capsule review

Gateway Profile 5.5C

At a Glance
  • Gateway Profile 5.5C

    PCWorld Rating

Gateway Profile 5.5C
Photograph: Rick Rizner

The Gateway Profile 5.5C takes a different approach to all of the other all-in-one PCs that we've seen: Instead of placing the computer behind the monitor, it's located in a wedge-shaped base, with the monitor mounted on top. This alternative design means that the footprint of the system is pretty small--the whole thing is less than 7 inches deep. Combine this with the wireless keyboard and mouse, and you get a tidy solution to the problem loose and ugly cables.

This case design provides a number of ways to add external devices. There are four USB 2.0 ports on the rear of the case, an additional two on the right side, plus a FireWire port on the back and another on the right side. There's also a PC Card slot--a very unusual thing to see on a desktop PC. The slot provides a good way to add options such as wireless networks or sound cards. However, there is no PCI slot. On the front of the case there are headphone and microphone ports, plus a volume control and a six-in-one memory card reader.

One interesting touch is the VGA-in port. This allows you to connect another PC and use the Profile 5.5C as its monitor (effectively turning the unit into pricey KVM switch). You could, for instance, connect a Mac Mini to this and get access to both machines. You switch between viewing the internal PC and the external one with a button on the monitor bezel.

Our test system, which was built around a 3.2-GHz Pentium 4 with 512MB of DDR400 RAM, scored 84 on our WorldBench 5 tests; that's about average for this configuration. The 17-inch LCD on our review unit rendered sharp text, but the colors looked slightly flat in a DVD movie. Gateway also offers a 15-inch (for $65 less) and a 19-inch model (for $160 more). The speakers built into the front of the case produce adequate sound with reasonable volume, but not much bass. They are fine for listening to music or watching a DVD from nearby, but they aren't going to replace a TV. However, there are TV-out and line-out ports, so you could watch the image on a TV and a better set of speakers.

The downside of this design is that although the case can be opened by removing four screws, there is no room inside for an additional hard drive or a second optical drive. Our $1885 review model came with an 8X rewritable DVD drive.

Our system came with an integrated ATI Radeon X300 LE graphics board, and I found that performance in the test games was reasonable. I also found the range of the wireless keyboard and mouse to be very limited: Both worked only within 4 to 5 feet of the system.

The Gateway 5.5C is an innovative all-in-one system for home users who need a small-footprint computer, but the lack of any way to upgrade the optical drive or hard drive may limit its long-term appeal.

Richard Baguley

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This all-in-one system is nicely designed and great for tight spaces.

    Pros

    • Unique design is a real space saver

    Cons

    • No way to upgrade the optical drive
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