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$750 to $1,000 retail desktops reviewed

Dell, Gateway, and HP desktops reviewed

In all the excitement of reviewing HP's new Firebird gaming desktop, we neglected to update our list of Best Buy desktop reviews. We already announced our winner in the ultra-budget category (congratulations, Acer), and last Friday we also wrapped up our $750 to $1,000 review segment. What we found is that while Dell offers the most balanced configuration at retail, Gateway (now owned by Acer) continues to surprise us with its value-oriented pricing and targeted performance.

The Gateway LX6810-01 earns our favor in the $750 to $1,000 price range. Sarah Tew/CNET Networks

The reason we like the $780 Gateway LX6810-01 so much is that it has the lowest price of the three systems we covered, but also very competitive performance, outpacing the $830 HP Pavilion Elite m9500y on every test. It also competes very well against the $900 Dell XPS 430-121B, and even comes in faster on our lower end Unreal Tournament 3 benchmark. We suspect the Gateway succeeds because even though it has a slower Intel quad-core chip than the Dell, it has more memory and a faster graphics card. Any of these systems will serve as competent general purpose/light digital media work horses, but we find the Gateway provides the best value of the three.

We've also posted two system reviews in the $500 to $750 category. Desktops from Dell and HP haven't impressed us so far, but we have hope for submissions from Gateway and another HP, which will post by the end of this week. We also had a $1,000-plus roundup planned, but acquisition problems may turn it into a roundup of one. We'll keep you posted.