Majority of people who need to buy or replace a desktopthink they need lots of expansion room and a powerful processor. The Gateway DX4860 Gaming Tower – 2nd Generation gives the people what they want; a systems that could last for the next five to seven years. It’s prepped to take care of future technology, and nicely priced at just under $600. All this earns it our Editors’ Choice. If you’re looking to replace or buy a general purpose desktop PC, the DX4860-UB33P will fit nicely into your digital life.
Design and Features
The DX4860-UB33P comes in the same chassis as the Gateway DX4860-UB21P($599.99 list, 3.5 stars), a basic tower PC with a few embellishments. The glossy black front panel has a backlit Gateway logo at its center, and the top front panels are surrounded by white light. The light can be manually turned off if it’s too much of a distraction. That said, these touches certainly make it easier to pick out the Gateway in a lineup of desktops on a retail shelf. The top of the system has a built-in tray for holding items, like hard drives or smartphones. Two USB 2.0 ports are on the top of the system, ready to service those devices. There are two USB 3.0 ports in the back—a rarity in the sub-$750 desktop space—giving the system some future-proofing. There’s also a HDMI port, for connecting a large monitor or HDTV—a huge plus for people who like to toggle their content between TV and PC. The system has a neat covered compartment built into the top of the system to hold excess cabling. The interior has the expansion room that you’d buy a tower for: there’s space for two more hard drives, an additional optical drive, two free PCIe x1 cards (three total), and a PCIe x16 graphics card. The system’s four memory DIMM slots and one PCIe x1 slot are filled, but you’re unlikely to need more than the included 8GB of memory.
The DX4860-UB33P is notable for something it lacks: bloatware. Thanks to the Best Buy PC app, the system is mostly devoid of bloatware and trialware. The system comes with a short (60 day) subscription to Norton Internet Security, but the system is otherwise free from shoveled-on trialware. The few programs that are included are entirely useful: PowerDVD for viewing movies and Office 2010 Starter for quick edits of Word and Excel documents. The Best Buy PC app lets you shop for and buy programs you want, rather than being forced to accept the programs you don’t necessarily need. The system’s 1TB, 5,400rpm hard drive is plenty for home use, and is becoming a standard capacity for moderately priced home PCs.
Best Buy also has an extended warranty program, which offers customers an extra year of protection beyond the one-year warranty of most system manufacturers. There are two plans in this extended warranty program. The standard plan ($119.99) covers the system against normal wear and tear, power surge damage, and includes a “No Lemon” guarantee in which Best Buy will simply replace the computer if it requires more than 4 repairs during the coverage period. Best Buy’s advanced plan ($219.99) offers all this, and also covers the system against accidental damage from drops and spills. Other special offers can be found online or in stores, like discounts on printers, software, and tech support plans which are available with any new consumer PC purchased through Best Buy.
The system’s 8GB of memory and quad-core 3GHz Intel Core i5-2320 processor kept it humming on our performance tests. It’s capable of running our Handbrake video encoding test in a quick 1 minute 19 seconds and our Photoshop CS5 test in an equally quick 3:25. The older Gateway DX4860-UB21P took a bit longer (1:24 on Handbrake; 3:38 on CS5) and the last Editors’ Choice Dell Inspiron i620-228NBK ($479.99 list, 4 stars) took quite a bit longer (1:42 on Handbrake; 3:55 on CS5). Even the compact Editors’ Choice Apple Mac mini (Thunderbolt) ($799 list, 4.5 stars) came up short against the Gateway DX4860-UB33P (1:42 Handbrake, 3:47 CS5). The DX4860-UB33P’s score of 2,660 points on PCMark7 show that it will feel faster in day-to-day tasks as well, and for years to come.
The DX4860-UB33P is a great inexpensive desktop. It doesn’t quite break the $500 price limit for a truly budget/entry-level system, but it has a great bang for the buck. For $120 more than the Dell i620-228NBK, the DX4860-UB33P has USB 3.0 and a lot more system memory. Plus, the Gateway DX4860-UB33P is one of the first Gateway systems I’ve seen without a boatload of bloatware on it. This aspect alone makes it better than the previous versions of the Gateway DX4860, as well as most of the Pavilion systems from HP (which still load a lot of bloatware). The DX4860-UB33P is more than enough for most general PC users, it has a good price, lots of future-proofing features, and it’s an improvement over previous versions of the system. That sounds like a highly recommended, Editors’ Choice-winning systems to me.