"Awesome Machine For A Great Price"4.0 starson by HarveyBirdman
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.