GTX880M gaming goodness!
What is the Gigabyte P25X v2?Essentially it's a gaming laptop. Although it's been rather hit and miss from Gigabyte in the last few months when it comes to this type of product. We had the superb mid range P25W which performed well across the board, but with a design that you would either love or hate. Then from their ultra thin and lightweight range we had the high specification P35W v2 and the P35K, which both did well in our tests but failed due to noise and heat levels that did not make for pleasurable gaming (or any other tasks) at all. We also had the Aorus X7, a true gaming laptop from Gigabyte's new gaming arm but one that also suffered with excessive noise issues. It seems if you want high specification gaming on the move, then with Gigabyte noise is something you will have to suffer.
The Gigabyte P25X v2, keeps to the same polarising yellow, black and chrome design as the P25W and also the same chassis which whilst noisy was nowhere near as bad as the P35 range. Hopefully Gigabyte have kept the noise under control despite the much increased specification compared to the P25W. The new model includes a 15.6" Full HD IPS LCD display, 16GB of DDR3 RAM @ 1866, two 128GB SSDs in RAID 0, a speedy Intel i7-4810MQ CPU and, at time of writing, Nvidia's fastest mobile graphics the GTX880M, with a whopping 8GB of GDDR5. With a not to be sniffed at price tag of £1499, as of September 2014, the P25X v2 has a lot to live up to. Let's see if it delivers...
What about the design and connections?When we previously reviewed the P25W, the striking 'sports car inspired' design took some getting used to and we found it was one you would either love or hate. The P25X v2 is identical with regards to the style and design and it is one that is definitely growing on us. The bold yellow metallic top, chrome effect hinges and chrome edging around the screen certainly makes it stand out and if you aren't a fan of the plain all black design as we saw with the P35 range and the Aorus X7 then this one may be for you. The only area we feel is a bit of a letdown is the dual air vents to the rear which apparently echo a sports car's twin exhausts but just feel a bit cheap and plasticky here.
The keyboard is the same comfortable and easy to use island style as with the P25W with a full numeric keypad and arrow keys. We also find the usual array of function keys for adjusting the volume, screen brightness and Wi-Fi for example and buttons next to the power switch for instant access to Gigabyte's Smart Manager and the volume. Gigabyte have again helpfully highlighted the W, A, S and D keys in case as a gamer you have trouble finding them. The automatic light sensing keyboard backlight which we found rarely worked properly in previous reviews is no longer to be found on the P25X v2, which probably suggests other people had the same issues we did. Now to alter the backlighting from off, bright and brightest you simply use FN + Space bar.
The build quality is to Gigabyte's usual high level with strong screen hinges and ports all feeling very secure. There is no noticeable flexing to be found anywhere on the laptop, it has very solid and quality feel to it. One minor issue we did have here was that the power connector would come out very easily, which depending how clumsy and prone to tripping over the power cable you are could be was either a positive or a negative. The touchpad is again very responsive and we had no issues here or with the left and right buttons.
As with the P25W, this is certainly not the lightest gaming laptop coming in at 2.7kg. It's also chunky too measuring 392mm wide, 263mm deep and 38mm and its thickest point and 32mm at its thinnest. The connections whilst not particularly generous should cover most bases. Starting on the left we have the power connection, VGA port and the eSATA/USB 2.0 combo port. To the right we have microphone and headphone jacks, 2 x USB 3.0 ports (one being a USB Sleep and Charge port), SD card reader, HDMI and Ethernet ports.
What are the specifications of the Gigabyte P25X?Compared to the £1,200 mid range P25W, the P25X v2 at £1,499 offers several significant improvements and hardware changes. We have a very fast Intel Haswell Quad Core i7-4810MQ CPU running at 2.8Ghz (turbo speed of 3.8Ghz), 16GB of DDR3 RAM at 1866Mhz and a particular highlight being the Nvidia GTX880M graphics with a mighty 8GB of GDDR5 VRAM. We also get a Sony Matshita Blu-ray rewritable drive, the latest 802.11ac/b/g/n WiFi, HD webcam and Bluetooth 4.0. The display is a 15.6" Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution using an IPS wide angle LCD screen.
