Gateway FX530XT packs a punch

High-end gaming systems usually come in huge, heavy cases, but the FX530XT packs its muscle into a more standard yet still stylish case that stands just 16.5 inches high.

Gateway shipped our test system with its 2.66-GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 processor bumped up to 3.2 GHz (covered under the machine’s one-year warranty). The CPU and the included 4GB of 667-MHz DDR2 memory helped the PC reach a solid WorldBench 6 Beta 2 score of 126–putting it right in the middle of our recently tested gaming-PC batch.

The factory-overclocked EVGA GeForce 8800 GTX graphics card turned in frame rates of 152 frames per second in Doom 3 at 1280-by-1024-pixel resolution (with anti-aliasing turned on) and 181 fps in Far Cry at the same settings. Of the systems in our gaming-PCs chart, the best performer in the same Doom 3 test was the Alienware Area-51 7500, which was equipped with dual 768MB EVGA GeForce 8800 GTX graphics boards; the Alienware achieved 165 frames per second, versus the average of 143 fps for the rest of the gaming-PC field. The Dell XPS 720’s 768MB nVidia GeForce 8800 GTX board helped it take the lead in the GPU- and CPU-intensive Far Cry game script; the Dell averaged 202 fps, easily besting the Gateway, which tied with the Alienware at 181 fps.

Our FX530XT’s three 5.25-inch external drive bays were filled with a 2X Blu-ray/DVD-RAM drive, a DVD-rewritable drive, and a multiformat media card reader. Twin 150GB, 10,000-rpm Western Digital Raptor hard drives arranged in a RAID configuration occupied the other two bays (you can configure the system with up to three 750GB hard drives).

All of these high-end components packed in a small case come at the expense of expandability. The inside of the case is difficult to work in and has limited room for additional components. Our review system’s basic Intel motherboard had three PCI slots, of which two were taken by the modem and the sound card. There is a spare PCI Express slot if you want to install a second graphics board in an SLI configuration.

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 can play copy-protected high-def movies directly from a Blu-ray or HD DVD player via the DVI input. The monitor comes by default with a 2.1-channel speaker bar system that clips to the bottom of the monitor; its sound, while adequate for everyday use, isn’t particularly loud or impressive. Gateway sells more-powerful sound systems, of course.

The FX530XT costs US$4760 (as of July 11, 2007), which is in line with the costs of most other quad-core gaming systems we’ve tested. If expansion room isn’t an issue for you, this Windows Vista Ultimate system holds tremendous gaming appeal, thanks to its formidable processing power, great graphics performance, and gargantuan wide-screen display.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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