Gaming

Better features, decent price for new Gigabyte

At around 1.8kg, the Gigabyte P34Wv5 laptop is lightweight and has a matte IPS display that looks bright and lively, with excellent viewing angles.
At around 1.8kg, the Gigabyte P34Wv5 laptop is lightweight and has a matte IPS display that looks bright and lively, with excellent viewing angles.PHOTO: GIGABYTE

Upgraded model boasts improved processor and speedy transfers

The latest version of this Gigabyte laptop looks as unassuming as last year's model, which I had described as the Clark Kent of gaming laptops - a powerhouse with a mild-mannered facade that can run the latest games without a hitch.

The new model (P34Wv5) has the same bland aluminium chassis that looks just like any office notebook. But more importantly, this 14-inch laptop is lightweight, at around 1.8kg, which puts it on a par with the MSI GS40 Phantom as the most portable gaming laptops I have tried. However, the Gigabyte laptop is slightly thinner than its rival.

Gigabyte has upgraded key components in the new version. The processor is now a current-generation Intel Skylake chip that supports new technologies such as USB 3.1, which has twice the transfer speed as USB 3.0. It also includes the speedy NVMe interface for its solid-state drive (SSD).

Because of this interface, the laptop managed an average sequential read speed of 1,417MB/s in a storage benchmark, similar to what I had recorded on the MSI GS40. Besides the SSD, the laptop has a 1TB hard drive for data.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $2,699

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-6700HQ (2.6GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Nvidia GeForce

    GTX 970M 3GB GDDR5 RAM: 8GB

    SCREEN SIZE: 14 inches, 2,560 x 1,440 pixels

    CONNECTIVITY: 1 x USB 3.1 (Type-C), 3 x USB 3.0, HDMI, VGA, SD card reader, Gigabit Ethernet port, audio jack

    BATTERY: 61 watt-hour

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

The screen resolution has been bumped up from Full-HD to 2,560 x 1,440 pixels. This matte IPS display looks bright and lively, with excellent viewing angles.

However, the high resolution is not always conducive for games. The graphics chip has to render more pixels, leading to lower frame rates. Game icons and text may also appear too small, especially on a 14-inch display. Admittedly, this is not a serious issue because you can always adjust the resolution to 1,920 x 1,080 pixels.

The Gigabyte's HDMI 2.0 port can output to an external monitor, or TV, at 4K resolution at a smooth 60 frames per second. The laptop also supports HDCP 2.2, required for copy-protected 4K content.

The keyboard felt shallow during typing, with quite a bit of flex. The LED backlight is white, with no option to change the colour. Overall, the keyboard is not as good as the MSI GS40's SteelSeries keyboard.

Fortunately, Gigabyte's Smart Manager app is a handy tool that lets you tweak a plethora of settings, from disabling the Windows logo key to changing the fan speed.

The latter adjustment is especially useful, because the dual fans inside the laptop can sound really loud when running at full tilt.

Those who buy Gigabyte laptops will now also enjoy on-site service for their purchases during the first year of the warranty. This is the first time it is providing this service.

Compared to the MSI GS40 ($2,999), the Gigabyte is slightly cheaper and has a higher-resolution display. It has just 8GB of RAM compared with the MSI's 16GB, but its other features and more attractive price should work in its favour.

•Verdict: Don't let its appearance fool you. This is a very capable gaming laptop despite its modest looks.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2016, with the headline 'Better features, decent price for new Gigabyte'. Print Edition | Subscribe