We find the same disconnect between performance and price on our gaming charts. The Velocity Micro system is twice as fast as the Gateway on our Far Cry 2 test, and almost twice as fast on our Crysis test. We suspect both the Velocity Micro's overclocked CPU and its higher-end Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 graphics card push it past the Gateway here.
Again, this is not to say that the Gateway is a poorly assembled computer. The Gateway FX6840-15e seems to have a reasonably balanced configuration for its price point. The problem is that mainstream PC vendors often have trouble competing when overclocking and other enthusiast-oriented tweaks come into the picture. By playing to its boutique PC roots, Velocity Micro is able to add more value than Gateway with its off-the-shelf components.
If the Gateway's Core i7 foundation sounds tempting as an upgrade platform, we would encourage you not to get too excited. You get only a standard PCI card slot and a 1x PCI Express to build from. You do get four RAM slots, though all come occupied, and you can add up to four hard drives, including via the two removable bays. Aside from storage, between its limited expansion card bays, its 500-watt power supply, and its Intel H57 chipset, this PC is near the peak of its configuration potential.
We were also disappointed by the Gateway's external connectivity options. The graphics card has DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort outputs, and you get a passel of USB ports on the front, top, and back of the system, but it offers no eSATA or FireWire ports, no digital audio outputs (aside from the HDMI jack), and doesn't even support 7.1 analog audio, instead relying on a 5.1 analog audio jack array. We mentioned earlier that we appreciate the various media card options, but Gateway's choice of motherboards limits the ports on this system, and thus its ability to work with a diverse set of external devices. We expect more flexibility from a PC in this price range.
|Gateway FX6840-15e||Average watts per hour|
|Raw (annual kWh)||252.35808|
|Energy Star compliant||No|
|Annual operating cost (@$0.1135/kWh)||$28.64|
At least we can say that the Gateway's power consumption is among the best in its mainstream-gaming-PC price class. The flip side is its comparatively slow performance, of course, but we're glad to see that its power-use-to-performance ratio comes in where it should. Expect to pay about $2.40 per month to use this PC.
Gateway gives you one year of parts and labor coverage with the FX6480-15e, along with 24-7 toll-free phone service, and a variety of help resources that are available online. The system also comes with a few diagnostic apps to help you monitor the status of various components yourself.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 2.93GHz Intel Core i7 870; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5750 graphics card; 1TB, 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive
Acer Aspire Predator AG5900-U3092
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 2.93GHz Intel Core i7 870; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5850 graphics card; 1.5TB, 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive
Digital Storm Special Ops
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 3.07GHz Intel Core i7 950; 6GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (2)1GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 graphics cards; 80GB Corsair Drive Force solid-state hard drive; 1TB 7,200rpm Western Digital Caviar Black hard drive
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit; 3.87GHz (overclocked) Intel Core i7 960; 6GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (2) 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5870 graphics cards; 80GB Intel X25-M solid-state hard drive; 1.5TB 5,400rpm Western Digital hard drive
Velocity Micro Vector Holiday Edition
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 3.62GHz Intel Core i5 760; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 768GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 graphics card; 1TB, 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive