Gateway DT70 Desktop PC Review

We fondly remember Gateway from the days it was called Gateway 2000 and chose spotted cows as its stars for its adverts in the likes of Computer Shopper and a slew of other now-extinct printed magazines.

Things have now moved on and Gateway is now part of Taiwanese powerhouse, Acer, which also owns Packard Bell and E-machines. Acer has rejigged its offering and is pitching Gateway as an Intel-only provider which covers desktops, servers, laptops, storage and monitors, all for the corporate market.

The DT70 is the full, tower version of Gateway's Desktop range and like so many others, it is charcoal black in colour (ed : you're missing the beige boxes?). The model we received was sturdily built and reminded us of the Dell Vostro 230MT models.

As one would expect from a corporate desktop box, Acer put function before form but this doesn't mean that the DT70 is unattractive, far from that.

We liked the orange strip in the the front and the raised front panel where four USB ports and a pair of audio jacks were located. At the back, there are six USB ports (bringing the total to 10), one GB Ethernet port, one VGA and DVI, two PS2 & serial ports and more audio jacks.

The DT70 has two external 5.25-inch bays and two 3.5-inch ones although we'd be curious to know what they'd be used for (floppy disk drives? Tape drives? card reader?). One of the bigger bays is occupied by a generic DVD writer.

Interestingly, Gateway has decided to have a side panel with ventilation holes to cool the processor efficiently. Opening the case only requires undoing two screws and inside the DT70 is unsurprisingly very tidy and empty.

The Acer-based ATX motherboard housed an Intel Core i5-650 running at 3.2GHz with 4MB L2 cache. There are four DIMM memory slots which can each take 4GB DDR3 memory although our review unit came with a pair of 2GB ones.

Also on the board are one PCI Express 2.0 x16, one PCIE 2.0 x1 and two 5V PCI 2.3 slots, all of which were empty. As this is a Core i5, the graphics module - Intel HD - is located on the processor itself. The Intel Q57 Express chipset supports six SATA devices (four free) and there seems to be a Parallel port on the motherboard itself.

There's a 300W PSU, four 3.5-inch internal bays which are easily accessible and with one of them occupied by a 320GB SATA 2 Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 which has a 7200RPM spinning speed.

By default, the DT70 comes with Windows 7 professional, which further cements its position as a business model, but can be configured with Windows XP, Linpus Linux or even FreeDOS. As for the keyboard and mouse, their design looked aged, but then again, they're meant for a business usage.

In all subjectivity, the keyboard keys feel spongy and hardly make any sound when typing while the mouse doesn't have any starking features like multi purpose buttons.

In operation, the DT70 is a pleasure to work with. It is whisper quiet, even with the holed side panel, and under normal operations, didn't manage to break a sweat. Very snappy and responsive, the DT70 was also devoid of any superfluous software that's often found on Acer's computers; instead the DT70 came with Office 2007 (60 days trial), Microsoft Virtual PC, Wave Embassy Trust TPM Suite, Acrobat and Nero.

The Windows Experience Index of the machine was down to 4.9 (out of a maximum of 7.9), held back by the lowest component rating, the onboard graphics unit. Gateway chose to divide the hard disk drive in two separate 160GB partitions.

We were though disappointed by the fact that they chose a 32-bit version of the OS rather than the 64-bit one, possibly putting legacy and compatibility ahead of performance. Still this means that there's nearly 1GB worth of memory which is "wasted" as the Intel HD graphics module will hardly need more than the default 64MB in normal operation.

There's another surprisingly undocumented feature that sets the DT70 apart from the rest of the competition, it's the fact that the desktop can runs dual screen without the need for additional hardware (like a video card) bearing in mind that there's one D-Sub and one DVI port. Windows 7 Pro automatically recognised both monitors.

Power consumption is also low due to the fact that it doesn't have any external peripheral and runs Intel's power sipping Core i5 architecture. We were not able to test it but ZDnet reported that the idling power consumption is 29.2W while under load, it reaches 48.3W which are both surprisingly low especially since these figures are for a whole system.

Overall, the Gateway DT70 is a well balanced and good looking tower computer. It is kind to the environment and carries a rather low TCO especially when it comes to the power consumption. It has enough space inside for six 2TB hard disk drives and four additional cards (although we're not sure the PSU is powerful enough for it).

However, we're puzzled by the fact Acer also sells a "business" range as well which literally trounces the Gateway DT70 when it comes to sheer value for money. The Acer Veriton M421G range for example has a Quad Core processor, 3GB RAM, an altogether more powerful ATI Radeon HD 3200 and 1TB hard disk drive for 30 per cent cheaper and the warranty can be extended by buying a three year onsite service agreement, all for much cheaper than the DT70.

Which brings us to one last question; is Acer advocating a "divide and rule" strategy? Find out more about the Gateway DT70 and the rest of the Gateway business desktop range here.