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Gateway 14.1-inch Ultra Slim Notebook (2021) review: Legen-dairy budget laptop returns

Refreshed with 11th-gen Intel processors, this bovine-branded thin-and-light laptop is a bargain.

gateway-gwtn141-10rg-06
Josh Goldman/CNET

Why do cows have hooves instead of feet? They lactose. 

This is the joke (a total dad joke if ever there was one) that popped into my head when the new 14-inch Gateway GWTN141-10 laptop landed on my doorstep. For anyone familiar with the PC and electronics brand from the 1990s and early 2000s, the name is inseparable from its cow-print packaging and Holstein mascot. And that's essentially what Gateway is now -- a familiar brand used to sell affordable laptops and tablets. 

The Gateway brand is under license from Acer America, which bought Gateway in 2007. The laptops aren't made by Acer but by another manufacturer, listed as GPU Company. They are exclusive to Walmart. So, if you're asking "Do they still make Gateway laptops?" the answer is "sort of." You won't find the Gateway direct technical support that you would have gotten more than a decade ago or more than a basic warranty. (Both can be bolstered inexpensively from Walmart at purchase, by the way.) However, you will get a good general-purpose, thin-and-light laptop for $499, and if the cow helps instill some confidence in your purchase, so be it. 

7.5

Gateway GWTN141

Like

  • Good battery life, performance for price
  • Nice-looking design
  • Useful port assortment

Don't Like

  • Keyboard isn't backlit
  • Imprecise touchpad
  • Fingerprint reader is hit-or-miss

All about the specs

Late last year, the Gateway brand was revived for a new lineup of laptops sold exclusively through Walmart. Those models were recently updated with 11th-gen Intel processors. In the case of this 14-inch model, the processor went from a Core i5-1035G1 to an i5-1135G7. I didn't test the 10th-gen model, but we've tested many other 10th-gen laptops and the new 11th-gen chips are faster and better on battery life. 

Gateway GWTN141-10

Price as reviewed $499 (£366, AU$699 converted)
Display size/resolution 14.1-inch, 1920 x 1080
CPU 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-1135G7
Memory 16GB 3200MHz DDR4 SDRAM
Graphics 128MB Intel Iris Xe (integrated)
Storage 512GB SSD
Networking 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5), Bluetooth 5.2
Operating system Windows 10 (20H2, 19043)

Gateway also dropped in 16GB of memory and a 512GB solid-state drive and, combined with its Intel CPU, you're getting great specs for a $500 laptop -- on paper. When it comes to the actual performance of the SSD and memory, though, you're not getting the best of the best to back up that Core i5 processor. If you compare this Gateway's performance against a pricier similarly configured laptop, it might be a little pokier. Then again, this Gateway handled basics just fine and overall performed well. Plus, the battery lasted a couple minutes shy of 10 hours on our streaming video test, which is right in line with what Gateway claims.

gateway-gwtn141-10rg-02

The display is glossy and dim. 

Josh Goldman/CNET

One place laptop makers save money is on the display. Out of the box, the 14.1-inch 1,920x1,080-resolution screen's color was slightly cool. I was able to even it out with a calibration but colors in general are just OK and the panel is somewhat dim. You'll be fine indoors but it can be difficult to see past reflections from the glossy coating. If you need to work outside or under bright office lights regularly, you might find yourself frequently adjusting your screen angle. Off-angle viewing was fine. 

gateway-gwtn141-10rg-05

No backlight on the keyboard is a bummer.

Josh Goldman/CNET

Like the display, the rest of the laptop is solidly OK. The keyboard, for example, is comfortable enough with decent key travel and with a feel that's soft but not mushy. There is a small Shift key on the right -- a trade-off for full-size arrow keys -- that took some time for me to adjust to. The keyboard is also not backlit, although the big, bright white key legends are easier to see in dim lighting.

