Gigabyte U2442T review

Pros

  • Fast processor for an Ultrabook
  • Decent graphics performance
  • Touchscreen aids Windows 8 usage
  • Good value for money

Cons

  • Mediocre battery life
  • Display not as clear as the U2442F model

The single letter difference between the Gigabyte U2442T and the U2442F we reviewed a few months ago is a little misleading. The two may look very similar, with the same arrangement of ports on each side as well, but there are quite a few differences beneath the surface.

The most significant difference is the inclusion of a touchscreen to make this notebook easier to use with Windows 8. However, this development also has a downside, because the 14in panel now has a resolution of 1,366 x 768 rather than the 1,600 x 900 of the U2442F, which seems like an unfair trade-off.

The screen loses some clarity from the reduced resolution and touch layer. Horizontal viewing angles are acceptable, but vertical viewing is affected by the glossy finish. Overall, the experience is marginally better than Toshiba's S50t-A-118, but a step back in quality compared to Gigabyte's U2442F. The audio system is exactly the same, however, and just as lacking in bass or mid tones.

The core specification is rather different, too. Instead of an ultra-low voltage Intel Core i7, the U244T relies on a more mainstream mobile processor, the Core i5 3320M. This dual-core CPU runs at a nominal 2.6GHz, but a single core can increase to 3.3GHz thanks to Turbo Boost, and Hyper-Threading means it presents itself as four virtual cores for improved parallel processing. In theory, the U2442T will be a little quicker than the U2442F, although at the expense of battery life as the 3320M is a 35W processor, compared to the U2442F's 17W CPU.

The U2442T has the same 8GB of 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM as the U2442F sample we had, and this is on a single module. The two DIMM slots are user-accessible, too, so you can upgrade to the 16GB maximum in the future without having to replace any memory.

The graphics are from the more recent Nvidia GeForce 700 series rather than the 600 series, although both are part of Nvidia's Kepler generation. The GeForce GT 730M has the same 384 CUDA processors as the 650M in the U2442F, and the same 2GB of dedicated GDDR5 memory, but the 650M has a faster clock speed – so the 730M is actually a slight downgrade compared to the 650M. There is also Intel HD 4000 graphics on hand, from the Ivy Bridge-generation Core i5 processor, and Nvidia's Optimus technology means that the Intel graphics can be used instead of the GeForce to reduce power consumption when extensive 3D hardware acceleration is not required.

There are a number of storage options with the U2442T, as with the U2442F, although our sample came with the entry-level one. This is a 128GB Crucial M4 solid state disk in mSATA format – but this can be allied with a 750GB 7,200rpm solid state hybrid drive, or either a 750GB or 1TB 5,400rpm conventional hard disk. Alternatively, there's a 256GB SSD option as well. So if you do need more capacity than the base 128GB SSD has to offer, one of these alternative configurations could fit the bill.

Although the U2442T is classified as an Ultrabook, it's not at the super-slim end of the scale like Samsung's Series 9 NP900X3D-A01. It weighs 1.7kg and measures 22.5mm at its thickest point, both of which are slightly more than the U2442F. This is still a notebook that would fit comfortably into a shoulder bag, however. The silver finish to the chassis is attractive enough, but the finish is somewhat fussy, particularly the seam between the keyboard surround and the notebook's wrist-rest panel.

The backlit chiclet-style keyboard is decent enough, though. The action is soft and the keys are quite loosely sprung, but touch typing is still comfortable, albeit a little noisy. The trackpad is also slightly to the left, directly beneath the spacebar, so you don't touch it accidentally with the palm of your hand when typing. It's a relatively large pad, but the buttons are separated into a single strip along the bottom. It's an accurate pad, and of course you have the touchscreen available as another pointing device. The trackpad right button has a secondary function when the notebook is off, too, triggering the line of status LEDs along the front to indicate how much charge is left in the battery.

As we mentioned in the introduction, the port allocation is identical to the U2442F. On the right, next to the SD card slot, can be found two USB 3.0 ports and a full-sized HDMI. The left-hand side is home to discrete minijacks for headphones and microphone, a pair of USB 2.0 ports, VGA, and Gigabit Ethernet. The Kensington lock slot is strangely far forward on the left as well. Overall, it's a very comprehensive range of connectivity.

With its reasonably high clock speed and discrete graphics, the U2442T exhibits rather decent performance for an Ultrabook. The Maxon Cinebench R11.5 rendering result of 2.65 is one of the best we have seen from a notebook in this class, and a good 15 per cent ahead of the U2442F. The strong processing ability means the Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL score is marginally quicker at 30.65, too, despite the slightly slower graphics. The Futuremark 3DMark11 score of 1,801, however, is more reflective of the Nvidia GeForce GT 730M, being about 10 per cent slower than the U2442F. Either way, the U2442T will still be quite capable of playing recent games at its screen resolution.

Despite not having an ultra-low voltage processor, the U2442T achieves a similar battery life to the U2442F. It lasted 131 minutes in our 100 per cent processor and graphics rundown test, which is almost the same as the U2442F. This is a very middle-of-the-road result, and would imply about five hours of less strenuous usage, which is adequate for an Ultrabook, but obviously it won’t be good for a full day's work.

Verdict

The Gigabyte U2442T inhabits a similar space as its U2442F sibling, offering decent gaming abilities in an Ultrabook package. Overall, the better screen and marginally more powerful graphics of the U2442F slightly outweigh the faster processor and touchscreen of the U2442T, making it a more compelling package if you want decent entertainment abilities on the move, whilst this notebook is better suited to more processor-intensive mobile tasks. As with the U2442F, though, we would have liked an hour or two more of battery life. Either way, the £850 price is very reasonable for this notebook’s specification.

Specifications

Manufacturer and Model

Gigabyte U2442T

Processor

2.6GHz Intel Core i5 3230M

RAM

8GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM

Graphics

Nvidia GeForce GT 730M and Intel HD 4000

Hard disk

128GB mSATA solid state disk

Optical disc

None

Display

14in capacitive multi-touch TFT with 1,366 x 768 pixels

Networking

Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi

Interfaces

2 x USB 2.0, 2 x USB 3.0, HDMI, VGA, headphone, microphone, SD card reader

Width x Depth x Height

339 x 233 x 22.5mm

Weight

1.7kg

Warranty

2 years global warranty