Introduction and design
The Gigabyte P35X v5 is a mighty powerful, 15-inch gaming laptop equipped with a 4K display, Intel Core i7 CPU and Nvidia GTX 980M with 8GB of video RAM. With such impressive hardware under the hood, you might have assumed this machine was just another thick performance beast.
However, the P35X is actually slimmer than your average 15-inch laptop, all while looking a bit duller, too. While this laptop won’t turn heads with a gorgeous frame, it’s a downright demon when it comes to 4K gaming.
For a gaming laptop, the Gigabyte P35X v5 is surprisingly unremarkable looking. In fact, the 15-inch notebook appears rather formal, donning a simple black paint job with an anodized aluminum exterior covering the screen lid and keyboard deck.
The underside of the machine is disappointingly made of plastic instead of metal, which would help disperse heat better. But at least it’s not visually obvious and, despite being made of two differing materials, the P35X feels solid throughout and doesn’t creak under pressure.
The thing you’ll notice most about the P35X is how stunningly thin and surprisingly light it is considering its fully-loaded spec sheet.
Designed around thinness
Unfortunately, to get this machine to such a level of thinness, Gigabyte had to make a few compromises. Most notably, the P35X v5 has a considerably larger footprint than most other 15-inch laptops.
The rear of the notebook’s base extends past the edge of the screen, to make room for larger heat radiators. Similarly, the palmrests are also oversized, which gives your hands more room to sit on the keyboard.
As a consequence, though, the extended depth creates a one-inch gap between the trackpad and the front edge of the laptop. You have to reach with your fingers to use the pointing device, and you’ll often trigger the mouse buttons when you just meant to move the cursor.
Its likely Gigabyte couldn’t move the trackpad any closer to the front edge because the optical drive resides just below it. Which begs the question; why not just ditch the DVD drive all together?
If the P35X v5 is designed to be as slim as possible, getting rid of the optical drive could either help make this machine even more compact or make more room for other components.
With this in mind, you should bring along a portable or dedicated gaming mouse, as the trackpad is only good enough to use in a pinch. While you’re using your mouse, you might notice that the power cord is annoyingly in your way, as the connector is inconveniently placed on the right side.
Luckily, the fully-backlit keyboard offers a satisfyingly clicky typing experience, even if the key travel is a little on the short side by gaming laptop standards.
Specifications and Performance
Measuring in at 0.83-inches thick (2.1cm) and weighing 5.29 pounds (2.4kg), it’s crazy that Gigabyte managed to pack in as much as it did into the P35X v5. This 15-inch laptop is nearly as compact as the Asus ROG G501, which had no optical drive and a much less impressive Nvidia 960M GPU. That said, it still has a larger footprint, measuring 15.16 inches (38.5cm) wide and 10.63 inches (27cm) deep.
The MSI GS60 Ghost Pro is a far more compact system, measuring 15.35 x 10.47 x 0.78 inches (39 x 26.6 x 1.98cm). Thanks to foregoing a media drive, the MSI rig is also lighter at 4.2 pounds (1.9kg). On the other hand, the Acer Predator 15 is a much more substantial system, weighing in at 7.5 pounds (3.4kg) and touting 15.4 x 11.8 x 1.5-inch (39.1 x 30 x 3.8cm) dimensions.
Here is the Gigabyte P35X v5 configuration sent to techradar for review:
- CPU: 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ (quad-core, 6MB cache, up to 3.5GHz with Turbo Boost)
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M 8GB GDDR5, Intel HD Graphics 530
- RAM: 16GB DDR4 SDRAM (2,133MHz)
- Screen: 15.6-inch, UHD 3,840 x 2,160, IPS LCD
- Storage: 256GB SSD (PCIe, NVMe Gen-3), 1TB HDD (7,200 rpm)
- Optical drive: 6X Blu-Ray Writer/DVD-RW
- Ports: 1x USB 3.1 Type C; 3x USB 3.0; HDMI 2.0; D-sub; RJ-45; Mic-in; Earphone-out (SPIDF); SD card reader; mini Display Port
- Connectivity: Intel Wireless-AC 7260; Bluetooth 4.0
- Camera: 1.3MP HD webcam
- Weight: 5.29 pounds
- Size: 15.16 x 10.63 x 0.83 inches (W x D x H)
Despite the P35X sporting some serious hardware, it’s only priced at $2,299 (£1,699, AU$3,599). More than 2,000 clams is still a considerable sum to pay for, well, anything, but consider the configuration above includes two top-of-the-line parts with a hearty helping of storage and RAM – plus, a 4K screen to top it all off.
Users who don’t need all the resolution of an Ultra HD screen can opt for the FHD model, priced at $1,799 (about £1,245, AU$2,535). Unfortunately, the downgrade also halves the solid-state drive (SSD) storage, but you can easily add more by unscrewing the notebook’s underside upgrade panel.
The closest Acer Predator 15 configuration that comes close to meeting this specification costs $1,999 (about £1,378, AU$2,814). Even then, the two systems are not on 1-to-1 parity. With Acer’s setup, you’ll only get a 1080p display and an Nvidia 980M GPU with half the amount of video RAM.
A 4K display-equipped MSI GS60 rings up for $1,899 (£1,799, AU$2,999), but the best graphics option you’ll ever get on this system is an Nvidia GTX 970M chip with 6GB of video memory.
After a history of 4K screens dragging down the performance of laptops in general, the P35X v5 is the first machine to finally give us a playable frame rates with games running at Ultra HD resolution.
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor runs at nearly 30 frames per second (fps), even when you set the game to play at full resolution and Ultra settings. I am even able to travel around the world of Dragon’s Dogma with a fairly reliable frame rate that hovers between 60 and 45 fps.
