Gateway – eMachines E4020 review

budget home PC for games and movies
Photo of Gateway – eMachines E4020

American PC manufacturer Gateway, which recently took over the eMachines brand, has launched a couple of desktop PCs in the UK that are designed for buyers with a fairly limited budget, yet who still want to be able to make the most of the multimedia side of computer enjoyment.

The eMachines E4020 is the slightly more pricey of the two (still at an exceedingly modest £430 inc. VAT) and you will have to add a monitor of your own, but what it lacks in pizzazz and peripherals it makes up for in raw power and a multiplicity of ports. Certainly to look at it appears stolid and conservative, although an ergonomically-shaped multimedia keyboard comes as standard.

This desktop machine is powered by an Intel Pentium 4 519 processor (3.06GHz) with 512MB of dual channel DDR memory which is designed to tackle the next generation of 64-bit games and applications. In keeping with the emphasis on gaming and video performance there’s an integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 900, which is good enough for most purposes if you can’t afford one of the latest ATI or nVidia cards.

If it’s a massive hard drive that makes you smile, then you can fill your boots here with a whopping 250GB, 7,200 RPM Serial ATA drive; more than enough to satisfy you for years ahead. In addition, the 16x multi-format dual layer DVD+/-RW optical drive provides acres of space for back-up and data storage in the most popular disc formats.

Both the eMachines E4020 and the cheaper E3010 (£270 inc. VAT) have an 8-in-1 digital media reader (USB 2.0, Secure Digital (SD), Smart Media, Compact Flash, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, Micro Drive, Multimedia Card) as well as five USB 2.0 ports. The E4020 also has one serial and one parallel port, two PS/2 ports, five audio in & out and three IEEE 1394 ports.

The weakest component is the sound, as the installed system is an Intel High Definition 5.1 with only two basic stereo speakers to demonstrate its capabilities – no guesses where your first upgrade should be. There’s also just a simple Internet connection via the 56Kbps V.92 fax/modem.

The software bundle is also pretty basic, with Windows XP pre-installed along with Microsoft Works 8.0, Windows Media Player 10, Nero 6 Suite, PowerDVD, Adobe Acrobat Reader, BigFix and McAfee VirusScan (and even this is a mere 90-day complimentary trial version). In other words, the software underlines the essential premise of the whole machine: this is a budget computer for those who want to wallow in entertainment.

Company: Gateway

Contact: 08705 425 425

Built for power and price rather than style, the E4020 should be highly attractive for non-business users who want to play with games rather than graphs and who don't have a large budget to spend.