Stairway to Heaven
Affordable and fairly priced.
Gateway to Hell
No touchscreen; wired keyboard and mouse; relatively small screen; weak specs.
While we love powerful super-rigs that can cut through benchmarks like a hot knife through buttah, not everyone can afford an $8,000 PC. This is where a budget-friendly all-in-one computer such as the Gateway One ZX4970 comes into play. At a mere $530, it certainly presents an interesting value proposition, but is it actually a good deal or a waste of dough?
A button allows you to toggle the light behind the Gateway logo on and off. Fancy!
The first thing you’ll notice about the ZX4970 is its 21.5-inch screen. It’s not small, but it is dwarfed by most other AiOs on the market, which generally come in 23- and 27-inch form factors. Furthermore, the display’s TN panel offers subpar viewing angles, besides being a bit dim. But where the ZX4970 really falls short is in its omission of a touchscreen, which is a shame given the presence of the touch-friendly Windows 8 OS. On the upside, we don’t have much beef with the integrated 2.5-watt speakers beneath the monitor—they serve decent volume levels, though they obviously can’t match a dedicated 2.1 setup.
On the left side of the screen, the ZX4970 features two USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, and both a headphone and mic jack. To the right of the monitor is a button that lets you switch the AiO’s HDMI port from in to out (or vice versa) and a DVD burner. The HDMI port itself resides behind the monitor, along with four USB 2.0 ports and an Ethernet jack. It’s not an exorbitant amount of ports, but it covers most common needs. Cables can be routed through a cutout on the stand in the back. The stand allows you to bend the monitor back roughly 20 degrees, which could be useful for use from a standing position if not for the fact that the screen doesn’t support touch and the included full-size keyboard and mouse are wired, so you’re essentially tethered to your desk anyhow.
If you’re hoping to play the latest PC games or put the machine through heavy compute tasks, the ZX4970 is not for you. While the AiO features a respectably hefty (for this price, that is) 1TB hard drive, the rest of the ZX4970’s parts are pretty bare-bones. The unit is running a dual-core Ivy Bridge–based Intel Pentium G2030 clocked at 3GHz, has 4GB of DDR3/1600, and lacks discrete graphics. Compared to our Asus ET2300 zero-point AiO, which features a quad-core processor, twice the amount of RAM, and a GeForce GT 630M GPU, Gateway’s offering faced a whole lot of pain in our benchmarks. It performed roughly 20–30 percent slower in our ProShow Producer 5 and Stitch.Efx CPU tests, and was left in the dust in x264 HD 5.0 benchmark, which thrives on cores. Our ZP AiO is by no means a tank, but compared to Gateway’s ZX4970, it was like an M4 Sherman facing off with a Volkswagen microbus full of hippies. And as far as graphics go, high-end integrated graphics are on the cusp of matching low-end mobile GPUs, but the ZX4970 uses a meager Pentium integrated-graphics solution, so it found itself roughly 60–70 percent slower than the ZP’s GeForce GT 630M in both the STALKER: CoP and Metro 2033 benchmarks. In our real-world test, we booted Borderlands 2 and ran everything on low at 1366x768 resolution and got an average frame rate in the mid-teens. No, it’s notß pretty for anything beyond casual gaming.
While the ZX4970 is dang cheap, it’s an unfortunate example of “you get what you pay for.” It reminds us of the affordable eMachines of yesteryear, in AiO form. Although it may be a decent computer for Aunt Peg, for an enthusiast, we recommending spending a little more to build a much better desktop.
|Stitch.Efx 2.0 (sec) ||1,192||1,721 (-30.7%)|
|ProShow Producer 5 (sec)||1,841||2,365 (-22.2%)|
|x264 HD 5.0 (fps) ||9.9||5 (-49.5%)|
|Metro 2033 (fps)||22||7.3 (-66.8%)|
|3DMark 11 Perf||1,333||367 (-72.5%)|
Our zero-point all-in-one PC is an Asus ET2300 with a 3GHz Intel Core i5-3330M, 8GB DDR3/1600, 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive, a GeForce GT 630M, and Windows 8. Metro 2033 tested at 1280x768 with Medium settings, Tessellation enabled.
|CPU ||3GHz Intel Pentium G2030|
|GPU||Intel HD Graphics 2500|
|RAM||4GB DDR3/1600 in single-channel|
|Optical ||DVD burner|
|Display||21.5-inch LED backlit TN LCD 1920x1080 (matte)|