capsule review

Gateway FX510XL

At a Glance
  • Gateway FX510XL

    PCWorld Rating

Gateway FX510XL
Photograph: Chris Manners

We were very impressed with Gateway's FX510XL. It had the best design of the six dual-core value machines we looked at for our August issue roundup, and it was the quickest Intel-powered PC of the group. With a 3.2-GHz Pentium D 940 CPU and 2GB of RAM, the Gateway earned a WorldBench 5 score of 104, the highest mark we've ever noted for a Pentium D-based system.

The $1500 (as of 6/2/06) FX510XL included an nVidia GeForce 6600 graphics card with 128MB of memory, and it performed decently enough in our gaming tests to serve reasonably well as a value gaming system. The FX510XL consistently held second place, behind CyberPower's Gamer Ultra 8500SE (which includes SLI graphics), in our Return to Castle Wolfenstein test, notching 100 frames per second at 1280 by 1024 resolution and 32-bit color. Of the PCs in our roundup, it was the best Intel-based machine in our Unreal Tournament test, producing 144 fps at the same resolution and color depth.

This midsize tower model has two 160GB hard drives configured in a striped RAID array, a multicard reader that accepts eight media formats, and one double-layer DVD burner. The front of the case provides three USB 2.0 and two FireWire ports, as well as headphone and microphone jacks. In back, the system includes an abundance of additional connections: four USB 2.0, one FireWire, two audio-in, two audio-out, one microphone, one digital audio-out, one coaxial audio, and one serial.

After you undo a big latch and remove a thumbscrew, the case opens easily. The FX510XL provides well-arranged cables and good access to the slots and bays, though reaching the memory sockets is a bit tight. This is the only machine of the group of six to offer an available and accessible PCI Express x16 slot; it also has one PCI slot, an internal drive bay, and an externally accessible drive bay open. This Windows XP Media Center-based system provides an FM antenna (but no TV tuner) and integrated 7.1-channel sound, as well. (An ATI Theater 550 Pro TV tuner with wireless remote control costs an additional $100.)

The basic, black, 19-inch Gateway FPD1965 LCD monitor has both VGA analog and DVI connections. I liked the FX510XL's keyboard and mouse best among the group: The keyboard has a padded wrist rest, and the mouse is well sized, with a nice tacky material that is easy to grip.

Gateway's FX510XL combines strong performance with top design. The PC's main drawback is its relatively high price, but with its overall attention to detail, this system is a joy.

Dan Sommer

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Gateway's model is pricey relative to some others, but offers great speed and a well-thought-out design.

    Pros

    • Great performance and design

    Cons

    • Pricey
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