If you have more demanding gaming needs, you could always add a graphics card to this PC, although you're limited to budget-level half-height 3D cards due to its narrow case. There's also room for two more memory sticks, but that's all the internal expansion room. The lone hard-drive bay is occupied, and the 802.11 b/g/n wireless card sits in the 1X PCI Express slot.
The connectivity options on the outside of the Gateway are also a bit limited, a change we'll attribute to this model using a different motherboard than we've seen in other SX systems. You still get the usual array of USB 2.0 jacks, as well as 5.1 analog audio outputs, a media card reader, and the already mentioned HDMI and VGA outputs. We miss the FireWire and eSATA jacks we've seen on other models, though, since we always appreciate alternative data inputs.
For the HDMI jack, the system transferred the audio output automatically when we connected it to an HDTV, but it did not properly account for the tendency for PCs to overscan a 1080p TV image. That means if you connect this Gateway to a TV over HDMI, you may need to jump into the graphics driver software to manually adjust the borders of the onscreen image in order to make it line up properly with the edges of the physical screen. It's not a big deal, but it's obviously preferable for the computer to figure out the proper screen size for itself.
|Gateway SX2850-33||Average watts per hour|
|Off (60 percent)||0.92|
|Sleep (10 percent)||2.24|
|Idle (25 percent)||40.97|
|Load (5 percent)||81.13|
|Annual energy cost||$18.90|
The Gateway's power consumption falls in line with other PCs in its price range, although we're happy to see that it's not only faster than its competition, it's also more power-efficient. That's not an uncommon feature for desktops using Intel's Core i-series CPUs. Over time we've seen them consistently post better power consumption figures than AMD-based PCs like the Dell Inspiron i570. Granted, the difference breaks down to only a few extra cents per month, but it speaks to the success of Intel's CPU strategy in the budget price range.
Gateway gives you one year of parts-and-labor coverage for the SX2801-01e, along with 24-7 toll-free phone service and a variety of help resources available online. The system 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.
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