Gateway GWTN156-3BK review: A gaming laptop that lives a bit too loud

Gateway’s again! This once-famous PC corporate from the 1990s was once bought by way of Acer some years in the past. It sat idle till Acer resuscitated the Gateway logo previous this yr, whole with spotted-cow mascot, as a Walmart unique. One of the crucial first new choices, the poetically named Gateway GWTN156-3BK, builds a Comet Lake-H cell CPU and a modestly competitive Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 chip right into a computer costing simply $999 at Walmart.

Does it ship? Completely. Whilst each the to be had reminiscence and SSD are sparser than we’d like, our exams printed adequate to superb gaming efficiency. The design has its highlights too, together with a good keyboard and a excellent mixture of connectivity choices.

This evaluate is a part of our ongoing roundup of the most efficient laptops. Cross there for info on competing merchandise and the way we examined them. 

Gateway GWTN156-3BK logo 1 Mark Hachman / IDG

The Gateway spotted-cow brand reappears at the lid of the computer.

Gateway GWTN156-3BK: Specifications and contours

In a yr when everybody wishes a computer to paintings or find out about from house, even a antique PC logo like Gateway can get some traction—we noticed this computer transfer out and in of availability all over our evaluate length. (There could also be a model with a Ryzen five 4600H and a GeForce GTX 1650 for $799Take away non-product hyperlink.)  There’s no dating to Walmart’s personal Motile space logo, of which we reviewed the unusually excellent Motile M142 price range computer (recently out of inventory). 

With maximum premier gaming laptops priced at a number of thousand bucks, the query we wish to resolution is the place Gateway (or Acer) lower corners to deliver this gaming computer right down to its $1,000 worth level. There are not any permutations on reminiscence or SSD measurement, as an example, despite the fact that the quantities you get are ok. Listed below are the principle specifications:

  • Show: 15.6-inch LCD IPS (1920×1080, 120Hz) non-touch
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-10300H (“Comet Lake”)
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 6GB
  • Reminiscence:  8GB Micron DDR4-3200 
  • Garage: 256GB PCIe SSD (PM8256GPTCB4B8TF-E13T2A)
  • Ports: 1 HDMI 2.zero, 2 miniDisplayPort 1.Four, USB-C (fee+knowledge switch), 2 USB three.1, ethernet, microSD, Kensington lock
  • Digital camera: 720p (user-facing)
  • Battery: 46.7 Wh (design and whole fee)
  • Wi-fi: WiFi 6 (Intel AX201), Bluetooth 
  • Running machine: Home windows 10 House
  • Dimensions (inches): 14.2 x nine.7 x zero.8in.
  • Weight: Four kilos
  • Colour: Black
  • Worth: $999 at Walmart

The exterior design is obvious, with a charcoal plastic shell and the vintage Gateway spotted-cow badge decorating the lid. The quirkiness of the emblem—there’s any other cow peering quizzically at you from the computer’s desktop background—is rather at odds with the gamer aesthetic, particularly with the cow looking at down on the RGB-lit keyboard.

Gateway GWTN156-3BK power performance toggle Mark Hachman / IDG

Gateway’s GWTN156-3BK supplies a button to the left of the ability button to modify between Place of business, Gaming, and Turbo modes, however it has little impact.

What does scream “gamer” are the competitive air flow openings to the edges, backside and rear. The lovers scream too, sadly—virtually at all times whining gently within the background, even if manually set to the low fan mode within the Regulate Heart application. It was once ceaselessly loud sufficient to harass me till I donned headphones.

Similar, to the left of the ability button above the keyboard there’s a secondary button with 3 modes: Place of business, Gaming, and Turbo. For the lifetime of me I couldn’t perceive why Gateway had incorporated it, as our efficiency checking out printed that the modes did completely not anything that our exams may discern. As soon as the fan dropped down into “low” and close off in Place of business mode, I after all grokked why the toggle was once helpful.

The port structure is considerable and but irritating. USB Kind-A ports embellish each side of the computer, supporting an exterior keyboard and mouse in the event you so want. A dropjaw model of the ethernet connector supplies each top bandwidth and lowered ping occasions. There’s a unmarried HDMI port and two miniDisplayPort connectors, best possible for my current miniDP-to-HDMI cables. There’s even an an increasing number of uncommon SD card slot.

Gateway GWTN156-3BK right side Mark Hachman / IDG

Gateway’s computer supplies a couple of USB-A ports and a full-sized SD card slot at the proper…

The ones show growth ports play into the computer’s skill to sport at the move—both to plug into a chum’s exterior show, or use your individual. The Gateway’s 120Hz show is somewhat slower than one of the crucial 144Hz or upper presentations you’ll see on pricier gaming laptops, however it’s nonetheless an eye-pleasing refresh price and a cast effort for the cheap fashion. 

