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Gateway DX4200-09 review: Gateway DX4200-09

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The DX4200-09 is another one of Gateway's midrange PCs built for light to moderate users in mind. Spending $510 on this model gives you a 1.8GHz quad-core CPU, 4GB of RAM, an integrated graphics chip, and a 640GB hard drive. If you can stretch your budget a bit and put an extra $50 forward, HP offers the Pavilion a6700y desktop that matches components but outperforms the Gateway across the board. If you care less about performance and want more features in your desktop, Acer's $470 Aspire X1700 outclasses this Gateway on that front. We'd only recommend this system to the handful of you who might value hard-drive size above all else.

OVR
4.8

Gateway DX4200-09

The Good

Plenty of room for expansion; large hard drive.

The Bad

Competition offers faster performance and more features.

The Bottom Line

While the Gateway might appeal to users who value storage over speed, you can find more features in PCs that cost just a little less, and more performance for just a little more. That leaves this Gateway with little to recommend it.

The chassis of the Gateway DX4200-09 recalls the DX4200-UB001A that we reviewed last year. The front faceplate looks exactly the same, with a media manager, dual-layer DVD burner, and an open bay below to add an extra drive. There's a FireWire port as well as a couple of personal audio jacks at the bottom.

The rear gives you more of the same ports that you get up front, like a few extra USB inputs, another FireWire port, a collection of audio jacks, and an HDMI port to connect the computer to an HDMI-equipped monitor or television. Although it's easy to glaze over the included components, Gateway does give you ample room to make internal upgrades. There's room for two extra memory chips, a PCI slot (in addition to another occupied by the 56k modem), a smaller 1x PCI Express slot, and a 16x PCI Express slot for a graphics card. You can also drop two more hard drives into the exposed bay, in addition to adding another forward-facing optical drive.

The $560 HP Pavilion a6700y offers almost a component-for-component match to our Gateway, save a few subtle differences that give HP the ammunition to pull ahead. For example, both systems share the same CPU clock speed and built-in RAM, but the Gateway has a larger hard drive and more video memory than the HP. We suspect that portioning off more integrated video memory actually hurts the Gateway on our application tests. HP also gets you gigabit Ethernet and 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi. We don't require either in low-end midtower PCs like these, and in fact we think HP could have spent its features budget more wisely in that system. But by outpacing the Gateway and giving you Wi-Fi, the HP looks a lot more appealing.

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter 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  
HP Pavilion a6750y
9,087 
2,448 
HP Pavilion a6700y
6,697 
1,923 
Dell Inspiron I530-120B
6,501 
3,382 
Gateway DX4200-09
5,819 
1,627 
Dell Inspiron I530S-119B
5,505 
2,947 

Our performance benchmarks solidify our buying recommendation: the Gateway trails the rest of the competition in every single test, most notably in the Cinebench and multitasking results, where HP enjoys the major advantage by comparison. In terms of features and performance, the HP a6700y takes the prize, but storage stackers and users itching to expand will be satisfied with the Gateway.

Per usual, Gateway offers a one year warranty with the DX4200-09 that covers parts and labor. You can also receive toll-free, 24-7 phone support via the Gateway call center. Finally, the Gateway Web site offers a comprehensive list of FAQs as well as driver downloads and model specs for comparison shopping and system troubleshooting.

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:

Gateway DX4200-09
64-bit Windows Vista Home Premium; 1.8GHz AMD Phenom 9100e Quad-Core ; 4GB DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) ATI Radeon HD 3200 integrated graphics chip; 640GB 7,200rpm hard drive.

Dell Inspiron I530-120B
64-bit Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E7400; 6GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) Intel GMA 3100 integrated graphics chip; 750GB 7,200 rpm Seagate hard drive.

Dell Inspiron I530S-119B
64-bit Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.5GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core CPU E5200; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) Intel GMA 3100 integrated graphics chip; 500GB 7,200rpm hard drive.

HP Pavilion a6700y
64-bit Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 1.8GHz AMD Phenom X4 9150e; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 6150SE integrated graphics chip; 500GB Seagate 7,200rpm hard drive.

HP Pavilion a6750y
64-bit Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 8GB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 256MB DDR2 ATI Radeon HD 3200 Graphics card; 750GB 7,200 RPM Hitachi hard drive.

OVR
4.8

Gateway DX4200-09

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 4Performance 4Support 7