Pros As of August 2008, mind-boggling specifications for the price; relatively slim on crapware
Cons Very little, actually
Summary Wow. I only looked away for a few months, and suddenly 64 bit computing is becoming mainstream. When my home-built desktop gave up the ghost, I drove over to Best Buy and found this puppy; I about fell over backwards when I read the specs and saw the price--a quad core CPU and six Gigs of RAM for $750? I first made sure it could actually use the RAM, but sure enough, it was running 64 bit Vista. I'll take that one.
Admittedly, I'm not using it for heavy gaming; my endorsement applies more towards someone looking for a good all-around system, but I am using to edit DVD camcorder footage, and it's nice to be able to do so while web browsing and running iTunes syncing with Apple TV in the background, all at the same time, with the CPU meter bars showing barely 1/3 overall CPU usage and four cores going at the same time.
As for the RAM, CNet's main "negative," that it has too much RAM, is pretty much on the mark. I wouldn't have minded getting four Gigs instead of six, with the cost difference going towards a terabyte hard drive. But, it's a little gripe, since adding an extra drive is noticeably cheaper than adding the extra RAM would have been. It's nice to know that I've got the breathing room to support the demand generated by programs that haven't been written yet.
I should note that when unboxing, I found a note about 64 bit Vista and instructions about how to downgrade to 32 bit Vista if one needed better support for older drivers. But, it failed to mention what would happen to all that extra RAM in the process, and no mention was made of the old Vista / XP downgrade controversy--some of your luddite friends might get confused and think that's what is being referenced. But, for us techies, a system like this makes Vista shine, easily handling the extra memory and CPU hogging, so features like instant indexed search and aero graphics effects aren't overworking the system. Indeed, Vista's main problem may have been that it came out a year before hardware caught up to it. But, we're there now.
The GPU is handling its job pretty well with a 1680x1050 monitor with 32 bit color. Granted, I'm not playing Crysis with maxed settings, so I haven't really put it to the test; I'd refer gamers to read reviews of the ATI Radeon HD 3450. Home theater enthusiasts might appreciate the built-in HDMI port, though I have yet to try it and see how well it handles HDCP handshaking.
One more thing I appreciate is the limited amount of crapware. My last Gateway, a convertible tablet PC, came with a ton of excess stuff including trialware and desktop clutter. This system did have Gateway's "Big Fix" utility, which can be removed from the Startup folder, and the obligatory trial versions of Microsoft Money, Office and Symantec (in this case Norton 360). I just installed my own upgrade version of Office 2007 and was pleasantly surprised when it didn't ask for my previous version kept handy for the occasion--I soon discovered I had Microsoft Works, so I was already eligible. I bought my own Norton 360 at the store, but rather than installing it now, I'm running the 60 day trial version for the two extra paid-for months first. I can then just open the package, get the activation code, and not have to reinstall anything. So, even a lot of would-be crapware helped in getting back up and running with my regular software. Also included is a keyboard, mouse, and speakers--totally redundant to those of us replacing a dead system, but hardly a gripe.
One slight annoyance; Gateway's recovery software is on the hard drive itself. Good one. At least it pesters me into making my own backups, though I am left with having to come up with the recovery media, thus undermining some of the otherwise excellent pricing, since one or two DVDs probably isn't going to be enough. I haven't run it yet, but, obviously, I know I need to do so.
At the time of this writing, the computer is less than a week old, but I've already installed most of my regular programs and over 300 Gigs of audio, video, and photo media without a hitch.
Overall, a solid offering that raises the bar on what constitutes the best bang for the buck.
Pros Memory to spare. Gobs of HD space. Quiet and cool. Little or no Crapware. Get to support AMD as opposed to the "other evil empire"
Cons Vista - SUCKS. Rather have 64-bit XP. There was no optical (or coax) digital audio output.
Summary I had some trepidation about the AMD quad core. It was trashed on Tom's Hardware forum. There's a bug on L3 cache bug on Phenom processor with models ending in 00. But I think it was all sound and fury signifying nothing. Maybe for elitist (and I'd say overcompensating ;-) ) overclocking gamers it warrants the bigotry but if I had listened to that talk I would have missed out on the best computer I have ever owned. I literally could not resist and I do not regret the purchase at all.
Having built my own and other peoples' systems in the past, this is such a refreshing break from the stress of wrestling with cards and wires and OS's and drivers and software. For A LOT LESS money than I ever spent trying to get the most performance on a limited budget I got the the most power/performance for the time that I have ever had. And I got it straight off the shelf.
