have had 5 out of 5 units fail, and have yet to get my hands on a working unit that HASN'T.

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  1. I know at least 7 people with this notebook, they're all very happy with it, and at it's price, you can't beat it. Sounds like you just got some dud units.

    And, BTW, I haven't played a game that uses arrow keys in years...
  2. i have not seen any forum anywhere yet that has addressed(with a fix) the freezeing issue yet . so here goes . i just purchased this laptop and tryed playing games 2 months after buying it and same thing . every game would freeze up . nothing i tryed could solve it .till i downloaded and installed nvidia monitor and found out that the graphics card is way overclocked . i then used a nvidia program that allowed me to adjust the graphics card back down to nvidia specs and suddenly all is well . no game freezes any more . so anyone that has this laptop and has the game freezeing issue try this and it should solve it .
    other then that ,everything with this laptop is perfect . my sound is great . everything works great .

    just dont expect to get anywhere with gateway support as they where absolutly no help at all . (wich is odd seeing as it is there laptop) but oh well i managed to solve .
  3. toreldar,

    Could you help me out and post the websites where you got the nvidia monitor and program that you used to adjust your graphics card? I'm having the same problem with my P-7811FX and I would love to try this fix and see if it works for me, I'm just new to the whole PC thing and would really appreciate the help. Thanks!!
  4. I have been playing on mine for sessions of 4 to 5 hours with no problems.
    I did experience a freezing problem when it was on my lap and was not getting airflow, but when resting on the feet on the desk it has run flawlessly.
  5. sorry have not logged on it awhile .
    i used this and when i first ran it it was way over clocked . apparently most of the first batch of this laptop came that way . they have since then fixed this and made airflow better in later modes . but for those of us that got the first batch of these . you have to change the video card specs back down .
    in video setting when you have nvidia monitor installed change
    gpu core clock to 400 mhz - gpu memory clock to 300 mhz - and gpu shader clock to 800 mhz
    when i first ran system monitor those settings where nearly double . forceing the laptop to freeze forceing a hard shut down. hope this helps
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