- Quad-core CPU, lots of RAM
- Wireless networking
- Charging tray, cord hook
- Easy-to-reach front ports
- Could use more rear USB ports
- Video card not too strong
After Acer acquired Gateway, many feared that the beloved cow-branded PC would no longer be a major force in the computer industry. Fortunately, however, the Gateway brand was reimagined as a retail brand that offers solid features and decent performance for a fair price. The DX4300 is the new mainstream offering – a midrange tower with a modern design. Read on for our full review.
- Processor: AMD Phenom II x4 810 @ 2.6GHz
- Memory: 8GB DDR2 SDRAM
- Hard drive: 1TB SATA @ 7200RPM
- Optical drive: DVD+/-RW tray-loading drive with LabelFlash disc labeling
- Sound: Integrated HD audio
- Video card: ATI Radeon HD 4650 with 1GB GDDR3 video memory
- Networking: Gigabit Ethernet
- Wireless networking: 802.11b/g
- Operating system: Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit
- Inputs: 8 USB2.0 (2 front, 2 top, 4 rear), FireWire, Analog/digital audio out, DVI-I, VGA, HDMI, TV-in, modem in
- Power supply: 300W (internal)
- Dimensions: 17.3 x 16.3 x 7.1 inches (HxDxW)
- Warranty: One year limited parts and labor
The Gateway DX4300 has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $729.99 but can currently be found for as low as $649.99 at selected online retailers.
Build and Design
Gateway’s recent lineup of desktops have taken a design cue from some of their late notebooks. If you look at some of the Gateway laptops from early this year and late last year, you’ll see a glossy cover with a strip bifurcating the surface, colored in chrome and black, sometimes even leather. The new desktops feature a glossy black front with a silver strip in the middle, showing a vertical Gateway logo and cow-colored box. The rest of the computer’s face is sleek and understated; the optical drive bays are covered with more plastic to match the rest of the facade, but it manages to look nice without ending up too tacky. The eject buttons are pushed to the right side of the machine so as to avoid distracting from the clean lines of the front.
Rather than hiding the front inputs, like audio and USB ports, behind a bunch of doors and flappy panels, Gateway moved them to the top of the computer. The frame actually reaches up and out at an angle, like a bit of extra plastic that came out of an extruder. Since the majority of desktops are now being places within small desk cabinets or on the floor beneath users’ work surfaces, it’s a smart design choice because it places the ports within easy reach. There’s no need to reach down and fumble around since the ports are all directed at your eyes, and each input is clearly labeled.
The sides of the machine are constructed of solid metal, adding stability and support to the rest of the machine. There’s a lot of plastic in this case, but it’s pretty high quality and the metal does well to add strength to the rest of the frame. The right side of the box is solid, as that’s the side of the computer on which the motherboard can be found, taking up all of that side. The left side of the case, however, has venting holes cut into the lower-left quadrant. While they’re still basic vents, some effort was taken to clean them up, tapering the holes out in smaller and smaller sizes.
Looking at the DX4300 from the side, it’s easy to see just how asymmetrical the case design is. While the square side panels can be seen, the top of the desktop gets thicker from left to right, slanting up to the extruded case section that showcases the front ports. The front of the machine then grows narrower from the top to the bottom. The case has one sharp corner at the bottom left, with the other three rounded off to soften the overall look.
The absolute best part of the overall case design, however, is the top of the DX4300. In the middle of the computer’s top is an indented tray that customers can use to keep things like cell phones, portable hard drives and personal media players. The bottom of the tray features a plastic with different texture from the rest of the case. This plastic is solid, but somehow feels softer than the rest of the plastic. It’s no more scratch resistant, but it does seem like any scuffs could be polished out of the tray a lot more easily than the plastic on the front. At the rear is a hooked section of plastic that serves as a cord wrangler; you can set things in the tray to charge, then use the hooks to keep the long USB cords in check.
Inputs and Expansion
Gateway did a great job of supplying the DX4300 with a number of ports and expandability options. The front ports especially are within easy reach thanks to the extended front corners. At the top, you’ll find two USB2.0 ports, a headphone jack and a microphone jack. There’s also a multi-card reader on the left, but two things differentiate this card reader from the one found on most desktops. The first is that the card reader features a dedicated Micro SD slot – users of the growing standard won’t have to rely on Micro SD to SD adapters to get pictures and music onto their cell phones and cameras. The second defining feature is Gateway’s Photo Frame functionality. In between the card reader and the USB ports on the front of the machine is a ‘Photo Frame’ button. When pressed, the computer searches any attached flash cards for pictures, and displays them in a slideshow on the monitor. It’s a quick way to show off a day’s pictures for a party or similar event, but it’s probably not going to be something you use all that often.
The rear of the machine offers a significant amount of functionality on its own. There’s two PS/2 inputs for connecting legacy mice and keyboards, four more USB2.0 ports, FireWire, 7.1 analog audio out, Gigabit Ethernet, a wireless networking antenna and a 56k modem jack. There’s also VGA, DVI-I and HDMI video out as well as coaxial-in jack for the TV tuner, FM antenna in and s-video out. If nothing else, the DX4300 is ready for just about any media connection you might need. It would be nice to see a couple more USB ports in the rear, however, as it’s nice to hook a lot of peripherals up in the back and then just forget about them.
To gain access to the computer’s internals you’ll have to whip out a screwdriver, since this case definitely isn’t toolless. Once the right panel pops off, you’ll see that there’s a lot of room in the case both to add more components and move things around. If the included hard drive and optical drive aren’t enough for you, there are four more 3.5-inch drive bays available to fill with whatever you might want as well as a second 5.25-inch drive bay. There are six SATA ports built into the motherboard; only two are currently used. The PCI slots ship pre-populated with accessory cards: TV tuner, 56k modem, wireless networking card and ATI Radeon discrete video card.