Gateway FX desktop review: Gateway FX desktop

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3 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Thanks to its powerful Intel Core i7 2600 CPU, the Gateway FX6850-51u makes a strong system for upgrading or general home productivity.

The Bad Despite outward appearances, this desktop offers weak gaming performance and features underwhelming connectivity due to the absence of USB 3.0, among other missing outputs.

The Bottom Line Underdelivering on the promise of its stylized exterior, the Gateway FX6850-51u is a subpar gaming PC, but its fast CPU and a $999 price tag may entice those looking for a strong, affordable computing foundation.

6.0 Overall
  • Design 5.0
  • Features 5.0
  • Performance 7.0
  • Service and support 7.0

As a standard $999 performance PC, the Gateway FX6850-51u and its fast Intel Core i7 2600 CPU is a fair deal. The problem is that the stylized case suggests that this is a gaming PC, but despite its fast chip, an anemic graphics card holds back its 3D performance. This PC will provide a speedy nongaming experience, or serve as a respectable upgrade platform. We just wish it didn't feel like such a cynical, unbalanced take on a budget gaming desktop.

Functionally speaking, the FX6850-51u's case has some useful features. We like the removable hard-drive bays that slide out through the front panel. The media card reader juts out conveniently from the front-facing upper corner, and the gadget tray on the top of the system is always welcome.

On a store shelf, though, this PC, with its red case lights and its molded plastic "armor" plating, clearly has the gaming demographic in mind. Unfortunately, it lacks the components to offer compelling PC gaming performance.

Gateway FX6850-51u Velocity Micro Z40
Price $999 $1,199
Motherboard chipset Intel P67 Intel P67
CPU 3.4GHz Intel Core i7 2600 4.0GHz Intel Core i5 2500K (overclocked)
Memory 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics 1.5GB Nvidia GeForce GT 440 1GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 560Ti
Hard drives 1TB, 7,200 rpm 1TB 7,200 rpm
Optical drive dual-layer DVD burner Blu-ray/DVD-burner combo
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

It's possible that Gateway has designed itself into a corner with its FX-line. Vendors typically use the same case for at least a few CPU generations, and with a less stylized design, the FX6850-51u would make a reasonable system for home productivity or consumer-level digital media editing. Its Core i7 2600 CPU is the current flagship processor in Intel's second-generation Core family (aka Sandy Bridge), and with 8GB of RAM and a lower-end GPU with plenty of video memory, this system is competitively priced at $999. As you can see on our application performance tests below, it will handle Photoshop, video rendering, and other media tasks better than some of its more expensive competition.

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Cinebench 11.5
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Rendering Multiple CPUs  
Rendering Single CPU  
Gateway FX6850-51u (Intel Core i7 2600)

Our primary problem with this system is that despite its up-to-date CPU, its low-end GeForce GT 440 graphics card can't muster enough 3D power to post even 60 frames per second on Far Cry 2, our least demanding gaming test.

Crysis (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,600 x 1,200 (high, 4x aa)  
1,280 x 1,024 (medium, 4x aa)  
Gateway FX6850-51u (Intel Core i7 2600)

Far Cry 2 (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,920x1,200 (DirectX 10, 4x aa, very high)  
1,440x900 (DirectX 10, 4x aa, very high)  
Gateway FX6850-51u (Intel Core i7 2600)

Metro 2033 (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
2,560x,1,536 (DirectX 11, very high)  
1,920x1,080 (DirectX 11, very high)  
Gateway FX6850-51u (Intel Core i7 2600)

3DMark 11
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Extreme (1,920x1,080)  
Performance (1,920x1,080, 16x AF)  
Entry level (1,680x1,050)  
Gateway FX6850-51u (Intel Core i7 2600)

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