- Review Date: 02/18/11
- Bottom line:
The Gateway DX4320-45 exists as a middle child between the "lower end" SFF SX series, and the high-end gaming-oriented FX series. Its problem is in its shortcomings when compared to its siblings.
Quiet. Tray on top holds peripherals. Under $900. Some 3D prowess.
Bloatware galore. Only 60-day Norton Internet Security. No eSATA, USB 3.0, or FireWire. Not as much internal expansion as you'd expect.
The Gateway DX4320-45 ($899.99 list) exists as a middle child between the "lower end" small form factor (SFF) SX series, and the high-end gaming-oriented FX series. Like a stereotypical middle child, it's way too easy to look at this desktops shortcomings in comparison to its siblings, and that's the problem.
Design and Features
The DX4320-45's black chassis looks a lot like the compact Gateway SX2850-33 ($549.99 list, 3.5 stars). In some ways, it's a larger version with the same design cues, like the overhanging lip on top toward the front, with embedded buttons, and power button just above it. However, since the DX4320-45 is larger, that same lip holds a digital media card reader and USB ports in addition to the photo frame button. The built-in tray on the top of the tower has a deeper indent, as well as two more USB ports for charging and syncing your MP3 player, external hard drive, or digital camera.
The DX4320-45 some expansion room, but surprisingly not much more than an SFF desktop. There's space for only one PCI card and one PCIe x1 card. All four memory slots are full, though 8GB should be enough for most users these days. There's room for an extra internal hard drive and an extra internal optical drive, but it's easy enough to plug in an external drive to one of the 10 USB ports, and one optical drive is more than enough. On the outside, the DX4320-45 also has HDMI and DisplayPort on the ATI Radeon HD 5750 graphics card. For a multimedia-oriented desktop like the DX4320-45, I'd like to see USB 3.0, eSATA, and maybe even FireWire ports at this chassis size and price point.
A boatload of bloatware and shortcuts to eBay, Netflix, Skype, and Gateway Games abound. Strides have been made at Gateway to reduce the bloat on the FX6840-15e ($1,099.99 list, 3 stars) gaming rig, but the DX4320-45 still has a bunch of unwanted programs. You could make the argument that eBay and Netflix users will welcome the shortcuts, but non-users will regard them as ads or clutter. The desktop comes with a subscription to Norton Internet Security, which is only good for a short 60-days. I would like to see at least a year of protection.
The DX4320-45's 3D performance is decent for a mid-priced desktop, since it comes with a six-core AMD Phenom II processor and ATI Radeon HD 5750 graphics card. This combo allows the system to get playable scores on both Crysis (54 frames per second) and Lost Planet 2 (53 fps), both at 1,280 by 720 resolution (our medium/middle setting). However, both games turn in unplayable 16 fps scores at the high/very high setting. The higher settings usually require a more powerful gaming-oriented desktop with a more powerful processor and discrete graphics card to play well. The DX4320-45 also did well on our multimedia benchmark tests, taking 2 minutes 32 seconds on our Handbrake video encoding test and 5:19 on our Photoshop CS5 test. Overall, it did well, but not stellar, since the $550 SX2850-33 is measurably faster (2:24 on Handbrake, 4:15 on CS5). Sure, the SX2850-33 returns unplayable 3D game scores, but the DX4320-45 should still be faster on multimedia tests, since it's more expensive and theoretically more capable.
The Gateway DX4320-45 is aimed at the same power-hungry crowd that would buy multimedia desktops like the Velocity Micro Vector Holiday Edition ($999 direct, 4.5 stars) (our current mainstream Editors' Choice) and Dell Studio XPS SX8100-2777NBC ($1,149.99 list, 4 stars). While the DX4320-45 is a bit cheaper than both, it's also weaker than the two across the board in terms of features and performance. Also, the Velocity Micro Vector and Dell SX8100-2777NBC are both unburdened by bloatware. The DX4320-45 is bested on the multimedia benchmark tests by its smaller, cheaper stable mate, the SX2850-33. And it's no surprise that the higher-end FX6840-15e has better performance and features for a couple hundred dollars more. If you want more multimedia performance, the SX2850-33 and Asus Essentio CM1630-05 ($479.99 list, 4 stars) can give you what you need for less. If you want 3D and multimedia prowess, the Velocity Micro Vector Holiday Edition is the desktop for you.
BENCHMARK TEST RESULTS
Check out the test scores for the Gateway DX4320-45