Black and featureless, its plastic chassis studded with ports and vents, the Gigabyte Sabre 15 looks plain for a gaming laptop. It seems almost like an unfinished prototype, awaiting a fresh paint job to spark it to life.
It does come alive when turned on, thanks to its colourful RGB-backlit keyboard. The keyboard backlight system is divided into three sections or lighting zones - you can pick a different colour (over 16 million choices) for each zone.
The keyboard feels bouncy rather than clicky, though key travel is decent. It is spacious enough to fit a number pad. All the keys are also full-sized, except for the Function row, which should reduce typing errors.
It dawned upon me later that I have seen this laptop, or something similar. It turns out that the Sabre is, barring some cosmetic tweaks, identical to the Aftershock MX-15 Elite that I had tested in January. Both laptops are produced by Clevo and share the same chassis design, down to the configuration of its ports, which are mostly found on the left, and unusually, includes two mini-DisplayPorts that support external 4K displays.
The presence of Clevo's built-in software tools confirmed it. These utilities let you adjust the keyboard settings and record custom macros. You can also prevent possible disruption to your gaming session by disabling the touchpad and Windows logo key.
PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-7700HQ (2.8GHz)
GRAPHICS: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB GDDR5
RAM: 16GB DDR4
SCREEN SIZE: 15.6 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
CONNECTIVITY: 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, HDMI, 2 x mini-DisplayPorts, Ethernet port, SD card slot, audio jacks
BATTERY: 47 watt-hour
VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5
BATTERY LIFE: 1/5
The Sabre's screen offers very good viewing angles. Its matte finish minimises reflections, too. The 1,920 x 1,080-pixel screen resolution is appropriate for a notebook of this size.
Powering the Sabre is a mainstream GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics chip. It is a capable performer, though not quite fast enough to run virtual reality games. In Doom, the Sabre produced around 71 frames per second (fps) at Ultra setting, compared to 57fps for the Aftershock MX-15 Elite. While both laptops have identical processors and graphics chips, the Sabre has more RAM. The Sabre also has newer graphics drivers, which likely improved its performance.
There was, however, little difference between the two laptops in Crysis 3 at Very High setting. The Aftershock scored 43fps while the Sabre managed 45fps.
The Sabre does become fairly noisy while running games. I found it tolerable, especially with a gaming headset. Turning up the volume is another option, as the audio is decent considering the lack of a subwoofer.
Compared to its Aftershock rival, the Sabre seems less enticing. It is priced at $2,099 compared to $1,800 for a similarly-configured Aftershock.
- Verdict: Gigabyte's plain-Jane Sabre 15 laptop will satisfy mainstream gamers with its performance. But it is not as attractively-priced as its Aftershock rival.