Gateway 15.6-inch Ultra Slim Notebook review: Big screen on a budget


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The Gateway 15.6-inch Ultra Slim Notebook is a classic budget PC. At $399 from Walmart, the price is hard to beat, especially considering its solid performance, decent storage space, and roomy screen size. 

The trade-offs come from all the things that don’t show up on a spec sheet. The display is harshly lit, with subpar viewing angles. The trackpad is abrasive. The plastic enclosure is creaky and wobbly, and battery life is woefully brief.

This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best laptops. Go there for information on competing products and how we tested them.

None of these compromises are new to the budget price range. Basic productivity is the realistic expectation here, and this laptop does have some strong points. If you’re undeterred by the downsides, and you really can’t spend more, Gateway’s 15.6-inch Ultra Slim Notebook might fit your bill. 

Tech specs

Our Gateway 15.6-inch Ultra Slim Notebook review unit includes the following features:

  • Display: 15.6-inch 1920×1080 IPS matte display
  • CPU: Intel Core i3-1115G4 processor
  • Memory: 8GB DDR4 RAM
  • Storage: 256GB SSD (W800SH)
  • Webcam: 720p
  • Biometrics: Fingerprint scanner
  • Left side: HDMI, USB-C, USB-A 3.0, barrel charger
  • Right side: USB-A 3.0, headphone jack, MicroSD slot (up to 512 GB)
  • Dimensions: 14.75 x 9.5 x 0.77 inches
  • Weight: 4.2 pounds (4.7 with power adapter)
gateway156rightside Jared Newman / IDG

MicroSD slots aren’t a given on laptops anymore, but Gateway’s notebook has one.

Walmart, Acer’s exclusive partner in resurrecting the Gateway brand, offers several other configurations. A version with AMD’s Ryzen 5 3450U CPU sells for the same $399, while a version with an Intel Core i5-1135G7 CPU, 512GB of storage, and 16GB of RAM sells for $579. There’s no 512GB storage option with the Core i3 processor, but the MicroSD card slot—an increasingly rare feature on any laptop—provides an easy way to add more storage.

For those who like to tinker, this laptop is delightfully upgradeable. A small hatch on the underside lets you throw in more memory. All you need is a Phillips-head screwdriver to pull off the entire rear panel, where you can access the battery and the M.2 SSD.

gateway156innards Jared Newman / IDG

Credit where due: This laptop’s internals are easily accessible with a Phillips-head screwdriver and a fingernail.

Sadly, the laptop’s sole USB-C port doesn’t support charging. That means you always have to use the included barrel charger, which charges slowly and comes with a space-hogging power adapter.

Design and display

If not for the appealing, ocean-blue finish on this particular review unit, Gateway’s 15.6-inch Ultra Slim Notebook would look much like any other low-cost, all-plastic laptop. It has thick bezels surrounding its matte display. The chassis will creak and crunch under your hands from the moment you pick it up.

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