That said, you’ll still run into a few games that struggle to play smoothly at 4K. Rise of the Tomb Raider readily dips to 9 fps with everything pushed to the max. You’ll have to lower the graphical settings to their lowest before you start to see a playable 27 fps.
Here’s how the Gigabyte P35X v5 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
- 3DMark: Cloud Gate: 18,877; Sky Diver: 20,755; Fire Strike: 8,390
- Cinebench CPU: 674 points; Graphics: 86 fps
- GeekBench: 3,576 (single-core); 13,253 (multi-core)
- PCMark 8 (Home Test): 2,836 points
- PCMark 8 Battery Life: 3 hours and 31 minutes
- Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (1080p, Ultra): 70 fps; (1080p, Low): 122 fps; (4K, Ultra): 27 fps
- Grand Theft Auto V (1080p, Ultra): 30 fps; (1080p, Low): 137 fps
Despite pushing four times the resolution of its competitors, the P35X v5 topped out with some of the most impressive benchmark scores I’ve ever seen.
Thanks to its higher-end video card with plenty of video memory to spare, this 15-inch gaming laptop completed the 3DMark Fire Strike test with an astonishing 8,390 points. By comparison, the Acer Predator 15 lags slightly behind with 8,277 points, and the Nvidia 970M-powered MSI GS60 comes in last with a 6,558 score.
Almost all of the other benchmark scores tell a similar story of the P35X trouncing its competition. However, it seems the high-resolution screen does bite into processor performance. In PCMark 8, the Gigabyte machine produced a disappointing 2,836 score, whereas the Predator and Ghost Pro achieved 3,378 and 3,393 points, respectively.
Another unexpected result was that the P35X v5 lasts longer than its 15-inch rivals – or most gaming laptops in general. The Gigabyte notebook clocked in with a battery life of 3 hours and 31 minutes while running our PCMark 8 test. Meanwhile, the Acer Predator 15 ran dry 14 minutes sooner, while the Ghost Pro lasted a measly 2 hours and 2 minutes.
While running techradar’s standard movie battery test, the Gigabyte machine yielded a 4-hours-and-4-minutes result. In this case, Acer’s 15-inch option performed better, running for an additional 18 minutes. However, the GS60 came up short once again, nodding off after a short 2 hours and 28 minutes.
Screen and speakers
The Gigabyte P35X v5 4K display is a pleasant beauty beyond its sharpness. Distinct blacks and whites are represented well on this contrast-rich screen, but you’ll still see a few muted shades of gray. Likewise, the built-in monitor renders bright enough to pop off the screen, though, not at a level that will amaze you.
Although the speakers on this 15-inch gaming laptop are a lot less tinny than I’ve come to expect from most notebooks, they aren’t too impressive. Music plays with muted tones, and in-game explosions seem to lack power, likely due to the lack of a built-in subwoofer. Still for a strictly stereo speaker setup, the P35X sounds decent enough for a laptop.
The Gigabyte P35X v5 comes preloaded with a generous package of software. However, unlike most laptops, this gaming machine comes stock with helpful applications for gamers instead of the usual copy of Candy Crush you’ll never play or other shareware apps. Here’s a short list of useful bunded apps you’ll find on this system:
- Smart Update – See all the versions of firmware and drivers currently running on your hardware and download them through this simple portal app.
- CyberPower Link 10 – Put your optical drive to good use and play some media or create your own physical discs.
- Adobe Reader XI – This app allows you to read .pdf files, but we recommend downloading a third-party solution if you need to make edits.
- AMCap – Bundled video capture software you can use with your internal or external capture card.
- XSplit Gamecaster – Broadcast your live stream with ease using this preloaded app.
The Gigabyte P35X v5 isn’t the most noteworthy or even attractive gaming laptop in the world. But it packs a ton of high-powered hardware into a tight shell – at a more affordable price to boot. Battery life is stunning for a device of this size, and this is one of the first gaming laptops to come close to realizing the dream of 4K gaming on the move.
Spending over two grand on a laptop of any kind is ridiculous these days, but Gigabyte offers a tantalizing package with a hearty spread of high-power components. You won’t find many gaming rigs equipped with an Nvidia 980M and 8GB of video memory, whether they’re thin-and-light systems or those on the heavier side. What’s more, for your money, you’re also getting a sharp 4K screen and a top-of-the-line Intel processor.
Altogether, the P35X comes ready to play most games at low to medium settings (and high in rare cases) when you want the 4K experience. Notch it to 1080p, or even 1440p, and you’ll be able put your settings all the way up, confident it will almost always run at a buttery smooth 60 fps.
My main issues with the P35K v5 are mostly cosmetic. This gaming laptop could use a bit more style. As much as I like the minimalistic design of this machine and the MSI GS60, the overall body shape of the P35X lacks definition, save for its rear hump.
Add in a couple of sharp angles, drop the optical drive and put the power connector on the left side, and the next Gigabyte notebook could be the best high-performance gaming laptop in a small package.
The Gigabyte P35X v5 looks the part of an unassuming 15-inch laptop with a thin chassis, but underneath all its plainness is one of the most powerful gaming machines we’ve reviewed thus far. Having a full 8GB of video RAM on Nvidia’s top end mobile graphics chip shows just how close we are to 4K gaming on a mobile platform. And when you don’t need all the high-resolution detail, this machine can absolutely destroy games at lower settings.
One of the best things about the P35X v5 is how well value oriented it is. Spending $2,299 (£1,699, AU$3,599) with most gaming laptop manufacturers, like Alienware and Origin, would get you a system with significantly less graphical horsepower and likely a traditional 1080p display.
If you can get over the P35X’s little flaws – and you can easily do so with a headset and mouse – this is a knock-out system for hardcore gamers.