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Inside, we find a system built around an Intel Core 2 Duo E6320 processor (which shares 4MB of internal cache between the two cores) supported by 2GB of main memory on a 1066MB front side bus. There's a 320GB SATA hard drive for all your storage needs (even if you regularly record TV programmes to it) and a 256MB nVidia GeForce 7500 LE graphics adapter, which runs cool enough not to need its own fan. In fact this machine runs commendably coolly and hence very quietly.
Set up is simple, with only five connections to be made. You’ll also need a monitor of some kind, as the PC is sold without one. 19-inch LCDs, including models from Gateway, are available for around £150.
The specification of the GT5074b ensures it has very little problem running the kind of multimedia applications used in the home. It has plenty of main memory, twice Microsoft’s recommendation for Vista Home Premium. The provision of a hybrid TV tuner card, which can receive both analogue and digital Freeview signals, ensures compatibility even when the analogue signals are switched off some time before 2012.
PCMark 2005 clocked up a very creditable score of 4,626 and, although the GeForce 7500 LE card doesn’t give you a mean games machine, it’s still a very serviceable one for general use. Interestingly, the designation throws up no product information on the nVidia site, which pretty much indicates that it’s an OEM card.
Gateway provides an infra-red remote for controlling the Media Center built into Vista Home Premium and this works, but is not as forgiving as Microsoft’s own; you have to point and shoot quite accurately at the receiver.
A full copy of Works 8.5 is provided with the machine so you can create basic documents and worksheets straight away. A 60-day trial of Office 2007 Home and Student is also pre-installed, to try and persuade you to upgrade. The idea is that after using Office for two months you’ll be too committed to stop. McAfee works on the same principle with its Internet Security Suite, though at least here you get three months.
In answer to the questions posed at the start of this review, Gateway’s tech support number is printed on the outside of the case and there’s a one-year, back-to-base warranty on parts and labour. The GT5074b is no job lot, but a great, general-purpose home PC at a very good price. It has all that’s needed for photo enthusiasts, DVD movie and TV watchers and a security optional extra, in the form of a removable media drive. Gateway has also taken full advantage of Vista Home Premium by providing an analogue and Freeview TV tuner card, a remote control and enough capacity in the hard drive for PVR recordings. If you live close to a Tesco (and who doesn’t) you don’t even need to pay carriage costs.