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There are two things we think of when we hear the word “supercomputer.” The first is the failed 1970s NBC show Supercomputer (now available on DVD from Shinehart Wigs). The other is a massive room full of HAL9000-like scary boxes just two MIPS away from declaring thermal nuclear war on humanity.
So, what was Gateway thinking when it decided to call its FX6831 a Gaming Super-computer? This is, after all, just a simple desktop housing a single 2.8GHz Core i7-860. Surely, that’s not the stuff of supercomputing, is it? OK, we know that in January, Fabrice Bellard used a single Core i7 to smash a record set by, umm, a supercomputer for calculating pi. Still, Gateway’s gone way over the line, right?
Perhaps. The specs certainly aren’t extraordinary. Besides the Core i7-860, this Gaming Supercomputer packs an ATI Radeon HD 5850, a 1.5TB hard drive, and a DVD burner and Blu-ray combo drive, all running on a motherboard using Intel’s new H57 chipset.
We know many enthusiast users think OEM boxes are boring, but as we saw with Alienware’s Aurora ALX (reviewed in February 2010), large OEMs are quite capable of turning out innovative cases. Gateway’s Gaming Supercomputer is another such example: It features a hidden compartment up top for holding an external USB drive, with nearby access to two USB ports. Brilliant.
The most eye-catching spec of the Gaming Supercomputer is the amount of main memory it packs: 16GB of DDR3/1333. That’s the most RAM we’ve ever seen in a production machine. Unfortunately, that kind of excess has limited utility. To be fair, you can probably say the same of a machine with three graphics cards or a four-drive SSD RAID. Still, if we had our druthers, we’d probably sacrifice 8GB of that RAM to buy a sweet SSD.
The Supercomputer had the honor of being the first machine christened with our latest benchmark suite.
For a midrange system, the Gaming Supercomputer does well, but it lagged behind our updated zero-point system. Our overclocked zero-point has a 25 percent clock advantage, and for the most part, it turned in scores about 23 to 24 percent faster.
The Supercomputer had the most difficult time trying to catch our zero-point in gaming. That’s no shocker, though; the Gateway packs an ATI Radeon HD 5850, which is currently the reigning champ of the $300 videocard world. Our zero-point, however, runs an ATI Radeon HD 5970, which is currently the best graphics card. Period. However, it’s a $700 videocard. Since few things today can be scored independently of price, consider that our zero-point rig totals about $2,300, which puts it in the category of high-end gaming machines. At $1,700, the Gaming Supercomputer is a solid midrange rig.
That doesn’t mean we don’t have our complaints. As we said, we’d forego the shock value of 16GB of RAM for an SSD or an upgrade to a 5970. So Gaming Supercomputer? Probably not. But then again, where’s the allure in Nicely Balanced and Affordable Gaming Computer?
Editor's note: The spec chart in this review was updated after the initial posting to correct a typo (3/9/10).
16GB of RAM! Super quiet; fair performance; reasonably priced.
16GB of RAM? A fatter GPU would make it much more super.
|Zero Point ||Gateway Gaming Supercomputer |
|Vegas Pro 9 (sec) ||3,049 ||4,017 (-24%) |
|Lightroom 2.6 (sec) ||356 ||444 (-20%) |
|ProShow 4 (sec) ||1,112||1,436 (-23%) |
|Reference 1.6 (sec) ||2,113 ||2,747 (-23%) |
|S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (fps)||42 ||21.2 (-50%) |
|Far Cry 2 (fps) ||114.4 ||61.1 (-47%) |
Our current desktop test bed consists of a quad-core 2.66GHz Core i7-920 overclocked to 3.5GHz, 6GB of Corsair DDR3/1333 overclocked to 1750MHz, on a Gigabyte X58 motherboard, with an ATI Radeon HD 5970 graphics card, and a 160GB Intel X25-M SSD, running 64-bit Windows 7 Ultimate.
|Processor||Intel 2.80GHz Core i7-860 |
|Mobo ||Custom H57 |
|RAM||16GB DDR3/1333 in dual-channel mode |
|Videocard ||ATI Radeon HD 5850 |
|Soundcard ||Onboard Realtek|
|Storage ||Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1.5TB hard drive |
|Optical ||Lite-On DH6E2S Blu-ray combo drive; Lite-On DH16AASH DVD burner |
|Case/PSU ||Proprietary case / FSP 750-watt PSU |