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Gateway FX530XT (Windows Vista) review: Gateway FX530XT (Windows Vista)

We covered this system back in November when we reviewed its Windows XP-based debut. The big news here is that Gateway has added an option for Windows Vista. Unfortunately, it's an awkward time for high-end gaming PCs to use Microsoft's new operating system, and Gateway hasn't adjusted well. We'd stick with the older model.

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Rich Brown
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Rich Brown

Executive Editor / Reviews - Home and Wellness

Rich moved his family from Brooklyn to Louisville, Kentucky, in 2013 to start CNET's Appliances and Smart Home review team, which includes the CNET Smart Home, the CNET Smart Apartment, and the Appliances Review lab. Before moving to Louisville, Rich ran CNET's desktop computer review section for 10 years. He has worked as a tech journalist since 1994, covering everything from 3D-printed guns to Z-Wave smart locks.

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Only the operating system and the amount of system memory set this Gateway FX530XT apart from the FX530XT that we reviewed in November 2006. That $3,650 model had Windows XP and 2GB of memory; this newer one goes for $3,660 and comes with Windows Vista Home Premium, and 4GB of RAM. Sounds like a good deal. But wait until you see the 3D test scores for this purported high-end gaming desktop. We liked the FX530XT in its first incarnation, but now we're not so jazzed. In fairness, the whole gaming desktop market is out of whack right now, but Gateway missed an opportunity to differentiate itself with this system.

6.3

Gateway FX530XT (Windows Vista)

The Good

Crisp exterior; updated offering includes Windows Vista.

The Bad

Outdated 3D cards lack support next-generation Vista gaming graphics.

The Bottom Line

We liked this system when we covered its Windows XP-based debut back in November. The big news here is that Gateway has added an option for Windows Vista. Unfortunately, it's an awkward time for high-end gaming PCs to use Microsoft's new operating system, and Gateway hasn't adjusted well. We'd stick with the older model.
Gateway FX530XT (Windows Vista)

We'll refer you to the original review of this model to go over Gateway's new case and the overall design. Suffice it to say that we still like it on the outside, but the inside continues to look sloppy. Most of the core hardware features also remain the same. Both models come with an Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 quad-core CPU, overclocked to 3.2GHz. We've already mentioned that the Vista model has twice the memory, going from 2GB to 4GB of 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM. They both also use the same Intel 975X chipset, complete with support for dual 3D graphics cards via ATI's CrossFire technology. They both also come with the highest-end ATI 3D graphics cards on market. Therein, our major beef.

You need only to look at our 3D charts to see our issue with this system. The Gateway FX530XT has a Radeon X1950 XTX graphics card in it, paired with the corresponding CrossFire card for dual 3D graphics capability. But if you look at its 3D scores on our Quake 4 and F.E.A.R. tests, you'll see that this PC lags behind two others that come with a single Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTX card (an Alienware and a Polywell system). The GeForce card is Nvidia's current high-end next-generation card, and as you can see, just one of them is enough to trump this Gateway. Not only is it superior in performance, Nvidia's card also supports DirectX 10, the Windows Vista's next-generation 3D graphics platform. The ATI cards won't support those new visual bells and whistles when the DirectX 10 games hit the market.

Gateway could solve this problem by offering the GeForce 8800 GTX card. It would likely be able to do so for less than the price of the current model, and it would be a win for them as Alienware, Dell, Velocity Micro, and others all charge more than $4,000 for what would be similar configurations. Polywell and other smaller vendors offer that configuration possibility, but the build quality of those systems rarely competes with that of the major vendors.

We shouldn't pretend that the issue is totally simple. Given that Windows Vista is so tempting for new desktop buyers, we understand why Gateway and its customers would be eager to purchase an FX530XT with the new operating system. Gateway would have a support nightmare on its hands offering the GeForce 8800 GTX and Vista on the same PC. Nvidia's Vista drivers for the GeForce 8800 cards aren't final yet, and they currently have all kinds of issues with video compatibility, image settings, and other things. Still, Dell has decided to stick with XP for its XPS 710 systems, while continuing the rebate program for a copy of Windows Vista. That way you can get Vista for free after your initial purchase, and you can upgrade Windows on your own when Nvidia's final drivers are ready. While still not ideal, it seems to us that you would do better going that route than purchasing a Vista-based gaming PC with underpowered, expensive, and obsolete graphics cards. It's not like the ATI cards are without Vista issues, either. Currently, OpenGL-based games like Quake 4, Prey, and Doom 3 (and anything else that uses the Doom 3 graphics engine) don't support CrossFire in Vista. That's why the Gateway's Quake 4 scores are so low on our tests, it's only using one card.

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

Apple iTunes encoding test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
In seconds  

Cinebench 9.5
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering multiple CPUs  
Rendering a single CPU  

'Quake 4' performance (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
2,048x1,536 (4xAA, 8xAF)  
1,600x1,200 (4xAA, 8xAF)  
1,280x1,024 (4xAA, 8xAF)  
Dell XPS 710 H2C
114.6 
114.3 
130.3 
Alienware Area-51 7500
105.7 
121.2 
125.7 

'F.E.A.R.' performance (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
2,048x1,536 (4xAA, 8xAF)  
1,600x1,200 (4xAA, 8xAF)  
1,280x1,024 (4xAA, 8xAF)  
Dell XPS 710 H2C
103 
145.7 
156.7 
Alienware Area-51 7500
59 
88.3 
115 

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:

Alienware Area-51 7500
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 SP2; 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 (overclocked to 3.2GHz); 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 768MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTX; two 150GB Western Digital 10,000rpm Serial ATA hard drives (RAID 0); 250GB Samsung 7,200rpm Serial ATA hard drive

Dell XPS 710 H2C
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 (overclocked to 3.2GHz); 4,096MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; two 768MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTX; two 150GB Western Digital 10,000rpm Serial ATA/150 hard drives (RAID 0); 750GB Seagate 7,200rpm hard drive

Gateway FX530XT (Windows XP)
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 (overclocked to 3.2GHz); 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; two 512MB ATI Radeon X1950 XT (CrossFire mode); two 150GB Western Digital 10,000rpm Serial ATA/150 hard drives (RAID 0)

Gateway FX530XT (Windows Vista)
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 (overclocked to 3.2GHz); 4,096MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz (3,066MB reported); two 512MB ATI Radeon X1950 XT (CrossFire mode); two 150GB Western Digital 10,000rpm Serial ATA/150 hard drives (RAID 0)

Polywell Poly i680 SLI Quad Core
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 768MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTX; two 150GB Western Digital 10,000rpm Serial ATA/150 hard drives (RAID 0)

6.3

Gateway FX530XT (Windows Vista)

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 6Performance 6Support 7