Introduction and design
Gigabyte’s P35W v5 gaming laptop costs a reasonable $1,877 (about £1,300, or AU$2,599), but the firm has packed an awful lot in: high-end Nvidia and Intel hardware, an M.2 SSD drive and a 4K display so that you can chew through all of the dazzling titles on our best 4K games list. In theory, anyway.
The P35W’s modest price means this isn’t the best-looking gaming laptop. Its metal body doesn’t show off with bright lights or dramatic design: it’s dark and plain, with sensible angles and a few unsightly seams. It’s not as striking as the Aorus X5 v5 or the similarly-priced Acer Predator 15.
Build quality is middling, too. There’s give in the wrist-rest on either side of the trackpad, and pressing the screen caused the desktop to distort. I heard creaks when putting pressure on the base panel.
However, the P35W fights back on the scales. It’s 0.82in thick (21mm) and weighs 5.3 pounds (2.4kg) – slimmer and lighter than its rivals. The Alienware 15, for example, weighs 6.6 pounds (3kg), while the Predator 15 weighs a mighty 7.4 pounds (3.4kg). In comparison, the P35W is a good traveling companion, although I’d use a protective sleeve when carting it around for added protection.
The P35W has three USB 3.1 ports and a USB 3.1 Type-C plug, an SD card slot and HDMI, D-SUB and mini-DisplayPort sockets. It’s got a DVD writer, too, although interior access isn’t much cop – you can get to the memory sticks, but that’s it.
The speaker grille sits above the keyboard. Laptop audio is often an afterthought, but here it’s good: punchy and clear, with decent detail across high and mid-range sounds. There’s not much bass, but that’s no surprise – there’s no subwoofer. The P35W isn’t going to do your next house party much justice, so consider going for a dedicated speaker set for your entertainment needs.
Firm but fair
The keyboard’s base is firm and the typing action is impressive – the Gigabyte’s keyboard isn’t far away from the snappy, pleasing consistency of Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro. The keys are consistent and fast, with reasonable travel for a unit with chiclet-style spacing.
That’s good, but the keys are a tiny bit softer than the best chiclet units. And these low-travel, fast-reaction units don’t match the speed, depth and feeling of a proper mechanical keyboard. But then, there’s nothing stopping you from adding a mechanical gaming keyboard into the mix. If you’re feeling really brave then there’s always the MSI GT80 Titan.
It’s good to see full-size Return and space keys, but I’m not a fan of having cursor keys crammed up against other buttons. There aren’t any macro keys, either.
Two buttons are built in to the trackpad. They’re decent – fast to respond and with a shallow, rapid clicking motion – but they’re noticeably softer than a proper gaming mouse. Serious gamers will attach a USB rodent.
Specifications and performance
Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 970M has 1,280 stream processors, a 924MHz core clock and a 993MHz boost peak. It’s also the beefier version of the GPU, with six gigabytes of memory.
That’s good on paper, but we’re less convinced by the 4K screen. That looks good on the spec sheet, but the GTX 970M isn’t card for such a high output. Games will run slowly or need their graphics settings dialled back.
Here is the spec sheet of the Gigabyte P35W v5 provided to TechRadar:
CPU: 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor (Quad-core, 6MB cache)Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M (6GB GDDR5 RAM)RAM: 16GB DDR4 (2,133MHz)Storage: 128GB Samsung SM951 SSD, 1TB hard diskConnectivity: Gigabit Ethernet, Dual-band 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0Operating system: Windows 10 64-bitPorts: 3 x USB 3, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, SD card slot, HDMI, D-SUB, mini-DisplayPort, 2 x audioSize: 15.1in x 10.6in x 0.82in (W x D x H; 385 x 270 x 21mm)Weight: 5.3 pounds (2.4kg)Warranty: 2yr RTB
Looking at the specs on offer, other machines offer better balance of graphics and display quality. The Acer Predator 15 has a 1080p screen and a GTX 980M GPU – so it’ll handle anything at that resolution. The aforementioned Aorus X5S v5 also has a GTX 980M, which is better suited for its 4K panel.
Elsewhere it’s business as usual: a meaty quad-core i7-6700HQ processor, 16GB of fast DDR4 memory and a 128GB SSD alongside a 1TB hard disk for storing plenty of games.
