Gateway One ZX6951-53 review: Gateway One ZX6951-53

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MSRP: $999.00

The Good Blu-ray drive; crisp audio output; friendly looks; reasonable value in features and performance.

The Bad Clunky panel covering up rear-side ports; bizarre HDMI video implementation.

The Bottom Line For better or for worse, the Gateway One ZX6951-53 has some peculiar quirks. We like the inviting design on the front of the system, but strange design around the rear side ports dampens our enthusiasm. Most people will appreciate this system as a self-contained digital media-oriented all-in-one. Home entertainment enthusiasts should keep looking.

6.8 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7
  • Support 7

The Gateway One ZX6951-53 makes a reasonably good first impression due to its friendly looking new design. Poke around the system, though, and you'll find some quirks, particularly to do with its HDMI video port. This $999 PC has most of the features we'd expect to find at this price, but the design could be more elegant. Through its strange video implementation, Gateway has also wasted an opportunity to make this PC a seamless digital media hub. If you simply want a capable, Blu-ray-equipped all-in-one to stand by itself, the Gateway One ZX6951-53 will serve better than many all-in-one PCs. If you want an all-in-one to connect with a cable box, game console, or other home entertainment device for a truly unified multimedia environment, you have better options.

Compared with the older Gateway One design, this new model looks a bit more polished. The wide, seemingly smiling piece of plastic under the display houses the speakers, and though it's not the cleanest design we've seen in an all-in-one, the sound quality benefits--audio comes through sparklingly clear.

Look around at the back of the Gateway One ZX6951-53 and things become less friendly. The external ports are all concealed behind a removable plastic door, an inconvenient design approach we thought had disappeared. Worse than that is Gateway's video implementation for this system, and the taunting HDMI port on the back of the system.

Usually when we review all-in-one PCs, an HDMI input is welcome, since it lets you connect game consoles, cable boxes, or other living room components directly to the computer, effectively turning your all-in-one into a home media hub. In the case of this Gateway system, the HDMI port already has a cable going into it.

The exposed HDMI PC-display connection on this Gateway may frustrate digital media enthusiasts.

You can look at this design in a few ways. From one perspective, Gateway has done you a favor. By making the system's primary video connection accessible, the company has made it so you can now connect the PC or the monitor to different output or input devices, at least as long as you're willing to disrupt the primary PC-display connection on the system itself. You can also add an HDMI splitter and connect multiple devices simultaneously. You'd just need to extend the stumpy HDMI cable poking out of the case first. That's one way to look at it.

Another is that Gateway has opted for a confusing, inelegant design for connecting this all-in-one's computer to its display. Chances are you won't bother to extend the HDMI cable, making the exposed video connection simply a frustrating design quirk that teases you by advertising this system's hard-to-realize potential to work with other digital media devices.

The third perspective, of course, is just not caring. If this describes you, the HDMI cable will be a curiosity at best. You'll simply use this system as is, and won't give a second though to its extensibility, or lack thereof.

All three are valid ways to look at this design. We expect most people who buy this system will fall into the last category. For those who would feel frustrated by the lost potential of this Gateway's HDMI port, Acer and Dell both offer properly HDMI-equipped all-in-ones in this price range.

Gateway One ZX6951-53 Acer Aspire Z5700-U2112
Price $999 $999
Display size/resolution 23-inch, 1,920x1,080 23-inch, 1,920x1,080
CPU 3.2GHz Intel Core i5 550 3.2GHz Intel Core i5 650
Memory 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics 64MB (shared) Intel GMA 4500 integrated graphics chip 128MB (shared) Intel GMA 4500 integrated graphics chip
Hard drives 640GB, 7,200rpm 1TB, 7,200rpm
Optical drive Blu-ray/DVD burner combo dual-layer DVD burner
Networking Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

Regardless of its ability to play well with other video components, the Gateway One ZX6951-53 still offers a competitive configuration. The 23-inch, 1080p display is common in sub-$999 all-in-ones, so we expect to find it here. And while Acer's Z5700 series may provide this Gateway with some direct competition, the two have a very similar value proposition. The Acer offers a slightly larger hard drive than the Gateway, as well as a marginally faster CPU and a proper HDMI port. The Gateway makes up the difference with its Blu-ray drive. If you value Blu-ray, the Gateway is an easy choice. With slightly faster performance and better compatibility with external video devices, the Acer has a bit more enthusiast appeal. Both ask a fair price for what they offer.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Gateway One ZX6951-53
HP TouchSmart 310z

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Gateway One ZX6951-53
HP TouchSmart 310z

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Gateway One ZX6951-53
HP TouchSmart 310z

Cinebench 11.5
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering multiple CPUs  
Rendering single CPU  
HP TouchSmart 310z
Acer Aspire Z5700-U2112
Gateway One ZX6951-53
Sony Vaio J114FX