Gigabyte P35X v6 review

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PROS
  • Superb GTX 1070 GPU
  • High-quality 4K screen
  • Fast SSD
CONS
  • Poor keyboard and trackpad
  • Disappointing speakers
  • Underwhelming design and build
KEY FEATURES
  • 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 8GB graphics
  • 15.6in 3,840 x 2,160 screen
  • 16GB 2,133MHz DDR4 memory
  • 256GB Samsung SM951 M.2 SSD
  • 1TB hard disk
  • Windows 10 64-bit
  • 2yr RTB warranty
  • Manufacturer: Gigabyte
  • Review Price: £2,100/$3,150

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WHAT IS THE GIGABYTE P35X V6?

Gigabyte doesn’t make the most lavish-looking gaming laptops on the market, and its new P35X v6 continues in this vein, leaving the high-end design behind in favour of the components.

This machine locks and loads one of Nvidia’s fantastic new Pascal-based graphics cores, and it also includes a 4K screen – a welcome inclusion in a 15.6-inch notebook that barely costs more than £2,000/$3,000.

It’s the successor to the v5, which we reviewed earlier this year, and repeats many of the same problems Trusted found on that machine with physical build issues a particular worry.

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FEATURES

Star of the show in the P35X v6 is the GTX 1070, which is one of Nvidia’s best new mobile GPUs. It has the same name as Nvidia’s desktop card, and uses the same Pascal architecture, but the desktop and mobile ranges are still a little different once you drill down into the specifications.

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The mobile card has 2,048 stream processors and a 1,645MHz peak speed, which compares well to the 1,920 stream processors and 1,683MHz boost clock of the desktop card – presumably that change has been made to stop temperatures getting quite as high. There’s still 8GB of 8,000MHz GDDR5 memory.

Nvidia’s Pascal generation is the first time I’ve seen mobile GPUs that can match desktop equivalents. The last GTX 1070 machine we saw was the XMG P507, which costs £1,951/$2,926 – so a little cheaper than the Gigabyte.

The Gigabyte pairs its GTX 1070 with a Core i7-6700HQ processor. It’s the most popular high-end mobile CPU on the market thanks to its four Hyper-Threaded cores and 2.6GHz clock speed. It has enough power to run single-threaded applications, high-end games and demanding multi-tasking, and it’s the same chip as the XMG.

Gigabyte’s machine packs 16GB of DDR4 memory that’s only a little slower than the XMG’s RAM, and the two laptops share storage setups: Windows 10 sits on a 256GB Samsung SM951 M.2 SSD and there’s a 1TB hard disk for bulk storage.

Get beyond those core components and the Gigabyte takes a big leap ahead. The XMG P507 made do with a 1080p screen, but the P35X v6 includes a 4K panel. That means it will be far sharper and more detailed than the XMG’s screen, and the GTX 1070 should run games at this resolution.

The Gigabyte’s screen doesn’t have Nvidia G-Sync, but in my opinion that’s a willing trade-off – games may not look as smooth because frames aren’t synchronised, but you’re getting plenty of extra detail.

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Connectivity is decent: Gigabit Ethernet, dual-band wireless and Bluetooth 4.0 – which is the same as the XMG.

DESIGN

The hardware on the inside of this machine is enticing, but its exterior is more plain. The P35X v6 is made from aluminium and is mostly black – there’s a tiny orange accent on the lid, but that’s it for ornamentation.

There’s a plain Gigabyte logo, round power button and modest speaker grille above the keyboard, and the typing surface has a white backlight with three levels of intensity. Seams are visible between panels of metal throughout, and the screen is bordered with a thick bezel.

It’s hardly a looker, and build quality is similarly middling. There’s obvious movement in the metal used to build the wrist-rest and the screen, although flexing the screen’s rear panel doesn’t disturb the desktop. Even so, I’d carry this laptop in a protective case or sleeve.

