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Gateway 7310S review: Gateway 7310S

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The Good Great features for the money; powerful 2.1 speakers; 8-in-1 flash media reader; handy front-mounted ports; 17-inch LCD screen.

The Bad Little room for internal expansion; telephone tech support is a toll call unless you pay for an enhanced support program; no printed or electronic user manual.

The Bottom Line Gamers and other power users will look elsewhere, but the Gateway 7310S is a mainstream workhorse that handles just about anything the average user can throw at it.

6.8 Overall

Review Sections

The Gateway 7310S midtower desktop is the utility infielder in Gateway's home desktop lineup, delivering solid all-around power and midrange multimedia without swinging for the fences. The base model is priced at $799 (a discount and rebate lower it to $599), but it's underpowered, with only 256MB of memory, and boring, with just a CD-ROM drive. Luckily, you can configure a model to match your specifications; our test unit included many updates--a faster Pentium 4 processor, double the memory, a larger hard drive, a DVD burner, graphics and sound cards--bringing the price to a still reasonable $1,358. Included in that price is also a 17-inch flat-panel display and a 2.1 speaker set, giving you everything you need to get up and running right out of the box. Home and home-office users who don't plan to run major-league video-editing software or steroid-inflated games will find the 7310S a perfect draft prospect.

The Gateway 7310S comes in the same midtower case as the entry-level 3310S and midrange 5310S. Our test unit shipped with a 3.2GHz Pentium 4 540 (you can configure up to a 3.8GHz P4 570) and the midrange PCI Express 128MB Nvidia GeForce 6600G (a scaled-down, OEM-only version of the 6600 GT). Those specs can't touch the leading-edge processors and graphics cards offered in Gateway's top-of-the-line 9310 series, but it should be enough for most home users and their day-to-day PC doings.

Gateway's excellent Web site gives you plenty of other options to add to the 7310S; our review system came well stocked for general use. Its 512MB of DDR SDRAM will be enough to handle Windows XP and most of its consumer-oriented applications. The single 200GB hard drive provides enough storage for even the most digital media inclined. Should you run out of drive space, you can always offload data via the 7310S's double-layer, multiformat DVD burner or the DVD/CD-RW combo drive. An 8-in-1 flash-card reader, seven USB 2.0 ports (three up front, four around back) and a pair of six-pin FireWire ports further the cause, letting you swap, attach, and otherwise manage all kinds of external components and data storage formats.

Looking at the case itself, there's good and bad news. In addition to its vast connectability, the pleasing Gateway silver-and-black motif carries uniformly through to all the peripherals, including the Gateway mouse and keyboard and the decent GMax 2.1 speakers. The case's side panel is easy to open, requiring the removal of just two thumbscrews. But if you're planning to upgrade your 7310S later, you'll be discouraged to find no free PCI slots and a generally cramped interior.

The Gateway 7310's multimedia capabilities are a good fit for the mainstream user, neither going overboard and running up the price nor cutting any corners you'll regret later. DVD playback looked great on the 17-inch Gateway FPD1750 LCD monitor, which features seven brightness presets for various applications ranging from daytime movie watching to nighttime photo processing. Gateway matched the video performance with a Creative Audigy 2 ZS sound card which, combined with the aforementioned speakers, will fill up smaller rooms with audio output good enough for all but the most discerning audiophile. The massive and almost-too-loud GMax 5.1 speaker set will run you $150 more if you have a larger space to fill. As it stands, our review unit provides excellent value with its specs, the 17-inch flat-panel, and the 2.1 speakers.

The Gateway 7310S has the performance to serve as the primary PC for a busy home or home office. The system felt peppy during our hands-on tests, even during heavy multitasking scenarios. Its SysMark 2004 score of 191 trails the scores of similar systems, but only by a hair. And as long as you keep your image-quality expectations reasonable, our 3D graphics tests show that the Gateway 7310S can actually handle some 3D games. You'll likely see some drop-off with more recent titles, but its 89.2 frames per second on our high-end 1,600x1,200 Unreal Tournament 2003 bodes well for casual gaming. Our test system's 6600 card is the top option on the 7310S; you'll need to look at the 9310 if you want a Gateway PC better suited for playing the latest 3D games.

Gateway ships the 7310S with pretty thin documentation and only a few software utilities. Fortunately, you can find help on Gateway's Web site in the form of FAQs, how-tos, and other resources. Our Windows XP Home test system included Microsoft Works Suite 2005, which you can easily upgrade to something more robust. In terms of warranties, Gateway has tinkered with the options, giving you a single-year warranty for parts-and-labor coverage and toll phone support. Toll-free call support is available with only the most expensive optional service plans, called Desktop Total Protection, three years of which runs you $269.99.

Application performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo SysMark 2004 rating  
SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating  
SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating  

3D gaming performance (in fps)  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Unreal Tournament 2003 Flyby-Antalus 1,600x1,200 4XAA 8XAF  
Unreal Tournament 2003 Flyby-Antalus 1,024x768  

*OverDrive Torque 64 CPU and graphics card is overclocked

Read more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:

Gateway 7310S
Windows XP Home SP2; 3.4GHz Intel P4 550; Intel 915G chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 128MB Nvidia GeForce 6600 (PCIe); Western Digital WD2000JD-22HBB0 200GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA

MPC ClientPro 565
Windows XP Professional SP2; 3.6GHz Intel P4 560; Intel 925XCV chipset; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 5750 Ultra (PCIe); two Seagate ST3200822AS 200GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated Intel 82801FR SATA RAID controller

Overdrive Torque 64*
Windows XP Home SP2; 2.0GHz AMD Athlon 64 3000+; Nvidia Nforce 3 250 chipset; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 6800GT (AGP); Maxtor 6Y200M0 200GB, 7,200rpm Serial ATA

Velocity Micro Vector SX-V
Windows XP Home SP2; 3.4GHz Intel P4 550; Intel 915G chipset; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 128MB Nvidia GeForce 6600GT (PCIe) ; Western Digital WD2000JD-00HBB0 200GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA

WinBook PowerSpec 9262
Windows XP Professional SP2; 3.4GHz Intel P4 550; Intel 915G chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 128MB Nvidia GeForce PCX 5300 (PCIe); Western Digital WD2500JD-00HBB0 250GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA

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