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Gateway E-4000 series review: Gateway E-4000 series

Gateway E-4000 series

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
6 min read
With the E-4000 series, Gateway ventures down the compact corporate-PC trail blazed by HP and IBM. Indeed, the machine could easily be mistaken for IBM's NetVista S42; it's quite similar inside and out. However, the E-4000 offers an IT-friendly modularity that the NetVista lacks, along with a lot more customization options. You also get a 17-inch monitor--albeit a substandard one--for roughly the same price as the NetVista without a monitor. And although the E-4000 lacks any standout features, a good corporate software bundle, or even a performance edge, Gateway's unimpeachable service and support help seal the deal. Pick this machine over the NetVista if price and support are the determining factors. Gateway's slim E-4000 case bears a striking resemblance to that of IBM's NetVista S42, right down to the all-black finish and drab front panel. Fortunately, what the E-4000 lacks in form it makes up for with function, with a pair of USB 2.0 ports and an easily accessible headphone jack at the front. The case is ugly, but the monitor, keyboard, and mouse all boast attractive silver accents. One thing we're sorry to see, however: the E-4000 comes with no speakers--a letdown even with an office PC.

The Gateway's trim case can sit horizontally or vertically in a stand.

The case is ugly, but the monitor, keyboard, and mouse don't look so bad.

The case can sit horizontally or vertically (a stand is included for the latter position), and you can pop its top with the removal of a single thumbscrew. Inside lies modular magnificence: the hard drive and CD-ROM drive--the two components most likely to need replacing in any PC--are immediately accessible and can be removed just by sliding a clearly labeled bracket to the Unlock position. Thus, they can be swapped out in seconds, tool-free, by busy IT departments (or anyone else, for that matter).

The IT tech's dream: hard drive and CD-ROM drive are immediately accessible.

You'll get three PCI slots and one AGP slot, but all four require half-height cards.

You will need a tool, however, to get to the system's three PCI and one AGP slots; a screw fastens the bracket that locks expansion cards in place. While Gateway scores points for its abundance of slots, the short stature of the case severely limits the types of cards you can install. A Google search, for instance, found no half-height AGP video cards, though Gateway does offer an Nvidia GeForce2 MX200 upgrade for $40--a vastly superior graphics solution. As for other internal expansion, the E-4000 sports one open SDRAM socket and one available hard drive bay, which should prove ample for a corporate system.

The E-4000 comes with a low-end monitor, and it shows when viewing text.
Just as the E-4000's looks mimic those of the IBM NetVista S42, so does its feature set. Our test machine's 2.4GHz Pentium 4 and 256MB of DDR SDRAM provide more than enough bit-pushing power for mainstream corporate software, such as Microsoft Office, but the integrated Intel graphics chip lacks 3D muscle--something to keep in mind if your organization works heavily with graphics, photos, and/or video. If it does, at least the E-4000 has plenty of storage space on its 60GB Maxtor hard drive, which is 50 percent larger than the NetVista's standard drive.
Most of the space is available, too, since Gateway supplies only minimal bundled software: Intel LANDesk Client Manager, Quicken Deluxe and a 90-day trial version of Norton AntiVirus, atop Windows XP Pro. IBM offers more bundled software tools for corporations, including backup and restore utilities and a custom image-loading service. Gateway does, however, provide three clearly labeled restoration CDs--one each for applications, drivers, and Windows XP--and a CD containing extensive system documentation.
The 17-inch EV700, Gateway's low-end monitor, delivers reasonably bright and colorful images, but our eyes cried foul when we looked at black text on a white background. It's fuzzy at 1,024x768, and it's better--but still not great--at 800x600. For an extra $200, you can substitute a significantly sharper 15-inch flat-panel display that's also much more suitable to the E-4000's space-saving design.

