Dell v. Gateway notebooks?

About to start law school, and am looking for a notebook pc. As per the school’s advice, I’m looking for the best deal that meets these specs:

  1. Intel Duo Core processor
  2. XP Pro operating system
  3. 1G min of RAM
  4. wireless built in
  5. 80 gig HD

Now, even with my Dell student discount, the Gateway still runs quite a bit less than the Dell. Any reasons against it? It appears to be very difficult to find anything with both 1 + 2 on that list. While I’m using loan money, I’d still rather not spend an arm and a leg.


Anecdotal evidence, but all my experience with Gateway laptops push me to say “Get the Dell.”

No one I’ve talked to with a Gateway laptop has had good experiences. My girlfriend had a Gateway, and it basically dissolved over the course of the year she had it.

The Dell’s I’ve used have been good machines, although the experience has been limited.

So. No real data, just anecdotes. My personal preference are IBMs, if that means anything.

try or for discounts you can use on Dell computers…I have a hard time beleiving the gateways can cost that much less.

I’ve had the opposite experience. I love my Gateway and it runs great for me. I’ve had it for 2 years and only now do I need any service on it (the part where my power adapter plugs in is bad, and that’s happened on every laptop I’ve ever owned, so I assume it’s me).

I’ve had fantastic luck with Gateway’s support, both on the phone and through their web chat interface. I tried to call to get a price on a battery upgrade for my friend’s Dell and hung up after 30 minutes of non-answers with 3 different people, none of which had English as a first language.

I’m typing this on a Gateway Solo 2500, purchased 8 years ago this month. This is the first computer that I’ve owned.

In those 8 years, I’ve: had to purchase a new battery (within the first year), which **still ** doesn’t work for shit; had to send it back to Gateway for repair b/c two spots on the screen suddenly and w/o explanation became darker than the rest of the screen (they said that they fixed it, but it was unchanged from when I sent it to them) (also within the first year); had to reformat a couple of times, and I’ve had to disable the Advanced Power Management b/c the system wouldn’t shut down properly with it enabled.

Like I said, this is my first computer, so I don’t know if this kind of stuff is (was) unsual for laptops. I do know that I wasn’t amused, even if I did learn to live with the issues.

On the other hand, I have, like **BoBettie **, consistently had really good experiences with Gateway’s phone support (IIRC, this laptop is eligible for free basic phone support for many years to come). The techs were overwhelmingly kind, knowledgeable (at least to my untrained and inexperienced mind), and patient. And I could easily understand them.

Oh, and did I mention that the laptop is still running?

Sure, it’s in the mid- to end-stages of irrevocable death throes (I had a scare a few months back when it wouldn’t boot up and I thought that I’d have to write zeroes to the drive–and lose my stuff b/c I’d gotten lazy about backing up my data–but it gave me a reprieve and kept the ghost), which is why I just ordered a Dell Inspiron 1420 (and, hopefully, it’ll ship well before the estimated ship date of 09/10).

Why the Dell?

Well, part of it is that I wanted to try something new. The other thing is that Dell seems, to my observation, to be a fairly popular brand, so I thought, “Eh, why not?” even though I tend to be fairly resistant to being swayed by how popular something is. (Depends, though, on the item and on who finds it to be popular.) Oh, and the reviews I read were positive. My only real concern now is the horror stories that I’ve heard about Dell’s customer support. I can usually deal with accents, but I just spent $1,400.00 (**a lot ** of money for me!), so please don’t piss me off unnecessarily, okay?

So, there ya go, Stonebow. Take this for what it’s worth.

Neither. Toshiba.

I’ve owned all three, and without a doubt the Toshiba’s have been the sturdiest and most reliable. I can’t even speak about their tech support line, because I’ve never had to call it. (I’m typing this on my current laptop, a Toshiba Satellite Pro.)

Not so with Dell and Gateway. Admittedly, of the two, if you simply must have one of them, I’d recommend Dell over Gateway, based solely on personal experience and those of friends and coworkers.

Gateway is by far the worst of the three. I had to have the LCD replaced twice (though I suspect it wasn’t replaced at all the first time it was sent in); the CD-ROM drive blew something and spun the disc at full speed, incessantly, all the while returning read errors; the battery sucked ass from day one and they refused to replace it (I was only getting about 45 minutes from a full charge!); and finally, I lost everything when the drive went kaput. All of this within the warranty period, and all of it a pain in the ass to get handled.

The Dell was better. Their service is… well, it left something to be desired, but the hardware essentially worked as advertised. I had a power supply problem, which turned out to be a faulty adapter, rather than the laptop. However, they reloaded the laptop anyway, which meant I lost everything and had to reinstall a bunch of stuff. That was annoying, but at least it was fixed. I had a few problems with their bundled software, but I got rid of all that junk (which I recommend doing on any new computer, anyway). The laptop lasted for about a month past the 1-year warranty, then stuff just started dying. I traded it to a local shop in exchange for some parts for my desktop machine.

