Moving to the rear of the system there are two PS/2 ports, a single serial and parallel port, the D-SUB connector, four USB 2.0 ports and a single six-pin FireWire port. An RJ45 port is also located here for the onboard 10/100Mbit Ethernet controller. The onboard audio features Intel High Definition Audio and the ALC880 supports up to eight channels of sound.
However, the three audio connectors on the rear of the case limit this to 5.1-channel sound. There are no options for TV out or S/PDIF output, but as this is a fairly basic PC, I wouldn’t have expected it either. The supplied speakers are a dinky set of stereo desktop speakers, but they sound ok and I’ve seen worse speakers this size.
One thing that is odd is that when you switch on the 524GB all the fans run at full speed and at first I was concerned that this was one of the nosiest PCs I’ve ever heard. Fortunately, this only lasts for about 20 seconds and then the fans slow down and the noise level drops to just about audible.
The supplied keyboard and mouse are Gateway’s own. The keyboard has several shortcut keys and enables you to control media playback software, web browsers and much more. The design is rather unusual with some odd shaped keys but it’s quite comfortable to type on. The mouse on the other hand is so 1990s as it uses a ball rather than an optical sensor, and is pretty much as far away from cutting edge as you can get.
The general design of the system looks plain though not ugly and the colour scheme is black and silver which is followed through on the accessories. A copy of Microsoft Works 8.0 and Microsoft Money 2005 is supplied with the system.
With regards to performance the 524GB isn’t going to win any awards, but it’s not a slow PC for its intended use. With an overall score of 189 in SYSMark 2004SE it should be more than capable of handling everyday tasks. The PCMark 2005 score is disappointing at 2854, but most of this is because of the integrated graphics.
Overall this is an affordable home PC for anyone that isn’t interested in playing 3D games. The bundled screen is better than what you tend to get with machines at this price level. On a whole there is very little wrong with the 524GB as long as you’re aware of its limitations.
Gateway’s re-appearance in the UK market has been fairly low key and the product range is more entry level than high-end. But the 524GB shows that you can get a decent PC without having to spend a fortune.