The Good Convenient hard-drive access through the front panel; best features for the dollar in its price range; strong gaming performance; relatively power efficient for a gaming PC.
The Bad Red external lighting not for everyone; limited room for expansion.
The Bottom Line Don't let the Gateway FX6831-01's case distract you from the fact that this is a fast, aggressively priced gaming PC with some standout features. We wouldn't recommend this system to a generalist consumer or those with discriminating opinions about hardware aesthetics, but for the pennywise gamer, this Gateway is the midrange desktop to beat.
Whether the Gateway FX6831-01's "armored" front panel and red exterior lighting will appeal to you depends on your aesthetic sense. From a value standpoint, this desktop Gateway is one of the best gaming PC deals available for $1,299, offering enough power to play current titles with no hassle. Enthusiasts might demand more upgradeability. Extras like wireless networking and a Blu-ray drive are absent, and the design could become polarizing if you plan to put this PC on prominent display. Based purely on performance for the dollar, we'd recommend the Gateway FX6831-01 to anyone looking for a fast midrange gaming desktop.
We won't belabor the point that the Gateway FX6831-01's design won't be for everyone. Instead, we'll focus on the elements of the case that you'll actually use. Foremost is the FX6831-01's front-accessible hard-drive access. We've seen this feature in other gaming PCs, and we're glad to see it spread. The Gateway gives you access to two hard-drive bays, both of which feature a removable tray. Mount a drive on the tray and it lines up perfectly with the power and data inputs, freeing you from having to mess with any cables. This feature makes it easy to hot-swap data drives in and out of the system, simplifying backup or other large data transfers. And with a separate drive cage inside holding the boot drive, there's no chance you'll accidentally rip out the drive with the OS on it while the system is operating.
The Gateway's other case features include a prominent media card reader/port hub common to Gateway's current tower desktops; dedicated buttons for easy data backup and to create photo slideshows from connected USB storage devices; and a tray on the top of the case designed to hold external devices like phone and cameras, complete with conveniently located USB ports for charging and data connections. All of those features are useful and well conceived, but they're muted by the bright red glow of the various LEDs located at certain points around the case. We're all for systems that stand out for their design, although we can't say we count colored external lighting among the design elements we appreciate most. Perhaps you feel differently.
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