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Gateway FX530XT - Core 2 Extreme QX6700 2.66 GHz - 24 TFT review: Gateway FX530XT - Core 2 Extreme QX6700 2.66 GHz - 24 TFT

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The Good Outstanding value for one of the fastest PCs we've seen; cutting-edge quad-core processor; sharp new case design; free CPU overclocking under warrantee.

The Bad Midtower desktop case limits expandability; sloppy interior cabling compared to nearly every other high-end PC vendor's.

The Bottom Line It's rare that you see a performance-leading PC come in below $4,000, but Gateway's FX530XT has pulled it off. Complete with an Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 quad-core CPU and a pair of ATI's highest-end 3D cards, this cutting-edge desktop won't make gamers and digital designers dig quite as deep to get their hands on it.

8.4 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 9
  • Performance 9
  • Support 7

Review Sections

The Gateway FX530XT is one of the best deals we've ever seen on a cutting-edge PC. It features the latest in high-end parts, including Intel's new Core 2 Extreme QX6700 quad-core processor. Gateway beefed up its build materials too, opting for a metal case with more polished and colorful accents than its old FX510XL. Most impressively, however, is its showing in the CNET Labs, posting some of the best scores we've ever seen. We actually have some issues with the design, but we're willing to put those aside for the deal that Gateway is offering here. When this configuration goes on sale on November 14, Gateway will charge you $3,650. That's an unheard-of price for a performance-leading desktop.

Unlike Dell's recent XPS 700 and the XPS 710 announced today, Gateway hasn't reinvented its high-end case with the FX530XT. The only real difference between this and the FX510XL is the newer model's gunmetal finish and the addition of some color. But the changes make a striking visual improvement to the chassis compared to the staid gray-and-black, plastic-looking FX510XL. It now looks much more like a serious PC.

It may look the part from the outside, but the interior design lags behind that of the high-end competition. Alienware, Falcon Northwest, Velocity Micro, and Voodoo PC have led the charge with impeccable case interiors wherein the cabling is routed, tucked, and otherwise tied down out of the way. If you ever want to replace a hard drive or swap out a graphics card, it's remarkably easy to do so with those systems. Further, that clean layout means clear airflow, which is essential for keeping a hot-running performance PC happy. Dell finally got aboard the clean cabling bandwagon with its XPS 700 desktop. Even lesser-known Cyberpower gives you clean wiring as a $20 option, so it can't be expensive to do. The question then is why doesn't Gateway tidy up the FX530XT's interior?

We asked Gateway this very question and were told, "The main goal was to maximize system performance for digital enthusiasts and PC gamers while still delivering an exceptional value. Origami cabling significantly increases manufacturing costs and has little impact on performance, so we elected to invest in other areas and ultimately reduce the cost of a high-performance, leading-edge PC for the customer." We're not buying it. If a volume producer such as Dell can make its cables look good and if a smaller company such as Cyberpower can do it for only $20, there's no reason why Gateway shouldn't be able to do it, either. That lack of polish doesn't mean we think the FX530XT is a bad computer--far from it. We just want to see Gateway take the now nearly universal measure of making a multithousand-dollar PC look like a quality machine inside and out.

Gateway may have missed a step on the FX530XT's design, but this system's high-end features and performance will inspire awe when you consider the price. For $3,650, you get Intel's new Core 2 Extreme QX6700 quad-core processor, 2GB of 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM, a pair of 512MB ATI Radeon X1950 XT graphics cards in CrossFire mode, and two fast 150GB 10,000rpm hard drives in speedy RAID 0 mode. Even at stock speeds, we'd expect those parts to make for a great gaming or digital-design PC. But here's where Gateway goes above and beyond: The CPU on this system is overclocked by 20 percent, bumping its clock speed to 3.2GHz from the standard 2.66GHz. Gateway will not only be selling the FX530XT with an overclocking option, but it also puts the performance boost under warrantee--all for no extra charge. We expect that because Intel's new Core 2 CPUs are so easy to overclock there's no reason not to jack up the CPU performance. Most of the traditional boutique PC vendors overclock their parts for free, too. The notable exception here is Dell. For some reason, Dell will not overclock its CPU for you, even when Intel makes it so easy. As our performance charts will show, Gateway's willingness to overclock gives a major boost to its scores.

One test we should take some time on is our single core CineBench test. You can see on that chart that the ABS Ultimate X9 III won the test, but then on the multithreaded version of CineBench, the ABS places last. The reason it won on the single-core test is because its dual-core Core 2 Extreme X6800 was overclocked to 3.38GHz, where every other CPU on there has a slower clock speed. That indicates that on the many applications out there that don't take advantage of a multicore chip, raw clock speed will matter more. But for multitasking and multithreaded applications that do check for multiple CPU cores, CineBench's multicore results make it plain that, while clock speed still matters, the more cores the better.

The Gateway FX530XT loses on only two of our benchmark tests. On iTunes, both the ABS Ultimate X9 III and the Apple Mac Pro were faster, but both of the CPUs in those PCs have faster core CPU clock speeds, and that test in particular likes a fast chip. And on our F.E.A.R. 3D testing, the Dell XPS 710 takes the prize, but that system also comes with an Nvidia Quad SLI graphics card configuration, which is more powerful than the Gateway's ATI Radeon X1950 XT CrossFire setup. In short, we found a few scenarios in which the Gateway FX530XT was not the fastest system we've ever seen. But it remains so close to that ideal--and on many tests achieves it--that we have no hesitation recommending this Gateway as a high-end gamer or a multimedia-editing powerhouse.

Multitasking test (simultaneous McAfee AntiVirus scan, DivX 6.1 video encode, CAB file extraction)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
In seconds  

Multimedia multitasking test (simultaneous QuickTime and iTunes encoding)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
In seconds  
Note: QuickTime for Windows version 7.1; QuickTime for Mac version 7.1.3; iTunes for Windows version 6.0.4.2; iTunes for Mac version 7.0.1

Adobe Photoshop CS2 image-processing test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
In seconds  

Apple iTunes encoding test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
In seconds  
Note: iTunes for Windows version 6.0.4.2; iTunes for Mac version 7.0.1

CineBench 9.5
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering Multiple CPUs  
Rendering Single CPU  
Gateway FX530XT
1696 
516 
Apple Mac Pro
1604 
494 
Dell XPS 710
1309 
429 
ABS Ultimate X9 III
1049 
566 

3D gaming performance (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
F.E.A.R. 1,600x1,200  
F.E.A.R. 1,280x1,024  
Quake 4 1,600x1,200  
Quake 4 1,280x1,024  
Dell XPS 710
97 
115.3 
109 
107.9 
Gateway FX530XT
72.3 
88.7 
123.2 
132.1 
ABS Ultimate X9 III
67 
82 
139 
150.9 

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