Application performance
While Gateway packs a lot into a small package, this system doesn't provide quite as much power as you might think. Despite our test configuration's 2.4GHz P4 processor and 256MB of 266MHz DDR SDRAM, the E series performs on a par with 2.26GHz P4 systems, such as the iBuyPower Value XP PC. The E series uses an Intel 845G/GL motherboard chipset, which includes an integrated graphics engine. The graphics engine's frame buffer also uses some system memory, which unfortunately introduces a noticeable penalty to overall system performance. This is typical for system designs that use integrated graphics; the 2.4GHz P4-based IBM NetVista S42 is a similarly configured system, and its application performance is very close to that of the E series.
Application performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo SysMark2002 Rating  
SysMark2002 Internet Content Creation Rating  
SysMark2002 Office Productivity Rating  
Gateway Profile 4X (2.4GHz, 266MHz DDR SDRAM)
Polywell Poly 884RF-2700 (Athlon XP 2700+, 4000MHz DDR SDRAM)
IBM NetVista S42 (2.4GHz, 266MHz DDR SDRAM)
iBuyPower Value XP PC (2.26GHz P4, 333MHz DDR SDRAM)
Gateway E series (2.4GHz, 266MHz DDR SDRAM)
To measure application performance, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's SysMark2002, an industry-standard benchmark. Using off-the-shelf applications, SysMark measures a desktop's performance using office-productivity applications (such as Microsoft Office and McAfee VirusScan) and Internet-content-creation applications (such as Adobe Photoshop and Macromedia Dreamweaver).
3D graphics and gaming performance
Integrated graphics solutions don't usually provide the level of 3D graphics performance needed for applications with demanding 3D graphics requirements. The vast majority of these types of applications are games, and since the E series is being marketed primarily as a corporate desktop, its lack of 3D graphics power shouldn't be a significant detriment to its appeal (unless your employees tend to roll up their sleeves after work and blow away evil creatures from across the galaxy).
3D graphics performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Futuremark 3DMark 2001 Pro (16-bit color)  
Futuremark 3DMark 2001 Pro (32-bit color)  
Polywell Poly 884RF-2700 (ATI Radeon 9700 Pro)
iBuyPower Value XP PC (Nvidia GeForce4 MX440)
Gateway Profile 4X (Nvidia GeForce2 MX400)
Gateway E series (Intel 845G/GL)
IBM NetVista S42 (Intel 845G/GL)
To measure 3D graphics performance, CNET Labs uses Futuremark's 3DMark 2001 Pro Second Edition, Build 330. We use 3DMark to measure a desktop's performance with the DirectX 8 (DX8) interface at both 16- and 32-bit color settings at a resolution of 1,024x768. A system that does not have DX8 hardware support will typically generate a lower score than one that has DX8 hardware support.
3D gaming performance in FPS  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Quake III Arena  
Polywell Poly 884RF-2700 (ATI Radeon 9700 Pro)
iBuyPower Value XP PC (Nvidia GeForce4 MX440)
Gateway Profile 4X (Nvidia GeForce2 MX400)
IBM NetVista S42 (Intel 845G/GL)
Gateway E series (Intel 845G/GL)
To measure 3D gaming performance, CNET Labs uses Quake III Arena. Although Quake III is an older game, it is still widely used as an industry-standard tool. Quake III does not require DX8 hardware support--as 3DMark2001 does--and is therefore an excellent means of comparing the performance of low- to high-end graphics subsystems. Quake III performance is reported in frames per second (fps).
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:
Gateway E series
Windows XP Professional; 2.4GHz Intel P4; 256MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; integrated Intel 845G/GL 64MB (shared memory); Maxtor 6Y060L0 60GB 7,200rpm
Gateway Profile 4X
Windows XP Home; 2.4GHz Intel P4; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Nvidia GeForce2 MX 400 32MB; Western Digital WD120BB-53CAA1 120GB 7,200rpm
IBM NetVista S42
Windows XP Professional; 2.4GHz Intel P4; 256MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; integrated Intel 845G/GL 64MB (shared memory); IBM IC35L040AVVA07 40GB 7,200rpm
iBuyPower Value XP PC
Windows XP Home; 2.26GHz Intel P4; 256MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; Nvidia GeForce4 MX 440 64MB; Maxtor 6L060J3 60GB 7,200rpm
Polywell Poly 884RF-2700
Windows XP Professional; 2.17GHz AMD Athlon XP 2700+; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 128MB; two Western Digital WD800JB-00CRA1 80GB 7,200rpm; integrated Promise FastTrack133 Lite RAID

Gateway's exemplary warranty and support options stand toe to toe with IBM's and are particularly admirable for a system in this price class. Parts and labor are covered for three years, and that includes onsite service. You also get hardware and software tech support for as long as you own the machine. You can upgrade to four or five years of coverage, if desired, but Gateway doesn't offer IBM's optional round-the-clock service dispatching.

Gateway E-4000 series

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 6Performance 6Support 9