Among the systems we’ve tested lately, three come within range of the Gateway DX4320-45 midsize-tower mainstream desktop. We’re talking strictly about performance, though, because some of those competing systems drop out of the running due to their loadouts’ being inferior to that of Gateway’s $899 (as of January 13, 2011) machine. What’s the bottom line? The DX4320-45 is a fine system from a performance vantage, but the total package suffers.
One of AMD’s newer chips, a Thuban-series Phenom II X6 1035T processor, lends its 2.6GHz of processing power to help the DX4320-45 achieve one of the higher benchmark scores on our mainstream-desktop chart. Note that I just said “one of the higher,” not “highest.” Even though Gateway’s system comes with more than twice the DDR3 memory (8GB) of a machine like the $850 Lenovo ThinkCentre M90p (3GB), the latter pushed to a score of 129 on our WorldBench 6 benchmark suite, versus the Gateway’s mark of 121.
Before you tally a point for the Lenovo, however, consider that said system’s paltry 500GB of storage pales in comparison with the DX4320-45’s 1TB hard drive–that’s not a bad trade-off for $50. The benchmark scores of the two systems are close enough that you won’t see a major difference in general real-world performance. That includes gaming, too, in that neither desktop could dish out playable frame rates on our Unreal Tournament 3 benchmark (2560 by 2100 resolution, high quality).
Let’s continue our look at the DX4320-45’s competitors by turning to the HP Pavilion Slimline s5660f, a budget desktop that beats the DX4320-45 on price ($759) and comes close in performance (119 in WorldBench 6); it also matches Gateway’s system with a 1TB hard drive of its very own. It even packs a Blu-ray reader/DVD-burner combo drive within its smaller frame, a boon for anyone looking for a little high-definition movie watching along with their general system use. The Gateway’s included gigabyte ethernet port is miles beyond the Slimline’s simple Fast Ethernet port, but the latter comes with Wireless-N connectivity while the DX4320-45 is stuck with cords.
Upgrading the Slimline, however, is little more than a fantasy. In contrast, while it doesn’t offer much flexibility, the DX4320-45 at least comes with one of two 5.25-inch bays free, and three of four 3.25-inch bays free. That’s balanced out by the fact that you get only two PCI slots and one PCI Express x1 slot on the motherboard to play with, which doesn’t feel like much at all. Clumpy wiring adds a bit to your frustration in tackling the insides of this rig.
As for another alternative, the HP Pavilion p6640f is a wee bit cheaper than the aforementioned Slimline, priced at $709 versus the Slimline’s $759, but it drops the Blu-ray player in favor of a standard DVD burner. Its chassis comes similarly configured to Gateway’s DX4320-45 in that both employ a bit of drive stealthing to achieve a more unified look on the case’s front panel. To Gateway’s credit, the DX4320-45 includes a multiformat card reader in addition to the standard two USB ports on the front panel.
Comparing the rear of the DX4320-45 and that of the p6640f is another matter entirely. Gateway’s anemic offering of five USB ports and a gigabit ethernet port gets only a slight boost from the DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort connections found on its ATI Radeon HD 5750 video card. In contrast, HP’s p6640f does a little better, providing four USB ports, a coaxial audio connector, and integrated 7.1 surround sound (just no DisplayPort or HDMI to speak of). Don’t forget, though, that the HP system is still nearly $200 less expensive.
So where does that leave you? With a lot of choices, that’s what–and no clear reason to put Gateway’s DX4320-45 at the head of your shopping list. None of its closest competitors are perfect by any means, but they each offer a facet that’s more compelling than anything found on this Gateway PC. From faster speed to Blu-ray support to slightly more diverse connections and a lower cost, there’s just too much to be had elsewhere to make Gateway’s admittedly fast but feature-lacking desktop stand out.