Gateway SX 2311-03 Features

The Gateway SX2311-03 features a solid black chassis with a glossy plastic front bezel and flat black side panels. At the top of the front bezel are two buttons and a hard drive LED activity light. The left button launches the Photo Frame feature, which will automatically start a photo slideshow from any inserted memory card or other selectable location on the hard drive, while the button on the right ejects the optical drive tray hidden behind a fold-out panel on one side of the bezel.

Bundled with the mini tower is the same keyboard that came with the Gateway FX 6831-03 gaming system we reviewed recently, as well as a nearly identical mouse without the secondary side buttons. The quality on both items is about average, adequate for its intended market, but serious users will want to upgrade these input devices.

Below the front bezel is a fold-down door that reveals a multi-card reader (xD / SD / MMC / MS / MS Pro / CF), five USB 2.0 ports and headphone / microphone jacks. Moving on to the sides you'll find various stickers with your system's specs as well as the Windows product key and perforations on the right panel for increased ventilation.

On the back of the system at the very top is the Wi-Fi connection -- it uses a wired antenna instead of an internal implementation. Below this you'll find 5.1 audio jacks, four additional USB 2.0 ports (for a total of nine), a Gigabit Ethernet jack, eSATA port, VGA and HDMI ports, PS/2 mouse and keyboard ports and the power connector. A small cooling fan exhausts warm air from the power supply at the bottom and there is also a Kensington lock slot to secure the right side panel.

With this panel removed you can appreciate how meticulous Gateway was when putting the system together. Not surprisingly, however, you'll also notice a few limitations of this affordable desktop. For example, there is one free PCI-E x16 slot but there aren't any power supply connections available, so an externally powered graphics card wouldn't really be an option. The power supply is only rated at 220 watts and likely wouldn't be able to handle a beefy graphics adapter.

The system power button can be found on top of the chassis along with what Gateway calls a Digital Device Holder, or simply a recessed area that you can place your iPod or flash drive when not in use. The narrow stance of the system makes it a bit top heavy which could be a concern around small children or pets that like to explore.