Pros: lots of bells and whistles, fast operating speed, attractive design, cordless keyboard and mouse
Cons: Vista 64-bit system with a 32-bit graphics card plus monitor woes
I’m hoping the lame joke conveys some of my experience with this Gateway Computer -- Model # GT5678. Those familiar with the Gateway logo will recognize my reference to cows since the packaging is covered in black and white “cow markings”. Installing and using this computer has been one frustrating experience!
I own a Gateway computer that I love. It’s been great. But it is getting on in years and slowing down despite computer clean-ups. I keep constant backups … just in case. So when my government rebate check arrived, combined with some Epinions moo-la, I decided it was time to invest in another Gateway computer.
Before making the purchase, I did quite a bit of research. One little tiny fact eluded my quick Google-typing fingers. All the computer websites described the system, but did not detail the Vista portion of the package. Also, there are virtually no consumer reviews. I benefit a lot from reading what people learned during their experiences with product. That is why I’m writing this review.
Buying the Computer
Best Buy had this computer system on sale for $950.00 (regularly $1,130.00). The computer also came bundled with a Gateway 19” widescreen monitor and a Cannon MP210 All-in-One printer. The system also featured a cordless keyboard and mouse (a must for me!). The system also came with two speakers. For those who like all the specifications, I’ll include them at the end of this review.
So out came my credit card, and away I went with the boxes, which all fit neatly into my car trunk.
I have installed many computer systems, and while I would not classify myself as material for Best Buy’s “Geek Squad” … I can hold my own when it comes to installing hardware and software. My brother could be a member of the Geek Squad … he could probably run it! So I always have excellent advice on hand. I was going to buy a computer with Windows XP, since I’ve heard unreliable things about Vista. But my brother uses Windows Vista on many machines, and has not had a single problem (other than updating some drivers). So I dove into the Vista pool.
The computer tower is sleek looking. It’s smaller than my older Gateway tower with a better space-saving design. The new tower is lighter, too. It was easy to unpack from the packaging. A large poster-size “get started” sheet showed photographs of the tower and the installation process. At the back of the tower, plug in the monitor, speaker jacks, internet connection, modem (if desired; I didn’t need to), and the computer tower’s power cord.
My first problem came with the monitor. It’s a beautiful 19” widescreen monitor with a glossy black frame. It’s easy to assemble. Just snap the monitor base onto the monitor and connect the two cords from the back of the monitor to the back of the tower, and the other one to a power source. The problem started when I powered up the computer. The monitor briefly showed a dreaded “No Signal” message and went into hibernation.
Even though the monitor is touted as an HD Flat Panel TFT-LCD machine, the monitor is analog VGA. It was simple to resolve the monitor problem once I realized that the blue-coded connector should not be attached to the blue-coded monitor port on the back of the computer. Turns out it the monitor needs an adapter (supplied with the system), and it fits into a special port on the bottom section of the tower. Once I resolved that issue, the monitor worked.
However, a second problem developed. Next I had to install the software for the monitor. The software did not want to load properly in the Windows Vista environment. I was receiving a nasty Windows Vista message saying that the monitor software was not properly signed … meaning that Microsoft had not okayed it, so Vista was not about to load it. More frustrating was that a large box at the lower right of the screen kept prompting me to fix the monitor resolution. The mouse cursor did not work on the controls to get rid of that annoying reminder. I finally clued in that along the right side of the monitor was a vertical row of buttons. The bottom button controlled the menu, and turned off the annoying box. However, the box kept reappearing, making the working environment difficult. I followed the instructions to download a Vista-friendly update, but that did not work. That large resolution reminder box still appeared. I unloaded the monitor software, reloaded, updated, unloaded, reloaded and even tried updating again. No luck.
Okay … never let it be said I don’t have perseverance. While dealing with the monitor issue, other warnings started to flash. I’ll deal with the most important one. The graphics card that came pre-installed on the computer would not work properly. Yikes! I thought I was purchasing a Vista 32-bit operating system. After looking at the computer properties, I find that I am the not-so-proud owner of a Vista 64-bit operating system (known to have problems). Better yet … the ATI Radeon HD graphics/video card is 32-bit. At first I tried to find a driver update for the card figuring that was the issue. However, there was no other driver that fixed the problem. (Note: An update to my comment since I was unclear in my wording. The driver I found on the Radeon website did not solve my problem.) I was shocked to find a 32-bit graphics card in a 64-bit system … and the graphics card would not play nice with Vista.
Even with Problems … How Does the Computer Run?
I was heartsick discovering all these problems with the machine. It was even worse because this computer is lightening fast. My every wish was granted with quick loading, fast displays.
Even the Windows Vista interface didn’t phase me. I’ve been using Windows XP for years (and before that a host of other Windows OS versions) … and I was enjoying the Vista experience. But what good is a luscious piece of fruit if the inside is rotten?
