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Unlike typical technology upstarts, Gateway has had a storied journey that began on an Iowa cattle ranch in 1985. Its two founders, Ted Waitt and Mike Hammond, built the company from the ground up with a $10,000 loan from Waitt's grandmother and enjoyed quite a successful run up until the dot-com bubble burst in the early 2000s.

Despite attempts to remain profitable, like entering the consumer electronics market and purchasing eMachines in 2004, Gateway was ultimately acquired by industry giant Acer in 2007. The company still operates as a subsidiary of Acer, which isn't a bad thing considering they are among the top three largest PC makers in the world.

The Small Form Factor system that we'll be reviewing today, part of Gateway's SX desktop series, is nearly identical in form and fit to the Acer Aspire X1200 we looked at nearly two years ago. Of course, the internals have been beefed up to meet today’s standards, but the layout and styling cues are very similar.

The SX series from Gateway is one-third the size of a traditional desktop tower yet it still packs a sizable punch for its small footprint. Exact dimensions are 10.43" x 3.93" x 12.4" with a weight of only 12 pounds (5.44 kg). Pricing starts at $520 with both Intel and AMD processor options that can scale up to $600 for a quad-core system like the one in our hands.

The SX2311-03 features an AMD Phenom II X4 820 processor operating at 2.8 GHz, 4GB of DDR3 memory (expandable to 8GB), a 1TB hard drive, Nvidia GeForce 9200 graphics, a 16x DVD burner and a 64-bit copy of Windows 7 Home Premium. Other notable features include a multi-card reader and an 802.11b/g/n wireless card.

As you can probably foretell by looking at the price and specs, this is not meant to be a gaming powerhouse, but it should handle serious multitasking and productivity tasks with ease, all while boasting a compact design that takes up very little desk space. Read on as we explore the Gateway SX2311-03 in closer detail.