The touchpad is a weak spot, though. It is a Windows precision touchpad so you can use multitouch gestures with it. However, the cursor always drifted slightly beyond where I wanted it to stop. I eventually compensated for it by essentially braking early but it was frustrating while I was trying to edit docs or click on links. The touchpad also has a built-in fingerprint reader that requires precise finger placement. It, too, can be frustrating to use and you might be better off just skipping it and using a PIN to login instead. 

gateway-gwtn141-10rg-04

Plenty of ports on this Gateway.

Josh Goldman/CNET

What I do appreciate is that Gateway didn't skimp on ports, so those who want to use this for remote learning or work can easily hook up a monitor, keyboard, mouse, printer and external storage without a hub or docking station. There's also a microSD card slot and 3.5mm headset jack. The built-in stereo speakers are fine for occasional use but nothing you'd want to use all day, every day. 

One thing missing is an Ethernet port if you need a wired internet connection. You can always get an inexpensive USB-A or USB-C dongle for that or use the Gateway's 802.11ac wireless (Wi-Fi 5). The included laptop charger uses a barrel connector but it can also be charged through its USB-C port. That means you can connect a power bank to charge it on the go if you can't find an outlet.

Is a Gateway laptop good?

gateway-gwtn141-10rg-03

The 4-pound Gateway GWTN141-10 has a metal lid and plastic body.

Josh Goldman/CNET

Like any other laptop brand, not all Gateway laptops are going to be equally good. Of the current lineup, the Gateway GWTN141-10 is a good value. It doesn't have a backlit keyboard, the display isn't the brightest and the touchpad is not the most accurate. But these things are pretty common once you dip below $500. What you're getting with this Gateway is a speedy Intel processor, a decent 14-inch full-HD display, a comfortable keyboard and a strong port assortment to hook up all your peripherals. Also, if you are concerned about service or support, Walmart offers a year of online support from HelloTech for $49 and Allstate two- or three-year protection plans for $54 or $79, respectively. 

Geekbench 5 (multicore)

Acer Swift 3 SF314-42-R9YN
4,953
HP Envy 14
4,697
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14ARE05
4,429
Gateway GWTN141-10RG
4,095
Asus ZenBook 13 UX325JA-XB51
4,032
Gateway GWTN156-7BL
2,734

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Cinebench R20 CPU (multicore)

Acer Swift 3 SF314-42-R9YN
2,435
HP Envy 14
2,393
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14ARE05
2,131
Gateway GWTN141-10RG
1,488
Asus ZenBook 13 UX325JA-XB51
1,263
Gateway GWTN156-7BL
978

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

PCMark 10 Pro Edition

HP Envy 14
5,462
Acer Swift 3 SF314-42-R9YN
4,874
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14ARE05
4,616
Gateway GWTN141-10RG
4,101
Gateway GWTN156-7BL
3,998
Asus ZenBook 13 UX325JA-XB51
3,249

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Streaming video playback battery drain test (minutes)

HP Envy 14
661
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14ARE05
620
Asus ZenBook 13 UX325JA-XB51
611
Gateway GWTN141-10RG
597
Gateway GWTN156-7BL
504
Acer Swift 3 SF314-42-R9YN
474

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

System Configurations

Gateway GWTN141-10RG Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-1135G7; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,200MHz; 128MB Intel Iris Xe graphics; 512GB SSD
Gateway GWTN156-7BL Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 3GHz Intel Core i3-1115G4; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,200MHz; 128MB Intel UHD graphics; 256GB SSD
HP Envy 14 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-1135G7; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,200MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650Ti; 256GB SSD
Asus ZenBook 13 UX325JA-XB51 Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 1.2GHz Intel Core i5-1035G7; 8GB LPDDR4X 3,200MHz; 128MB UHD graphics; 256GB SSD
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14ARE05 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.38GHz AMD Ryzen 5 4500U; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,200MHz; 512MB AMD Radeon graphics; 256GB SSD
Acer Swift 3 SF314-42-R9YN Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2GHz AMD Ryzen 7 4700U; 8GB LPDDR4; 512MB Radeon graphics; 512GB SSD