The only gig: I thought it was a little chintzy to not have any SPDIF audio outputs - I didn't even think there was any audio chipset now that didn't have it. With a little digging on the Realtek site I found, sure enough, the audio chip used in this motherboard has 2 SPDIF outs and digging a little on the gateway site led me to find where there was a header for one on the motherboard. I ordered an ASUS bracket adapter with an optical and coax output that plugs into the header and now I have digital audio output to my receiver. I don't know why gateway went this way. If the other SPDIF is connected to the HDMI output on the motherboard maybe that was the intended connection. But I (and many potential buyers out there) don't have a sound system with HDMI inputs. Unfortunately the documentation is not the greatest and I couldn't find any indication that this was an option anyway. Maybe the documentation doesn't seem that great to me because the one thing I was really concerned about wasn't addressed but in addition the case described in the user's guide is different from the DX4200-UB001A. The disadvantage of the bracket adapter is it precludes using one of the PCI slots but, for me, almost all my expansion has been via USB devices. In fact one of my only PCI cards is a 4 port USB hub.
But, these little inconveniences aside I am extremely pleased with this system. I even tolerate Vista. Having 6 GB of memory was definitely a factor in deciding to accept a machine with Vista. I work on flight simulation image generation software and wanted the quad core to work on parallel processing in our system and plenty of memory for 3D graphics. I have already downgraded a laptop I bought to XP because Vista is such a pig with many warts. I needed to feel confident there was enough elbow room so that Vista would just stay the hell out of my way. As long as the power saving settings work well I won't have to be pestered about having turned off UAC.
...did I mention Vista sucks? If not let me just say it right now: Microsoft Vista is about the biggest, steamiest pony loaf to ever drop out of Redmond.
but the computer is so nice I barely notice the stank at all.
But there are a couple of things I think worth mentioning. There a 4 or 5 bays available for more hard drives. I am not sure the 300 watt power supply would cut it if you tried to fill them all up. There are enough serial ATA connectors on the motherboard but, I don't think there are that many power connectors - you would need splitters. BTW - the power supply and the mother board are almost exclusively serial ATA. (Both the HD AND the optical drive are serial) There is only one old style power coupler and one parallel ATA connector. I don't know if SATA drives have lower power consumption but I put a 500 watt power supply in my old computer that had 4 200GB PATA HDs and was showing symptoms of under-powering. Instead of trying pack my old HDs in the case (possibly creating more problems with heat as well as power drain) I just bough a bunch of external enclosures. I'll probably never need them again with the 650 GB HD - another thing that made this irresistable. By the time I run out of HD space I will probably be able top get another 650 GB serial for dirt cheap. Since I can put my PATA dual-layer DVD burner in as a second optical drive I have everything from my old system I need.
The other thing is that the burner is "labelFlash" which is gateway's version of lightscribe. The laser can be used to make labels directly on the media in the drive. However Circuit City, where I purchased this system, doesn't sell the media. That was a little annoying but, then again, the burner was not what I was buying this system for. But if you a psyched about that feature you will want see if you can find the media first.
Pros can play World of Warcraft really well, has tons of memory for Autocad programs, has a fast enough processor to be good for a few years
Cons graphics could be better mainly in fps games (it won't play Crysis very good so don't buy it for that)
Summary I think this computer was well worth my money. It was cheap and will run most of the programs I want it to run. If you like to play Warcraft, this is a good computer for that. I can run it at maxed out settings (plus marcoed better ones) at 50+ fps in cities. It might need a better graphics card for fast paced new games such as Crysis unless you are willing to play on minimum settings. The processor is really fast and can handle almost every program out right now and will be meeting requirements for games for at least the next 3 years, if not more. I did notice that the hard drive fills up quickly though. After a few months, I was half way filled up so I deleted the system restore points and it went down to 20%. If you buy this computer, remember to delete those sometimes. Overall, I would recommend this to a friend, but if you are a gamer, you may want to consider buying a fancy graphics card to use all of the processing power.
Pros Love the quad cores, 6 GB or RAM on a nice Linux based 64 Bit OS can be used well. Perfect system for many virtual machines.
Cons None found at this point.
Summary I do a lot of development in Virtual machines, this system is perfect for that. With plenty of RAM I can allocate a fair piece of RAM to each virtual machine without it degrading the performance on the rest of the system. I run Linux as a base system, so I can take full advantage of both the 64 bit processor and of the RAM. A very nice system for the money.
Pros cheap system, $650circity, 6gb ram, amd 9550 phenom, 600gb hard drive
Cons blue screen of death after ripping some cd's, uploading to 1gb mp3 sandisk? is it the hardware or just Microsoft software or both?
Summary 221 ntdll.dll bad? cannot recover yet after using system repair serveral times and it says there are no restore points, even though system has installed serveral programs and restarted numerous times. Norton 360 running as well. no boot, norton was pre-installed, so no boot disk from them, i think. may need full recovery with data stored to backup folder if it works. system just a couple of months old.