As we've found with all of Gigabyte's laptops we've reviewed recently the storage upgrade options for future upgrades are vast. Our review sample came with the same configuration as per the P35W v2, that being 2 x 128GB Lite-on mSATA LMT-128M6M SSDs setup in RAID 0 configuration and an HGST Travelstar 7K1000 7200RPM 1TB HDD. The P25X v2 has a triple storage system which can be ultimately upgraded to 2 x 512GB SSDs and a 1.5TB HDD.
The technical specs for the 128GB Lite-on SSD claim an impressive read speed of up to 530 MB/s and a good write speed of 300 MB/s. With ATTO Disk Benchmark, after our three runs we found an average read speed of 1047 MB/s and an average write speed of 574 MB/s. Thanks to the RAID 0 configuration we see very fast ATTO Disk benchmarked speeds way above of the single SSD quoted speeds, but whilst these speeds are impressive, for real world application use the differences between using an SSD in standard mode as opposed to RAID 0 are less conclusive. Whilst RAID 0 splits the data evenly across two or more disks without parity information and therefore increases the speed significantly, the downside is that there is no data redundancy, so that means if one drive fails, you lose the data across both of them.
PCMark8's Storage Test which uses workload traces recorded from actual programs such as Battlefield 3, MS Office and Photoshop for example and therefore represents real world tests rather than synthetic and is not affected by differences in CPU or GPU performance, we get a score of 4972 with a bandwidth of 256.17MB/s. This is a slight increase compared to the P35W v2 for example, but is again very similar to other PCMark8 systems with a single SSD not running in RAID which would suggest that the benefits seen by have a RAID 0 setup do not translate to real world use.
The 2 x 128GB SSD converts to an available space of 222GB for Windows to use. After the Windows installation and various other pre-installed software that leaves us with 181GB. Manually timed from power on with a cold boot to the Windows desktop we get a lightning fast average score of 8.77 seconds.
Is the display on the P25X any good?The 15.6" display uses a Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution wide angle IPS LCD panel. Being the same matte screen as we saw with the P35W v2 we again found excellent viewing angles thanks to the IPS panel with a clear image still viewable at 150⁰ from the side. Thanks to the 'light scattering anti-glare layer' we also found reflections diffused to an excellent level.
We use Passmark's Monitor Test program for the laptop screens currently, which runs through various standard quality tests of the screen to give you an idea of its performance. It also comes with a very useful help section to tell you exactly what you should be looking for and areas where the screen may not be performing well. The screen passed all the tests without any issues with no backlight bleed visible during the solid black tests and the colours appeared strong and vibrant. It's a basic test admittedly, but the software is free and without resorting to buying expensive software and test equipment, this is a test most home users can easily replicate for themselves.
What pre-installed software does it come with?Gigabyte have again thankfully not gone overboard in this area. Something the likes of Toshiba seriously need to take on board. The main pre-installed software are the likes of Gigabyte's various helpful applications. Smart Manager for example, which can be launched via a button on the keyboard gives quick and easy access to an array of basic system functions such as volume, brightness, power mode, fan control and monitor switching for example. Keyboard backlighting has been omitted this time for some reason.
We also get Smart Switch which gives you quick access to various shutdown options and also allows you to choose your default start-up screen, thereby banishing the Windows 8 Metro screen forever. Whilst this is now an option in Windows 8.1, the Smart Switch is more user friendly. The last piece of Gigabyte's helpful software is Smart Update which gives a full listing of all the current driver, firmware and software versions on the laptop with a simple one click link to obtain and install the latest version. Alongside a free 1 month trial of Office 365 we get a pretty useless version of Power DVD 10 which does not support Blu-ray discs. A (painfully slow) download of the latest Power DVD 14 solved this problem, but it would be nice if the correct version was pre-installed.
