- Fast GTX 1070 performance
- Impressive components throughout
- 4K screen
- Not quite 4K-capable
- Underwhelming keyboard
- Mediocre battery life
- 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 8GB graphics
- 17.3in 3840 x 2160 IPS screen
- 32GB 2400MHz DDR4 memory
- 256GB Samsung SM961 M.2 SSD
- 1TB hard disk
- Windows 10 64-bit
- 2yr RTB warranty
- Manufacturer: Gigabyte
- Review Price: £2,199.00/$3,298.50
WHAT IS THE GIGABYTE P57X V7-CF1?
It’s easy to think of gaming laptops as ostentatious machines that prize looks above everything else – but this isn’t the case here. The Gigabyte P57X is far more subtle than many of its gaming rivals.
However, its understated looks hide a potent specification – one that will see you having to fork out a whopping £2199.
GIGABYTE P57X V7-CF1 – FEATURES
At the heart of this machine is Nvidia’s GTX 1070 GPU. It’s one of the firm’s new Pascal-powered parts, which means huge efficiency and performance. The mobile GTX 1070 has 2048 stream processors and a 1442MHz core clock, with a 1645MHz Boost peak and 8GB of memory. That’s more stream processors than the desktop card and a slightly lower speed, which means this mobile variant will achieve parity with the full-fat version.
That’s not all. Gigabyte has enhanced the GTX 1070 with five tiers of overclocking, with the top option improving the speed by around 10%. There are granular fan controls, too.
So far, so good, although I have one graphical quibble – the 4K screen. The GTX 1070 is powerful, but on occasion it struggles to handle games at 3840 x 2160.
The Gigabyte’s nearest competitor is the Aorus X7 V6, which is Gigabyte’s high-end gaming brand. That machine also had a GTX 1070 core, yet avoided 4K, instead opting for a sensible 2560 x 1440 panel.
The GPU is paired with an Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor. It’s a new Kaby Lake chip, which means minor improvements in several categories versus sixth-gen kit. It has four Hyper-Threaded cores clocked to 2.8GHz and a Turbo peak of 3.8GHz, which means it will compete well with the Aorus – that machine had an i7-6820HK that ran at an overclocked 4GHz. The P57X offers no CPU overclocking.
The P57X here is of the priciest specification, which means a 256GB Samsung SM961 SSD and 32GB of DDR4 memory – four times as much as the Aorus. That’s good on paper, although that much memory has a negligible impact on games performance and will really only help if you start delving into ultra-high-resolution video editing and 3D work.
If this specification proves too costly, the Gigabyte is available as the tweaked P57X v7-CF2, which has a 1080p display and 16GB of memory for £1899/$2848.5.
Two of last year’s P57X v6 models are still around, too, if you’re not fussed about Kaby Lake. The £1699/$2548.5 P57X v6-CF4 and £1849/$2773.5 P57X v6-CF3 have Core i7-6700HQ processors, 1080p screens and GTX 1070 graphics, with the only change coming in the amount of memory included.
GIGABYTE P57X V7-CF1 – DESIGN
Design-wise, this machine looks more home or business laptop than a top-tier gaming portable. The P57X is made from matte finished metal, with a modest speaker grille, small logos and white lighting – no sign of RGB here. In fact, the only colour you’ll see is in the form of some orange strips down the sides of the keyboard, alongside small accents on the hinges.
Build quality is reasonable, too. There’s slight give in the wrist-rest and base, and the screen is the only weak point; its slightly flexible metal is not a terminal problem. It’s just as sturdy as the Aorus, and the 3kg Gigabyte does this while being 200g lighter than its stablemate.
The base panel pops away once a dozen screws have been removed, and it’s easy to access the memory and storage. It’s simpler to get inside this machine than the Aorus. That machine had two spare memory slots and a vacant M.2 connector; the P57X has no upgrade space.
The P57X does have a swappable bay that can be used for an extra hard disk or an optical drive – in this sample it contains a DVD writer. It’s also fully kitted out with ports, including USB 3.1 and HDMI 2.0.
GIGABYTE P57X V7-CF1 – PERFORMANCE
The GTX 1070 is exceptionally quick. Its 1080p averages of 77fps and 112fps in Tomb Raider and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor are smoothly playable, and that latter score is a few frames quicker than the Aorus.
The Gigabyte didn’t struggle at 2560 x 1440, either. It ran Tomb Raider at 58fps and Mordor at 92fps, with the Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor result matching the Aorus. It handled GTA V’s Very High settings at a solid 60fps, too.
The GTX 1070 even ran some games at 3840 x 2160. Its 51fps score in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is one frame faster than the Aorus, which indicates that it will play many games at this demanding pixel count.
However, the P57X has limits – the toughest titles won’t run smoothly at 4K. The GTA V 4K benchmark delivered a solid 45fps average, but its sub-30fps minimum means that the game will stutter occasionally. Tomb Raider struggled, with a reasonable 36fps average hindered by a 15fps minimum. Turning down graphics settings will improve those minimums, but that temporary fix will have less impact as games improve.
This issue would have been present on the Aorus X7 v6 if it had a 4K screen – and it will occur on any other GTX 1070 notebook. To get around it you’ll need a GTX 1080, and that means spending around £2500/$3750 on a machine such as the Scan 3XS LG17 Carbon Extreme.
The P57X and the Aorus both have overclocking that delivers small gaming improvements. The P57X’s 3D Mark Fire Strike score of 12,890 boosted to 13,759 with the machine’s top tweak level, while the Aorus jumped from 12,613 to 13,065.
That will translate to a couple of frames, but not enough to transform any gaming experience.
There isn’t much to choose between the P57X and the Aorus, with both performing well and gaining a small overclocked boost. The GTX 1070 will play anything at sub-4K resolutions and on VR headsets, but it won’t handle 3840 x 2160 consistently.