We’d been using Toshibas at work for a while, in some pretty extreme conditions at times (construction sites, a wood-pulp plant, a water treatment plant, etc) and aside from cosmetic damage all of them were holding up well. In fact, when work decided to upgrade I took the opportunity to buy one of them myself, and it still works to this day – it’s a Toshiba Satellite 115CS, running a whopping 24 MB RAM and a smokin’ Pentium 120 processor, but it still works, after several years of hard use in the field. It’s at least 10 years old at this point, because they had the laptops when I started working there in '97.

My current laptop is about two or three years old (it sat in the warehouse for who knows how long before I got my mitts on it) and is doing just fine. I love it. It’s been on vacation with me, to the ocean, on camping trips, to work, you name it. For a while I used it as an oversided iPod (via a tape adapter and my car stereo). I use it to play DVDs because it’s got a better picture than my home TV. And not once have I had to call tech support, for anything. Everything just worked, out of the box.

I love Toshiba.

ETA: my current machine meets most of your stated requirements, falling a bit short in processor speed, and only cost me a little over $800. Not a bad deal at all.

Depending on how much you want to spend, I still might suggest a MacBook. You can then either buy and install a copy of XP and boot directly into that using Boot Camp or pick up a copy of VMWare or Parallels and run it as a virtual machine (as an application inside OS X) as needed. But if you do go with the Mac and a virtual machine, I suggest upgrading to 2 gigs of RAM–though you’d probably be better off buying it from Newegg and installing it yourself.

I would check the warranty info-- my Gateway only has a one year warranty because I was trying to keep the price down. I think Dell only has 3 year options. That may account for the price difference.

Probably the best thing about about my Gateway is that it came with pretty much nothing but the OS on it-- they didn’t load MusicMatch or the Google toolbar or any of that junk on it. I’ve had it for about a year and a half now and the only problem I’ve had was that the Backspace key falls off occasionally, but I’m pretty sure that’s because I use that key too much.

I do support for 400 Dell’s (~ 60 of them are Latitude laptops) at work and that’s reason enough for me not to get one.

As for the Toshiba’s they are really hit or miss. I’ve had two great Toshiba notebooks, but I know a bunch of people that have had to send theirs back due to problems. We have about a doven Toshiba tablet hybrids at work and IIRC two of them were lemons. I’ll give my M400 credit though, I’ve accidentally kicked it off my desk on to a cement floor and also dropped it on tile flooring and it didn’t break.

According to Consumer Reports and about 128,000 people, they show the following reliability for various brands:

Sony, Lenovo (IBM) – 16% needed repair
Toshiba. Apple – 17%
HP, Dell – 18%
Compaq, Gateway – 19%

So if reliability is a concern to you. Gateway is in the worst category, while Dell is just a little bit better. But there are better brands than either.

Puter shop owner checks in.

Things to consider, last I heard gateway has all of their tech support in the US, many of the gripes about heavily accented phone support are almost non existant.

IME gateway machines are a little more hit or miss, they are either a rock solid performer or then never work right. I am leery of hp lately, they have worked hard to flood the laptop market with cheap machines, we could see a huge spike in HP failures in the next couple years.

Dell just kinda plods along…they make a decent machine consistently…gotta give them that.

IBM (now Lenovo; don’t know what’s changed) laptops have/had a reputation for being rock solid. I’ll send the recommendation for a Macbook though: I love my first Mac, especially since Parallels runs whatever Windows apps I might need flawlessly. You need need need 2 gb of ram, though–I started with 512MB and it’s simply not enough to run more than one application at a time, and certainly not enough for any sort of virtualization.

I purchased a gateway laptop only a few months ago but so far I have only 2 complaints. First, if you are running on battery and connect the power cord the monitor doesn’t return to full brightness (haven’t played with the bios and OS settings enough yet to say it’s a hardware problem). Second, whoever designed the keyboard with the FN key on the far left and the CTRL key to the right of it needs to be fired. I’m constantly getting the wrong one. Other than that it’s been great.

I’ve had Dell laptops for many years and had frequent problems with overheating. More recent models seem better so maybe they’ve solved that but I’ve had enough bad experiences that I’d never buy Dell again.

i was having the same question a couple of months ago and i went with the dell and i couldnt be happier

One problem with Dell: they don’t, or didn’t, directly state in their warranty that they won’t replace the battery if it fails. Well, after a year, mine failed. I have a 2 Year “All Parts/Hardware” warranty… except for the battery. The battery still wants to hold a little bit of charge, the computer just sort of determined that the battery is no longer working. Same thing happened with my friends Dell. Actually, I hear it is becoming a common thing for all manufactures, even Apple. Except that, my friend, who’s Mac stopped charging all the way and would only charge 90%, went to the Mac store and they changed the battery no questions asked.


I have not used Gateways at all, but I have bought about 50 Dell laptops for work over the past three years, mostly entry-level Inspiron models. Of those, one has developed a serious fault (some kind of electrical problem, it would suddenly switch off), and two have had minor faults (keyboard connector required reseating, fixed myself after Dell support pointed me to some online instructions). Preinstalled crapware is not an issue for us because the first thing I do with a new laptop is put our standard disk image on it.