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First Look: Gateway SX2850-33

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First Look: Gateway SX2850-33

2:32 /

The latest in Gateway's line of versatile slim towers, the SX2850-33 stays current with a fast Intel Core i3 CPU, and more importantly adds Wi-Fi to improve its suitability as a living-room desktop. It might cost more than a Nettop or a dedicated video-streaming device, but for its overall speed and flexibility, we'd pick this system as a budget PC or an online living-room content center.

-Hi, I'm Rich Brown, Senior Editor for CNET.com. Today, we're gonna take a look at the Editor's Choice-winning Gateway SX2850-33. This is a $549 PC. It's a fixed configuration model and you'll find it at retail and online. It comes with a Core i3 CPU, wireless internet, as well as 640 gigabyte hard drive. Between all that and its HDMI output, this is actually a very versatile little computer. It works well as a straightforward budget PC, but because of its size, its HDMI out, and its Wi-Fi, it makes a great living room system as well. We tested it with the various online video streaming services with Hulu, Netflix, HD content from YouTube and Apple, it worked great. It was able to handle any video content we threw at it. We tried the game Portal from Valve's Steam game download service center. It actually worked pretty well. It wasn't totally perfect, so, for more advanced games, it might have a little bit of a hard time. But you could still get basic game play out of the system, which is pretty impressive for a $550 system. Now, aside from those core features, this system is actually pretty spare. It does come with a DVD-burning drive. And then here, you get a media card reader. But on the back of the system, you'll see the inputs are kinda limited. So, we mentioned the Wi-Fi networking and here's the card right here. It's got an input if you wanna put an antenna on there. There's an HDMI port down here, and here's VGA output if you wanna output to the standard computer monitor. You've got a handful of USB ports as well as Ethernet; basic analog audio, and that's about it. There's no eSATA, there's no FireWire, and we've seen both of those on older SX models. You'll also notice there's not a lot of room to upgrade inside the case. You get a single free expansion slot and some PCI Express 16 slot that can actually take a graphics card. But because this is a slim tower case, it's very narrow. So, you're stuck with half-pint cards, which tend to be slower and lower-powered. You can see the memory slots here and you do get room to add a couple more. You can't really see the hard drive though. It's near underneath the DVD burner, and there is only room for one of them. So, unless you wanna go with some sort of external data solution, you're pretty much stuck with the 640 gig drive that comes with the system. If you look in Gateway's website, you'll see about 10 to 12 different versions of the SX line. We reviewed a few of those other models, but this actually the first we've seen with a Wi-Fi card, and that's actually kind of surprising considering how well the system seems to fit in the living room. So, between the Wi-Fi, the HDMI out, as well as the very fast CPU, this system is perfectly suited to go in your living room. It's also a pretty good budget PC as well. So, I'm Rich Brown, and this is the Editor's Choice-winning Gateway SX2850-33.

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