Take into account, despite the fact that, that this can be a 1080p show unfold out over a 15.6-inch display. The answer doesn’t glance as crisp at this measurement, and the show can glance somewhat washed-out, too.

Gateway GWTN156-3BK left side Mark Hachman / IDG

…and left, with a USB-A port, an ethernet jack, and each a mic and a headphone jack.

The largest port frustration is the one USB-C, as it’s now not Thunderbolt-compatible. That implies you’ll be able to’t profit from the newest show and garage units the usage of that speedy connection. Gateway additionally positions the barrel-charger 180W energy port on the rear of the computer, too, and it has a tendency to transform snagged while you put the computer down.

Gateway rear panel Mark Hachman / IDG

At the rear of the chassis, you’ll discover a pair of miniDisplayPorts, the HDMI 2.zero port, and a generic USB-C connector, plus the ability port.

Keyboard: Excellent for gaming and paintings

The Gateway GWTN156-3BK’s keyboard is first rate, with person keys measuring about 1.5cm broad—reasonable for many laptops we’ve observed, aside from for the pricier Microsoft Floor notebooks. Each and every secret is slightly stiff, with a undeniable “backside” to the shuttle, which wears to your fingertips after slightly. As I in most cases do, alternatively, I wrote this evaluate at the GWTN156-3BK’s keyboard, and it wasn’t part dangerous. So far as the keyboard is anxious, this can be a computer that you’ll be able to paintings and play on.

Gateway GWTN156-3BK keyboard Mark Hachman / IDG

The Gateway GWTN156-3BK keyboard is rather at ease to kind upon, and features a quantity pad to fulfill lefties who use the ones keys for gaming.

It wouldn’t be a gaming computer with out bling. Each and every key has 4 gradations of backlighting, greater than a standard productiveness computer, plus the “off” environment. The well-designed Gateway Regulate Heart app (extra in this later) lets in you to make a choice from quite a lot of other colours, or randomly cycle thru what seems to be 28 other colour choices. The RGB birthday party is probably not as energetic as what Alienware, Razer, or different gaming peripherals be offering, as the colour adjustments cycle in the course of the keyboard keys as an entire, reasonably than by the use of person keys or zones. Nonetheless, there’s no less than some reminder that you’ll be able to have some a laugh with this computer.

The Gateway GWTN156-3BK contains a big, plasticky trackpad. The responsiveness appeared ok, despite the fact that scrolling up and down thru a webpage appeared somewhat asymmetric. The trackpad isn’t fairly clickable all of the option to the highest. There are not any secondary buttons, both. 

Gateway GWTN156-3BK rgb keyboard Mark Hachman / IDG

The Gateway GWTN156-3BK doesn’t be offering an excessive amount of in the best way of RGB customization, however the fundamental capacity exists.

Multimedia: Use headphones, and purchase a webcam

Gateway takes good thing about the computer’s wide keyboard base by way of reputedly positioning the downward-facing audio system proper on the entrance two edges of the computer, in order that the sound appears to be pressured out of each side. This offers some great audio separation, and is helping positionally orient sounds—from any other participant, say, or a automobile—in video games that fortify this selection. The audio system sounded flat and rather nasal on the low finish, however with enough quantity.

The Realtek Audio Console app, which Gateway contains with the GWTN156-3BK, is helping in two techniques. First, the app’s Omni Speaker settings toughen the speaker reaction from “flat” to one thing extra well-rounded. Realtek’s incorporated equalizer additionally permits you to track no matter audio you’re enjoying. Sadly, in fact, you’ll have to enter the app itself and carry out the vital adjustments.

The Gateway GWTN156-3BK options THX enhancement, which is marketed at the computer’s chassis itself. For some reason why the computer additionally features a 2nd THX Spatial Audio for PCs audio app, whole with equalizer. But the app doesn’t seem to do a lot of anything else, if in any respect, as a result of tweaking the audio settings produced no discernible impact.

Neatly, no less than with the bodily audio system themselves. We’ve written again and again about how computer audio system faded in comparison to the audio enjoy headphones ship, and the THX audio enhancement kicks in when headphones are plugged in. The whole thing improves considerably with the THX improvements enabled, whole with bass spice up, the equalizer, discussion enhancement, and quantity leveling. Two gaming settings—“grand” and “hyperlocator”—seem to be for many who desire explicit positional audio, or those that don’t thoughts a extra normal audio soundscape.

Gateway GWTN156-3BK camera 1 Mark Hachman / IDG

Not anything excellent can come of hanging the webcam on the backside of the display.

