When I look at the Gateway E-2600D that sits near my feet, I can't help but think of a Toyota Corolla.
The Corolla, you see, is the automotive version of this computer. It's a safe, reliable car that will get drivers from point A to point B without fuss. The car is by no means flashy, but is equipped with an acceptable number of features. Like the E-2600D, the Corolla has some significant power under the hood that will, for the most part, never be taken advantage of.
The hulking, black tower under my desk came with some notable standard equipment, including a 3.00 GHz Pentium 4 processor, a 305-watt power supply, six USB ports and best of all, a 3.5-inch floppy drive -- just in case I have some DOS batch files to run.
The E-2600D base model starts at an attractive $609, but like all Gateways, to get the good stuff you have to fork over more green, which can be irritating. For example, it'll cost you to get a DVD drive instead of the standard CD-ROM drive -- and who in 2007 would ever opt for a basic CD-ROM drive?
Similarly the base model comes equipped with a paltry 256 MB of RAM, albeit DDR2. With applications demanding ever more system resources, that's simply not enough RAM. The model I tested also ran with 256 MB of RAM, and the taxing effects of the multiple applications were apparent. Plus, at 40 GB, the base model hard drive must be some inside joke at Gateway -- maybe there's a pool on who will be the first customer to not spring for the extra $10 for the 80 GB version.
On the plus side, the machine is pleasantly quiet and comes with the fairly impressive integrated ATI Radeon Xpress 200 graphics processor, making for acceptable video and 3-D applications. For most cubicle drones, the ATI processor is plenty, unless your job is playing World of Warcraft.
In addition, the machine comes with four expansion slots, two PCI, one PCI-Express x1 and one PCI-Express x16 -- nice touches if you plan on keeping the computer for a while. The rest of the features are pretty ho-hum -- nothing exciting, but certainly the kind to tick you off if they weren't included.
Overall, given the price and features, the E-2600D performed well enough to be recommended. And while it's anything but extraordinary, like the Corolla, it's a good blend of practicality, performance and reliability.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars