The volume buyer outfitting a whole company with desktop computers has one major guideline: no surprises. Slick new designs, the most fashionable features, or the latest (and possibly undertested) technology are frills that impede the computing needs and the budgetary concerns of IT managers. The $1,487 E-4500D from Gateway offers a stable hardware platform and warranty options tailor-made for volume buyers who expect easy deployment and a long life cycle.
With these aesthetics--a matte-black case with negligible ornaments--the E-4500D won't exactly drive the design department wild. But pop open the easy-release latch in back and take a look inside. The BTX case design allows the system to deal with heat more efficiently, and with less noise. And unlike its big brother, the , this system is also available in a smaller, slim desktop configuration.
The midtower case we reviewed offers a decent amount of room for expansion, including two free PCI slots; three free DIMMs, depending on your choice of RAM; and two free drive bays. There are six drive bays in all: two 5.25-inch, two external 3.5-inch, and two internal 3.5-inch bays. (The E-6500D is slightly larger and offers on additional hard drive bay.) Unfortunately, the internal cables aren't routed very well, blocking easy access to some components.
Externally, the Gateway E-4500D provides just what you'd expect from a business PC: dual USB 2.0 ports and mic and headphone jacks up front, with four additional USB 2.0 ports around back. You have to opt for an optional $15 PCI card or upgrade to a third-party sound card to get FireWire ports. Moreover, Gateway does not offer a flash-card reader as an option, which is not a must-have business accessory but might be useful for some.
Our test system came with dual 160GB SATA hard drives (RAID configuration isn't an option here as it is on the E-6500D). You can get a single drive with up to 250GB of space and add up to 400GB in the second drive bay. Gateway offers a variety of optical drive options for one or both optical drive slots, including a double-layer DVD burner. Our test system included only the default DVD/CD-RW drive. The E-4500D comes standard with 512MB of RAM in the form of two 256MB DIMMS, and you can go as high as 4GB, although it'll cost you an additional $560.
The E-series systems are easy to configure via Gateway's Web site, and the options at the processor level are impressive. You can choose from among several of Intel's 500- or 600-series Pentium 4 processors or the dual-core Pentium D 800 series. Our system included the dual-core 2.8GHz Pentium D 820 CPU, and the top upgrade, a 3.2GHz Pentium D 840, is available for an additional $310.