Gateway has made a habit recently of bolstering its offerings in the sub-$2,000 space and this latest model is certainly no exception.
Gateway has made a habit recently of bolstering its offerings in the sub-$2,000 space and this latest model is certainly no exception. This model is designed to appeal to the home market and this is highlighted by the range of multimedia add-ons that Gateway has integrated into the Essential 433C. First off the list is the Panasonic 6-speed DVD-ROM drive that comes as part of the package, which is set off quite well by the Gateway DVD Player software bundled with this machine. Gateway has also included an excellent set of speakers, the Boston Acoustics Digital BA735, which are capable of supporting analog and digital audio inputs. Considering the size of the satellite speakers and the accompanying sub-woofer, these speakers provide a very solid audio range. When playing DVD-Videos, the Essential 433C provides very clear audio and stutter-free playback of video material. Unfortunately, there is no way of outputting to an external TV.
As is usual with Gateway's low-end systems, the Essential 433C features integrated sound and graphics chips. The Creative Sound Blaster AudioPCI 128D offers solid performance but doesn't really offer much in the way of advanced software functionality. On the graphics side, Gateway has opted for the 8Mb version of ATI Technology's Rage 128 graphics chip, which is almost identical to the chips that will be appearing in the latest revision of the iMac (Horizons, page 30). As a final touch to this system, it comes with a 17in monitor, the EV700, which features solid output and a very easy-to-use wheel interface for changing screen image properties.
The only disappointing feature to this system was its performance relative to many of the other systems in this Labs. This is not surprising since it featured the slowest processor, the Celeron/433 CPU, and this led to it being the slowest in our Access 97, Word and Excel tests. Surprisingly, even though it was up against the likes of Pentium III/500s, the Essential 433C ended up being the fastest system in our Photoshop benchmark tests. Also, the Gateway system did reasonably well in the 3D Mark99 tests against some stiff competition.
This is an entry-level system from Gateway meant to be used 'as is' out-of-the-box, and as such is a really great proposition considering all the multimedia features that come bundled with it. The microtower form factor will ensure that upgrading is a challenge for those with big hands though.
This Review appeared in the December, 1999 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine