Review: Gateway SX2840

Short version: Gateway’s SX2840 is an ideal computer for someone who needs a good basic computer. It feels fast enough that it’s not annoying, and it’s perfect for pretty much everything except hardcore gaming. I’d even go so far as to say that it’d work great as an HTPC, because it plays back HD video with no problems.

Features: Small form factor, Intel Core i3 530, front panel with built in card reader, USB, and Firewire. Back panel with HDMI and eSATA.


  • Small form factor ideal for tight spaces, media center
  • Processor fast enough, while still cost effective
  • Integrated graphics can handle HD video with no problems


  • Integrated video won’t handle high end games
  • For the price, might be more effective to get a laptop/netbook
  • limited ability to upgrade hardware

Most people really don’t need the type of computer I typically review. The normal system that I like to take a look at is the “fire breathing monster” computer, the kind that can control a small country and cook eggs on the heatsink. I realize that most people don’t want to spend $5000 on a computer. Heck, they don’t even want to spend $1000. And for students? the cheaper the better, so long as it does everything they need it to do.

The Gateway SX2840 is the ideal computer for most people. Sure, it’s not going to play Crysis at 100FPS, but who cares? Most people don’t want to spend that kind of money. The SX2840 hits that sweet spot of being a fast enough that it’s not annoying, but slow enough that you’re not paying supercomputer prices. It’s hard to quantify this because frame rates and seek times don’t really apply to a computer in this situation. It’s great for browsing the web, writing email, running a word processing program, looking at pictures – all those basic things that most people who use a computer spend the majority of their time doing. It’s an ideal family computer, right down to the built in card reader on the front for downloading pictures from your camera, and plugging the usb cable in to sync up your music player. Admittedly, there’s nothing really noteworthy about this computer, but there isn’t any really negative about it either. It’s just a nice, solid performer that you can feel safe recommending to your grandmother, because you know you won’t have to be coming over every week to fix it for her.

That’s not to suggest that this machine is not capable of gaming, it is. It’s just not idea for the latest greatest FPS games. For the casual gamer, it’ll be ideal. I guess that’s what really defines this system; it’s a good casual machine. It’s not terribly fast, but you don’t expect it to be. You just want it to work and be reliable, and that’s what this machine is all about. Be aware though, that this computer does have one fatal flaw: you won’t be able to upgrade it. There’s just not enough room to add a faster video card, or upgrade the CPU. It’s just not going to happen. But for the $559 price, while I won’t call it disposable, it’s certainly easier to pass on to your sister’s kids that that $5000 supercomputer.

System Specifications:

  • CPU: Intel Core i3 530
  • Memory: 6GB
  • Hard Drive: 1TB
  • Video: Intel GMA X4500HD
  • Power supply: 220w

The bottom line:
I like the new Gateway. It’s tough to find anything about it that’s particularly noteworthy, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s not an unattractive machine, and the small size of the case would fit well in the corner of the dining room, or in a dorm room. The best part about it is the price: the MSRP of $559 makes it a reasonable purchase for anyone who needs a computer that will cover the basics. The tough part is deciding if you’d be happier with a netbook or inexpensive notebook instead.