Gateway's new E series: Solid performers

Gateway Inc.'s decision to turn to storefront sales just as other computer companies have abandoned the strategy had many of us in the Federal Computer Week test center scratching our heads. But then, we're not marketing wizards.

We can, however, comment with some authority on Gateway's new E series of desktop computers. We're impressed.

Sure, the new silver-and-black case is stylish, and many users will appreciate the recessed, flat top as an ideal place to put discs. But what really impressed us was how much value Gateway has packed into a system priced at only $1,349. You can find Intel Corp. Pentium 4 systems with price tags under $1,000, but when you look closer, you'll find something is either missing or in short supply — memory, a monitor or integrated Ethernet.

With the E-6000, however, it's all there.

The system we tested sported a 2 GHz Pentium 4 processor with 512K L2 cache, 256M of RDRAM and a 40G Ultra ATA100 hard drive. What's more, the system includes six USB ports (two in front and four in back) and an integrated Intel 10/100 Ethernet adapter.

And yes, the price includes a matching silver-and-black 17-inch CRT monitor. No, it's not a flat-panel display, but the unit is attractive and the screen is crisp.

The only item that we have come to consider standard in a professional desktop system that isn't standard on the E-6000 Deluxe is a CD burner. Fortunately, that is a low-cost and simple upgrade for those who want it.

Another thing that impressed us was how quiet the E-6000 is. The barely audible whisper of the unit may fool you into thinking it isn't turned on when in fact it is. You'll really appreciate the E-6000's quiet nature if you put several units in a small office.

It was easy to open the box to add cards into the five open PCI slots and the single Accelerated Graphics Port slot. Just turn a screw and squeeze the handle on top and the side pops open. Insertion and removal of cards requires no tools.

The system also comes loaded with software that is useful in agencies and departments. In addition to Microsoft Corp. Office XP Small Business — which includes Word, Excel, Outlook and Publisher — the E-6000 comes with PC-Doctor, a useful package of diagnostic and system optimization tools. The network-ready E-6000 also comes with Intel LANDesk Client Manager 6.3.

The E-6000 isn't the fastest system we've tested, but it may be the fastest in its price range. Given that the E-6000 employs a single processor and that it carries only 256M of system memory and employs a 7,200 rpm Ultra ATA100 hard drive, we were impressed with the system's performance on our benchmark tests.

In short, the E-6000 offers solid performance, stylish design and a very attractive price tag.

REPORT CARD

Gateway E-6000 Deluxe

Score: A

Gateway Inc.

(800) 211-4952

www.gateway.com

The list price of the unit we tested is $1,349.

Gateway's new E series of desktop computers is stylish in design and offers high value for the money. The E-6000 is a solid performer that runs quietly.

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