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Gateway DX4850-45u review: Gateway DX4850-45u

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The Good The Gateway DX4850-45 offers fast performance from its Intel Core i5 chip, and strong multimedia capability thanks to a Blu-ray drive and HDMI output.

The Bad The midtower case makes this a difficult PC to add to a living room, and an anemic power supply and obvious skimping on external ports hurt its expandability.

The Bottom Line Most will find the Gateway DX4850-45 an awkward mix of performance and Blu-ray playback capability given its clunky chassis, but if you have room for a midtower PC for both productivity and disc-based HD entertainment, this system may have some appeal.

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6.0 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 5
  • Performance 7
  • Support 7

Desktops for home entertainment typically come to us in slim tower chassis, which makes the midtower-based Gateway DX4850-45 rather unique. It has respectable application performance for its $749 price tag, but a Blu-ray drive and an HDMI output suggest this system was designed for digital media consumption. We wish Gateway hadn't cut so many corners on the motherboard and elsewhere, but non-gaming home office and dorm room denizens (or those who already own a lower-end graphics card) will find this system a reasonably compelling PC for entertainment and day-to-day productivity.

With a Blu-ray drive and an HDMI output, the Gateway DX4850-45 clearly wants to be more than just a PC for general use, but its midtower chassis is not the best fit for the living room. The Gateway SX-Series PCs and the Lenovo H320 offer more compact slim-tower alternatives, and the various closed-cased small-form-factor computers from Apple, Dell, Gateway-parent Acer, and other vendors offer home entertainment capabilities in chassis that are smaller still.

What you do get with the larger Gateway case is expandability. With a free graphics card slot and two spare 1x PCI Express slots, you could make this PC into a gaming box, an audio editing station, or a DIY DVR, among other options. Between flexibility and its fast Intel Core i5 2300 CPU, the DX4850-45 makes most sense in rooms where it might get regular multipurpose use.

We can imagine a dorm room as a typically appropriate setting for such a computer. There you could work on the system at a desk, but if it's connected to a 24- or 27-inch monitor, you could also use it to watch Blu-ray movies from farther away. We'd also submit that in many dorm rooms (and home offices), the primary occupants are more open-minded about the decor, and thus would be willing to accept its clunky appearance.

Gateway DX4850-45 Lenovo H320 40411FU
Price $749 $749
CPU 2.8GHz Intel Core i5 2300 3.2GHz Intel Core i5 650
Memory 6GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM 6GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics 64MB Intel HD Graphics 2000 integrated graphics chip 512MB Nvidia GeForce 310 graphics card
Hard drives 1TB 5,400rpm 640GB, 7,200rpm
Optical drive Blu-ray/DVD burner combo Blu-ray/DVD burner combo
Networking Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

We'll compare the Gateway with Lenovo's recent H320 slim tower, since aside from the chassis the two are similarly configured. The DX4850-45 uses Intel's second-generation Core i5 CPU, which gives the Gateway a major boost on our performance tests. The Gateway also has a larger hard drive to go along with its Blu-ray drive, giving you more room to archive digital media files. The Lenovo H320 seemingly has a gaming edge thanks to its 512MB GeForce 310 graphics card, but that budget card won't provide better performance than the Gateway's Intel HD Graphics 2000 technology.

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

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Gateway DX4850-45 (Core i5 2300, Spring 2011)

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

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Cinebench (in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering multiple CPUs  
Rendering single CPU  
Gateway DX4850-45 (Core i5 2300, Spring 2011)

Compared with the Lenovo and some other sub-$1,000 desktops, the Gateway DX4850-45 shows the kind of boost you can expect from Intel's new CPUs. The Gateway's edge over the Lenovo, despite the latter's faster clock speed, has partly to do with the fact that the Core i5 2300 CPU is a true quad-core CPU; the older Core i5 650 in the Lenovo is only a dual-core chip emulating quad-core capabilities via Intel's Hyper-Threading technology. The HP Pavilion p6720f is a $599 system powered by an AMD chip, making its defeat at the hands of the Gateway unsurprising. We can conclude from these results that not only is the Gateway suitably fast for its price, but also that Intel's new CPUs provide a very real performance benefit, and you can expect that this system will handle common tasks and even light-duty digital media editing easily.

We tried a few games on the Gateway to test their basic playability. Portal 2 gave the Gateway no trouble at high graphics detail and 1,920x1,020-pixel resolution. We found no combination of settings that let us play The Witcher 2 at that resolution, however. The Witcher 2 was playable once we lowered the resolution to 1,280x720 pixels, but only at low image quality settings. We wouldn't recommend this system as is for gaming enthusiasts on the hunt for a low-cost desktop, but casual gamers will find it delivers acceptable 3D performance.

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