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Gateway DX4831-03 review: Gateway DX4831-03

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MSRP: $849.99
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The Good Strong application performance; Blu-ray and graphics card and fast CPU for a fair price; room for modest upgrading.

The Bad Marginally disappointing game performance.

The Bottom Line The Gateway DX4831-03 compares well with other desktops on the shelf, so well, in fact, there's little practical difference aside from a few variations in its features. Gateway has opted to rely on Blu-ray to set it apart. If that's enough to draw your attention, be assured the rest of this system meets our expectations for a PC in this price range.

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

Review Sections

The Gateway DX4831-03 is an $849 fixed-configuration desktop that mirrors the jack-of-all-trades ambitions we've seen from other PCs in this price range. It's no more or less distinct than Dell's retail Inspiron i580 system; the Dell offers wireless networking, the Gateway a Blu-ray drive, for a slightly higher price. Neither feature, in our opinion, is a must-have in a tower desktop, and with matching specs, each is a capable performer underneath the extras. With few other material differences between the two PCs, picking one over the other boils down to little more than your preference for watching disc-based HD movies via your PC or minimizing cable clutter.

If the DX4831-03's case looks familiar, it's because Gateway uses the same chassis throughout its DX800-series desktop family. You'll find the same glossy black plastic exterior on the slightly lower-end DX4831-01e, as well as on older midrange Gateway's stretching back a year or so. The design is innocuous enough compared with that of other mainstream PCs, although we continue to appreciate the USB/media card bar that juts out for easy access from the front of the system.

  Gateway DX4831-03 Dell Inspiron i580-5108NBC
Price $849 $799
CPU 3.2GHz Intel Core i5 560 3.2GHz Intel Core i5 560
Motherboard chipset Intel H57 Intel H57
Memory 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT220 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT220
Hard drives 1TB, 7,200 rpm 1TB, 7,200 rpm
Optical drive dual-layer DVD burner, Blu-ray drive dual-layer DVD burner
Networking Gigabit Ethernet Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

Side-by-side with the Dell, you can see the two share a number of component similarities. Each has a dual-core Core i5 560 chip, which gets four processing pathways from Intel's HyperThreading technology. A true quad-core Core i5 or Core i7 CPU would be preferable, but for this price, the dual-core Core i5 is fair. Both PCs also include a large hard drives, lots of RAM, and a basic graphics card from Nvidia.

The differences lie primarily in their accessory components. The Gateway charges $50 more than the Dell for the Blu-ray drive, while the Dell gets you a wireless networking card and only standard-def DVD playback for a lower price. We can't necessarily say we prefer Blu-ray over Wi-Fi, which directs us to the potentially more mundane differences between the motherboard connections. Gateway wins this battle handily. Both systems feature USB 2.0, 7.1 analog audio jacks, and on the graphics card, DVI, HDMI, and VGA outputs. Gateway outclasses the Dell with FireWire, eSATA, and S/PDIF digital audio jacks. For its more flexible motherboard, the Gateway's feature set maintains a small edge over the Dell.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Gateway FX6831-01
80 
Maingear Vybe
88 
Gateway DX4831-03
90 
Dell Inspiron i580-5108NBC
91 

Apple iTunes encoding test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Dell Inspiron i580-5108NBC
120 
Gateway DX4831-03
123 
Gateway FX6831-01
131 
Maingear Vybe
134 

Multimedia multitasking
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Gateway FX6831-01
351 
Maingear Vybe
378 
Gateway DX4831-03
429 
Dell Inspiron i580-5108NBC
435 

Cinebench
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering multiple CPUs  
Rendering single CPU  
Maingear Vybe
18088 
4237 
Gateway FX6831-01
16926 
4136 
Dell Inspiron i580-5108NBC
10282 
4521 
Gateway DX4831-03
10106 
4494 

Shifting the discussion to performance, we find the Gateway and the Dell similar here as well. Dell creates a little distance for itself on our Unreal Tournament 3 test, but on our application tests, the two appear equally capable. We're not sure of the reason for the Dell's edge on our gaming test, since we'd guess the two would be closer given their similar specs. Perhaps the different 3D driver software in each system and the variations in system hardware are having a collaborative effect in holding down the Gateway's gaming scores. Regardless, at 51 frames per second on our low resolution Unreal tests, the Gateway proves itself a capable light-duty gaming box.

You'll have no problems running the standard assortment of consumer tasks on either the Dell or the Gateway, but neither is outfitted for breaking frame-rate records. More demanding games, shooters in particular, will also give the Gateway trouble before the Dell. You may even have to dial down the image quality settings on the Gateway to run more forgiving strategy and role-playing games, but you should be able to find settings that are at least playable for most titles.

Upgrading the graphics is an option for gamers who might already own a decent 3D card, and if you get rid of the current GeForce GT220 card, the 300-watt power supply should support most midrange graphics hardware. Your other expansion options are also reasonable. You get two 1X PCI Express slots, along with a single 4x slot. That means adding Wi-Fi, a TV tuner, or a sound card post-purchase is a possibility. You could even add all three. You get three free hard-drive spots, as well.

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