The Gateway FX6800-01e, a multimedia and gaming powerhouse, marks the first time we've seen Intel's quad-core Core i7 processor touch down in a desktop PC under $1,000. A premium tower case and a host of upgrades make this system one of the best values we've ever encountered.
The inky-black-and-orange system tucked a blazing fast i7-920 inside, which slashed through our CPU-intensive tests. Aside from a few design flaws and a bit of mediocre software, we were impressed with the Gateway's computational fortitude. However, a messy array of trialware and cheap construction issues held the Gateway back from winning our top-pick award.
Aside from the Intel i7 quad-core processor, this Gateway comes loaded with 3GB of blazing-fast DDR3 RAM running at 1066MHz on all three of its channels. Other hardware includes a 750GB SATA-II hard drive, a 56k modem, Gigabit Ethernet and a 7.1-channel high-definition audio system with Creative's X-Fi XtremeGamer sound enhancement. Graphics are handled by a high-end ATI Radeon HD 4850 with 512MB of dedicated graphics memory.
Storage expansion is a breeze with two hot-swappable SATA drives in the front bay and plenty of room on the motherboard for another PCI Express x16 device (CrossFire, anyone?). Gateway's media controls sit on the front of the case, allowing walk-up control of Windows Media Center. A panel on the top of the case conceals a media card reader, two USB ports and headphone and microphone inputs. Rounding out the back of the system are more USB and Firewire ports, plus a gigabit ethernet port and a COM port.