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Editors' note: This review is part of our , which covers specific fixed configurations of popular systems found in retail stores.
We started losing faith in Gateway's DX-series of mainstream retail PCs after the last round of updates earned second-rate performance scores in our tests. However, the $549 DX4831-01e makes up for Gateway's former missteps with the same solid midtower design and an updated configuration featuring Intel's new mainstream Core i3 processor. If you're shopping for a living room PC, the Gateway SX2840-01 is a better fit because of its slim-tower case; however, we recommend the DX4831-01e to anyone who values internal expandability and speed.
The DX4831-01e's tower is ostensibly a mirror image of the DX4300-11 with a glossy black simplicity that integrates easily into a variety of office or home settings. The top of the front panel has a media card reader that protrudes at an upward angle, making it easier to access while the tower is on the floor. You also get two USB ports and a nonslip resting bay on top for external hard drives and other peripherals.
|Gateway DX4831-01e||Dell Inspiron i560-4000NBK|
|CPU||2.93GHz Intel Core i3 530||2.93GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E7500|
|Memory||6GB DDR3 SDRAM||8GB DDR3 SDRAM|
|Graphics||32MB (shared) Intel GMA HD integrated graphics chip||32MB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 integrated graphics chip|
|Hard drives||1TB, 7,200rpm Western Digital HD||1TB, 7,200rpm Seagate HD|
|Optical drive||dual-layer DVD burner||dual-layer DVD burner|
|Networking||10/100 Ethernet LAN, Gigabit Ethernet||10/100 Ethernet LAN 802.11b/g/n|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)||Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)|
The DX4831-01e's closest competitor is the Dell Inspiron i560-4000NBK. The Dell nets you an extra 2GB of memory and a wireless 802.11b/g/n card for $50 more. The wireless networking is useful, although not always necessary in a deskbound midtower, and we'd rather have more RAM than less. In terms of features for the dollar, the two systems are more or less a wash. If you really demand those features, you should be able to add them to the Gateway for about $75. Both systems include an HDMI port, but we recommend the SX2840-01 over either system if you plan to serve media to a TV.
The other major difference between the systems are their CPUs. As illustrated in our charts below, Gateway gets a noticeable speed boost thanks to its Intel Core i3 chip. Given that it costs less, gives you better performance, and gives you room to upgrade, the Gateway holds an edge in our book. However, we can understand an argument for buying the Dell by those who want Wi-Fi out of the box.
|Rendering multiple CPUs||Rendering single CPU|
The Dell Inspiron i560-4000NBK and both HP systems can't keep up with the CPU in the Gateway SX2840-01 and the DX4831-01e. Both use Intel's Core i3 chip that emulates two extra cores when necessary, turning it into a virtual quad-core processor. As a result, the Gateway takes HP and Dell almost across the board, especially in the Cinebench test that taxes as many processing threads as it can find. We're confident that the DX4831-01 will handle most day-to-day tasks with competence and speed.
In addition to the HDMI video output, the Gateway DX4831-01e offers a wide variety of connections on the back panel. You get six more USB ports bumping the total number of USB ports to eight, an Ethernet jack, two eSATA ports for external storage, a set of 7.1 audio inputs, an optical S/PDIF audio input, FireWire 400, and a VGA video out port. We quibbled about a lack of full-size FireWire port on the SX2840-01, so we'll shut our mouths and thank Gateway for coming through with a full suite of external connection options in its larger cousin.
If you still insist on putting it in your living room, the Gateway DX4831-01e can easily handle streaming video from the Web. Connected to a standard desktop monitor via a VGA cable, it ran full-screen video from sites such as YouTube, Hulu, Vimeo, and Netflix without a glitch. In addition, the Gateway smoothly played full 1080p HD movie trailers from Apple's Web site.
As noted above, the Gateway can't match the Dell's 8GB of memory and wireless card. Fortunately, you can easily add these components to the DX4831-01e easily thanks to its roomy interior. You can fit a full-size graphics card in the standard 16x PCI Express slot, and you also get a pair of PCI slots and a 1x PCI Express slot. All four RAM slots are occupied, but you can easily pop them out and swap in higher capacity memory chips. There's plenty of room to add another hard drive and optical drive as well.
|Gateway DX4831-01e||Average watts per hour|
|Raw (annual kWh)||235.47756|
|Energy Star compliant||No|
|Annual power consumption cost||$26.73|
Gateway deserves a nod for lowering the amount of energy required to power the DX4831-01e. While the HP Pavilion p6310y eats $34.91 in power per year, this model nibbles that cost down to an affordable $22.85, or roughly $2 a month on average.
Gateway offers all of the usual support features we expect for one year that includes parts and labor coverage, system-specific support, and a collection of helpful services online. The warranty also provides 24-7 toll-free phone support.
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System configurations :
Dell Inspiron i560-4000NBK
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.93GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E7500; 8GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 32MB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 HD integrated graphics chip; 1TB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.93GHz Intel Core i3-530; 6GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 32MB Intel GMA HD integrated graphics chip; 1TB, 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.93GHz Intel Core i3-530; 6GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 64MB Intel GMA X4500 HD integrated graphics chip; 1TB, 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive
HP Pavilion Slimline p6310y
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.8GHz AMD Athlon II X4 630; 6GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 9100; 1TB, 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drive
HP Pavilion Slimline s5310y
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 3GHz AMD Athlon II X2 250; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 6150SE integrated graphics chip; 640GB, 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drive