We're more heartened by the Gateway's gaming scores. Again, it didn't beat its higher-end competition, but if you notice its scores especially, you'll see that the Gateway turns in an impressive 82 frames per second at an aggressive 1,920x1,080 resolution. We also didn't hold back on the image quality settings. The scores are fine; we expect about 20fps for smooth frame rates in real-time strategy games such as that. , on the other hand, will remain a challenge. Nineteen frames per second in even 1,280x1,024 is a poor showing, and that's not even in DirectX 10 mode. The takeaway is that on all but the most challenging PC gaming titles, this Gateway has plenty of juice. And all is not lost if you'd like to upgrade, but you'll need to proceed carefully.
One area of minor concern is that Gateway only gives you a 400-watt power supply unit to work with. That's plenty for running this system as configured, but if you have designs on a high-end 3D card upgrade down the road, 450 watts seems to be the minimum these days for super fast 3D and a quad core CPU. You don't get a ton of spare room for other card upgrades inside the system, but you do get room for extra hard drives.
That brings us to the digital media features of the FX7020. In addition to the TV tuner, you also get a DVD burner, a 9-in-1 media card reader, and an array of multimedia-friendly video and audio ports throughout the system. There's no HDMI, DisplayPort, or anything overly fancy, although you do get two inputs for an IR blaster to work with the included Windows Remote Control. We're not entirely surprised that there's no wireless networking option on this system, given that it's a traditional desktop, but we have a feeling we will see more and more of that this year.
Software-wise, Gateway sticks with Vista Home Premium and Windows Vista Media Center, although you also get a few trial software offers for Microsoft Office and other applications in among the icon clutter on the Windows desktop.
For support, Gateway's runs standard with the rest of the industry. The default plan gets you one year of parts and labor warranty coverage and 24-7 toll-free phone support. Online, Gateway has a system-specific help section with all kinds of useful pages from a component and specs guide to driver downloads. You can also chat live online with a Gateway support technician via its Web site or the bundled BigFix support software.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600; 2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM, 256MB Nvidia GeForce 8600 GT graphics card; two 320GB 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drives
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.3GHz AMD Phenom 9600; 3GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM, 512MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT graphics card; 500GB 7,200 rpm Seagate hard drive
Windows Vista Home Premium; 3.2GHz (overclocked) Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600; 2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM, 512MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT graphics card; 500GB 7,200 rpm Seagate hard drive
Windows Vista Ultimate; 2.7GHz (overclocked) Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600; 2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 320GB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS graphics card; two 320GB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drives