Here’s how the Gigabyte P35W v5 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
3DMark: Cloud Gate: 18,568; Sky Diver: 18,046; Fire Strike: 6,585Cinebench R15: CPU: 655cb; Graphics: 93.05fpsPCMark 8 (Home Test): 3,329PCMark 8 Battery Life: 2hrs 29mins (screen 100%, high perf)GeekBench: 3,745 (single-core); 13,485 (multi-core)Metro: Last Light: 56fps (1080p, Very High); 34fps (1440p, Very High); 19fps (4K, Very High); 22fps (4K, High); 34fps (4K, Medium)Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor: 54fps (1080p, Ultra); 38fps (1440p, Ultra); 21fps (4K, Ultra); 23fps (4K, Very High); 25fps (4K, High); 29fps (4K, Medium); 39fps (4K, Low)Bioshock Infinite: 71fps (1080p, Ultra); 43fps (1440p, Ultra)GTA V: 58fps (1080p, Ultra); 38fps (1440p, Ultra); 19fps (4K, Ultra); 24fps (4K, V. High); 33fps (4K, High)
The GTX 970M is a capable mobile GPU that didn’t have problems at 1080p or 1440p. Its best result at Full HD came in Bioshock, where it averaged 71fps – and its poorest score, in Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, was still 54fps. At 1440p it ran every test game beyond 30fps.
It was a different story at 4K. The Gigabyte’s best score in my 4K benchmark came in Middle Earth, but it only managed a sluggish 21fps.
I only achieved playable framerates by toning graphics settings to medium levels – and that’s a compromised way to play. It’ll only get worse as more demanding games emerge.
Other laptops are better-equipped. The Gigabyte managed a score of 6,585 in the high-end 3D Mark Fire Strike test, but the Aorus X5S v5 and Acer Predator 15 scored 8,172 and 8,277 respectively.
The Core i7-6700HQ is a capable mobile CPU. In benchmarks it’s competitive: its PC Mark 8 score of 3,329 is barely behind the Acer, and its Geekbench multi-core result of 13,485 is better than both rivals.
Gigabyte’s machine lasted just under two and a half hours in our standard PC Mark 8 battery test, and that translated to just over an hour in a gaming benchmark. In short: don’t leave the mains.
The Gigabyte returned mixed results in thermal tests, too. With both CPU and GPU stressed the components peaked at 97°C and 87°C – the former is almost dangerous. A bit of heat made its way to the keyboard, while the underside became very hot and the fan was irritatingly loud.
Gaming tests without the CPU stressed saw the noise and temperatures drop to more comfortable levels, but I’d still recommend a headset.
There’s a lot to like about the SSD, which stomped through sequential read and write at 1,854MB/s and 1,234MB/s – far quicker than any SATA SSD.
The 4K screen is overkill considering the hardware inside the P35W v5 – and its benchmarks results are inconsistent, too.
The average Delta E of 1.71 bodes well for accurate colors, and the Gigabyte’s panel displays 89.9% of the sRGB color gamut – a reasonable result. But the 7,264K color temperature means those colors will look cold. There’s also a slight blue hue to the screen if it’s viewed from an off-center angle.
The contrast level of 1,107:1 is decent, but it’s hardly a barnstormer. That’s because of the 0.26cd/m2 black level – a reasonable result, but not one that’s going to churn out particularly inky tones.
Gigabyte’s latest machine is a competent gaming laptop, but the 4K screen is a hindrance: the GTX 970M cannot handle that resolution, which means graphics settings have to be toned down.
Elsewhere, it’s a capable if plain machine, with none of the aesthetic extravagance of competitors.
The GTX 970M does have gaming chops: it’ll run anything at 1080p or 1440p. The rest of the components are top-notch: the CPU is fast, there’s plenty of memory, and the M.2 SSD is excellent.
The screen offers reasonable quality, the keyboard is decent, and the trackpad isn’t bad. The speakers are surprisingly good, and the Gigabyte’s body offers decent build quality.
The GTX 970M just isn’t cut out for 4K – we had to turn games down to medium or low settings to hit playable framerates.
The high-end components prompt a couple of heat and noise issues, and the Gigabyte doesn’t quite reach greatness in several key categories. The screen, keyboard and trackpad all have minor issues, and this sturdy laptop looks dull.
The P35W V5 tries to deliver a mobile 4K gaming experience, but its lesser price and components mean it doesn’t quite manage.
It’s decent in most other departments, but rivals offer more balanced specifications inside better-looking machines – sometimes for far more cash, but sometimes only for £50 (around $66/AUS$87) more. The P35W v5 is a reasonable laptop, but it doesn’t do enough to stand out.