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Gateway DX4200-UB001A review: Gateway DX4200-UB001A

Gateway DX4200-UB001A

Rich Brown Former Senior Editorial Director - Home and Wellness
Rich was the editorial lead for CNET's Home and Wellness sections, based in Louisville, Kentucky. Before moving to Louisville in 2013, Rich ran CNET's desktop computer review section for 10 years in New York City. He has worked as a tech journalist since 1994, covering everything from 3D printing to Z-Wave smart locks.
Expertise Smart home, Windows PCs, cooking (sometimes), woodworking tools (getting there...)
Rich Brown
5 min read

We didn't love Gateway's new FX4710 performance desktop because it sacrificed extra features (say, a faster 3D card?) for the sake of plumping its memory specs. We felt the same trepidation with the $750 DX4200, but the fact is that this desktop is the best-equipped mainstream midtower on the market. If you're shopping for a monitor to go along with your new desktop, you might also consider an iMac, but for standalone system buyers, the Gateway DX4200 is hard to pass up.


Gateway DX4200-UB001A

The Good

Best overall system in its price range; 64-bit Windows Vista aids memory efficiency; largest hard drive at this price

The Bad

More RAM than is immediately worthwhile.

The Bottom Line

We can forgive Gateway for cramming the DX4200 with more memory than it needs simply because its specs and overall performance are the best in its price class. Of the various do-it-all lower midrange PCs out there, this one gets our nod.

Like Gateway's FX4710 and the GT5692, the DX4200 comes with the 64-bit version of Windows Vista Home Premium. We're glad to see Gateway push that more memory-friendly version of Windows, but as we showed last month, without more 64-bit programs to go along with it, you get the most cost-effective benefit from 64-bit Vista with 4GB of RAM. 6GB, as configured with both the FX4710 and the DX4200, ends up being overkill for most consumers right now. It might be a future-proofing consideration, but if your goal is a 64-bit system with lots of RAM, you're better off waiting for the applications to catch up, at which point you can buy more computer overall for your dollar.

That was our major criticism of the FX4710. It would be the same with the DX4200, but even with the 6GB of memory, it still outclasses everything else in its price range right now. The extra memory won't hurt you, and you get more hard-drive space than you'll find in competing systems.

  Gateway DX4200 Dell Inspiron 518
Price $750 $784
CPU 2.2GHz AMD Phenom X4 9550 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600
Memory 6GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM 2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM
Graphics 256MB ATI Radeon HD 3450 256MB ATI Radeon HD 3450
Hard drives 640GB, 7,200 rpm 320GB, 5,400 rpm
Optical drive dual-layer DVD burner dual-layer DVD burner
Networking Gigabit Ethernet Gigabit Ethernet
Operating system Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (32-bit)
TV Tuner No No

Dell's biggest problem is that it still offers only 32-bit Vista, and thus the Inspiron 518 doesn't use its memory as efficiently as the Gateway. The Gateway DX4200 beats the Dell configuration with its larger hard drive. The Inspiron's one saving grace is its faster CPU, which helps it gain ground on a few performance tests.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Apple iMac
Gateway DX4200

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Apple iMac
Gateway DX4200

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Apple iMac
Gateway DX4200

(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering Multiple CPUs  
Rendering Single CPU  
ZT Affinity 7225Xi-35
Dell Inspiron 518
Gateway DX4200
Apple iMac

Unreal Tournament 3 (in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Performance is a bit less clear in this comparison. The 20-inch iMac comes in at $1,199, (although with only a 250GB hard drive) and outpaces the Gateway and the Dell on all but the multiprocessor Cinebench test. Decent 20-inch LCDs run about $200 right now, so buying the Gateway plus a new monitor would run you $950. That's a much better deal than the iMac, and the Gateway gives you more storage. If you're serious about content creation, however, the iMac looks more appealing due to its speed.

Compared with the Dell, the Gateway's performance is more or less identical. The Gateway has the edge as a gaming system and for multitasking, but the Dell fares better on our video-editing test. That's likely due to its faster CPU. If you need that raw horsepower for video processing (and you're not considering a true video-editing system), then the Dell is a better choice. As an all-around system, the Gateway gets the edge, not least because of its larger hard drive and room for more memory down the road.

If you're inclined to make upgrades, the DX4200 leaves you with relatively few options. With four occupied memory slots, you'll need to throw at least two sticks away to upgrade further. You get room for one PCI card and one small-size PCI-Express card, as well as room for another hard drive. That's a decent amount of room to grow, just keep things reasonable. The puny 300-watt power supply can only handle so much.

Gateway protects the DX4200 with a standard, one-year parts-and-labor warranty. If you want longer protection, you'll need to arrange it with your retailer, which is generally not a good idea. Gateway's toll-free, 24-7 phone line provides call center help, and you can also refer to Gateway's Web site for driver downloads, FAQs, and system-specific info. The BigFix application that comes with the system gives you some self-diagnosis and updating tools as well, in addition to facilitating remote control tech support.

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System configurations:

Dell Inspiron 518
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600; 2GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB ATI Radeon HD 3450 graphics card; 320GB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive.

Gateway DX4200
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.2GHz AMD Phenom X4 9550; 6GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB ATI RAdeon HD 3450 graphics card; 640GB 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drive

Gateway FX4710
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300; 4GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 512MB Nvidia GeForce 9800 GT graphics card; 640GB 7,200rpm hard drive

Velocity Micro Vector Campus Edition
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.53Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo E7200; 2GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 384MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GS graphics card; 500GB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive.

ZT Affinity 7725Xi-35
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600; 4GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 512MB ATI Radeon HD 3450 graphics card; 500GB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive.


Gateway DX4200-UB001A

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 9Performance 7Support 7