capsule review

Gateway FX530XT

At a Glance
  • Gateway FX530XT

    PCWorld Rating

High-end gaming systems usually come in huge, heavy cases, but the FX530XT packs a quad-core processor and two graphics cards into a smaller-than-usual case that stands just 16.5 inches high. The sacrifice: You get little room for expansion.

The FX530XT achieved an impressive WorldBench 5 score of 158. That's above the average mark for a power system, but below the 181 achieved by our top scorer, the ABS Ultimate X9. Gateway ships the system with its QX6700 processor overclocked; according to its spec, this model CPU runs at 2.93 GHz, but the company bumps it up to 3.2 GHz--and covers the overclocked CPU in its warranty.

The system's graphics performance was strong. Working with two ATI Radeon X1950 graphics cards in a Crossfire configuration, it turned in a frame rate of 177 frames per second in Doom 3 at 1280-by-1024-pixel resolution. While that's about 18 percent slower than the fastest systems we've seen, it is fast enough to make even the most arduous 3D games playable at high resolution

The bundled 24-inch Gateway FPD2485W wide-screen LCD produced impressive results, with sharp text and bright, vivid colors. It also detects rotation: When you twist the monitor to portrait orientation, the on-screen display automatically rotates as well. And because the monitor is HDCP-compliant, you'll be able to play copy-protected HD movies directly from Blu-ray or HD DVD players via the DVI input. The monitor comes by default with a 2.1-speaker bar system that clips to the bottom of the monitor; its sound, while adequate for everyday use, isn't particularly loud or impressive.

All of these high-end features in a small case come at the expense of expandability. The inside of the case is extremely cramped, with virtually no room for additional components. Our review unit had no open PCI or PCI Express slots, and only one unoccupied internal drive bay. The twin 150GB hard drives arranged in a RAID configuration occupy the other two bays (Gateway can configure systems with up to three 750GB hard drives). You get one unused external drive bay; the other two are filled with a 16X double-layer multiformat DVD writer and a 16X DVD-ROM drive.

The FX530XT costs $4279 (as of December 6, 2006), which is in line with other quad-core systems we've tested. If expansion room isn't an issue, this system holds tremendous appeal for gamers, thanks to its formidable processing power, great graphics performance, and gargantuan wide-screen display.

Richard Baguley

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Medium-sized system offers the quad-core CPUs and strong performance; but, its compact case has little room for expansion.

    Pros

    • A quad-core system in a compact case
    • Attractive 24-inch wide LCD monitor

    Cons

    • Little internal expansion room.
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