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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|
|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.
|Rendering multiple CPUs||Rendering single CPU|
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.
A graphics card would of course improve the gaming outlook for this PC. The free PCI Express graphics card slot on the motherboard provides you with an upgrade path, although the lower-end 300-watt power supply and the disappointing absence of direct graphics card power connectors will limit you to lower-end 3D cards. You can't add additional memory without junking at least some of the existing RAM, but there is room to add two more internal hard drives, as well as room for another drive through a front-panel-accessible bay.
This system also offers only the bare minimum in motherboard ports, a disappointing industrywide trend that has only recently encroached on Gateway and Acer systems. You get VGA and HDMI video outputs, but no DVI output, which means, depending on your display and the cables you own, you may need to hunt down a video adapter. It also lacks digital audio and 7.1 analog audio output support, leaving you with only a set of 5.1 analog audio jacks. Data connections are similarly sparse. You get the usual array of USB 2.0 jacks, but that's it. No FireWire, no eSATA, and no USB 3.0.
|Gateway DX4850-45||Average watts per hour|
|Off (60 percent)||0.31|
|Sleep (10 percent)||1.73|
|Idle (25 percent)||29.55|
|Load (5 percent)||76.84|
|Annual energy cost||$14.36|
Intel's new power-efficient CPUs have made power-testing almost irrelevant. In addition to its strong performance, the Gateway DX4850-45 is one of the more power-efficient PCs we've seen at this price range. It will cost you just over a dollar a month to operate.
For service and support, you get one year of parts-and-labor coverage with the DX4850-45, along with 24-7 toll-free phone service, and a variety of help resources available online. The system also comes with a few diagnostic apps to help you monitor the status of various components yourself.
The Gateway DX4850-45 is a rather uncommon system in that it has some strong home entertainment features, but in a clunky midtower chassis. It won't serve well as an upgrade base due to a weak power supply, but it may draw in those looking for a multipurpose PC for the dorm room or home office.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Core i5 230; 6GB 1,066MHZ DDR3 SDRAM; 64MB Intel HD 2000 integrated graphics chip; 1TB, 5,400rpm hard drive
HP Pavilion p6540y
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.8GHz AMD Phenom II X4 830; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) Radeon HD 4200 integrated graphics chip; 1B 7,200rpm Samsung hard drive
HP Pavilion p6720f
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.9GHz AMD Phenom II X4 810T; 6GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) Radeon HD 4200 integrated graphics chip; 1TB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 3.2GHz Intel Core i5 650; 6GB 1,066MHZ DDR3 SDRAM; 512MB Nvidia GeForce 310; 640GB, 7,200rpm hard drive