Laptop Mag Verdict
The Gateway Creator Series 15 laptop brings fantastic performance at a budget price, but is let down by an abysmal battery and a weak CPU.
Sleek, thin design
Strong GPU for gaming
Brilliant bang for your buck
Terrible battery life
Fans run loud
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CPU: Intel Core i5-10300H
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060
Storage: 256GB SSD
Display: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080, 120Hz
Size: 14.8 x 9.6 x 0.8 inches
Weight: 4 pounds
Acer’s revival of the iconic cow-influenced, now Walmart-exclusive, Gateway laptop brand in 2020 has felt a tad lackluster, but its 15.6-inch Creator, packing an Nvidia RTX 2060 GPU for only $799, makes this new series of laptops more appealing.
That said, we’re not sure who it's marketed for. For a “Creator Series” laptop, its Intel Core i5-10300H CPU with 8GB of RAM isn’t the best for video editing software or high-performance tasks, and it sounds like a jet engine on the cusp of blowing up when playing any kind of game (a headset is recommended). Not to mention, the battery life is abysmal and the display is unacceptably dim.
Despite those flaws, those looking for an RTX 2060 GPU in a thin and affordable laptop can’t go wrong with this gaming, we mean, performance notebook. Although, gamers might find a few more affordable options on our best cheap gaming laptops page.
Gateway Creator Series 15 price and configuration options
The Gateway Creator Series 15.6-inch laptop we reviewed is currently being sold at $799 (originally $999) and features an Intel i5-10300H processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 GPU with 6GB of vRAM, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, along with a 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080-pixel display. At the discounted price, these specs sound a lot more convincing than the original $1,000 MSRP. Gateway laptops are exclusively being sold in the U.S. at Walmart.
Gateway Creator Series 15 design
The Gateway Creator Series goes for a sleek, minimalist look, and it pulls it off well. It will suit those who like a simplistic, yet sturdy design. Its plastic hood is flat and matte black, with a silver Gateway logo engraved in the centre.
The laptop’s interior is equally simple, with a black deck and an end-to-end keyboard with RGB backlighting. There’s a power button on the top-right corner of its chassis, along with a performance button right beside it to select the power mode (Office, Gaming or Turbo). It’s not every day we get a budget gaming laptop with such a slick design.
Its side and top bezels are wonderfully thin to give the screen that slight awe factor. However, the thick bottom bezel detracts from what Gateway was attempting with the Creator. And the bottom-mounted webcam is doing the overall design no favors.
Coming in at 4 pounds and 14.8 x 9.6 x 0.8 inches, the Gateway is fairly thin and lightweight compared to the Acer Nitro 5 (4.8 pounds, 14.3 x 10 x 1 inches) and the Asus ROG Strix G15 (G512LI) (5.3 pounds, 14.2 x 10.8 x 1 inches).
Gateway Creator Series 15 ports
The Gateway Creator Series 15.6-inch Performance Notebook has plenty of ports that will connect to all the standard peripherals. On the right side, there are two USB 3.1 Type-A ports and an SD card slot.
The left has a slot for Ethernet, a USB 2.0 port along with headphone and microphone jacks.
Along the rear, you have an HDMI and two Mini DisplayPort ports as well as a USB Type-C port and power jack — an understandable choice for the type of laptop it’s meant to be (more on that later).
Gateway Creator Series 15 display
While the Gateway Creator Series’ 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080-pixel, 120Hz display offers smooth frame rates when gaming, the panel is very dull and dim.
Watching WandaVision (wacky show, eh?), there wasn’t much awe in color transitions during the colour-changing scene. In fact, Vision looked like he went from black and white to an equally-as-dull red and...green, was it? That said, the clarity of shows and movies that I watched was surprisingly sharp and detailed, as I spotted circuit outlines on Vision's face along with the Mind Stone.
When I played The Medium, I would randomly get stuck behind a desk and it was hard to make out if it was there in the first place due to the immutable darkness. When hiding from the eerily creepy The Maw, which camouflages itself, it was near impossible to see the monster's outline for me to hide from it. When playing Ori and the Will of the Wisps, artistic colours hardly popped, but watching Ori flip and dash around platforms was eye-catching thanks to the 120Hz.
