Gateway FX6800-01e review: Gateway FX6800-01e

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The Good Unique case design with useful extras; second graphics card slot.

The Bad Competing Dell PC has twice the RAM and faster performance as a result.

The Bottom Line With lots of useful features (some cleverly hidden), Gateway's FX6800-01e stands out from the boring mainstream pack. It also uses Intel's new CPU and motherboard combination to provide speed and upgradeability. You can find faster PCs for a similar price, but few with this much promise.

7.9 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7
  • Support 7

Gateway's FX6800-01e is the first mainstream PC we've seen with Intel's new Core i7 desktop processor, but that's far from the only exciting feature in this desktop. A smartly spruced-up case design and a forward-looking motherboard give this PC a decided edge over its competition. The orange-and-black case might not be for everyone, and a lower-wattage power supply will keep any hard-core upgrade plans in check. Still, the FX6800-01e is fast enough out of the box, and also provides an enticing upgrade platform for anyone inclined toward post-purchase tinkering. If that describes you, we recommend this PC.

We understand that some of you might find the color scheme of the FX6800-01e's case garish. If you can get past the electric orange accents, you'll find a lot to like here. Gateway has basically taken a handful of features we expect to find in $3,000-plus high-end PCs and distilled them into a much more affordable package.

First, you see no visible ports on the front panel. Instead, the media card reader and a pair of USB ports pop up from behind a concealed panel on the top of the system. A second panel, about halfway down the front of the case, conceals two more USB ports, as well as headphone and mic inputs, and also cleverly angles them upward, so that you can get to them easily if you keep your PC on the floor.

The media card reader pops up from the top of the Gateway.

Behind yet a third door on the front panel, you'll find two removable hard-drive trays. The boot drive itself sits in a traditional drive case accessible through the side panel, but Gateway has made adding extra data drives to the FX6800-01e easy. Each drive tray slides right out of its housing, and you make the power and data connections through what's called a "passive backplane." Essentially this means that the power and data cables have been anchored in place and aligned so that the drive will connect directly to them when you slide it in on its tray. It's a simple process, and while perhaps not crucial for average consumers, it's certainly useful to anyone who might want to swap large amounts of data between PCs.

Slide hard drives in and out through the front panel easily.

Two final touches set the FX6800-01e apart. A set of touch-sensitive media controls sits on the upper portion of the front panel. This gives you a convenient way to navigate Windows Media Center without messing with a mouse and keyboard.

The front-panel media buttons give you walk-up control.

Lastly, Gateway has designed this system so that the main body of the case is actually supported by a secondary piece of plastic underneath it. This provides the system with an extra airflow pathway through its underbody. The more cooling, the better.

  Gateway FX6800-01e Dell Studio XPS
Price $1,249 $1,299
CPU 2.67GHz Intel Core i7 920 2.67GHz Intel Core i7 920
Motherboard chipset Intel X58 Intel X58
Memory 3GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM 6GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics 512MB ATI Radeon HD 4850 512MB ATI Radeon HD 4850
Hard drives 750GB, 7,200 rpm 500GB, 7,200 rpm
Optical drive dual-layer DVD burner dual-layer DVD burner
Networking Gigabit Ethernet Gigabit Ethernet
Operating system Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit)

The major design portions out of the way, we can focus on the FX6800-01e's features. It provides an interesting side-by-side with the Dell Studio XPS, another Core i7-equipped desktop in the same price range. The two are nearly identical specs-wise. The Dell has more RAM, 6GB to the Gateway's 3GB, but the Gateway also has a 750GB hard drive. The Dell has only a 500GB model. You'll see from our performance charts that the Dell's added memory gives it a noticeable edge across all of our tests. We'll describe shortly why there's more to the story for the Gateway than the scores you see below, especially for gamers.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)   

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Gateway FX6800-01e

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Gateway FX6800-01e

(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering multiple CPUs  
Rendering single CPU  
Dell Studio XPS
Gateway FX6800-01e
Velocity Micro Edge Z15
Falcon Northwest FragBox 2
Maingear Prelude

Unreal Tournament 3
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,920 x 1,200  
1,280 x 1,024  
Maingear Prelude
Dell Studio XPS
Gateway FX6800-01e

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