Gateway ZX4270-UB31 review

If you need a simple, inexpensive, large-screen all-in-one desktop PC, then the Gateway ZX4270-UB31 floats up to the top of the list.
Photo of Gateway ZX4270-UB31

The Gateway ZX4270-UB31 all-in-one desktop PC is priced like a mid-priced tablet, but it will be able to run all your older Windows apps and those browser plug-ins that require good old fashioned Windows (in this case, Windows 8/8.1). Rest assured, however, that the ZX4270-UB31 is certainly capable of running your old apps in desktop mode, with a mouse and keyboard, just as you’re used to doing. This is an entry-level system with all you need to do basic computing in the traditional style, and as such is our new Editors’ Choice for entry-level all-in-one desktop PCs.

Design and Features
Instead of going flashy, the ZX4270-UB31 goes sedate for its design. It looks like many other all-in-one desktops, with a simple 19.5-inch screen built into a black chassis. The tilt mechanism is a simple foldout easel arm, which lets you find a good viewing angle whether you are seated or standing. The arm isn’t spring-loaded, so adjusting the screen angle is a two-handed affair. This minor inconvenience isn’t really a huge nit at this price point, though.

The display itself is clear and bright enough to work in most rooms in your home, and since it isn’t a touch screen, there’s no reflective glass to worry about in a sunny room. Users shouldn’t start to expect touch screens at this price point for at least another year or so. Using Windows 8 with just a mouse is kind of annoying, but the type of user in the market for one of these PCs will be either using the Internet or older programs in desktop mode anyway.

The system has a 500GB hard drive and DVD drive to help you out with loading older programs and to store all those pics and music that you’ve collected over the years. The ZX4270-UB31′s screen has a 1,600 by 900 resolution , which is a lot better than the 1,366 by 768 screen you’d expect in a budget system, particularly if you were in the market for a cheap laptop. A 1080p HD (1,920 by 1,080) screen would have been a coup, but 1,600 by 900 is fine for general PC use. Videos played back smooth and bright on the ZX4270-UB31. The more expensive Acer Aspire AZC-605-UR21 also has a 1,600-by-900-resolution screen, but it seems more of a liability when the price tag is $120 higher.

The ZX4270-UB31 has a pair of built-in speakers below the screen, and they’re fine for general PC use and some movie watching in a quiet room. If you turn them up playing music, however, you’ll certainly bump into the speakers’ limits. The system has a pair of USB 3.0 ports on the left side, along with Ethernet, headphone jack, and a SD card reader. There are four USB 2.0 ports on the back (for the wired keyboard and mouse) plus a Kensington lock to lock down shared PCs in offices or libraries. One thing that more expensive desktops have that the ZX4270-UB31 lacks is an HDMI-in port. The former Editors’ Choice for entry-level all-in-ones, the Gateway One ZX4970G-UW308 has an HDMI-in port, but it has a $120 higher price point.

The ZX4270-UB31 comes with quite a bit of bloatware pre-installed. While a few pieces make the initial Start screen a little less sparse, the amount of pre-loaded apps on the system would have been excessive on a higher-priced system. (PC makers use pre-loaded apps to subsidize lower purchase prices). We counted 21 extra tiles on the Start screen and 11 extra icons on the desktop in its desktop mode. There is some overlap between the two, but having this many pre-loaded apps clutters the screens and makes the system look like your pre-teen child got into it and downloaded a plethora of apps to your pristine hard drive. Not the end of the world, but you may need to put aside an evening cleaning up and uninstalling all the apps you don’t already use (like Netflix and Amazon, for example). The ZX4270-UB31 comes with a one-year warranty.

Performance

The ZX4270-UB31 is equipped with a quad-core AMD A4-5000 processor with built-in AMD Radeon HD 8300 graphics, 4GB of memory, and a 500GB 5,400rpm SATA hard drive. These are somewhat low-powered components, but they are certainly adequate for day-to-day tasks like surfing the Web and writing term papers.

The ZX4270-UB31 was average at most benchmark tests, though it was a decent performer compared to the other all-in-one desktop PCs in this price range. If you’re concerned with multimedia performance in this price range, the Core i3-powered budget EC Gateway DX4870-UB2B was better on all the benchmarks tests except for a couple of the 3D benchmark tests. Then again with the Gateway DX4870-UB2B tower desktop you’ll need to budget for a new display if you don’t already have a spare monitor lying around. The ZX4270-UB31 surprised us with relatively high scores for its category on the Heaven and 3DMark 11 benchmark tests, which show that the ZX4270-UB31 should be able to play older 3D games that you used to play on your three-to-four-year-old PC.

As one of the least expensive large-screen PCs available, we do present the Gateway ZX4270-UB31 as a recommended PC, particularly for folks who simply need a new PC to replace the old Windows XP system they’ve been slogging along with over the past seven years. When you want a large screen to help keep track of where the kids are visiting online or if you have a need to compensate for aging eyesight, the Gateway ZX4270-UB31 is a good choice and succeeds the no-longer-available Gateway One ZX4970G-UW308 as our Editors’ Choice for entry-level all-in-one desktop PCs.

Specifications
Touchscreen No
Operating System Microsoft Windows 8
Storage Type HDD
Graphics Card AMD Radeon HD 8300
Type All-in-one
RAM 4 GB
Processor Family AMD A4
Monitor Type LCD Widescreen
Primary Optical Drive Dual-Layer DVD+/-RW
Screen Size 19.5 inches
Storage Capacity (as Tested) 500 GB

Verdict
Though "you get what you pay for" still applies, the price point of this fully functional desktop PC just can't be ignored. If you need a simple, inexpensive, large-screen all-in-one desktop PC, then the Gateway ZX4270-UB31 floats up to the top of the list.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc