Gateway shrinks PC size

To expand its market, Gateway Inc. is shrinking - the size of its PCs, that is.

The company recently announced a new small form factor case for its E-series desktop PCs. The case is 35 percent smaller than its micro tower equivalent, according to the company.

Gateway's cases use standard-size desktop components for easy upgrading and swapping, unlike some other small form factor PCs that use slimline components. The cases also feature four bays (including the hard drive), while many other small form factor machines come with three.

We reviewed the higher-end model, the E-4000. It comes in a black rectangular case measuring 13.5 inches by 15.5 inches by 4 inches and weighing about 20 pounds. Gateway points out that the straight edges make it easier to store and transport the unit, which can be used horizontally or vertically like a mini tower.

We liked Gateway's clever bay design for this machine. Two of the external bays on our unit contained a 48x/24x/48x CD-RW drive and a floppy disk drive. The third, empty bay was camouflaged behind a small panel that easily pops off should you need to use it. The empty bay is the size of a floppy drive, so it can accept a zip disk drive, for example, or another floppy drive, but not an optical drive. The fourth bay, which holds the hard drive, is internal.

Even better, drive removal is tool-free and extremely easy thanks to large plastic sliders held in place by one thumb screw each.

This machine may come in a small case but it has big specifications: a 2.4 GHz Intel Corp. Pentium 4 processor with 512K of Level 2 Advanced Transfer Cache and a 533 MHz front side bus, 256M of PC2100 DDR SDRAM expandable to 512M and a 60G hard drive.

It also comes with an integrated Intel Direct AGP graphics controller with up to 64M of video memory; three PCI slots and one AGP slot; and a full set of ports including six USB (two on the front and four in back), one serial, one parallel, two PS/2, RJ-45 integrated LAN, one VGA, audio in, audio out and microphone.

Bundled software includes a 90-day trial version of Symantec Corp's Norton AntiVirus and Intel LANDesk Client Manager v6.3. Our system shipped with Microsoft Corp. Windows XP Professional and a 17-inch CRT monitor.

The E-4000's limited warranty includes three years for parts, labor and onsite service; and limited hardware and software technical support for as long as you own the machine.

Agencies pressed for space but still needing fully functional desktops should take a look at these new small form factor machines. The extra bay gives this line an edge over much of the competition, and the specifications match those of the latest desktop PCs on the market.

REPORT CARD

E-4000

Gateway Inc.

(800) 846-4316

www.gateway.com

Grade: A

Price and availability: Available on the General Services Administration schedule for $1,212 including the 17-inch CRT monitor.

Remarks: A compact desktop offering one more bay than much of the competition and containing the latest desktop PC specifications.

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