As for the webcam… properly, it exists. As a 720p digital camera buried on the very backside of the show’s “chin,” it’ll turn out that any individual is sitting on the keyboard, even though you’ll need to push the show some distance again in order that it might probably see your face. Purchase an affordable webcam as an alternative.

Gateway’s GWTN156-3BK doesn’t send with a lot bloatware, except the more than one (Realtek and THX) audio apps in addition to the Firefox browser and an peculiar addition, Forge of Empires. I’m now not certain why the incorporated “Command Heart” app hides inside a folder throughout the Get started menu, and why Gateway didn’t upload it to the Get started tiles. Nonetheless, Regulate Heart is a slick-looking app, with choices to keep an eye on the fan pace and to be had keyboard lighting fixtures.

gateway control center Mark Hachman / IDG

The Gateway Regulate Heart instrument.

Efficiency checking out: Improve concerns

In the case of efficiency, the Gateway GWTN156-3BK has two specifications that are meant to provide you with pause. The primary is the to be had reminiscence: With simply 8GB inside of, you will have to believe upgrading the computer to 16GB or past by way of opening up the chassis by the use of the user-accessible screws. The issue is that Gateway slapped a “guaranty seal” sticky label on best of certainly one of them, because of this that you just’ll need to argue, by the use of a 2018 FTC advisory, that the ones forms of guaranty stickers don’t have an effect on your rights.

Simply as critical, albeit otherwise, is the restricted 256GB of SSD garage. On a productiveness computer, that is no large deal; alternatively, with video games like Purple Lifeless Redemption 2, Microsoft’s newest Flight Simulator, and Name of Responsibility: Fashionable War’s Warzone all pushing 100GB of information by way of themselves, your inside garage choices will likely be restricted. Name of Responsibility: Black Ops Chilly Conflict will take 175GB to 250GB of garage on its own, which most probably manner it wouldn’t are compatible at the pressure in any respect.

I preferred the idea that of the Gateway GWTN156-3BK serving as each a administrative center PC in addition to an after-hours gaming workstation, however it fell quick in two techniques. Even with the computer set to Place of business mode, the fan often whined away within the background—there’s no silent mode for administrative center paintings. I additionally wasn’t inspired with how the Gateway dropped frames on our 4K/60Hz YouTube check video; shouldn’t a gaming computer be capable of deal with this?

Navigating the GTX/RTX transition

Even though this can be a price range computer, its basics are complicated: a 10th-gen “Comet Lake” H-series CPU, plus the next-gen RTX 2060 GPU. The RTX 2060 is the lowest-end fashion of this technology, however even it takes good thing about two key options that the prior technology of GTX fashions don’t: real-time ray tracing, which visually complements video games by way of modelling the best way mild displays and refracts off of quite a lot of surfaces, and DLSS 2.zero, which makes use of AI options discovered throughout the RTX 2060’s Tensor cores to ship visible enhancements similar to anti-aliasing, with out requiring their computational workload. Necessarily, you’re getting a prettier sport at sooner framerates. (We have now a fuller clarification of DLSS 2.zero in addition to a take a look at what ray tracing in video games like Minecraft can do for you.) There’s a somewhat wide technological divide right here, despite the fact that: The majority of (older) video games are coded with out fortify for both generation. 

Efficiency checking out: Benchmarks

Despite the fact that we examined the usage of each the Place of business and Turbo environment, the adaptation between the 2 was once just about nonexistent save for the HandBrake and Hearth Strike Excessive exams. Even then, the variations had been slight and didn’t impact the GWTN156-3BK’s score.

We examined towards a wide spectrum of gaming laptops right here. Lenovo’s Legion Y740 prices with regards to $2,000. The MSI GS65 Stealth prices about $1,700. The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 prices $1,450. The $830 Acer Nitro five (2019) and the $1,335 Acer Nitro 7 are the nearest comparisons to our $999 Gateway we’re checking out right here.

We took a temporary take a look at productiveness efficiency by the use of the PCWork Inventive benchmark, simply to make sure that not anything avoided it from navigating thru standard workloads like picture manipulation and video modifying. For this check and this check simplest, we when put next the GWTN156-3BK towards some price range productiveness notebooks. Obviously there is no factor right here, because it tops the heap.

Gateway GWTN156-3BK pcmark creative Mark Hachman / IDG

We’ve when put next the Gateway GWTN156-3BK towards some contemporary productiveness laptops at or across the $1,000 worth level, only for this one check. As it’s possible you’ll be expecting, the Gateway tops the heap.

Cinebench’s R15 free up makes use of the entire CPU’s horsepower to render a two-dimensional scene. With a Four-core, Eight-thread Comet Lake processor below the hood, the Gateway GWTN156-3BK doesn’t do this properly. As we’ll see in a while, alternatively, efficiency will increase below other workloads.

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