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Gateway GM5664 Media Center - A Review

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Parker Clack, Apr 6, 2008.

  1. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    [​IMG]

    I have been setting on the fence for some time waiting for somebody to come up with an HTPC that has a Blu-ray/HD DVD drive built in. I didn't want to buy separate HD DVD and Blu-ray players and I love the all-in-one convienence of an HTPC.

    Having seen prices in the $2,000 plus range for what I wanted I was shocked to see that Gateway came out with one that not only met my requirements but exceeded them at the same time. And all of this for $1,149 including a 19 inch 16x9 monitor and printer. You can of course buy the desktop by itself.

    System Specs

    [​IMG]

    AMD Phenom™ quad-core processor 9600* with true multicore processing for extreme multitasking performance; Cool'n'Quiet™ 2.0 technology for efficient energy usage; HyperTransport™ 3.0 technology to improve 3D graphics performance
    3GB PC2-5300 DDR2 memory for multitasking power, expandable to 4GB
    High-definition hybrid DVD±RW/CD-RW drive with read support for next-generation HD DVD-ROM and Blu-ray Disc formats; double-layer support using compatible DVD+R DL and DVD-R DL media; also supports DVD-RAM
    AMD LIVE! Smarter Digital Entertainment for all the screens of your digital life; you can manage, access, distribute, share and enjoy your digital content collection from virtually anywhere
    Direct Connect Architecture to deliver overall system performance; AMD Wide Floating Point Accelerator and AMD Digital Media Xpress™ 2.0 for improved digital media and 3D gaming and graphics
    AMD Memory Optimizer Technology for multithreaded software performance, and AMD Virtualization with Rapid Virtualization Indexing to help virtualization software run securely and efficiently
    2MB L3 cache memory for efficient system processing; AMD Balanced Smart Cache for a smooth multitasking and multithreaded experience
    1TB Serial ATA II hard drive capacity (2 x 500GB) with 16MB cache (7200 rpm); Gateway Portable Media Drive bay lets you easily add a second removable hard drive (Portable Media Drive not included)
    ATI Radeon HD 2400XT graphics with 256MB discrete video memory and DirectX 10 support; high-definition audio (8-channel support); DVI and S-video outputs
    Analog/digital TV tuner with 3D comb filter and PVR (personal video recorder); Vista media center remote
    High-performance 15-in-1 digital media card reader supports CompactFlash Type I/II, Secure Digital, MultiMediaCard, MultiMediaCard Plus, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, Memory Stick Duo and Memory Stick PRO Duo
    Also supports SmartMedia, xD-Picture Card and Microdrive; supports mini Secure Digital, Reduced Size MultiMediaCard (RS-MMC) and MultiMediaCard Mobile with optional adapter (not included)
    6 high-speed USB 2.0 ports, both front and rear accessible, for fast digital transfer and easy connection of peripherals
    Built-in 10/100 Mbps Ethernet with RJ-45 connector; V.92 data/fax modem
    Wireless multimedia keyboard, wireless USB optical 2-button wheel mouse and external USB speakers
    Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium Edition operating system preinstalled; software package included with Microsoft Money Essentials, Adobe Reader, Gateway BigFix and more.

    Key Features

    AMD Phenom™ quad-core processor 9600
    3GB PC2-5300 DDR2 memory
    High-definition hybrid DVD±RW/CD-RW/HD DVD/Blu-ray drive
    ATI Radeon HD 2400XT video card
    Analog/digital TV tuner with Media Center remote
    Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium Edition
    1TB Serial ATA II hard drive capacity (2 x 500GB) with 16MB cache (7200 rpm)


    Performance and Review

    First off I have to say that the new AMD Quad-Core processor is extremely fast. There is virtually no delay in any of the functions that I use my HTPC for. The fact that it comes with two 500G hard drives and 3G of RAM already installed is a plus too. Many of the machines I looking at only came with 500G of HD space and 2G of RAM.

    It only comes with one tuner that is both an analogue and digital hybrid (this seems to be the way that tuner cards are going to these days) so I added another so I could record two shows at once. I purchased a AverMedia Bravo tuner card. As this HTPC comes with only available PCI-e x1 slot this worked out great. The AverMedia software can download all your QAM channels but you have to drop out of Windows Media Center and use the included AverMedia software to record your Hi-Def local channels over QAM. Windows Media Center (at this time) does not support recording QAM channels. The cool thing with both tuners is that when my local cable switches over to digital only I won't have to upgrade my tuner cards as digital is already supported.

    The Blu-ray/HD DVD drive is great. This system includes PowerDVD. When you put in either a Blu-ray or HD DVD the software goes and gets the latest drivers for you. Both play without a hitch. Windows Media Center will not play back either HD DVD or Blu-ray within Media Center. You have to drop out of Media Center and then use PowerDVD. There is a great little plugin for Media Center that you can get from Our Media Center. This enables you to put your Blu-ray or HD DVD media into the drive, click on the Blu-ray/HD DVD icon and it opens Power DVD for you. When you stop the movie you are taken back to Windows Media Center.

