Enlarge /. It looks like the cow is judging me – but that's fine, I'll judge the cow again in a moment.
The Ice Lake-powered GWTN156-1BL we're reviewing today is one of a number of low-cost Gateway branded laptops available exclusively from Walmart. We wanted to check it out last month, along with its tiny, Ryzen-powered sibling, GWTN141-2, valued at $ 350 – but it sold out so quickly that we couldn't get our hands on one until Walmart went into inventory last week refreshed.
While we're really only looking at the $ 500 version of Ice Lake today, we're going to include the specs for the $ 350 Ryzen alternative as a refresher, as we expect a lot of people to hesitate between the two. Ultimately, both machines are at least sensible purchases – but we think the cheaper GWTN141-2 is more convincing, despite being a weaker machine overall.
There aren't many laptop options available at $ 350, and the GWTN141-2 has the edge despite its warts. However, at the $ 500 of the GWTN156-1BL, the market opens up significantly. Big manufacturers like Lenovo, ASUS, and Acer all have pretty decent designs for $ 550 or less. The renovated market, on the other hand, is still not very competitive – the best deals for under $ 600 tend to be sixth generation i5 CPUs, which look skimpy next to the gateway's low-end Ice Lake.
At this price point, we're also getting closer to some compelling mainstream systems – like the Acer Aspire 5, which is better constructed and available with a significantly more powerful Ryzen 5 4500U for $ 610.
|Technical data at a glance: as checked|
|Gateway GWTN156-1BL||Gateway GWTN141-2|
|operating system||Windows 10 Home||Windows 10 Home (S mode)|
|screen||15.6-inch IPS FHD (1920 × 1080, 210 nits)||14.1-inch IPS FHD (1920 × 1080, 190 nits)|
|Central processor||Intel Core i5-1035G1||AMD Ryzen 3 3200U|
|GPU||Intel UHD for 10th generation CPUs||AMD Vega 3|
|R.A.M.||16GiB DDR4 (soldered, not expandable)||4GiB DDR4 (soldered, with an empty DIMM slot)|
|hard disk||256 GB M.2
|128 GB M.2
1×1 Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.1
1×1 Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 4.2
|size||14.8 x 9.6 x 0.8 in
(376 × 244 × 20 mm)
|13.1 x 8.9 x 0.8 in
(333 × 226 × 21 mm)
|Weight||4.3 pounds (2.0 kg)||1.6 kg|
|warranty||1 year limited||1 year limited|
|Extras||Fingerprint reader (in the touchpad),
|Fingerprint reader (in the touchpad),
|Price as tested||$ 500 at Walmart||$ 350 at Walmart|
Left: Kensington lock slot, DC barrel jack, USB 3.0 Type A, full-size HDMI, USB Type C (charge + data).
Right: USB 3.0 Type A, 3.5 mm audio combo socket, microSD card slot.
The 15.6-inch gateway keyboard looks pretty wedged together and undifferentiated, but it is pleasantly clicking and tactile.
In most lighting conditions, the gateway's relatively cheap plastic housing looks fine. But sometimes a strange, subtle rainbow effect is visible.
This Ice Lake-powered gateway laptop is primarily a 15.6-inch model of its lower-priced 14-inch Ryzen 3200U-powered cousin. It has the same colorful but unusually soft plastic case, the same touchpad with integrated fingerprint reader, and the same connection layout. The keyboard also appears to be an exact replica of the smaller laptops – but in this case with a 10-key grafted-on keyboard.
However, the newer device is significantly heavier at 4.3 pounds – which isn't entirely insane for a 15.6-inch laptop, but it's heavy enough that you should think twice before using it for an aging parent or one buy someone with weak or injured wrists. The additional weight also makes the flex of the plastic housing clearer than in the smaller, lighter version.
Although the keyboard looks like a mess, we found it comfortable to type with – there aren't any particularly weird issues with key placement, the arrow keys are full-size, and nothing strange going on with the Enter / Backslash keys. It was also noticeable, satisfyingly "clicky" and tactile – not necessarily the best choice for stealth internet while a partner is sleeping, but it rewards their lack of button presses.
The overall look and feel of the gateway is mixed – the branding is nicely and attractively applied, and in most lighting conditions the satin plastic case looks quite nice. However, we found that there was a subtle and slightly repulsive rainbow effect in the target at some angles and some light.