Gateway ZX6951-53 Review, by David Murphy January 13, 2011
Excellent general performance
Could use more storage space
Bottom Line: From its looks and sounds to its HD support and speed, Gateway's 23-inch all-in-one desktop rarely stops delivering.
Smokin'! That's exactly what we said upon receiving the benchmark results for Gateway's latest all-in-one desktop, the ZX6951-53.Yes, this system really needs a better name, but that aside, this 23-inch, $999 All-in-One desktop is unique for quite a few reasons.
First, and perhaps most noticeable, is the system's curved design--a departure from the standard square build we've seen on just about every all-in-one that has come through our gates. Second, and a bit less noticeable, is the system's speed--simply put, it's fast. But let's not bury the payout any longer: Minus a few details here and there, the ZX6951-53 is one of the best all-in-ones you can buy.
Gateway's 1920-by-1080-resolution desktop packs a 3.2GHz Intel Core i3-550 processor within its innards, accompanied by 4 gigabytes of DDR3 memory. The combination helps this all-in-one achieve a score of 121 on our WorldBench 6 series of tests--the fastest performance we've seen in the category (outside of Apple's 27-inch Core i7 and Core i5 iMacs). The next-highest desktop, MSI's AE2420 3D, hits a score of 118 (with a price tag of $1800).
The ZX6951-53's cost is quite competitive for 23-inch systems. We were slightly disappointed to see that the hard drive is only 640GB instead of a full terabyte. However, the 1080p-friendly system comes with a Blu-ray combo drive built in--now that, we like.
We found the picture quality of the ZX6951-53's multitouch panel pleasing to the eye. The glossy display was a bit subject to glare depending on the viewing angle (and the environment where you're using the desktop), but it does much to contribute to the all-in-one's excellent contrast levels. Strong blacks and evocative whites brought out key details within the images and movies we viewed. The display's saturation wasn't quite as good, however--we would have liked to see more vibrant coloration and richer images overall.
It's difficult to find all-in-one desktops packing excellent sound systems. To say that the average quality of an all-in-one's acoustics is roughly that of a laptop's speakers is a fair statement, if not charitable. Gateway's ZX6951-53, thankfully, emits bass-heavy, enveloping sound that almost feels like an actual speaker setup--the kind one would buy as an aftermarket add-on to a conventional desktop PC. We were pleasantly surprised by Gateway's effort in this regard, as it really helps separate this entertainment-friendly desktop from the rest of the pack.
The rest of the system leaves a little to be desired in terms of the devices that you can plug into it. We've already mentioned the Blu-ray combo drive (which is on the side of the ZX6951-53's chassis). It's joined by a total of two USB ports and a single multiformat card reader split between the system's two sides. The rear has six USB ports, a VGA output, a gigabit ethernet port (for those who prefer a cabled connection over the unit's built-in wireless-N connectivity), and a coaxial connection for the built-in TV tuner. That's not a bad amount of connections per se, but the ZX6951-53 lacks elements like Firewire, eSATA, or even stronger display connections like DisplayPort or HDMI.
You can't upgrade the ZX6951-53 in any way, which isn't exactly a rarity for all-in-one desktops, but still slightly disappointing. The system comes with a brief, illustrated quick-start guide for getting the desktop up and running, and with three input devices: a remote; a generic, wireless mouse; and a generic, wireless keyboard. Although we'd prefer keyboards and mice to be a little bit more feature-packed, the wireless capabilities of those included with the ZX6951-53 fit the premise of an all-in-one desktop perfectly.
So what's the bottom line? Gateway's ZX6951-53 all-in-one desktop is excellently priced for what it delivers: a solid picture on a multitouch display, strong sound capabilities, category-leading speeds, and built-in Blu-ray support (with wireless connectivity, if streaming movies is more your deal). A few tweaks could make Gateway's system even stronger but, as it stands, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better all-in-one desktop for the ZX6951-53's price.
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