Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Gateway "FX" Desktop Computer - Thumbs up!


A few weeks ago, the HP Blackbird desktop that our family uses as the primary "home" PC died after less than three years of service. While I raved about the Blackbird when I first got it, it was plagued with reliability issues - I even had to ship it back to HP for service after a year.  HP no longer makes the Blackbird line of PCs (Voodo acquisition). 


I explored multiple options including laptops, an all-in-one desktop (touch screen) but ultimately decided on a standard desktop running Windows 7 64-bit. After much research, I decided on on a Gateway FX6840-01E.  I purchased the computer refurbished on eBay at a substantial discount.

Key specifications:
  • Intel i7-860 (4 core) 2.8Ghz
  • 8GB DDR3 Dual-Channel 1333MHz Memory
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • 1 TB 7200rpm hard drive 
  • ATI Radeon™ HD5570 Graphics card with 1GB of Discrete Video Memory 
  • 500 watt power supply
  • Ability to add up to two additional hard drives via a front access door
While marketed as a gaming machine, the low-end ATI Radeon HD5570 doesn't quite cut it. That said, I'm not a big gamer so this wasn't a key feature.  Features important for me (aside from the price), is the Intel i& processor, the 8GB of RAM, the multitude of easily accessible media ports and the ability to add/remove hard drives via a front panel.

So far, I'm very happy with the Gateway desktop. I usually build PCs and this is the first Gateway I've purchased.  I had every intention of formating the hard drive and starting with a clean install of Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit but there was so little extra software installed, I decided to stick with the installed version of Windows Home Premium 64-bit. I took the old hard drives out of the Blackbird, slapped them in the Gateway, changed the locations of my Documents, Music, Pictures and I was good to go.


Pros:
  • Noise. The Gateway is very, very quiet. My previous Blackbird was very noisy
  • Case design is top notch
  • Great value for the money
Cons
  • Graphics card needs an upgrade to be used for serious gaming
  • Included mouse and keyboard are cheap. I replaced them the high-quality gaming Logitech mouse and keyboard that came with the Blackbird

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