What's the onboard sound of the P25X like?On paper the P25X v2 uses the same speaker setup as the P25W, that being 4 x 1.5Watt speakers and a subwoofer but with the addition of Dolby Digital Plus Home Theater. We found the audio on the P25W very poor indeed with the sound appearing to emanate from one particular area, thankfully with the P25X v2 this issue appears to have been sorted. The audio quality is far better than the usual poor efforts we've heard of late with the sound coming across clear and without distortion. Even at maximum volume the quality remained, although to be fair the maximum volume isn't that impressive. The subwoofer doesn't have as much impact as we would like, but playing about with the various Dolby settings definitely improves things.
Even with the good work Gigabyte have done here with the on-board speakers, headphones are still recommended. Whilst the P25X v2 doesn't have anywhere near the same noise issues as the P35 range for example, the fans are still pretty loud and for Blu-ray playback especially the drive noise is very off-putting for the first 10 or 20 minutes before it disappears. The same goes with gaming, even with the volume turned right up you can still hear the fans.
How long does the battery last?The battery here is a Li-ion 8 cell, 5700 mAh, 86.18Wh. This is identical to that seen in the P25W which had excellent results and that remained true here. Using Powermark's Battery Test on the Balanced setting, we received a decent result of 3 hours 52 minutes. Then with our YouTube video test, which is a 4 hour loop of a standard 480P video and with the laptop set to the high performance setting and the screen at 100% brightness we managed a reasonable 3 hours 49 minutes. With the system turned down to the balanced setting and brightness lowered to 50% we increased that to 5 hours 2 minutes and with the same settings for Blu-ray playback we managed even more with 5 hours 12 minutes.
Gaming with the battery alone is a troubling area for us here. Even with the high performance mode enabled, the system is severely crippled. Battlefield 4 for example instantly went from 80FPS to just 30FPS. There are also no options available to remove the stranglehold on the settings under battery power and testing with other games an obvious 30FPS limit is imposed. Presumably these settings are imposed to at least give a decent gaming session when on the move as even with these restricted lower settings we still only managed 62 minutes from a 100% charge.
Is the P25X any good as a gaming laptop?
Benchmark Score Summary
Time to Desktop 8.77 Seconds 10 Super Pi @ 1M 9.61 seconds 9 3D Mark - Ice Storm 1.2 125975 7 3D Mark - Cloud Gate 1.1 19197 7 3D Mark - Fire Strike 5605 7 3D Mark - Sky Diver 16969 7 Passmark Performance Test 8.0 4948 7 Cinebench 11.5 Open GL 65.43FPS - CPU 7.38pts 7 Unigine Heaven 4.0 1296 7 Unigine Valley 1.0 1443 7 PC Mark 8 - Home Conventional 3.0 3267 6 PC Mark 8 - Storage Test 4972 8Our standard set of tests as shown in the table below are each run at least 3 times, with the average score taken. The tests were all carried out with the laptop in high performance mode, mains power plugged in and the screen set to 1920 x 1080 resolution. With this laptop we are using the latest Nvidia 340.52 graphics drivers. With the tests it's always worth bearing in mind the relative power of the graphics unit compared to the desktop equivalent and whilst no 800 series desktop GPUs have been released yet according to Passmark's Video Card benchmark, the GTX880M is roughly in the same area as an Nvidia GTX 760Ti which is very impressive for mobile graphics. The GTX880M is currently the fastest mobile GPU available still using the older Kepler chip, but with 1536 pipelines running at 954MHz and with a memory speed of 125MHz.
Since the P25X uses the powerful GTX880M with its huge 8GB of GDDR5 VRAM and a speedy Haswell Quad Core i7-4810MQ CPU you'd expect a lot for your money and we definitely got it here. With Battlefield 4 we received an excellent average 64.14FPS using Ultra settings and 97.86 when lowered to high. Max Payne 3 again gave the system a tough test with 35.62FPS seen with everything pushed to the maximum and a very impressive 65.34 with the settings lowered to high. Compare that to just 23 and 45FPS seen with the P35W v2 with the GTX870M graphics and you can see the increases thanks to the GTX880M graphics. We also tested with Sims 4 which on Ultra settings gave an unplayable 13.57 FPS and a not much better 31.49 when lowered to medium.
