Gateway couples an Intel Core 2 Duo with one of ATI’s most powerful graphics processors. Could this be a match made in heaven?
As many of you might know by now, HardOCP doesn’t "review" systems, we evaluate the experiences they facilitate. We order the system the same as you would and evaluate every aspect of the end-user experience. Not only does this give us a better idea of what hardware an end user actually receives, it also allows us to obtain a more accurate picture of just how each company functions and treats its customers. As fast as PC hardware has become over the years, we think giving a personal computer "5 stars" based on how fast it ran a synthetic benchmark is simply irresponsible. We think service, support, and reliability are much more important factors in today's climate than speed. Fast is easily bought, but purchasing and ownership satisfaction can be elusive.
We have evaluated five Gateway machines at [H] Consumer. Our experiences with Gateway have been good overall, with no system receiving less than an 8 on its Bottom Line score. Our last machine from Gateway was the DX310X. While scoring high marks in most of our categories, its NVIDIA GeForce 7300LE graphics card was not the most ideal solution for gaming. The Pentium D was also starting to show its age compared to the new Intel Core Duo and Core 2 Duo solutions. The NX860X laptop had an impressive outing in gaming performance thanks to Intel’s mobile Core Duo CPU and its GeForce Go 7600 GPU chipset, and continued to receive high marks in the other categories. The Gateway CX200X Tablet PC was also a solid unit that impressed us with its overall utility, great build quality, and innovation.
Our earlier Gateway systems, such as the FX400XL and the 9310XL scored high gaming marks at the time of their evaluation. The FX400XL stumbled a bit with its sub-par peripherals (not to mention Gateway’s failure to include an adapter for the LCD monitor), while the 9310XL had issues with bloatware and a complicated system restore procedure. Even so, both machines had very respectable Bottom Line scores that reflected their impressive stability that seems to be a common theme among all Gateway systems.
This will be the second Core 2 Duo-equipped machine that we’ve had in the [H] Consumer offices. The first was from Velocity Micro, who hit the ground running with the Core 2 launch and hasn’t stopped to take a breath. We picked up their ProMagix E2200 gaming system from Best Buy and got to see first-hand what all of the talk about Core 2 was about. Our E2200 blew the doors off of every other system that we’ve tested in general productivity, especially our DVD encoding and WorldBench metrics. However, we didn’t see a remarkable increase in gaming performance overall, which indicates that high-resolution gaming is still limited by the GPU.
Since Gateway has done well with the systems we’ve evaluated up to this point, we expect more of the same. With the combination of the Core 2 Duo CPU and the ATI Radeon X1900XT graphics card in our FX510XG, we seem to have a rather high-end system. We haven't seen a high-end ATI solution in a while, so we're very interested to see what kind of gaming experience we have. Although this system is equipped with a slightly slower Core 2 Duo than the Velocity Micro that we evaluated, we still expect it to provide quite a show in general productivity. Finally, we expect Gateway to at least maintain the same level of support we have previously experienced. We saw Gateway improve their support in our previous Gateway evaluation, and we hope to see that trend continue.