Key Specs

Processor: 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q8400
Memory: 8GB DDR3
Storage: 750GB hard drive
Optical Drive: DVD±RW
Monitor: 23-inch Gateway LCD
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce G210 (512MB)
Operating System: Windows Vista Home Premium (64-bit)


This back-to-school season has ushered in a sea of change in desktops, bringing the impressive CPU power of Intel's previously performance-level Core 2 Quad CPUs into mainstream and even budget systems. Just a few months ago, the Gateway DX4820-02 would have been a great buy for $900. Its bundled 23-inch Gateway FHX2300 monitor ($229.99 if purchased separately) and impressive components (like 8GB of fast DDR3 RAM) are capable of handling common PC tasks and even video editing of family footage with ease. But pairing up a less expensive, solidly performing LCD like the 22-inch Asus VH222H with Gateway's own excellent $500 SX2800-01 system will save about $200 over the asking price of the DX4820-02, and offer up similar performance in all but 3D gaming. And since neither system offers impressive gaming performance anyway, this should give you pause.

Gateway DX4820-02 top tray

This system's top tray, rear cable management and in-tray USB ports make it great for connecting and charging gadgets.

What the glossy-black Gateway DX4820-02 does offer is a generous amount of top-mounted media ports, including slots for all current forms of flash card media, audio jacks, and four USB ports. Two of the USB ports are mounted near the back, inside a recessed area designed to hold cell phones and other gadgets that connect to your PC. It doesn't have a flip-up lid to conceal contents like the Acer Aspire M5800 does, but a cut-out area on on the top rear of the case has a protruding piece of plastic for wrapping cables around to cut down on clutter.

The optical drive's eject button also lives on the top of the case, with a second eject button in case you add an additional optical drive in the spare 5.25-inch bay later on. A Photo Frame button near the flash card slots launches a slide show of photos when pressed, so long as there is a card with photos in one of the front ports.

Gateway DX4820-02 rear ports

The rear ports here are pretty standard, though we like the included Gigabit Ethernet and HDMI ports.

Around back, the ports are pretty standard for a modern midrange PC. You'll find four more USB ports, a FireWire port, a Gigabit Ethernet jack, PS/2 mouse and keyboard ports, and analog 7.1 surround-sound audio jacks. The dedicated graphics card has HDMI, as well as DVI and VGA ports. In case you're still stuck with dial-up, a traditional modem lives in the bottom-most PCI slot. We would have liked to see a Wi-Fi card instead, but they're cheap, easy to install, and even come in plug-and-play USB varieties for well under $50.

Another area where this system shines is in its excellent internal upgrade capabilities. Slot expansion options include a free PCI slot, and a free PCI Express x16 slot—though the latter is very close to the graphics card, so don't expect to put anything substantial in it. Again, if the modem is unnecessary, that frees up another PCI slot. Although all four RAM slots are filled, you won't likely ever need more than the 8GB that come installed. The 750GB hard drive included in the system will be enough for some, but media junkies and video editors will be pleased to know that four free eSATA ports on the motherboard and just as many unoccupied drive bays means the system can handle up to five hard drives. The 300-watt power supply should be able to handle a few extra components.

If you're planing on using this system in a brightly lit room, the bundled 23-inch, 1080p (1,920x1,080) Gateway FHX2300 monitor could prove to be a problem. Its screen is as glossy and reflection-prone as any we've seen. In our brightly lit labs, our reflection was an almost constant annoyance, competing for our attention with whatever was on the screen. And while large monitors these days often have handy USB ports on the sides, this LCD has none.

Gateway DX4820-02

Though the front-facing media ports are great, we like other systems that offer a cover or otherwise let you keep the ports hidden when not in use.

In testing, the DX4820-02 performed well, thanks to its 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q8400 processor. The problem, though, is that another Gateway PC we recently tested, the $500 SX2800-01 minitower, performed nearly as well. On our CPU-taxing 64-bit Cinebench test, the DX4820-02 scored an impressive 10,848, but the SX2800-01 (with its own slightly slower quad-core CPU) managed 9,533, or about 12 percent less. Considering that both these CPUs can easily handle common PC tasks, most users won't notice a difference between the two. On our iTunes and Windows Media conversion tests the DX4820-02 beat the SX2800-01 by 28 and 24 seconds, respectively. But both machines turned in impressive scores on these tests. On PCMark Vantage, a synthetic test that measures overall system performance, the DX4820-02's score of 5,511 was about 13 percent higher than the SX2800-01's score of 4,798.

Where the Gateway DX4820-02 does pull further ahead is in gaming performance. On our DirectX 9 Company of Heroes test, at 1,280x1,024 resolution, the DX4820-02 (with its dedicated GeForce G210 graphics card) managed 27.6 frames per second (fps), while the integrated graphics found in the $500 Gateway SX2800-01 system managed just 12.1fps on the same test. That doesn't by any means indicate that the DX4820-02 is a great gaming machine, however. When we ran the current-generation DirectX 10 Company of Heroes test at the same resolution, the DX4820-02 dropped down to 14fps. While the DX4820-02 is capable of light 3D gaming, those wanting to play today's games at 1,920x1,080 (the standard resolution of this system's bundled monitor) will need to upgrade the graphics card.

Gateway DX4820-02 inside

Inside this system you'll find lots of room to upgrade, including space for a few extra hard drives, as well as spare PCI slots.

As long as gaming isn't a priority, and you don't plan many upgrades, the $500 SX2800-01 is a smarter buy for most users than the $900 DX4820-02, even when you factor out $200 for the bundled monitor. On paper, the DX4820-02 may have scored 10 to 15 percent higher on many of our tests, but the fact is, both systems are exceedingly fast compared with midrange systems from six months ago, and both can tackle the vast majority of today's PC tasks with absolute ease

The $900 DX4820-02 isn't a bad choice for those who want a powerful complete PC package without hassle. But buying the $500 SX2800-01 and picking up a less-glossy, less expensive monitor at the same resolution could save you a bunch. And unless you spend loads of time editing videos or want to play today's 3D games, you won't likely notice the difference.

Price (at time of review): $899 (Mfr. Est.)



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