The front edge serves up status lights and a Blu-ray drive that sits in a hot-swappable bay – if you like, it can be exchanged for a 2TB hard disk. The Gigabyte’s right- and left-hand edges have USB 3, USB 3.1 and mini-DisplayPort connectors. There’s an SD card slot and, bizarrely, a VGA output.

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The Gigabyte’s looks and build quality are similar to the understated XMG, but at least the P35X v6 undercuts its rival in the size department. The Gigabyte machine weighs 2.4kg and is an impressive 21mm thick; the chunky XMG weighed 2.94kg and was 32mm across at its thickest point.

SCREEN AND SOUND QUALITY

The 4K screen’s biggest advantage is its sheer pixel density. The 3,840 x 2,160 resolution and 15.6in screen size mean the P35X v6 churns out a density level of 282ppi, which is just outstanding. It’s better than the 15.6-inch Retina MacBook Pro, for instance, and not far behind current-generation smartphones. It’s obviously miles better than the XMG P507, with its 141ppi.

The huge density means games will look sharper on the Gigabyte, and it also bodes well for watching 4K content and editing photos. It does mean that you’ll have to use the Windows scaling settings to make text and icons legible, but that’s fine – those settings are far better then they used to be.

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Gigabyte’s screen is better than the XMG in most benchmarks, too. Its contrast ratio of 1,286:1 and black level of 0.22 are higher and deeper than the P507’s figures, and both of those will make a huge difference in games: the better contrast ratio means colours will be more vivid across the entire range, and the deeper black level will create inkier dark shades, which helps in moody-looking titles.

Colours are largely better, too, with both accuracy and colour coverage better on Gigabyte’s chosen panel.

The P35X v6’s colour temperature of 7,414K is a little chillier than the XMG, but not enough to prove distracting during gameplay.

The Gigabyte’s only real issue is its screen uniformity. The top row of the panel gains about 10% more brightness when compared to the middle of the screen, while the bottom row of the screen sees a 13% drop in brightness. That’s a bigger swing than most laptops, and around twice as worse as the XMG.

The change in brightness levels is noticeable on lighter screens, such as Word documents or web pages, which hampers the Gigabyte’s potential for colour-sensitive work. Thankfully, it isn’t as noticeable in games, where scenes generally have more varied colours and fast movement to disguise the panel’s lack of uniformity.

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Uniformity aside, though, this is a great screen. The resolution lifts it above the XMG, and it’s better in most benchmarks too – so there’s no question about it being a better option for gaming.

The inclusion of a 4K screen in this £2,100/$3,150 machine is also impressive when stacked up against the £1,951/$2,926 XMG – adding a 4K panel to that machine costs £405/$607, and XMG also stipulates that you spend £145/$217 more to upgrade to a better processor before the 4K option is unlocked.

The speakers aren’t as impressive. They’re loud, but that’s their only good quality. The aural range is dominated by high-pitched noises, but they all sound a little muddy – vocals sound as if they’re being sung underwater, or in an echoey room. The emphasis on high-end sounds means treble is underwhelming and a little buried, and there’s no subwoofer inside this machine, so bass is hard to find at all.

I’d always use a headset or a set of cheap external speakers. The lack of mid-range bite also means the P35X falls behind the XMG.

KEYBOARD AND TRACKPAD

I’m used to seeing chiclet keyboards on slimmer gaming laptops, and the P35X v6 has a reasonable layout: a number pad, full-size Return and Space keys, and highlighted WASD buttons.

Gigabyte’s machine also suffers from the familiar chiclet issues: it’s decent for typing, but not as good for gaming. That’s because it doesn’t have the snap, speed or travel that a traditional laptop keyboard delivers. It’s falls even further behind proper mechanical keyboards.

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The Gigabyte’s buttons don’t offer much travel, and the base isn’t particularly firm either. It’s acceptable for typing and gaming, but the XMG’s keyboard is a little superior.