    [​IMG]

    The ATI HD2400 XT video card works great. It includes two DVI outputs and includes an DVI to HDMI adaptor. You can then go into your software and in the audio section enable the digital high definition option and output your audio over HDMI. It also includes an onboard audio section is supposed to have S/PDIF out but I never could find out which mini jack to plug into. It does not include an optical or coax S/PDIF out. For me this is no biggie as I am planning on buying a receiver like the Denon AVR 3808CI and using the HDMI inputs and outputs. I haven't been able to test out the audio section fully as I am using the HDMI on my Panasonic plasma for sound.

    Using the remote is easy as the PC comes with its own IR built in. If you have to put the machine in a closet or in a position where you cannot use the IR on the face of the machine it does comes with an IR extension cable that you can use.

    Conclusion

    I couldn't be happier with this purchase. Finally a PC manufacturer has built an HTPC with a Blu-ray/HD DVD drive, a huge amount of storage with a very fast processor and plenty of RAM at a cost that doesn't break the bank. If you are looking for an all-in-one solution for all your HDM or are looking to upgrade your present HTPC you cannot go wrong with this unit. It is available through Best Buy, Circuit City, Amazon and other online stores. If you are in Best Buy or Circuit City make sure to stop by the computer section and check this unit out.

    Review by Parker Clack
    April 6, 2008
     
  2. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Parker: That's very exciting. That seems like a LOT of machine for the price.

    I'm not very current on the technology...but the "High-definition hybrid DVD±RW/CD-RW/HD DVD/Blu-ray drive" is all in one drive?! That's very cool and very efficient.

    Do you have your HTPC actually hooked up to your main HT...or do you use your computer monitor/Speakers for playback with this system?
     
  3. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    Mike:

    I have it hooked up to my Panasonic plasma and when I get an HDMI receiver like the Denon I will be able to play back the audio through my surround setup. Right now I just have the audio going through my Panasonic. The cool thing is over HDMI you have both video and audio on one cable.

    Blu-ray and HD DVD look fantastic on this system. When you figure in the cost of buying a separate HD DVD and Blu-ray player and add in the feature set of a web browser, email, etc. that an HTPC gives you it is really a no brainer set up.
     
  4. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    I'm just stunned at how powerful a machine it is for such a low price. Lots of storage. Lots of RAM. It looks like a very capable multimedia PC.

    Anyone who wants to do any video editing, for example, looks like they would be well-served by this set-up.
     
  5. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    Mike:

    The price is what sold me on it. Here you get a Quad-core pressor, 3G of RAM, 1 Terabyte of HD space and a Blu-ray/HD DVD drive. The closest price I found from HP was about $500 more for a similar setup. Dell and others are quite a bit more. Either they had a Blu-ray only or HD DVD only drive too. Getting one with a hybrid drive wasn't an option with many of them. And none of them came with a Terabyte of HD or 3G or RAM standard. Sure you could add them on but there goes the price.

    I picked up an AverMedia Bravo tuner card to add to it show I can record two shows at once. Any since you can pick up QAM with either card I can record my local Hi-Def channels over cable. And when cable starts up with digital only I will be ready as both cards handle digital as well as analog.
     
  6. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie
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    Parker,
    Who's the manufacturer on the combo drive?
     
  7. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    Stephen:

    I believe it is an LG drive.
     
  8. collinong

    collinong Member

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    I am very tempted by this system. I know it says only 1 PCIe x1 slot is available, but what slots are actually on the motherboard and what is already in them? What is the playback software included for the HD-DVD and BR? Have you looked on the motherboard for a SPDIF output header? If there is one, then you can hook up a connector for coax digital out pretty easily.
     
  9. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    Collin:

    If I remember right it has two PCI slots that one is used for the ATI and the other one is used for connecting to your phone line. Then between those there are two PCIe slots. One used by the Vsix tuner card leaving you with another PCIe slot that I used for another tuner card, in my case the AverMedia Bravo. When Hauppauge or someother tuner card manufacturer makes something like the MCE 500 that has a hybrid analog/digital tuner I will take out those two cards and put one of those in.

    PowerDVD 7.5 is included as the playback software. When you first put a Blu-ray or HD DVD disc it PowerDVD goes and downloads the necessary drivers to play them back. The plug-in I mentioned is really cool as it allows you to be in VMC drop out to PowerDVD and then back into VMC when you stop play back.

    I am not certain about the output header for S/PDIF. I am just going to end up using the audio over HDMI anyway so it really isn't a big deal. I could always get a sound card with a coax or optical S/PDIF out but it really isn't a biggie for me.

    This is a really nice system. I have been using it for about 3 weeks now and have nothing but great things to say about it. The only thing it is lacking is a Firewire connection. Again no biggie for me but it might be for you. For the money it is really hard to beat with everything that it comes with.
     
  10. collinong

    collinong Member

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    Are you sure about the two PCI slots? The reason I ask is because it's unlikely the ATI video card would be in a PCI slot, rather than a PCIe x16. I would think 1 PCIe x16 (vid card), 2 PCIe x1 (tuner and open), and at least 1 standard PCI slot, maybe two?

