capsule review

Gateway FX510XT

At a Glance
  • Gateway FX510XT

    PCWorld Rating

It resembles a high-end gaming system in price and performance, but the FX510XT doesn't look anything like the shiny, sculpted gaming monoliths from boutique manufacturers like Alienware or VoodooPC. The FX510XT's visually unexciting gray-and-black, midsize tower case looks more at home in a living room running a home entertainment center than on a backroom desk running high-speed chases and vaporizing aliens. But cosmetic issues aside, the FX510XT has the guts of a monster killer--and the performance scores to prove it.

Intel's latest 2.93-GHz Core 2 Extreme X6800 CPU combined with two ATI Crossfire graphics cards to produce an impressive frame rate of 645 frames per second on our Unreal Tournament test at 1280 by 1024 resolution--that's more than 9 percent faster than the comparably priced and comparably equipped Dell XPS 700. And a WorldBench 5 score of 158 qualifies the FX510XT as the fourth fastest system we've tested (as of October 6, 2006), again eclipsing the XPS 700's mark (153).

Still images looked crisp and realistic on Gateway's 21-inch, wide-screen FPD2185W flat-panel display, which was bundled with our test system. Text at 6.8-point size appeared sharp and easy to read. Return to Castle Wolfenstein played smoothly and looked clear and well lit

Though the FX510XT's smaller case doesn't stunt the system's performance, it will restrict its growth, compared to full-size gaming PCs. Graphics cards block all of the expansion slots, the power supply obstructs access to the back of the external drive bays, and there are no open RAM slots--though most users won't need more than the 4GB of DDR2 RAM already installed. One bright spot: after moving a few cables, you can easily slip a third hard drive into the remaining slot on the hard-drive chassis, thereby taking advantage of the superior performance and data protection of the motherboard's RAID 5 capability.

Gateway's wireless keyboard is in keeping with the system's $4340 price, offering a solid feel and 11 well-laid-out and accessible function keys. But for this price, the system really ought to include a second DVD drive. The thin user manual is useful only to novices, and you get no other printed documentation.

If the small case and limited opportunities for upgrading don't bother you, the FCX510XT has a lot to offer: great performance at a price lower than that of many boutique systems. If it makes you feel claustrophobic, however, check out the similarly priced, full-size Dell XPS 700.

Kirk Steers

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This pricey gaming system lacks a glitzy case, but it turned in excellent WorldBench 5 performance.

    Pros

    • Turned in great performance

    Cons

    • Offers little room for upgrades
    • Expensive
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