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I was going to build a new computer, but…

3:24 PM Wed, Oct 21, 2009 |
Posted by: Walt Zwirko
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A couple of weeks ago, I told you how I was planning to build a new computer to replace the one I had been using with my TV set.

I provided a list of the specifications I was seeking, including a fast processor and lots of memory. My budget was between $300 and $400.

 Then I saw the Gateway DX4300-09 at MicroCenter, and it gave me a good excuse to buy a new desktop computer with a one-year warranty.

I simply couldn’t buy the parts and build anything like this for the price: $350.

The DX4300 comes with a dual-core AMD processor, not the quad core model I had been eyeing for a homebuilt machine, so its computing power isn’t as great. However, the motherboard is capable of supporting a quad core processor, which means I can always drop one in if I want to later on.

It has six gigabytes of memory; I had been shooting for four.

This computer also comes with Windows Vista Home Premium, a new hard drive, a new DVD drive, a new power supply and a new case. I was going to recycle old components for those purposes.

The case, by the way, has a handy “tray” on top where you can plunk down a cell phone or music player and plug it right in to a top-mounted USB port.

There is also a memory card reader that includes a dedicated spot for the microSD cards so popular in mobile phones (another thing I would have had to buy for a home-brew machine).

If that’s not enough, this DX-4300 is also equipped with a digital HDTV tuner; used with the included Windows Media Center software (and the included remote control), that means this computer is also a digital video recorder.

It sports a digital HDMI connector for easy one-cable hookup to a TV set for sound and picture.

Gateway also provides a free copy (by mail) of the new Windows 7 operating system that will be released this week, so that will be entirely up-to-the-minute as well.

The price doesn’t include a monitor, but since I’m using my flat screen TV for that purpose, I consider this to be an excellent buy.

The first computer I bought here at Channel 8 back in the early 1990s was a Gateway. I’ll never forget its arrival in the company’s iconic cow-spotted box, reflecting the company’s roots in the rural Midwest. It had a blazingly fast 386-DX processor and probably an 80 megabyte hard drive (that’s megabyte, not gigabyte!).

These days, Gateway is a cog in the wheel of Asian computer giant Acer, which apparently has such economies of scale that they can manufacture an extremely powerful PC for a relative pittance. And it still comes in a cow-spotted box.

I’ll keep you posted on my adventures with the DX4300, especially when I install Windows 7.

So far, I’m quite pleased. And while I was looking forward to the challenge of building a new computer, buying something that’s already put together with all-new parts removes a lot of anxiety from the equation!

E-mail askwalt@wfaa.com



6 Comments

Hey Walt,
Thanks for your experience to date. I have been thinking about building a newbie pc just for the fun even though my 7 year old Dell P4 is working well for my low tech web surfing although it stalls on HD video downloads. Seeing this at Microcenter for $350 has just taken all that pc building wind out of my sails . . . the components alone must be $500 in this Gateway. Please file updates on your experience with it. I have you bookmarked.

Ted Sterne

Why didn’t you checked out what Mac has to offer? Even updated to Snow Leopard without any trouble all by myself. Ad it was only $29. Cant wait until November to buy that new mouse.

Walt,

You didn’t say anything about graphics capabilities or OS level. Does it have a graphics chip? How much RAM in the graphics subsystem? Does it come with Windows XP Multimedia Edition?

Can it read Blu-Ray?

I’ve been looking to build a new system for some time. This is intriguing but doesn’t have enough information.

I try not to get overly technical in these reports. If you need specific information about the computer components, you can check the link to the DX4300-09 above. Briefly, this PC runs Windows Vista Home Premium and has a ATi Radeon HD3200 Video Chipset on the motherboard that shares the 6 gigabytes of RAM. I don’t plan on using it for gaming, and so far it’s just fine for viewing and recording HDTV content off the air using the built-in tuner. At this price point, you’re not getting a Blu-ray player, but there is a nice empty space for a drive should one wish to install it; MicroCenter has a Sony drive for $80.

I bought a gateway 3 years ago, brand new. It has never ever worked right. It won’t even let me install virus protection on me. It constantly crashes. I did have a warranty on it and kept up a contract for an extra year. They did replace all parts inside of the computer twice, but it never ran properly. I had previously had a gateway for 5 years with no problems at all.

These people never fixed my pc to run properly, so now I have a lemon I am contstantly having to reinstall windows on and cannot dare store anything valuable on it in memory. I would say a Gateway computer is one of the worst investments that could be made for the way I was treated and done. My pc should have totally been replaced for the trouble it has cost me. And even with a warranty still would not get them to fix it right.

Based on the Specs you got a very nice deal I would say. The HDD is a bit small for a Media Center PC but thats a fairly easy fix. As the saying goes: “The bigger your HDD the more bragging rights you have.” Your Video Card is very nice. I have the same one and the HD Quality is quite Impressive. Your FSB Speed is quite nice.
If I would of ran into a buy like this a few months back,I probably wouldn’t of built the PC im using now. Although building your own PC is loads of fun and quite the experience.


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