Powerful gaming laptops are often cumbersome things, weighty and taking up plenty of space by necessity. So it’s odd to hold Gigabyte’s powerful 14″ laptop without wondering how they managed to fit everything in.
Despite the tech on board, which we’ll come to in a bit, this laptop is surprisingly light, 1.7kg to be exactly. It’s thin, too, 1.5cm from top to bottom and a length of 34 with a depth of 23.5. The 14 inch screen helps, of course, though I should point out at this stage that it’s a 2560 x 1440 (3K) IPS panel, so it’s no basic display.
While not the fastest laptop I’ve used for gaming, the Gigabyte P34W v5 is no slouch. The laptop is fitted with the latest LG1156 Intel Skylake mobile processor, the i7-6700HQ. This can run with Turbo at 3.2 GHz. The only issue here is that it’s also got a TDP of 45W/55W, so is pretty power hungry.
It’s also paired with a GTX 970M. While it’s not as fast as a desktop GTX 970, the card is still the second fastest mobile GPU after the GTX 980M and faster than a desktop GTX 960.
16GB of fast DDR4 RAM (upgradable to 32GB) and an M.2 SSD paired with a larger 1TB HDD round off the impressive specs for this device.
Look and Design
Black aluminium covers the outside lid and makes it look like a top class business laptop when shut. That’s no bad thing if you fancy a multipurpose device that can be just as comfortable to use around an office table as taking a headshot in a new FPS.
The body is plastic, but the colour matches well with the lid and they hold together nicely on two very solid feeling hinges. The lid itself is fairly strong and doesn’t flex at all when pushed, keeping that high quality screen safe.
Inside, the trackpad is a good size with a full LED backlit keyboard sitting behind it. I found the keyboard to be a little too bouncy, though and it made a lot of noise when typing. The keys were responsive, however, but after gaming on them for a while you do get used to the feeling. A single silver power button sits between what I initially assumed were the two speaker grills, but soon realized were air ducts. It’s the Dolby logo next to them that confused me.
Gigabyte haven’t skimped on ports, either. There are 2 USB 3 ports, an SD card slot and an HDMI port on one side of the laptop and a USB 3 and even a USB 3.1 on the other side, along with Ethernet, headphone port and VGA connector.
Going back to the screen, the IOS QHD panel (that’s 3K to you and me) is beautiful with a really good viewing angle. It may be 3K, but at 14″ you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between this and 4K when playing video. While I initially thought 14″ may be just that little bit too small for gaming, the clarity and resolution soon won me over.
Can the GTX 970M handle 3K? Well that obviously depends on the games you play.
I tested Shadow of Mordor at 1080p on Ultra and got around 71FPS on average with a low of 50 during intensive battles. On 2K the game started to see problems, with frame rates jumping around in the 20s. The graphics card only has 3GB of dedicated GDDR5, not bad for a laptop but not really suitable to handle 3K or 4K gaming.
Our test games also included Fallout 4 and GTA 5 on the native 3K resolution of the screen, set to low detail, both came back around the 30FPS average mark, so it’s certainly playable on some games, but it’s far smoother if you stick to 1080p. stick something like Battlefield 4 on Ultra at 1080p and it looks wonderful. On this Gigabyte it managed around 60-65FPS happily.
A Firestrike test brought back a fairly decent score of 6580
Trying Firestrike Extreme gave me a score of 3375
Outside of gaming performance, the laptop can easily handle video editing and pretty much any other task you throw at it, it’s a very capable device. The fact that it won’t look out of place, like some other laptops, works in its favour as a multi-purpose solution.
Watching video is one thing the screen is good for, though, and even if you don’t appreciate the 3K resolution in games, watching 4K content scaled down to the screen looks fantastic.
Unfortunately for a gaming PC, the small size means a small battery and that means less gaming time when away from a socket. We got 52 minutes of extreme gaming from fully charged.
General everyday use fared much better, though, with 4 hours 39 seconds and idle was 6 hours 31 minutes.
Heat, too, was an issue with gaming, though most laptops I’ve used find it difficult to really get on top of this issue. When not using it under extreme loads it’s still fairly comfortable, but run a game that really takes the graphics card to task and the laptop soon really heats up. Thankfully, the cooling system and design mean that it’s only hot at the back and kept away from anywhere you’d normally place your arms. It does, however, mean noisy fans that can cause annoyance after a while.
For such a thin, light laptop Gigabyte have managed to work wonders. It’s not perfect; the battery, heat and keyboard are just compromises to get everything into that small form factor, but it really feels like a top quality gaming laptop at a price that leaves most of the competition behind.