The modern Windows PC may come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but few are as compact as the corporate-friendly Gateway DS50.

Under 27cm tall when standing upright, the Gateway DS50's 10cm width means it slides on to small desks while taking little space. Or it can be placed on its side, a useful option for placing a monitor on top.

The design of the case is fairly sober, a bright red flash on the front the only dose of colour on an otherwise matt black chassis. The size alone makes this a product to coo at, and will be welcome where low noise levels are appreciated. The Gateway DS50 is near-silent, the occasional whirring of the 3.5in hard disk the only sign there’s life in the PC. It runs cool as well, the case still cold to our touch after twelve hours.

The small dimensions of the case will make it tricky to perform upgrades and repairs to the Gateway DS50 though. Three screws fastening the lid needed some force initially; after they could be unscrewed with ease. Both hard disk and optical drive can be removed, although a significant area of the motherboard is obscured from view.

Only one of the Gateway DS50's four memory slots is occupied, and PCI-E x1 and x16 slots are vacant. You’ll be very restricted in the type of cards you can install though, and the small Liteon 220W PSU may prove restrictive.

Hard disk storage is courtesy of a 320GB Seagate Barracuda drive. The DVD Writer is an HL DT-ST GH41N SuperDrive, which should offer 18-speed DVD-writing capabilities. Ten USB ports are included (four of them front-mounted), and an eSATA port allows fast access to external storage drives.

You aren’t going to buy the Gateway DS50 for gaming, of course. The Intel GMA 4500HD controller produces low frame rates – 7fps in FEAR, for instance. However, the Intel Core i3 530 CPU that beats at the heart of this PC propels it to a WorldBench score of exactly 100. That’s more than fast enough for most business tasks. Microsoft Office and internet applications will be well served by the Gateway, and the Windows 7 Professional operating system runs smoothly.

See also: Group test: what's the best desktop PC?

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

Gateway DS50: Specs

  • 2.93GHz Intel Core i3 530
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Professional
  • Acer H57H-AD motherboard
  • 2GB PC3-10600U (1333MHz) DDR3-RAM
  • 320GB 7200rpm SATA HDD
  • Liteon PS-5221-8 220W PSU
  • Acer case
  • Intel GMA 4500HD
  • DVI, VGA
  • 10x USB (4x front-mounted)
  • 1x eSATA
  • 18x DVD±RW DL drive
  • Gateway Recovery Management software
  • Nero 9 Essentials
  • 102 x 397 x 267mm
  • 2-year warranty (1-year on-site parts and labour)
  • 2.93GHz Intel Core i3 530
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Professional
  • Acer H57H-AD motherboard
  • 2GB PC3-10600U (1333MHz) DDR3-RAM
  • 320GB 7200rpm SATA HDD
  • Liteon PS-5221-8 220W PSU
  • Acer case
  • Intel GMA 4500HD
  • DVI, VGA
  • 10x USB (4x front-mounted)
  • 1x eSATA
  • 18x DVD±RW DL drive
  • Gateway Recovery Management software
  • Nero 9 Essentials
  • 102 x 397 x 267mm
  • 2-year warranty (1-year on-site parts and labour)

OUR VERDICT

The Gateway DS50 isn’t about performance – which will almost certainly be sufficient for most businesses. Instead it’s about a compact size and quiet operation. It won’t be perhaps as easy to upgrade or repair as big-box PCs, but it’ll perform the job well for its target audience while taking up little room.

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