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After a couple of years absence Gateway is back in the UK with a new line-up of products, although gone are the Gateway stores and the online shop. These days you have to go to Comet or Staples if you want a Gateway PC, but this really isn’t such a bad thing, at least not if you want to be able to walk in to a store and take a machine home with you.
The 524GB is a mid-range home PC. It’s more of an office machine than a gaming PC, due to the use of integrated graphics. The good news is that there is a x16 PCI Express slot to which a graphics card can be fitted if need be – there’s even a PCI Express power connector for high-end cards.
The specifications of the 524GB are otherwise quite respectable for a machine that will set you back no more than £649.99 with a display. The processor is a 3.2GHz Pentium 4 640 with 2MB cache and this together with 512MB of dual channel PC3200 DDR memory is fitted to an Intel 915G motherboard. You would almost expect to see DDR2 memory in a Pentium 4 based system these days, but the performance difference is quite negligible at these speeds.
Some of the system memory is shared with the integrated i915G graphics, but unless you’re playing games this is usually no more than 8MB. On the subject of graphics, the supplied display is a 19in Gateway LCD with a 16ms response time. This has DVI and D-SUB interface, although only a D-SUB cable is supplied. The reason for this is because the integrated graphics only sports a D-SUB connector.
Taking the side of the mATX case off reveals a fairly tidy interior with some room for expansion. Besides the free x16 PCI Express slot there is also one free PCI slot and one x1 PCI Express slot. The second PCI slot is occupied by a 56k V.90 dialup modem.
The top 5.25in drive bay houses the Toshiba DVD writer which writes to DVD+R media at 16x, DVD-R media at 12x, DVD+R Dual Layer media at 5x and finally DVD+/-RW media at 4x. The second 5.25in drive bay is empty alongside a 3.5in drive bay that can be accessed from the front. There is no floppy drive as instead Gateway has fitted a multi-format card reader that accepts all types of Compact Flash cards, SD, MMC, SmartMedia, MemoryStick and MemoryStick Pro. There is also a USB 2.0 port located next to it.
A 250GB Western Digital SATA drive with 8MB of cache takes up one of the two internal 3.5in drive bays. About 3GB is taken up by a restore partition, so if something goes wrong with the system you can restore it to the point it was in when you purchased it. At the bottom of the case is a flap that hides two six-pin FireWire ports, two USB 2.0 ports and a headphone and microphone socket.