- Thin and light
- Great performance
- Solid IPS display
- Very expensive
- Poor build quality
- Inconsistent trackpad
- 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor
- 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M
- 256GB SSD + 1TB hard disk
- 15.6in 1,920×1,080-pixel display
- 8GB RAM
- Manufacturer: Gigabyte
- Review Price: £1,600.00/$2,400.00
What is the Gigabyte P35Xv5?
Portability or performance – this is the compromise we usually have to make when buying a gaming notebook. Traditionally, such machines are big and bulky behemoths that stretch the meaning of portable about as far as it can go.
Not the Gigabyte P35Xv5, however. This capable gaming machine, featuring Intel’s latest Skylake processor with a choice of Nvidia 970M or 980M graphics card, is one of the thinnest and lightest gaming notebooks on the market.
But is its solid gaming performance and slimline design enough to warrant it’s £1,600/$2,400 price tag? I’m not convinced.
Gigabyte P35Xv5 – Design & Features
Let’s start with the good news. Weighing 2.4kg, the 15.6-inch Gigabyte P35Xv5 is only 350g heavier than the 15.4-inch MacBook Pro and close to half the weight of the competing Asus ROG G752. It isn’t exactly featherweight though – you’ll definitely still notice it if you carry it around in your backpack – but for a gaming notebook it’s impressively light.
It also lacks the garish, F-22 fighter-jet styling of competing gaming notebooks from Asus and Alienware. Far from being a head-turner, it’s actually pretty dull – or minimalist, depending on your point of view. The dark grey plastic finish, chunky bezels and lack of any distinguishing features – aside from being relatively thin at 21mm – come across as drab and uninspiring.
The build quality leaves a lot to be desired, too. Put simply, it’s cheap, plasticky and doesn’t offer the premium quality you’d expect of such an expensive laptop. There’s a gap between the bezel and the display, the body creaks and flexes, and in one model I tested, there was a distinct buzzing sound when using the headphone port. This was worse when connected to the power supply, suggesting it’s an electrical whine.
In terms of connectivity, the P35Xv5 has everything you need, including the latest USB Type-C port, 3 x USB 3, a full-size HDMI input, card reader, RJ-45 Ethernet, D-SUB, mini-DisplayPort, Kensington lock, mic in, headphones out and DC power port.
Gigabyte hasn’t made any significant changes to the body of its gaming notebooks for a few years now, and that’s evident in the fact that the smaller USB Type-C port is surrounded by a bright orange plastic filler in place of where an older standard USB port sat. Not exactly what we’d describe as an elegant solution.
Typing is reasonably comfortable on the P35Xv5’s keyboard. The chiclet-style keys are well spaced considering the addition of a full numberpad, but they do feel a bit spongy; vigorous touch-typists will notice some flex in the keyboard. Considering it’s a gaming notebook, the absence of a backlit keyboard is disappointing. Instead, we’re treated to a basic white outline on the WASD keys.
The notebook’s poor build quality comes across in the trackpad as well. On the review model, right-clicking depresses the trackpad much more than the left-click, so clicking feels uneven. Neither the keyboard or trackpad are terrible, but neither are they good enough for such an expensive notebook.
The P35 comes in various storage configurations; this review model has a 256GB SSD as well as a 1TB hard disk. With Windows 10 installed on the SSD, the P35Xv5 takes only 26 seconds to boot up.
The SSD uses the faster M.2 PCI Express interface (as opposed to SATA), which means it can reach even higher speeds. The P35 reached incredibly fast 1,861MB/sec read speeds in the AS SSD benchmark, which is around 3x faster than a traditional SATA-6 Samsung 850 EVO SSD. Write times weren’t nearly as impressive, reaching just 130MB/sec.
Overall, the fast SSD means that the P35Xv5 feels incredibly fast to use; however, you’ll struggle to fit your Steam library on it. So games, video files and larger applications are best installed on the larger 1TB 7,200rpm hard disk.
The Gigabyte P35Xv5 is one of the most portable gaming notebooks you can buy, and is ideal for gaming on the go, but its poor build quality and uninspiring design is disappointing.
Gigabyte P35Xv5 – Display
While the P35Xv5 is available with a 4K resolution display, the model on review has a far more sensible Full HD 1080p display. With a 15.6-inch screen size this equates to 141 pixels per inch, which is reasonably sharp, although individual pixels are still noticeable on closer inspection.
I say “sensible”, because as nice and sharp as a 4K (3,840 x 2,160) resolution would be, it would absolutely destroy your frame rate in games (not to mention battery life). Even the Nvidia GTX 980M in this version of the P35Xv5 would struggle to run modern games at 30fps in 4K. Sticking with a 1080p resolution means you can enjoy much higher frame rates and have a far smoother gaming experience, which is pretty important for a gaming notebook.