The trackpad on the p35X v6 has its issues, too: the buttons barely move at all when they’re clicked, which made me second-guess myself when I was playing games. They’re a long way from the snappy, definite clicks offered by proper gaming mice.

BATTERY LIFE

This machine has a 76Wh battery, which instantly lifts it above the XMG P507 – it features only a 60Wh power pack.

The bigger battery and similar specifications means that the Gigabyte handily beat its rival in our standard test. That benchmark sets the screen to 150 nits while running a browsing and video watching and here the Gigabyte lasted for 5hrs 22mins; more than an hour longer than the XMG.

There’s little difference between the two in a proper gaming session, though: the Gigabyte lasted for 1hr 43mins with the screen at full brightness and a game running, which is only about ten minutes more than the XMG. As usual, you won’t be able to go far from a plug if you want to game with either machine.

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PERFORMANCE

The GTX 1070 is an exceptional mobile GPU that will easily handle 1080p and 1440p gaming: its best 1080p average came in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, where it scored 111fps. At 2,560 x 1,440 the Gigabyte was similarly impressive, with averages beyond 60fps in all of our test titles.

The real test came at 4K – and here the Gigabyte continued to perform well. Its Dirt Rally minimum of 41fps was bolstered with a 49fps average, and it averaged 47fps in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. It even managed Grand Theft Auto V at 56fps.

Those scores see the Gigabyte regularly outpace the XMG. That machine managed 39fps in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and 46fps in GTA V – good, but a step behind the Gigabyte.

Those scores indicate that most modern games will run smoothly at 4K, and they also mean there’s some headroom for tougher games and higher graphics settings. We upped GTA V to its Ultra settings without anti-aliasing and recorded an average of 40fps, and then turned Dirt Rally up and activated anti-aliasing for an average of 31fps.

Not every game will run this smoothly at 4K – there are numerous titles out there that are more demanding than our test games – but our benchmarks bode well. It also means the Gigabyte has enough power to handle VR headsets.

I’ve no qualms about this machine’s application abilities, either. Its Geekbench scores of 3,803 and 13,197 are a little quicker and a little slower respectively than the XMG, perhaps because of that machine’s faster memory. It’s enough oomph to motor through games, work and general computing tasks.

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The Gigabyte’s Samsung SSD delivered read and write speeds of 1,846MB/sec and 1,278MB/sec, which are excellent – they mean that this machine will never struggle with game, application or system-loading times.

The P35X v6 falls foul of the usual gaming laptop thermal issues, though. The processor’s top temperature of 98°C is too high, and the GPU peaked at 90°C. Both of those figures are higher than the XMG, and the excessive GPU temperature saw the graphics core throttle to around 1,518MHz, with Pascal unable to run to its full potential.

This isn’t exactly a quiet laptop, with a high-pitched whirr that was louder and more irritating than the XMG, especially when the machine was running more intensive games. The P35X’s base became uncomfortably hot, too – the same issue as the P507 encountered.

SHOULD I BUY THE GIGABYTE P35X V6?

The P35X v6 is a confounding, inconsistent notebook. There’s plenty to like here, especially when it comes to its performance in the benchmarks: its outpaces the XMG and most other gaming laptops on the market; the processor is fast; and this machine’s battery life also beats the P507.

The Gigabyte’s 4K screen is better than the XMG, too, and I’m particularly impressed that it’s included here when the P35X is barely any pricier than the P507.

On the periphery, though, there are numerous issues. The Gigabyte’s keyboard and speakers are both poor, and the design and build quality is middling.

If you can cope with those issues, perhaps through using external peripherals, this is a great deal: GTX 1070 power and a 4K screen in one of the most chapest (relatively) packages I’ve seen. The P35X v6 isn’t without flaws but it remains a serious contender.

VERDICT

Those who prioritise performance over all else won’t be disappointed by the P35x v6, with the 4K screen an excellent bonus – but it does suffer some niggling issues. Despite these, however, it remains a powerful 4K contender.

(trustedreviews.com, https://goo.gl/tgXmrD)

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