In terms of display brightness, the Gateway Creator Series scored 235 nits of brightness, which is dimmer than the entry-level gaming laptop average (268 nits). It scored worse than the Acer Nitro 5 (245 nits) and Asus ROG Strix G15 (251 nits). That’s a tough blow.
According to our colorimeter, the Gateway laptop covered 44% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, which isn’t far off from the budget gaming laptop average (52%). The Nitro 5 (45%) and Strix G15 (46%) were in the same ballpark, beating it ever-so-slightly.
Gateway Creator Series 15 audio
The Gateway Creator 15 boasts bottom-mounted speakers with the renowned THX Spatial Audio technology, which can definitely be heard when watching movies, playing games or listening to music. However, it doesn’t have much bass, which makes it sound a little hollow. Despite that, the sound is still decent.
When listening to Mötley Crüe’s “Kickstart My Heart”, I felt that full-blast rock ‘n roll electricity, and the music got loud. That said, the sound of drums wasn’t a strong point. For a more modern hit, I listened to deadmau5’s “Arguru 2k19”, and despite its clear notes and being able to hear subtle sounds creeping in, the bass fell short. No oomph, no bops.
I then watched John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum at full volume and it immersed me in all the gunshots, bone breaks and dog-chomping action. However, when too much was happening on-screen, such as the hotel fight scene with orchestral music playing in the background while John Wick kicks ass, everything sounded muffled.
Gateway Creator Series 15 keyboard and touchpad
Without a doubt, the weakest point of the Gateway Creator Series is its keyboard. The layout is too wide, with the keys being too spaced out. That’s fine when gaming, but typing for work always felt off, not to mention the keys offer a mediocre click.
I hit an atrocious 55 words per minute when using the keyboard, which is far lower than my 70 words per minute average. I constantly kept pressing other keys that I didn’t mean to, and it did not feel natural.
However, the Gateway does come with RGB key lighting, which is always a nice touch that excites the gamer in me. The keys are bright, although there is only a single-zone lighting control. Still, it’s a nice touch for a budget system.
The touchpad isn’t that great, either. Clicking feels cheap and flimsy, although the Windows Precision drivers made it quite responsive to Windows 10 gestures, like two-finger scrolling and three-finger tabbing.
Gateway Creator Series 15 graphics and gaming
This is where the Gateway Creator Series really shines. For less than $1,000, it offers an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 with 6GB of VRAM, which let me cruise along the streets of Los Santos while playing Grand Theft Auto V on Very High settings at 1080p at 66 frames per second.
The Gateway Creator Series averaged 62 fps on the Far Cry New Dawn benchmark (Ultra, 1080p), which blasted past the 54 fps category average, although it fell short of the Nitro 5 which boasted 79 fps. It did beat the Strix G15, which scored 57 fps.
When up against the GTA V benchmark (Very High, 1080p), the Gateway Creator Series scored 66 fps, which is well past the 50 fps entry-level gaming category average. It landed only a tad short of the Nitro 5 (67 fps) but blasted past the Strix G15 (44 fps).
On the Metro Exodus benchmark (Ultra, 1080p), the Gateway Creator Series averaged 48 fps, and 44 fps with RTX on, which went way past the 37-fps category average. Here, it beat the Nitro 5, which landed 47 fps with RTX off and 43 fps with RTX on, and blazed past the Strix G15 at 30 fps.
Finally, on the Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark (Highest, 1080p), the Gateway Creator Series scored 53 fps, beating the 42 fps category average. It even topped the Nitro 5 (52 fps) and Strix G15 (40 fps). When it comes to mid-range gaming, the Gateway Creator Series will deliver substantial frame rates.
Gateway Creator Series 15 performance
The Gateway Creator Series packs an Intel Core i5-10300H CPU with 8GB of RAM, which is the bare minimum needed for photo and video editing, gaming and multitasking. It’s not ideal considering the laptop is targeting content creators who typically need beefy specs to get the job done. Still, it could run more than 40 tabs on Google Chrome, with four YouTube videos playing before I started to see some hiccups.
This meant I could keep plenty of tabs open while browsing through websites, shop on Amazon, and write articles on Google Docs while listening to music on YouTube. I experienced noticeable lag once too many tabs were open.
