In addition to the HDMI video output, the Gateway also offers a fairly flexible set of connectivity options inside and out. As pictured above, you get five USB 2.0 ports on the front, along with a media card reader, audio jacks, and a mini FireWire input. Around back you'll find four more USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet jack, an eSATA port, a set of 7.1 audio inputs, an optical S/PDIF audio input, and a VGA video out. Short of a full-size FireWire jack, there's little else we'd ask from a budget desktop's external connection options.
The SX2840-01 also has a leg up on its closed box competition, such as the Mac Mini or the Dell Zino, because you can open it up to make upgrades yourself. The slim tower case means you'll need to stick to half-height expansion cards, but the 1x PCI Express slot stands ready to accept a wireless networking card, and you can even add some basic 3D gaming capability thanks to the 16x PCI Express graphics card slot. All four RAM slots are occupied, but at least you can get to them and swap in larger memory sticks if you're so inclined. The only hard-drive bay is occupied, however, so you'll need to stick with external or networked storage expansion.
|Gateway SX2840-01||Average watts per hour|
|Raw (annual kWh)||203.90214|
|Energy Star compliant||Yes|
|Annual power consumption cost (@$0.1135/kWh)||$23.14|
The Gateway uses a reasonable amount of power for a budget Windows desktop, and it will cost you roughly less than $2 a month to use on average. Considering their similar performances, the Gateway looks relatively efficient next to the HP Pavilion p6310y. In either case, both systems might as well run on coal compared with the Mac Mini, which offers similar performance and only consumes around a quarter of the energy to do it. Perhaps the hardware requirements and utilization of Windows 7 itself is the stumbling block for the non-Apple side of the aisle, but someday we'd like to see a Windows vendor give Apple some competition in power efficiency, if not for the environmental benefits than at least so that we can write something new.
We also rate Gateway's service and support policies the same as we do its mainstream Windows-based competition, which in this case fares better than Apple's support offerings. Gateway gives you one year of parts and labor coverage for the SX2840-01, along with 24-7 toll-free phone service and a variety of help resources available online. The system itself also comes with a few diagnostic apps to help you monitor the status of various components yourself.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.93GHz Intel Core i3-530; 6GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 64MB Intel GMA X4500 HD integrated graphics chip; 1TB, 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive
Apple Mac Mini (2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 160GB, Fall 2009
Mac OS X 10.6.2; 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P7550; 2GB 1,067MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 9400M; 160GB, 7,200rpm Fujitsu hard drive
Apple Mac Mini (2.53GHz, 320GB, Fall 2009)
Mac OS X 10.6.2; 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8700; 4GB 1,067MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 9400M; 320GB, 7,200rpm Fujitsu hard drive
Dell Inspiron Zino HD
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 1.5GHz AMD Athlon X2 3250e; 3GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) ATI Radeon HD 3200 integrated graphics chip; 320GB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive
HP Pavilion p6310y
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.8GHz AMD Athlon II X4 630; 6GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 256MB Nvidia Geforce 9100; 1TB, 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive
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