Dell hasn't determined pricing on the XPS 710 it sent us, so we can't say right now whether its price-performance ratio is comparable to the Gateway FX530XT's. We do have to give Dell the edge for flexibility, but that comes at the cost of the XPS 710's size. It takes up a ton of space. The FX530XT is a much more compact system. Some of you will appreciate that fact because you won't be as limited in where you can put the FX530XT; it's no bigger than a traditional midsize tower. The downside, especially with its two dual-slot 3D graphics cards, is that you have only so much room to upgrade. Free space includes a single spare x8 PCI Express slot, one free hard drive bay, and two free memory slots. But considering that the only free expansion slot in a CrossFire 3D-based system lies in the narrow gap between the graphics cards, any upgrades you make had better be thin.
Our FX530XT came with the requisite pair of optical drives--a double-layer DVD burner and a standard DVD-ROM drive, as well as a 9-in-1 media card reader. That's all great stuff, and at this point, it's expected in a high-end PC. We also like the keyboard that Gateway sent: It's attractive and sleek but also feels substantial. The mouse, on the other hand, looks nice, but lacks the extra thumb-side buttons many gamers appreciate.
Gateway's support for the FX530XT is not outstanding, but then we've been disappointed in desktop coverage for high-end PCs for a while. You're covered for only one year of parts and labor with this system. We have fond memories of when a system such as this would have three years of coverage. Perhaps we should let them go. At least the overclocking on the Gateway's chip is under warrantee, and the company doesn't skimp on the phone support, which has your back 24/7. You can also get help via e-mail, but we're surprised that there's no service similar to Dell's DirectConnect. With that, you can let a technician take control of your PC remotely to simply fix your problems for you. Gateway offers such a service even on its budget eMachines PCs. Gateway's Web site has a helpful, system-specific resource for downloading drivers and looking up FAQs.
Find out more about how we test desktops.
ABS Ultimate X9 III
Windows XP Professional SP2; 3.38GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 920MHz; (2) 512MB ATI X1900 CrossFire; (2) 150GB Western Digital 10,000rpm SATA/150; Intel 8201GR/GH SATA RAID controller (RAID 0)
Apple Mac Pro (custom configuration differs from review)
OS X 10.4.8; 2x 3.0GHz Xeon 5160; 1,024MB DDR2 FB-SDRAM 667MHz; 512MB ATI Radeon X1900; 500GB Seagate 7,200rpm SATA/150
Dell XPS 710
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo X6800; Nforce 590 SLI (D) chipset; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; (2) 512MB Nvidia GeForce 7950 GX2 (Quad SLI); (2) 150GB Western Digital 10,000rpm Serial ATA/150 hard drives (RAID 0); 750GB Seagate 7,200rpm Serial ATA hard drive
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 SP2; 2.93GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800; 4,096MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; Intel 975X chipset; (2) 512MB ATI Radeon X1900 XT (CrossFire mode); (2) 500GB Hitachi 7,200rpm Serial ATA hard drives; Intel 82801GR/GH SATA RAID controller (RAID 0)
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 overclocked to 3.2GHz; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; (2) 512MB ATI Radeon X1950 XT (CrossFire Mode); (2) 150GB Western Digital 10,000rpm Serial ATA/150 hard drives (RAID 0)
Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 test bed
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB ATI Radeon X1900; 74GB Western Digital 10,000rpm SATA/150
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