In early 2021, I purchased the Gateway Creators Series laptop with the RTX 2060 discrete graphics card (GWTN156-3BK) to get me through the next few months as availability for many of the 3060/3070 series laptops has become more and more ridiculous. The laptop has an amazing price to performance ratio, and has been available for as low as $649 at Walmart. At the time of this writing, the price has risen – it’s $799 – but still a decent value.
After some research and some trial and error, I was able to get the maximum performance out of this laptop by making some tweaks, adding some more RAM, upgrading the NVMe drive, and by flashing a 115w VBIOS to the graphics card.
Before we begin…
I assume no risk or responsibility arising from the tutorial outlined below. All information in this tutorial is provided “as is”, with no guarantee of completeness or accuracy. Use the following information at your own risk.
Adding RAM and undervolting the CPU should not invalidate your warranty as these are standard things you’d do normally with a computer, but by flashing your VBIOS, you are risking not only your warranty, your computer may become unstable or unusable after the fact if the process goes wrong. Read everything before proceeding, be sure you’re ready to undertake the risk, do your research, make backups, and be patient.
I’d start by adding the exact same RAM to the laptop as is installed. You can order this module here, the Crucial RAM 8GB DDR4 3200 MHz CL22 Laptop Memory CT8G4SFRA32A. This alone will bring your laptop memory to 16GB, a great place for gaming on this machine.
A quick note about RAM on this device. The motherboard and CPU will limit the speed of the RAM to 2933MHz. This isn’t a huge deal and the differences are minor, but we want to do our best to avoid any potential differences in RAM manufacturers and speeds, so going with this module is the safest bet.
If 256GB isn’t enough storage space, now would also be a good time to find a larger capacity M.2 NVMe drive. For reference, I found a GeekSquad ‘refurbished’ Samsung 970 EVO Plus 1TB drive for about $125. These are drives that have typically been returned to the store for one reason or another and generally have few hours on them. If this isn’t your cup of tea, the newer Samsung 980 NVMe drives may work well for you.
Finally, if you want to upgrade to a higher capacity battery, you can upgrade to the GK5CN-00-13-4S1P-0 battery. This will increase the battery from a ~47Wh battery to a ~62Wh battery. Search your favorite site for this battery, you’ll be looking at a price around $55 – $75 depending on the location of the battery and shipping times.
Opening the Case
Once you have all these components ready to go, you’ll want to open the bottom of the laptop using a Phillips head screwdriver. Note, there is a screw hidden under the “warranty” sticker – be sure to remove the sticker and the screw underneath before trying to gently pry open the bottom case.
Once you’ve removed the bottom case, I’d advise you to disconnect the battery from the motherboard – use a plastic pry tool to gently remove the battery cable from the motherboard, then press the power button to discharge any extra power inside the capacitors.
Once that’s done, you’ll simply place the RAM into the empty SODIMM slot. If you are replacing the M.2 NVMe drive, you’ll want to either remove the existing drive and replace it, or add it to the second M.2 NVMe slot available. Finally, if you’re replacing the battery, remove the old battery and replace it with the new one. The new one will use a different screw pattern than the one you’re replacing, so be aware of where the mounting points are for this battery before and during install.
With all this done, depending on if you replaced the NVMe drive, you’ll now either boot back into Windows, or need to do a clean install of Windows. (or, if you’re savvy, you might have made an image of your existing hard drive and need to place it on the new drive.)
If you prefer a video, you can follow along using HardwareSense’s video tutorial here.
Undervolting the CPU
Undervolting the CPU on this laptop is very much recommended and will help with performance and thermals. It may also allow your CPU to give more power to the GPU, which is a great thing on a laptop primarily used for gaming.
To undervolt the CPU, shut down the laptop. Once it is completely shut down, press the power button and mash the F2 button on your computer to enter the BIOS.
When you’re in the BIOS, navigate to the “Advanced” tab and arrow-key down to “Core Voltage Offset.” Set this to
50. Be sure the “Offset Prefix” is set to
While you’re in here, depending on your needs, you may also want to set the “Switchable Graphics” option just below “Offset Prefix” to
dGPU Only. This will force your computer to use the discrete graphics card at all times, bypass Optimus, and give you higher framerates in games at the cost of power consumption and battery life.
Huge shoutout to HardwareSense for this tip.
Flashing the VBIOS
This is where things get fun. Again, I’m going to re-state the disclaimer above:
I assume no risk or responsibility arising from the tutorial outlined below. All information in this tutorial is provided “as is”, with no guarantee of completeness or accuracy. Use the following information at your own risk. This CAN brick your GPU. Please be cautious before proceeding.
Do your due diligence here, do research, and make sure you understand every part of this before you attempt this. Also, please note this process is for the model with the RTX 2060 – not the GTX 1650. (Flashing this VBIOS on that model would be catastrophic.)
- Download the HP RTX 2060 Mobile 6GB VBIOS.
- Download the “NVIDIA NVFlash 5.692.0” utility. (Google is your friend.)
- Extract “NVFlash” to a directory, for instance, C:/NVFlash.
- Place the HP RTX 2060 Mobile 6GB VBIOS into the same directory as the NVFlash utility.
- Open an elevated command line by typing
cmdin the start menu, right clicking on it, and clicking “Run As Administrator”.
- In the Command Prompt, navigate to the folder that you extracted NVFlash and the VBIOS to. Using the example above, that would be by typing
cd C:/NVFlash/x64and hitting enter. (If you’re using a x86 version of Windows, be sure to use the x86 version/folder instead.)
- Open the nvflash utility by typing the following commands then pressing enter.
nvflash --protectoff(turns off some protection about error messages and warnings.)
nvflash --save vbiosbackup.rom(saves a backup of the current VBIOS in case anything goes wrong. If something does go wrong, you should be able to re-apply this VBIOS to the card.)
nvflash -6 225910.rom(flashes the VBIOS with the one we downloaded.)
- You may have to type
ya few times to confirm the flash. Once confirmed, the flashing will begin.
- Reboot the computer when everything is done, make sure things are working properly, and enjoy!
- Put that VBIOS file in a safe place in the event you ever need to flash back to it.
If you ever need to flash back to your backup VBIOS, simply use the same commands as above, skipping the
nvflash --save vbiosbackup.rom step and using
nvflash -6 vbiosbackup.rom to flash the backup VBIOS back to factory.