Review: Gateway's DX4870-UB2C is an affordable workhorse desktop
At a Glance
Amazon Shop buttons are programmatically attached to all reviews, regardless of products' final review scores. Our parent company, IDG, receives advertisement revenue for shopping activity generated by the links. Because the buttons are attached programmatically, they should not be interpreted as editorial endorsements.
The Gateway DX4870-UB2C is an old-school midtower desktop that delivers respectable productivity performance and lots of storage for an appealing price.
Desktop PCs come in all shapes and sizes these days, but Acer’s Gateway DX4870-UB2C is pretty old-school: A midsize desktop tower, it delivers solid—but not spectacular—productivity performance and 1TB of hard disk storage for a modest $550; however, you must provide a monitor, and headphones or speakers for audio.
That profile makes it a good candidate for a student (it’s no coincidence that it appears during back-to-school season) or anyone on a budget who might have a display and audio gear from a previous system. In fact, the Gateway DX4870-UB2C (who comes up with these names, anyhow?) has an analog VGA port to accommodate the older LCD or (gasp!) CRT, as well as an HDMI port to accommodate a newer digital display (but there’s no DVI or DisplayPort).
Outfitted with an Intel Core i5-3330 quad-core CPU, 8GB of RAM (expandable to 32GB), integrated Intel graphics, a 1TB (7200-rpm) hard disk, and Windows 8, the DX4870-UB2C scored 153 on PC WorldBench—well above the 100 score for our reference system (Acer's Aspire U all-in-one), but hardly stellar compared to scores in the 200s, 300s, and even 400s racked up by recent high-performance systems.
The lack of a discrete graphics card and a solid-state drive probably account for the poorest test results—in file compression, storage, and GPU-accelerated image editing, and—most tellingly—gaming. The DX4870-UB2C otherwise hovers in the middle of the pack on almost all benchmarks, and should capably handle any routine student or small-business tasks. Its power consumption was modest, another plus for cash-strapped and/or eco-minded buyers.
In appearance, the DX4870-UB2C generally observes the conventions of current midtower desktop design, with a top that curves upward toward the front, ending in a protruding edge affording easy access to microphone and headphone jacks, a memory card reader, and a couple of USB 2.0 ports. The power toggle itself is adjacent in the center of the top edge.
A couple of covered bays reside beneath this ledge, the topmost of which contains a DVD burner that supports multiple formats (DVD-RAM/±R/±RW). The second bay is empty, providing room for expansion.
In the back are six more USB ports (two USB 2.0 and two 3.0), the aforementioned display connections, a gigabit ethernet port, and additional audio-in and -out ports. The motherboard has four expansion slots: three supporting older PCI Express x1 cards and one for the faster PCI Express x16 add-ons. You also get Bluetooth support and 802.11n Wi-Fi support on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.
The optical mouse and keyboard are both wired, however, and plug in to old-style dedicated PS2 ports on the top of the back. I would have liked to see wireless peripherals or USB at the very least. The keyboard felt cheesy, with somewhat wobbly action. But streamed video looked fine on a high-def HDMI-attached monitor, and the audio sounded great on a set of borrowed headphones.
Gateway’s software bundle, which appears as a mass of tiles on the Windows 8 desktop, is decidedly consumer focused, including a couple of games and the usual trial versions of security apps. The presence of a couple of dictionaries and a link to the human-guided search engine ChaCha signal the obvious outreach to students. While these don’t add significant value, I have to say I did enjoy my first game of Cut the Rope.
Overall, the Gateway shapes up as an affordable way to upgrade to reasonably current desktop components without spending a fortune to also acquire routine peripherals that you might already have. It may lack the svelte lines of a small-footprint desktop, but those machines tend to be significantly more expensive—and for everyday desktop use, the trade-off may well be quite acceptable for the intended audience.