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Designed for organizations with 100 employees or more, the Gateway E series of desktop computers look just as buttoned-down as they act. Taking a page from IBM's design manual (that is, basic, boxy black) and eschewing aesthetic embellishment, the E-series tower and desktop boxes seem to say: "We mean business." The $1,938 E-6500D we tested offers plenty of power and options for the money, including a 17-inch LCD monitor and a dual-core CPU, all in a stable, easy-to-maintain environment.
There's nothing particularly sexy (inside or out) about the E series, which isn't surprising in a business-class PC; you can't configure even the highest-end E-6500D with a fast graphics card or 5.1 speakers. You won't find TV tuner cards (such a feature could hurt productivity) or built-in flash-card readers (even a business user could make use of a card reader) offered as options. Gateway's Web site instead offers a wide array of business-oriented options to choose from, such as fingerprint-recognition hardware, chassis locks, and personalized help-desk support packages. The breadth of these offerings is where the volume purchaser--always with a keen eye on a system's TCO (total cost of ownership)--will find the advantages of buying a business system instead of a standard consumer desktop.
Despite its lack of flash, you can outfit the Gateway E-6500D for raw processing performance. While our system came with a 3.0GHz dual-core Pentium D 830 processor, you can opt for the even faster Pentium D 840 or the top-of-the-line, single-core 3.8GHz 670 with Hyper-Threading. Likewise, the storage options are more high end than you might expect. Our system also included dual 200GB hard drives, and you can go all the way up to 800GB. The system's mainstream Intel 945G chipset supports faster DDR2 memory. Our test system came with 1GB of RAM; the E-6500D supports up to 4GB.
In benchmark testing, the E-6500D matched the performance of Sony's VAIO RA842G system, which shares the same Pentium D 830, on CNET Labs' SysMark 2004 tests but was only a couple of percent (within the test's margin of error) faster than Dell's business-oriented OptiPlex GX620, powered by a single-core Pentium 4 660.
In our Photoshop tests, designed for dual-core CPUs, the E-6500D matched the very similar Gateway FX400XL, which wasn't surprising, as they have the same processor, but both were trumped by the Apple Power Mac G5, which was 22 percent faster.
Unlike the more flexible Dell OptiPlex GX620 business system, which can be configured in four different form factors, the E-6500D comes only as a midtower. The BTX-based case keeps the system both quiet and cool. If you don't want a midtower, Gateway's midline series, the E-4500, comes in both tower and desktop form factors and can even be configured exactly like our E-6500D test system for virtually the same price. While the E-4500's case lacks S/PDIF audio and has one less internal drive bay and PCI slot than the E-6500D's, the system still offers the same configuration options, plus an optional 256MB version of the GeForce 6600 video card.
Our system shipped with a 17-inch Gateway LCD and included a two-button optical mouse, a basic keyboard, and a flimsy two-piece speaker set, all of which should suffice for any business needs. No other speaker options are available, but $50 will get you a SoundBlaster Audigy 2 audio card, an unusual if impressive option for a business machine.
The E-6500D's case features dual FireWire ports on the front, along with a total of seven USB 2.0 ports, an S/PDIF connector, and surround-sound audio ports around back. There's plenty of room inside for expansion, including two free PCI slots, three free internal drive bays, and two free DIMM slots.
Gateway offers business users a wide variety of sometimes confusing service options. The E-6500D is backed by the default three-year Desktop Value plan, which includes next-business-day onsite service and toll-free technical support. You can upgrade to five years of this kind of protection for $199 or choose the even more airtight Total Protection Plan ($348 for five years), which adds priority support, allowing you to skip those annoying toll-free phone menus.
Accidental damage protection, onsite system installation, personalized help desk (for third-party application support), and various online training and learning packages are available. The "Keep your hard drive" program, at $10 per year, allows companies to retain a faulty hard drive rather than send it back to Gateway for replacement and is particularly good for companies with sensitive data. Also important to business buyers is Gateway's dedication to what the company calls Professional Managed Desktops, guaranteeing 12-to-18-month life cycles for platforms and adherence to Intel's Stable Image Platform, which dictates standardized hardware configurations designed to keep the IT department happy.
|BAPCo SysMark 2004 rating||SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating||SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating|
|Half-Life 2 1,024x768 4xAA 8xAF||Half-Life 2 1,600x1,200 4xAA 8xAF|
|Sorenson Squeeze 4.0 video-encoding test (in seconds)||Adobe Photoshop CS test (in seconds)||Apple iTunes 18.104.22.168 MP3-encoding test (in seconds)|
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Apple Power Mac G5 dual 2.7GHz
Macintosh OS 10.4; dual PowerPC G5 2.7GHz; 4,096MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra (AGP); 250GB Maxtor Serial ATA hard drive
Dell Dimension 5100C
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 SP2; 3.0GHz Intel Pentium D 830, 512MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; Intel 945G chipset; 224MB (shared) integrated Intel 950G; Maxtor 6L160M0 160GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA
Dell OptiPlex GX620
Windows XP Professional SP2; 3.6GHz Intel P4 660; Intel 945G chipset; 512MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 128MB ATI Radeon X600 SE (PCIe); Seagate ST380013AS 80GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA
Windows XP Professional SP2; 3.0GHz Intel Pentium D 830, 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; Intel 945G chipset; 128MB Nvidia GeForce 6600 (PCIe); WDC WD2000JD-22HBB0 200GB 7,200rpm, Serial ATA
Windows XP Professional SP2; 3.0GHz Intel Pentium D 830, 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; Intel 945GP chip set; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 6800 (PCIe); Hitachi HDS722525VLSA80 250GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA (two separate drives, no RAID)
Sony VAIO VGC-RA842G
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 SP2; 3.0GHz Intel Pentium D 830; Intel 945G chipset; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 6600 (PCIe); two WDC WD2500JD-98HBC0 250GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated Intel 8201/GR/GH SATA RAID controller