In terms of the screen quality, the IPS panel is actually pretty good. Viewing angles are solid and colours are vibrant. At 306 nits, it’s bright too. You won’t have a problem seeing the screen if you’re using the laptop in a bright environment.
The P35Xv5 scored 80% in the sRGB test, which means colours are reasonably accurate. It’s by no means a professionally calibrated display, so if you’re a photo or video editor who requires colour accuracy then you might want to give this one a miss – but it’s definitely good enough for most uses.
Overall I’m impressed by the display quality. Watching movies, playing games and browsing the web all look great on the P35Xv5.
Gigabyte P35Xv5 – Performance
The P35Xv5 is available in a variety of configurations. The model on review features an i7-6700HQ Skylake processor, an Nvidia GTX 980M graphics card and 16GB of DDR4 RAM. The P35Xv5 is a beast of a gaming notebook and, not surprisingly, it blazes through our benchmarks.
It scored 8,390 in the 3DMark: Fire Strike test, compared to 6,526 for the Asus ROG G752 that sports the Nvidia GTX 970M. This is a significant 25% difference and shows just how powerful the top-spec P35Xv5 really is.
The quad-core Skylake i7-6700HQ (2.6-3.5GHz) processor is equally impressive, scoring 3,657 and 13,425 in the single and multi-core Geekbench tests, respectively. This is par for the course with this chip; the Asus ROG G752 achieved nearly identical scores.
The P35Xv5 looks great on paper and performs well in benchmarks, but how does it fair running some of the latest games?
It achieved an average frame rate of 52fps in Dirt Rally; 59fps in Tomb Raider; and 98fps in Hitman at 1080p. This is pretty impressive, and with a few tweaks to settings it is easy to achieve a consistent 60fps in recent games.
Minimum frame rates were also encouraging, only going as low as 66fps in Dirt Rally and 43fps in Tomb Raider. In Hitman, however, the minimum frame rate was just 9fps, which in my opinion is an anomaly and doesn’t represent the smooth frame rate I experienced while playing the game.
Undoubtedly, the 1080p resolution helps the P35Xv5 achieve far higher frame rates than it would if it had to push four times as many pixels in a 4K display.
Apart from gaming notebooks with desktop-class components, such as the ludicrous Asus ROG GX700, the Gigabyte P35Xv5 is a veritable powerhouse and one of the fastest notebooks you can buy right now.
Throughout my benchmarks and gaming tests, the P35Xv5 remained impressively cool and quiet. In general use you almost never hear the fan – it only becomes audible, but not distracting, while gaming or running more intensive applications.
One of the most significant differences between this P35Xv5 and the P35Xv3 from 2014 is the addition of Intel’s latest Skylake chip. The older model offered the same Nvidia 980M card, which shows that it’s a little long in the tooth, especially since Nvidia recently launched its GTX 1070 and 1080 cards. Hopefully, it won’t be long before we see mobile versions of these GPUs, which will offer better performance and power efficiency.
As powerful as the P35v5 is, it might be worth holding off a few months until we see a GTX 1080M.
Gigabyte P35Xv5 – Battery
The P35Xv5’s battery life is pretty average, but not disappointing considering the powerful components inside the notebook.
Following a one-hour Netflix test the P35Xv5 had used only 22% of its power, which is impressive considering the competing Asus ROG G752 used 41% during the same test. With pretty typical non-gaming usage – including web browsing, office work and watching videos – the P35Xv5 lasted for around 4 hours with brightness set at 50% and power-saving mode enabled.
It’s highly recommended to have the notebook plugged into the charger when playing games; otherwise, you can expect less than an hour and a half of battery life from the P35Xv5.
Should I buy the Gigabyte P35Xv5?
Probably not. The design of the P35Xv5 is both it’s selling point and Achilles heel. Yes, it’s relatively thin and light, but looks-wise it’s dull, it’s poorly made – and if you’d just spent £1,600 on a new notebook then I can guarantee that you’d be disappointed on seeing the P35Xv5 for the first time.
However, beneath all the cheap plastic is a solid gaming notebook with an excellent screen. Opting for the top-end 980M alongside the Skylake i7 and 16GB DDR4 RAM provides great performance, and you’ll have no trouble maintaining 60fps in modern games at Full HD.
The bottom line is that £1,600/$2,400 for the Gigabyte P35Xv5 is far too expensive since it lacks the premium aesthetics that such an high-end notebook deserves. It delivers on performance, but falls short as an overall package.