    If you get the chance to look inside for the header, please do. Unfortunately I don't have an HDMI receiver yet so have to find a way to get digital sound out...

    Also, do you know if the motherboard is a full-size ATX or microATX size board? (I might want to transplant it into a HTPC case at some point)
     
  11. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    Colin:

    I will check this out. I am not all that up on what slot is which and it could be that the video card is plugged into a PCIe x 16. There are only four slots. Two PCIe x 1, the probable PCIe x 16 and then the PCI. Also, as far as the mobo is concerned I believe it is a micro ATX but there again I will have to check. It would be cool to tranfer the guts to an HTPC case by Silverstone or similar. What case would you consider moving it to?
     
  12. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    Collin:

    Ok here is a list of the components.

    It is a ECS MCP61PM-GM AM2 mATX Motherboard. It has one PCIe x 16, 2 PCIe x 1 and one PCI slots. The hybrid DVD drive is a HLDS Blu-ray, HD DVD ROM / Super Multi-DVD+/-RW Hybrid Drive. It has 4 (SATA) connectors.

    It does have the U - SPDIF-Out Connector on the mobo. I will check to see if it is plugged in to anything. Does this usually plug with one end in the connector and the other end into the audio outs or what? I am not sure which mini plug to use in the audio outs. The manual says to use one side speaker plug (which doesn't make any sense for S/PDIF) and then elsewhere they say to use the line out/front speakers jack. The other thing to do is to just buy a nice audio card with a S/PDIF out and us it to replace the phone jack that is wasting the PCI slot.
     
  13. collinong

    collinong Member

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    Thanks for that parts list! i did look on the gateway site but could not find that for some reason. The reason i wanted to know about the size of the motherboard was to see what cases it would fit in. The Antec Fusion is a shorter case than a Silverstone I currently have but only takes mATX.

    On the SPDIF out, usually, you can find a plug that will take the internal connector to a RCA jack (for coax) or an optical jack. I am not sure what the 3 pin header shown in the specs does though. It usually will not be plugged to one of the mini jacks for audio. Sometimes the back panel will have coax or optical on there which is the best option.

    Right now, my main hold-up is that, to my understanding, when using a htpc as a BD or HD DVD player, you can't get bitstreaming of the new audio codec formats over the HDMI to a receiver. If somebody can tell me you can, then I'd be a step closer to closing on this machine. Or, if not using HDMI, then what kind of audio can one get out of the SPDIF?
     
  14. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    I am not really clear on this myself. The only thing I have read is that Auzentech is going to be releasing a daughter board to go with their sounds cards that will handle True HD and DTS MA. You would think that with it being an HDMI output from your PC you would get True HD and DTS MA. The problem is that the audio that is sent out over the ATI video card as 5.1. Hopefully the next generation of video cards will pass these higher codecs over HDMI.
     
  15. collinong

    collinong Member

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    that auzentech hdmi audio card looks interesting, but I couldn't tell from the article how it manages to combine the video data with the audio data since they would be coming from separate cards (video and sound cards). It also looks like it takes up another PCIe x1 slot in addition to the sound card slot and slots are at a premium in htpc applications.
     
  16. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    Yep. It would take up another PCIe slot and at the same time you would have to go out over S/PDIF and not over HDMI. I have heard that they are working on 5.1 TrueHD and DTS MA over HDMI in an HTPC but it looks like that is going to have to be with the next gen video cards. I still have to get my HDMI receiver and check this out to see what is what. Then Denon is has 1.3a and I am anxious to see what gets sent out over my HDMI to the receiver. I have the impression though that the higher end audio is going to have to wait.
     
  17. robgrish

    robgrish New Member

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    I just discovered this site last week. It's been very helpful. I've just purchased this pc from buy.com and am having trouble getting a blue-ray movie to play (it plays regular DVD’s fine). I have it hooked up to a Westinghouse HDTV via a hdmi cable and the enclosed dongle.

    I don’t know if the issue is that I need to download additional drivers, or if it is the software (CyberLink Ultra PowerDVD).

    Cyberlink comes up after I put a disk in, but when I push play, the following error message appears:

    “A critical component of the player requires periodic updates. New movies could fail to play if the critical component is not updated promptly. Would you like to update now?”

    I say YES, then another message appears:

    “There is a problem with the internet connection, the update did not complete. Please check the internet connection and try again.”

    My internet connection is fine. I’ve contacted Gateway and their suggestion is to reinstall vista. I would think that there’s an easier solution.

    Oh yeah, I also used Cyberlink's diagnostics tool and it showed that my pc should be playing blue-ray disks perfectly fine.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


    Robert
     
  18. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Robert: What happens if you select NO when you get the "error" message and are prompted to do the update?
     
  19. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    When I started up my Blu-Ray/HD DVD drive for the first time I had to download the upgrade for it to be able to play back either Blu-ray or HD DVD.

    Can you get on the internet with IE? If you can web browse I would get on Cyberlink and download the drivers from there. Or just open IE and then see if you can download the upgrade from within Cyberlink.
     

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