Benchmark Score Summary
1920 x 1080 Resolution FPS (Fraps) Battlefield 4 Ultra Settings 64 Battlefield 4 High Settings 98 Sims 4 Medium Settings 31 Max Payne 3 Maximum Settings 30 Max Payne 3 High Settings 65
The benchmark tests again showed the power of the system with decent increases across the board. Highlights being 3267 with PC Mark 8 Home Conventional, 1443 in Unigine Valley 1.0 and having fixed the issue with Passmark Performance Test 8 not using the Nvidia graphics we managed to squeeze out 4969 here. It's worth mentioning that with the Nvidia Optimus technology used in this system it is always best to double check that for gaming the Nvidia GPU is being used as opposed to the onboard Intel HD 4600 graphics.
Is the Gigabyte P25X hot or noisy?The HWMonitor screenshot below shows the maximum temperatures the various system components reached during our testing session. The CPU core temperatures at idle are 50°C whilst under test conditions these reached 92°C with the Nvidia GPU reaching a pretty toasty 93°C. Compared to the severe noise and heat issues seen with our reviews of both the P35K and the P35W v2, the P25X v2 performs quite well.
Under full load either with gaming or during our various benchmark tests the maximum volume received was 51 dBs with a level of about 48dBs being the most common with Battlefield 4 and Max Payne 3 for example. As for heat, whilst it does get hot the two rear air vents do a good job of expelling the heat away. It will still feel hot on your lap but not to the uncomfortable almost burning levels we saw with the P35 systems. It's still a shame the noise levels are this high, but it unfortunately seems to be that if you want high level gaming with a Gigabyte laptop then noise is something you will have to put up with.
- Impressive Specification
- Superb GTX880M 8GB Graphics
- Stylish bold design
- Good battery life
- Excellent storage options
- Decent on-board audio
- Competitively Priced
- Still a bit too loud
- Noisy Blu-ray drive
- Not the lightest
- System crippled using battery power
Gigabyte P25X v2 Gaming Laptop Review
Is it worth buying as a gaming laptop?
This refreshed system from Gigabyte certainly packs a punch for the price. The P25X v2 has the best single unit mobile GPU you can currently buy, the GTX880M with 8GB of GDDR5 VRAM, 16GB of DDR3 1866Mhz RAM, Intel Quad Core i7-4810MQ CPU with a turbo speed of 3.8 Ghz and backed up by 2 x 128GB SSDs in RAID 0 and a 1TB 7200RPM HDD. The 15.6" Full HD 1920 x 1080 Matt IPS LCD display as we've seen with previous Gigabyte reviews gives excellent viewing angles and overall is a good display with impressive clarity and colour reproduction.
The system specifications, especially the GTX880M, shone through in all our system tests. The 64FPS received with Battlefield 4 on Ultra settings and the 65FPS with Max Payne 3 on High settings being two particular highlights. Apart from the poor results with the (possibly poorly optimised) Sims4 this system can comfortably play whatever games you care to throw at it at high to maximum settings. That's all with mains power of course because, as with all our recent gaming laptop reviews, the system is severely crippled under battery power to a maximum of 30FPS and in most cases doesn't even reach that.
The P35K and P35W v2 laptops were very disappointing with their noise and heat issues and whilst the P25X v2 system isn't perfect it is significantly better in this regard. Thanks to the two rear vents the heat is expelled very efficiently and at no time do you feel your legs about to burst into flames. The noise is still an issue but not to the levels we have seen previously where it overpowers anything you are doing even at maximum volume. Headphones are still recommended though for those intense gaming sessions, although the on-board speaker setup does give a very good account of itself.
What alternatives are available?
With a decent build quality, snazzy design (that you will either love or hate), excellent storage upgrade options, good battery life and helpful Gigabyte software such as the SmartManager and SmartUpdate this system offers a lot for £1,499. It's competitively priced too with similar GTX880M systems coming in at well over £1,500 and significantly more if you favour Alienware systems. You'd be hard pushed to find a better alternative at the price and, as such, we are happy to award the P25X v2 a Recommended badge.
Value For Money9
Our Review Ethos
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