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Gateway DX 4720-03 review: Gateway DX 4720-03

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The Good Fast dual-core desktop; massive hard drive; sleek chassis design; HDMI-out included.

The Bad No gigabit Ethernet, limited room for memory expansion.

The Bottom Line The Gateway DX4720-03 performs admirably and actually holds its own against triple-core computers thanks to its impressive list of features. It also has plenty of room for internal expansion, so we recommend this budget system if you need the speed but don't crave a ton of CPU power.

7.5 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Support 7

Review Sections

The Gateway DX4720-03 is a system perfect for shoppers with light wallets who are looking for versatility in an attractive case. The fast dual-core processor and a full 4GB of RAM will keep you happy in most applications, and an ample 640GB hard drive is enough to satiate aggressive downloaders. Although some gamers might be better off with a triple-core processor, the Gateway DX4720-03 will keep the majority of users impressed with its bundle of high-grade components and surprisingly sleek hardware design.

Unlike most budget desktop systems, the DX4720-03 actually looks like Gateway put more than a day of thought into its design. Front to back, the entire chassis is covered with a glossy black finish with subtle red embellishments bordering the bottom. A silver frame encloses the front faceplate that contains a digital media manager with a "smart copy" button for instant download and file organization, a dual-layer DVD drive, an empty expansion bay, two USB 2.0 ports, and a FireWire 400 port. On the back, you'll find all the standard plugs and a few unexpected additions like HDMI out, a modem and Ethernet port, and another FireWire 400 port.

For a direct comparison system, we're pitting the Gateway DX3720-03 against the Dell Inspiron 530-115B, another budget PC that wowed us with its speedy performance and wallet-friendly price.

  Gateway DX 4720-03 Dell Inspiron 530-115B
Price $510 $600
CPU 2.5GHz Intel Pentium E5200 Dual Core 2.1GHz AMD Phenom 8450 Triple Core
Memory 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM
Graphics 256MB (shared) NVidia GeForce 7100 integrated graphics chip 256MB (shared) AMD Radeon 3200 integrated graphics chip
Hard drives 640GB, 7,200rpm 500GB, 7,200rpm
Optical drive dual-layer DVD burner dual-layer DVD burner
Networking 10/100Mbps Ethernet LAN, 56k modem Gigabit Ethernet
Operating system Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit)

Our Gateway actually holds its own in a side-by-side feature comparison against the Dell. Aside from the difference in the number of CPU cores, there are a lot of similarities between the two PCs. Both systems include 64-bit Windows Vista that makes for an altogether snappier experience, thanks to the ability to address all 4GB of memory. As far as expansion, there's room for aftermarket audio and video cards, three additional hard drives, and even a half-height PCI express card. You'll also find an integrated graphics chip in both machines, but the Gateway boasts a massive 640GB hard drive, 140GB more space than the Dell. The Gateway loses a step omitting a gigabit Ethernet connection, but its 10/100 network jack is fast enough to handle any network traffic in a home or small office.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

CineBench
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering multiple CPUs  
Rendering single CPU  
Dell Inspiron 530
6,219 
3,192 
HP Pavilion a6620f
5,636 
2,931 
Gateway DX4720-03
5,601 
2,926 
Acer Aspire X3200
5,034 
1,862 

Although the Gateway only uses two cores compared with three in the Dell 530, its .4GHz lead and overall clock speed is faster. As a result, we're not surprised to see the Gateway best the competition in our iTunes and Photoshop application studies and conversely drop the ball in multimedia multitasking and Cinebench multicore CPU tests. In all cases, the gap between all the scores is so slight that most users running standard applications like Firefox, iTunes, or Photoshop won't notice a significant difference. Only serious gamers and digital media editors who require top-of-the-line video cards and fast multicore processors will be deterred by this system--all others should take the Gateway DX4720-03 into serious consideration.

Gateway includes a one-year limited warranty with the DX4720 that covers parts and labor. Beyond that, there are no warranty extensions available at this time. Gateway offers 24-7 phone support and its Web site provides FAQs, driver updates, system-specific news, and more information on their "Big Fix" software that gives Gateway technicians access to troubleshoot issues remotely through your computer.

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