Those error messages and hair-pulling experiences would not go away. I even phoned my brother and said, “What can I do?” We ran through possibilities, and the upshot was that I could live with the 64-bit system and all its problems, or return the computer.
And another thought was jabbing the back of my brain. What about software? It’s bad enough that not all software is compatible with Windows Vista … even less is compatible with Windows Vista 64-bit system. I am a big Adobe user (ex: Photoshop and Dreamweaver). The newer Adobe family of programs is certified to work with the Vista 32-bit OS systems but not the 64-bit system. Big trouble looming ahead … I could tell.
In case you are wondering, the cordless keyboard and mouse are terrific. I thoroughly enjoyed using them. I did not plug in the speakers since I already have a good set of speakers with an amp that work great.
It broke my heart, particularly after the hours and hours I spent trying to convince the computer to behave … but the machine had to go back to Best Buy.
First Best Buy tried to sock me for a 15% restocking fee. However, I had looked their return policies up on the internet, and their policy states a 15% restocking fee for “notebook computers”. This is a desktop computer. Then they tried to tell me I had to settle for a store credit rather than a refund. I politely argued with customer service that I considered the machine defective (and the Geek Squad gentleman suggested that the graphics card might be malfunctioning). Finally, we agreed they would give me a full refund.
I found it interesting that the Geek Squad person told me that the 32-bit graphic card should work fine with the 64-bit operating system. He also said that the computer can be configured to run software in 32-bit mode; however, the option had to be chosen during software installation and is easy to miss. And there was no guarantee that the software would work error free.
This Gateway Computer is a beautiful looking machine, and it has loads of bells and whistles for the price. However, I experienced too many problems with the computer. It’s a shame. This computer seems to have so much going for it, yet the trouble is definitely not worth it. Stay away from this machine.
In case you are interested, I bought a different Gateway Computer (32 bit Vista System) that I love! Click the link to read my review of the machine.
I hope you found this review useful.
Enjoy the day,
Computer Tower Dimensions: 15.6" high x 7.2” wide x 16.1” deep
Operating System: Windows Vista Home Premium with SP1
Product Weight: 23.4 lbs.
Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad / 2.4 GHz / 1066 MHz
Cache Memory: 8MB at die Level 2
System Memory: 4GB RAM / DDR2
Hard Drive: Serial ATA II (7200 rpm) / 750GB
HD Spec: SATA II / 16MB Cache
Graphics: ATI RADEON HD 2400XT
Video Memory: 256MB (discrete)
Audio: High-definition (8-speaker configurable) / 2 amplified USB stereo speakers
Network Card: Built-in high-speed 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet LAN (RJ-45 connector)
Modem: 56 Kbps ITU V.92 (Note: Capable of receiving 56 Kbps downloads. However, current regulations limit download speed to 53 Kbps.)
Recordable DVD Drive: Yes, double-layer DVD±RW/CD-RW
Recordable Speeds: 8x DVD+R DL; 8x DVD-R DL; 16x8x16 DVD+RW; 16x6x16 DVD-RW; 12x DVD-RAM; 48x32x48 CD-RW (with Direct-Disc Labeling)
Total Expansion Bays: 3 (3.5"), 2 (5.25"), 1 Portable Media Drive
Available Expansion Bays: 1 (3.5"), 1 (5.25"), 1 Portable Media Drive
Total Expansion Slots: 2 PCI, 1 PCI-E x1, 1 PCI-E x16
Available Expansion Slots: 1 PCI, 1 PCI-E x1
USB 2.0 Ports: 6 (2 front, 4 rear)
S-Video Outputs: One (no serial, parallel or game ports!)
Additional Audio/Video Connectors: HDMI, 2 DVI
Keyboard: Wireless elite multimedia
Mouse: Wireless USB optical wheel mouse
Digital Card Reader: 15-in-1 built in -- (xD-Picture Card, CompactFlash I (CF), CompactFlash II, Secure Digital (SD), Mini Secure Digital (Mini SD), Multi Media Card (MMC), Reduced Size MMC (RS-MMC), MMC Mobile, MMC Plus, Memory Stick (MS), Memory Stick Duo#, Memory Stick Pro, Memory Stick Pro Duo#, SmartMedia, IBM Microdrive)
Software Included: Microsoft Works 9.0, Money Essentials; Vista DVD Playback; Adobe Reader; CyberLink Power2Go; Gateway BigFix and more
Please read my other reviews:
Gateway 500X Desktop Computer
Acer 19” Widescreen LCD Monitor
ViewSonic 19" LCD Monitor
Logitech V200 Cordless Notebook Mouse
Antec Notebook Cooler
Altec Lansing Speakers
Phillips Portable DVD Player with screen
LiteOn DVD Recorder/Player
Copyright 2008 Dawn L. Stewart