Gigabyte P35K review

Pros

  • Powerful 3D graphics
  • Excellent everyday performance
  • Bright and detailed Full HD IPS screen
  • Fast RAID 0 SSD storage array

Cons

  • Mediocre battery life
  • Mediocre keyboard and trackpad

Laptops aimed at entertainment tend to trade portability for power, and often border on being systems that are just about easier to move around than a desktop, as opposed to notebooks you would want to carry with you on a regular basis. Gigabyte's P35K, however, is a mere 21mm thick, which is only about a third more than many Ultrabooks. It weighs a little over 2kg without an optical drive, and 100 grams more with one installed. This isn't quite thin and light territory, but it's still eminently portable.

The P35K is based around a 15.6in chassis, which ploughs a happy middle ground between the 17in behemoths that you really wouldn't want to carry regularly, and the 14in models that don't offer sufficient screen size for a satisfying entertainment experience.

Gigabyte offers two screen options, one IPS and one regular TFT, but both have full HD 1,920 x 1,080 resolution. Our sample came with the IPS version, which is crisp, bright and has excellent viewing angles. It's definitely a high point, and the matt black finish of the chassis gives an impression of seriousness, without the overblown ostentation of an Alienware laptop. The overall effect is one of quiet confidence, and although the design is very similar to the P34G, with the materials used probably identical, the latter's two-tone appearance is less sophisticated in comparison.

Like the P34G, the P35K is based around an Intel Core i7-4700HQ, which is from the latest Haswell generation. This is a quad-core processor with a nominal 2.4GHz clock speed, but Hyper-Threading gives it eight virtual cores, whilst Turbo Boost allows a single core to hit 3.4GHz when appropriate, and all four cores can rise to 3.2GHz with a power increase from 47W to 55W. So this is towards the high-end of mobile processors, and should be able to handle pretty much anything you throw at it. Gigabyte has partnered the Core i7 with a healthy 16GB of 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM, which is the maximum possible on this system, but you're unlikely to need an upgrade during the lifetime of the notebook anyway. The RAM is user accessible, should you start with a lesser amount and wish to improve this.

Although the Haswell processor provides reasonably capable Intel HD 4600 integrated graphics, the entertainment orientation of this notebook necessitates discrete 3D acceleration. This comes in the shape of an Nvidia GeForce GTX 765M chipset, with its own 2GB of GDDR5 memory, sporting a healthy 768 CUDA cores, with a 850MHz core and 4,000MHz memory. This isn't a no-holds-barred gaming graphics chipset, but it should certainly be up to driving the latest titles at playable frame rates. NVIDIA's Optimus technology means that the GeForce is powered down and the Intel graphics used instead when 3D needs are not strenuous, to save on power consumption.

There are numerous storage configuration options available, starting with a 128GB or 256GB solid-state disk, or 500GB to 1TB 5,400rpm hard disk. Alternatively, you can combine both, and also specify hybrid configurations as well as twin SSDs in a RAID configuration. Our system came with the latter, in the shape of two LiteOn LMT-128M6M SSDs configured as RAID 0 for enhanced performance. An optical drive is also an optional extra which our review sample came with. There are Blu-ray reader and rewriter options, as well as a more prosaic Super Multi DVD rewriter. Our sample included the basic Samsung SU-208DB DVD rewriter, but we suspect this won't get much use during the notebook's lifetime, unless you have a collection of games on disc to install.

One area of slight weakness is the chiclet-style keyboard. The action is a little soft, the travel is shallow and the home keys are not very clearly marked. So this isn't the best keyboard for touch typing, and the trackpad isn't top of the list either. It's large and relatively accurate, but clicking is not very responsive, and neither is tapping. You will probably use this notebook most of the time on a desk with a mouse attached, but we would have liked a more comfortable user input experience.

On the plus side, the trackpad is placed directly beneath the spacebar, and we had no issues with accidental brushing during usage. Gigabyte also gets over some of the annoyances of Windows 8 with its Smart Switch utility that puts shutdown, restart and sleep back within a few clicks, although it doesn't reinstate the Start menu. You will still need to delve into Metro to find apps that haven't been pinned to the main screen.

The reasonably large chassis leaves plenty of room for ports, with the left side home to wired LAN, twin USB 2.0 ports, separate headphone and microphone minijacks plus the SD card reader. The microphone jack also doubles as S/PDIF digital output. On the right side you’ll find VGA and a full-sized HDMI port, plus a pair of USB 3.0 ports. There's a hole with a Thunderbolt symbol next to it, too, but this has been permanently plugged and is obviously not active.

The high-end internals provided unsurprisingly excellent results in all our performance tests. The result of 6.83 in Cinebench R11.5's rendering test is one of the highest scores we have seen, whilst the Nvidia graphics power to an equally capable 58.69 in the Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL test. The result of 4563 in Futuremark's 3DMark11 is even more impressive, and actually the third fastest we have seen at ITProPortal.

If you fancy more serious work, the P35K manages 3296 in the Home test of Futuremark's PCMark 8, and 3985 in the Work test, showing that this notebook can be used for more than just gaming.

However, the P35K lasted just 158 minutes with the battery rundown test on PCMark 8's Work script. So whilst you could knock up the odd document on a train journey, the P35K is not going to give you a day's work or a transatlantic flight's worth of usage. The P35K endured 100 minutes of our full-on processor and graphics rundown using Battery Eater, indicating that you will probably get less than an hour and a half of gaming away from the power socket, too.

Verdict

Despite the mediocre battery life, the Gigabyte P35K succeeds in most areas. It is very much a gaming and entertainment notebook, but it's readily portable and you can use it away from the power socket for a duration that's just on the right side of useful. We also prefer the all-black looks compared to previous Gigabyte notebooks.

The keyboard and trackpad aren't the best we have encountered, but overall this is a well specified entertainment notebook you can get some work done on when required, and it's not hideously expensive either.

Specifications

Manufacturer and Model

Gigabyte P35K

Processor

2.4GHz Intel Core i7 4700HQ

RAM

16GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM

Graphics

Nvidia GeForce GT 765M and Intel HD 4600

Hard disk

2 x 128GB LiteOn LMT-128M6M solid state disk in RAID 0 configuration

Optical disc

Samsung SU-208DB DVD Rewriter

Display

15.6in LED backlit IPS TFT with 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

Networking

Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0

Interfaces

2 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, LAN, combo headphone / SPDIF, microphone, SD card reader

Width x Depth x Height

385 x 270 x 21mm

Weight

2.26kg

Warranty

2 years global warranty