Test Drive: Gateway 500SE Desktop PC

By SmallBusinessComputing Staff | Posted February 06, 2002
Wayne N. Kawamoto
Managing Editor, www.smallbusinesscomputing.com

If you're looking for a desktop PC that offers solid performance, is easy to set-up and work on, and is available at a competitive price, Gateway's 500SE delivers. In our evaluation, we found little to fault in this system.

Out of the box at a reasonable $999, the 500SE offers a speedy 1.6GHz Pentium 4 processor, and a 20GB hard drive and 128MB of SDRAM, which should support the needs of most office users. The system also comes with a 16x/10x/40x CD-R/RW drive that is useful for backing-up data.

Setup is straight-forward with the system's color-coded cables and ports, and clear instructions. For example, the keyboard's cable sports a purple connector that attaches to the PC's purple port, and the system uses other colors to designate sound and modem connections. We took the test system out of its box, and had it up and running in less than 20-minutes.

Gateway offers a generous four USB ports on the back of the PC, and another two in the front, which makes it easy to connect external USB devices-you don't have to grope around the back of the PC. In addition to a 56K modem, the computer came with 10/100 Ethernet capabilities to support broadband or connect to an office network. The included speakers were adequate.

The keyboard is responsive and easy to type on, and the 15-inch LCD flat panel screen displayed a clear, crisp image that had no weak angles. Interestingly, the monitor's VGA connector had small chunks of styrofoam jammed into it. While we easily dug these out using a pen, this could have been a problem for unsuspecting users. We suspect that this was simply an anomaly with our evaluation system.

The 500SE came with Windows XP; Microsoft Works Suite (which includes Microsoft Word); and Microsoft Encarta. There's also a limited 90-day subscription to Norton AntiVirus and 1-year subscription to America Online. Gateway backs its system with a standard 1 year warranty. We like the fact that the system came with CDs for Microsoft Works and the drivers. We prefer these in place of those clumsy "restore" CDs that come with so many systems these days.

Administrators will like working on the 500SE. It's simple to open-just loosen and remove two thumb-screws and press a latch to release the side panel. The computer offers two free expansion slots (there are four total), and room in the bay to accept another internal drive. A big plus, the computer's interior is roomy so it's particularly easy to work with.

In all, the Gateway 500SE offers solid computing power, and is easy for administrators to work with and support. And at $999, it's tough to beat.

Rating: 95
Manufacturer: Gateway Corporation, www.gateway.com

Price: $999

Pros: easy to work on; includes program discs; numerous USB ports; competitive price
Cons: None.

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