There isn’t much to choose in the CPU department – no surprise, considering the similarities between Skylake and Kaby Lake. The P57X’s Geekbench scores of 4044 and 14,562 are within 23 points of the Aorus. Expect both machines to handle most CPU-intensive applications – only the toughest work tools will prove challenging.
The P57X has Quiet, Normal and Performance fan modes alongside its levels of GPU overclocking, with the Gaming option chosen by default. At default settings the P57X is cool and quiet; during games there’s a modest whirr that increased only a little when I ran the CPU at 100%.
That noise dropped in the Normal fan mode, and became near-silent with the Quiet option selected. That’s good for working or watching movies, but poor for gaming – it throttles CPU and GPU clock speeds to halve frame rates.
There’s no real performance difference between the Normal and Performance modes, and temperatures remained decent: the CPU and GPU settled at 85oC and 76oC in Performance mode, with those increasing by a couple of degrees in normal mode.
The P57X is cooler and quieter than the Aorus, and only a little heat made its way to the keyboard and the base – another area where the slimmer Aorus faltered, with a base panel that was too hot to touch.
GIGABYTE P57X V7-CF1 – SCREEN AND SOUND QUALITY
The 4K IPS panel delivers fantastic sharpness and a matte coating that bodes well for gaming and movies, but it doesn’t have any syncing – something the Aorus offered with 120Hz Nvidia G-Sync. That means the Aorus will deliver smoother gameplay.
The Gigabyte’s panel proved bright and breezy in benchmarks, but it isn’t without problems.
Its peak brightness level of 428 nits is huge, and too bright for anyone to use sensibly, and that means the black level of 0.65 nits is also high. The contrast ratio of 629:1 is mediocre, and similar to the Aorus. That creates a lack of depth across the entire spectrum, and underwhelming black tones – some shades might look more grey.
That’s not the only area where the two panels are similar. The P57X’s colour temperature of 7218K isn’t far from the Aorus, and that’s a tad cool. The average Delta E (where a smaller number means better accuracy) of 3.79 is middling, too.
At its default settings the P57X is bright, but it lacks depth. Thankfully, there are ways to rectify this. The Native Colour mode improves the Delta E to 0.52, while leaving every other result the same. I prefer dialling back the brightness to around 150 nits, which improved the contrast to 833:1 and the Delta E to 0.57.
The P57X’s sRGB gamut coverage of 100% is flawless, and better than the 81% of the Aorus – and its uniformity is better, too, with a brightness swing of around 13%, which isn’t noticable.
Complaints are minor. The backlight leak in the bottom left won’t be obvious unless that area of the panel is dark, and the viewing angles are fine but not spectacular.
For the most part, the P57X’s panel is better than the Aorus’ screen: it has a higher resolution and, once that brightness is toned down, its colours and contrast are superior. I’d only opt for the Aorus if G-Sync is a key factor.
The 2W speakers are fine, too, with a clear mid-range and a top-end that just avoids sounding tinny. The speakers offer ample volume and no distortion, so they’re good for both gaming and movies.
The Aorus goes one better, however. Its inclusion of a subwoofer results in more prominent bass, and the dedicated audio software can make fine adjustments.
GIGABYTE P57X V7-CF1 – KEYBOARD AND TRACKPAD
The keyboard here has full-sized keys and a number pad, but unlike the Aorus X7 v6, there are no macro buttons – perhaps because that laptop is a more pure-bred gaming machine.
Gigabyte produces comfortable keyboards, and that continues here. The P57X’s buttons are consistent, with reasonable travel and a quiet, fast action.
That speed sounds good for gaming, but the keys here are soft. There’s little difference in feel between the buttons and the base, which means there’s hardly any feedback when you actually hit the keys; in fast-paced games, that’s disappointing. As usual, this chiclet device is better for typing than gaming.
The trackpad has its issues, too. The buttons are reasonably quick, but they push down too far. I prefer the rapid, shallow snap of a proper gaming mouse – something that the Aorus mimicked with more aplomb.
GIGABYTE P57X V7-CF1 – BATTERY LIFE
The P57X’s 76Wh battery is smaller than the 94Wh unit in the Aorus, but the two machines offer similar longevity.
In the standard benchmark, which loops a light-work test with the screen at 40% brightness, the Gigabyte lasted for 2 hours 57mins, just four minutes longer than the Aorus.
That’s hardly a surprise: the P57X has a smaller battery, but it doesn’t have the power-hungry overclocked processor of the Aorus.
It also means that there were no surprises in the gaming test, with the P57X lasting just over an hour, which is completely standard for a gaming laptop.
SHOULD I BUY THE GIGABYTE P57X V7-CF1?
The 17.3-inch gaming laptop may look a little archaic in a market that seems obsessed with slimming down, but there’s still plenty to like about these larger machines.
The GTX 1070 and Kaby Lake processor inside this machine deliver huge performance, while proving cooler and quieter than the competition. The 4K screen’s resolution is, perhaps, a little unnecessary – but quality outstrips rivals in most tests. The rest of the components are good, as is the machine overall – from the sturdy, smart design to the reasonable speakers – but the keyboard is underwhelming, although it’s no disaster.
The rival Aorus machine might look slicker and have G-Sync, but it has problems. The P57X is as good or better in several critical areas – and it’s cheaper. Gigabyte’s latest is one of the best big gaming laptops on the market.
The P57X isn’t as extravagant as some rivals, but it offers huge power and bolsters its performance with a solid 4K screen and solid build quality. The keyboard and battery life are a little underwhelming, but this is a laptop with no major problems. That, and the reasonable price, makes it one of the best big gaming laptops on the market.