On the Geekbench 5.0 overall performance test, it scored 4,042, which is just below the entry-level gaming laptop category average of 4,631. The Nitro 5 served up a score of 5,435, while the Strix G15 scored 5,168. That’s not great for a laptop supposedly used for creativity.
The Gateway Creator Series took 14 minutes and 4 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p on our HandBrake benchmark, which fell short of the category average set at 11:41. However, the Acer Nitro 5 was right on the money (11:41), along with the even better Strix G15 (10:28).
When we ran the file transfer test, the Gateway Creator Series’ 256GB SSD duplicated 4.97GB of multimedia files in 12 seconds at a transfer rate of 459 megabytes per second. This was actually faster than the entry-level gaming category average (402 MBps), blowing past the Nitro 5 (301 MBps) which also has a 256GB SSD, and the ROG Strix G15 (129 MBps) with a 512GB SSDs.
Gateway Creator Series 15 battery life
Using the Laptop Battery Test, which consists of continuous surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness, the Gateway Creator Series lasted 4 hours and 14 minutes. It’s an embarrassing number compared to Gateway’s estimated 8 hours and the entry-level gaming laptop average time of 06:39. The Strix G15 lasted nearly an hour longer at 5:11 while the Nitro 5 blew it out of the park, boasting 07:06.
Gateway Creator Series 15 heat
The Gateway Creator Series stays very cool due to its plastic chassis and numerous fans. However, the fans are loud — very loud. After gaming for 15 minutes, the underside reached 89 degrees Fahrenheit, which is well below our 95-degree comfort threshold. As for the center of the keyboard, this reached 103 degrees while the touchpad reached 80 degrees. Its hottest surface was 109 degrees, which was just above the F12 Key.
When it was up against a 15-minute, 1080p YouTube video, the underside measured 91 degrees, the keyboard got up to 90 degrees, and the touchpad hit 80 degrees.
These are fantastic numbers, and I barely felt the Gateway heat up. It’s no wonder though, as its fans were skyrocketing when booting up any game. It sounded like an airplane turbine, and without a decent gaming headset, the noise is very noticeable.
Gateway Creator Series 15 webcam
I can’t believe laptop manufacturers are still putting webcams in the bottom bezel in this day and age. No one should see an upward-facing camera angle of my neck and nostrils. No one (yet here we go).
Similar to other laptop cameras, it has a 720p resolution, which suffers from blurry faces, terrible background clarity and dull colors. For example, my LA Lakers coffee mug, featuring the team's gold colours, looks more like a dark, mustard colour. If you need a webcam for streaming, check out our best webcams page.
Gateway Creator Series 15 software and warranty
The Gateway Creator Series has GamingCenterU software that lets you customize the performance, battery, fans and audio of the laptop. It also lets you monitor the system.
It also comes with a one-month free pass to Xbox Game Pass, which will always catch the eye of gamers.
The Gateway Creator Series also comes with a one-year limited warranty. Acer owns Gateway, so you can check how Acer performed on our Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Laptop Brands ranking.
The Gateway Creator Series 15.6-inch Performance Notebook seems to be suffering from an identity crisis. The laptop’s Nvidia RTX 2060 GPU is powerful enough to deliver strong frame rates on AAA titles, but the Intel Core i5 CPU is barely powerful enough to handle the multimedia content creators specialize in. Plus, the laptop is burdened with a dim, dull display, an awkwardly spaced keyboard, and an unsightly nose cam.
For $999, you can get the Acer Nitro 5, which offers better performance, a nicer display and longer battery life. Still, gamers looking for an Nvidia RTX card for a reasonable price will be hard-pressed to do better than the $799 Gateway Creator Series.
Darragh Murphy is fascinated by all things bizarre, which usually leads to assorted coverage varying from washing machines designed for AirPods to the mischievous world of cyberattacks. Whether it's connecting Scar from The Lion King to two-factor authentication or turning his love for gadgets into a fabricated rap battle from 8 Mile, he believes there’s always a quirky spin to be made. With a Master’s degree in Magazine Journalism from The University of Sheffield, along with short stints at Kerrang! and Exposed Magazine, Darragh started his career writing about the tech industry at Time Out Dubai and ShortList Dubai, covering everything from the latest iPhone models and Huawei laptops to massive Esports events in the Middle East. Now, he can be found proudly diving into gaming, gadgets, and letting readers know the joys of docking stations for Laptop Mag.