The Gateway DX200X sits in the middle of Gateway's budget DX200 series and delivers some mainstream features, such as Intel Pentium processors, an ample allotment of memory, and BTX technology. The DX200X starts at $700 and offers a fair amount of customization options; our $944 review system's performance will ably serve budget buyers looking for a PC to handle basic tasks. Still, the DX200X disappoints with its older Intel 915G chipset and limited upgradability.
The DX200X occupies an awkward middle ground: it's too expensive for value shoppers and lacks the features found on slightly pricier midrange PCs. Gateway's DX300 machines aren't much more expensive and should better stand the test of time, with their more recent chipset and superior expandability (look for a review of a DX300 system soon). For mainstream users looking for a home PC for less than $1,000, we recommend a DX300 model or the . Budget buyers are better served by choosing a model from the Gateway-owned eMachines line, such as the .
Housed in an attractive black-and-silver BTX-style chassis, the DX200X hums along at barely an audible level, thanks to its two large 120mm cooling fans that distribute air throughout the system. The fan in front of the case draws cool air into the system, and the rear exhaust fan pushes hot out.
Only a pair of thumbscrews stands between you and the interior of the case, but once inside, you won't find many options for upgrades. Both memory slots are occupied as is one PCI slot (by a 56Kbps modem card); you have only one free PCI slot and an open 1x PCI Express slot. You'll need a screwdriver to remove or upgrade the optical and storage drives. There's room for an additional hard drive and one more optical drive; our DX200X review unit included a Seagate 160GB hard drive and a double-layer DVD burner.
External expansion is acceptable, with one exception: the case supplies plenty of USB 2.0 ports--three in front and another four around back--but lacks FireWire connectivity. You'll also find an 8-in-1 media card reader and a pair of audio jacks on the front panel.
The DX200X's motherboard is based on Intel's 915GV chipset with integrated Intel GMA900 graphics that share up to 128MB of the machine's 512MB of system memory. Because there are only two memory slots, you can populate the DX200X with up to 2GB of RAM, but that would involve using two expensive 1GB sticks--a $435 upgrade if done through Gateway. And, unless you can dig up an older PCI graphics card, you're stuck with the embedded video solution because the system lacks 16x PCI Express or AGP slots. The eMachines T6524, for example, features a 16x PCI Express slot.
The DX200X is powered by an Intel Pentium 4 519K processor. The Prescott-based CPU is actually an OEM chip that's available from system vendors only. It has a clock speed of 3.06GHz and includes Intel's EM64T extensions (for future 64-bit applications) but lacks support for Intel's Hyper-Threading technology. The DX200X can handle general home and office applications with ease; on our SysMark 2004 application benchmark, it turned in a nearly identical result as the competing Dell Dimension E510. The $1,230 HP Pavilion a1250n desktop PC is roughly $300 more (with a larger monitor) than the DX200X and was an eye-opening 31 percent faster, thanks in large part to its dual-core AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ processor. The $600 eMachines T6524 (without monitor) cruised to a 10 percent advantage over the DX200X.
We could not get the Gateway DX200X to run our Half-Life 2 gaming tests, but we were able to run older games at low resolutions without a problem. We were able to get playable frame rates, for example, with Unreal Tournament 2004 at 1,024x768.