Gateway first announced its DX430X midrange desktop at this year's CES. Why it's taken this long to get us a unit to review we're not exactly clear on, but the delay has given Gateway the chance to submit this $1,470 system with some updated specs. What we like most about this system is its design. A sharp new chassis brings this PC in line with the attractive case revamps undergone by HP's Pavilion desktops and Gateway's own eMachines brand. We're less certain about the overall value of this particular configuration. Gateway crams in a fair amount of features, but at the expense of the processor, arguably the most important component of the system. Fortunately, Gateway's configurator gives you plenty of flexibility to make this a more competitive desktop.
The DX430X originally shipped with a Core 2 Duo E6400 CPU, but Gateway recently upgraded to the E6420 chip, which has the same 2.13GHz clock speed but a larger 4MB L2 cache. In other words, it should get you better performance than the older model. The 2GB of 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM has become the new standard for PCs in this price range, giving you plenty of RAM for running Windows Vista. The 320GB GeForce 8800 GTS graphics card is a bit on the ambitious side for this price range, and it's an overclocked model, to boot. We appreciate Gateway taking that extra step, and it gives this system 3D gaming performance similar to that of systems that cost $500 more. As you'll see from our benchmark charts, that 3D boost comes at the price of overall application performance.
On both of our mainstream application tests, the DX430X falls behind other mainstream desktops. The Gateway does beat less expensive PCs from Dell and Cyberpower on Photoshop due to those PCs having either slower or less memory. The similarly priced Velocity Micro ProMagix E2035 wins on that test, though, thanks to its faster Core 2 Duo E6600 CPU. And on both our iTunes and CineBench tests, you'll see the Gateway was dominated across the board, as all of our comparison PCs have faster CPUs.
Despite that less-than-stellar mainstream application performance, the Gateway's gaming scores definitely impress. Its 93.6 frames-per-second score on our Quake 4 benchmark is virtually tied with the 94 fps from the Velocity Micro E2230, a PC that costs $500 more than our DX430X config. Gamers will definitely appreciate the Gateway's gaming chops, then. The GeForce 8800 GTS is also DirectX 10-compatible, making this system ready for the next generation of PC games coming out this year. Just be aware that you might want to spend a little more to bump this config up to a more robust overall setup. The good news is that going to a Core 2 Duo E6600 CPU will only cost you $45 more.
Like most mainstream PCs these days, with the exception of Dell, Gateway gives you the option to add a wireless networking adapter to this system. It comes in the form of a PCI expansion card, which, combined with the optional 56K modem and the graphics card, takes up all of your expansion slots. We'd bet that if you have wireless networking at home, though, you won't need that modem option. That would free up one PCI slot. Still, we can't help compare this system's single 3D card slot to the two that come with the Velocity Micro. True, the overclocked 3D card shows that Gateway takes gaming seriously, but the option to add a second graphics card would be even better.
For the rest of this system's features, Gateway offers a worthy array of options, and it sent us most of them. The 500GB, 7,200rpm hard drive gives you plenty of single-drive storage, and the standard definition dual-layer DVD burner takes care of all of your non-HD optical drive needs. If you want more storage, Gateway offers an option for two different 5,400rpm removable hard drives, which, similar to HP's Pocket and Personal Media drives, install in a slot on the front panel. Unlike HP's solution, Gateway doesn't automatically include the drive slot. That means you don't lose any expansion space if you're happy with a simple internal hard drive. You can also add a TV tuner to this system if you wish, although there's currently no option for one of ATI's Digital Cable Tuners. We also wish that this system had an HD optical drive option. For that you'll have to refer to Gateway's higher-end FX530 line.
That brings us to the DX430X's revamped chassis, a slick black-and-gray design that's less glossy than HP's new cases, but just as attractive. One unique option here is that Gateway offers a faceplate pack for an additional $9 that gives you a brushed-aluminum-and-tungsten plate to install in place of the current black plastic one. While that's not the most utilitarian feature around, it certainly offers you a way to make your system look better with your personal dÃ©cor.
Finally, Gateway's service and support are decidedly basic. You get one year of parts and labor warranty coverage, and 24-7 toll-free phone support. Gateway's Web site has a variety of resources available to you, including many that are specific to this system. Gateway also offers all kinds of support options, including extended warranty plans and onsite service options. It even gives you the option to pay $60 for 30 minutes of phone support for non-Gateway hardware. Sweet.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)