Gateway FX510XT - Core 2 Extreme X6800 2.93 GHz - 21 TFT review: Gateway FX510XT - Core 2 Extreme X6800 2.93 GHz - 21 TFT

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The Good Features the latest in high-end hardware, including Intel's outstanding new Core 2 Extreme X6800 CPU; midtower case takes up less space than the high-end competition.

The Bad Bland case design is outclassed by that of other high-end systems; laggard game performance; lackluster support.

The Bottom Line We like that the new FX510XT gives you the option of purchasing a fully loaded, Intel Core 2 Extreme PC from Gateway, but it lacks the polish and the performance of other high-end systems. Its midtower case won't hog your desktop as much a full-tower PC, but that's not enough to help it stand out.

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6.7 Overall
  • Design 5
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7
  • Support 5

Everyone, it seems, wants a piece of the high-end desktop pie. By fully loading the FX510XT, Gateway becomes the latest mainstream vendor (after Dell) to venture into the überexpensive gaming PC market. At $4,320 (with a 21-inch LCD), the FX510XT is priced comparably to Dell's new hotshot XPS 700, and it's a better deal than Alienware's and Velocity Micro's latest offerings that respectively hit the $5,000 and $6,000 marks. We'll forgive Gateway for not trying to compete in speed or flash with the latter two vendors. They have a reputation for going all out, whereas Gateway's advantage lies in its ability to give you a good price. But unfortunately, Dell has nearly mastered both segments with its $4,005 XPS 700. That systems' new chassis makes a much bolder visual statement than the FX510XT, and it's generally faster. You might prefer the Gateway's more compact case to that of the behemoth XPS 700, but we don't think that advantage is worth the sacrifice in expandability or performance.

Multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
McAfee VirusScan and DivX 6.1 multitasking test  
Dell XPS X700
Dell XPS 410
AMD Athlon 64 FX-62 test bed
Note: * CPU and graphics card are overclocked.

Adobe Photoshop CS2 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Adobe Photoshop CS2 image-processing test  
Dell XPS X700
Dell XPS 410
AMD Athlon 64 FX-62 test bed
Note: * CPU and graphics card are overclocked.

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Apple iTunes encoding test  
Dell XPS X700
AMD Athlon 64 FX-62 test bed
Dell XPS 410
Note: * CPU and graphics card are overclocked.

Microsoft Office productivity test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Microsoft Office productivity test  
Dell XPS 410
Dell XPS X700
AMD Athlon 64 FX-62 test bed
Note: * CPU and graphics card are overclocked.

Based purely on its specs, the Gateway FX510XT looks like a highly competitive gaming PC. Its Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 CPU is the fastest currently available, its 4GB of 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM exceeds the maximum amount currently supported by Windows XP, and its 512MB ATI Radeon X1900 XT 3D card is paired with a compatible ATI CrossFire card, giving you one of the fastest graphics configurations around. On the whole, the Gateway is competitive, but not dominant. On CNET Labs' new iTunes and Photoshop tests, it essentially tied the Dell XPS 700. It fell behind the XPS 700 on our multitasking and Microsoft Office tests, we suspect, because Dell uses an Nvidia motherboard chipset and Nvidia graphics cards, which when matched can give you a boost in graphics throughput and in turn could aid the graphics processing portions of those tests. Gateway uses Intel's own 975 circuitry and the aforementioned ATI cards. Those matchups might also explain the 3D scores.

3D gaming performance (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Quake 4 1,024x768, 4xAA 8xAF  
F.E.A.R. 1,600x1,200 SS 8xAF  
F.E.A.R. 1,024x768 SS 8xAF  
Dell XPS 410
AMD Athlon 64 FX-62 test bed
Gateway FX510XT
Dell XPS X700
*Alienware Area-51 7500
Note: * CPU and graphics card are overclocked.

On Quake 4 at 1,024x768, the Gateway actually tied the overclocked Alienware Area-51 7500. Unfortunately, its F.E.A.R. scores were low compared to the Dell XPS 700's. Of course, any high-end gaming box you purchase now will look out of date in a few months when ATI and Nvidia release their new 3D cards that support DirectX 10. But if you must make a purchase now, Dell's XPS 700 is a better overall choice as a gaming PC than the FX510XT.

The comparison between the Dell and the Gateway seems the most apt of the Core 2 Duo-equipped gaming PCs we've looked at. This Gateway config costs more than the Dell, mostly because it has a 21-inch LCD, Gateway's excellent wide-screen FPD2185W. (Our XPS 700 review unit did not include a monitor.) Uncheck the monitor box on Gateway's site and the prices sync up. You can also add a similar monitor to the XPS 700 for roughly the same price. Aside from the graphics card and the chipset, the only major core configuration difference is the memory. Gateway has 4GB of DDR2 SDRAM; the Dell XPS 700 has 2GB. With Windows XP the Gateway's extra memory won't make a difference (as we can see from the benchmark tests), although with Windows Vista it may. Gateway also gets the edge in hard drive space, giving you 1TB between two 500GB 7,200rpm drives. Dell gives you 640GB between two 320GB drives.

Although the Gateway FX510XT gives you a little more storage and a future-minded allotment of memory, the Dell XPS 700 has the disk-burning edge because it has two dual-layer DVD burners to the Gateway's one. For the money, we'd take more memory and more hard drive space over an extra DVD burner, but we still prefer the XPS 700 for another reason: aesthetics. When you spend $4,000, it's fair to expect a PC that looks that expensive. Dell's XPS 700 appropriately looks like an imposing gaming beast. The FX510XT has a clean enough design, but it doesn't really make a statement other than "I am a computer." Yes, it takes up less space than the Dell, which in some cases could be a benefit, but that space savings comes at the expense of a free expansion slot, which we think is more important. The XPS 700 features two 3D cards and a Creative audio card and still has one expansion slot to spare. The Gateway has two 3D cards and came with an optional ATI Theater 550 TV tuner card, and it's filled to the brim.

Gateway's basic support plan is not as strong as Dell's, and even Dell's isn't that great. Gateway gives you one year of parts and labor coverage with no onsite service and 24/7 toll-free phone support. Dell gives you all that, plus a year of onsite. We think both are lame, because smaller vendors give you three years of coverage for no extra charge on their more expensive systems, so large vendors such as Dell and Gateway should as well. Gateway does have a number of support upgrades available, so at least you can tailor the plan to your liking, but for more money. Gateway's online support lags behind as well, with no links to component vendor sites and only a scant selection of driver downloads.

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