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Desktops

Gateway 3200 - First Take

We're not thrilled with the old Intel chipset, but the Gateway 3200 series will serve budget buyers, as long as they choose a system with 512MB of memory.

Gateway 3200 series

Having recently revamped its line of consumer desktop PCs, Gateway has introduced the budget 3200 series, which is available only through the company's direct sales channels. The series comprises six models: two ready-to-ship models and four that can be slightly customized prior to purchase. All of the models are Intel based--Celeron D or Pentium 4--and range in price (after mail-in rebate) from $400 to $850. We'd steer clear of the three low-end models, which serve up only 256MB of RAM; 512MB is the minimum we recommend for a Windows XP machine. We reviewed the $650 3200XL, which sits toward the top of the line but is priced and configured for first-time buyers and anyone who's looking for a cheap, general-purpose PC that includes all the necessary peripherals: monitor, speakers, keyboard, and mouse. With a budget Intel Celeron D processor and 512MB of memory, the Gateway 3200XL turned in respectable performance among its budget brethren in CNET Labs' tests; a system such as this would make a suitable desktop for basic office apps, e-mailing, and light photo-editing tasks. If you're looking for a PC to serve double duty as a DVR, check out the two highest-end models, which use Microsoft's Media Center OS. These machines have enough muscle for displaying, pausing, and recording TV, but intense graphics users and gamers should keep looking.

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