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Gigabyte P55W v6 Gaming Laptop Review

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All hail the Nvidia 10 series GPU!

by Greg Hook Jan 12, 2017 at 7:57 AM

  • SRP: £1,349.99

    What is the Gigabyte P55W v6?

    Gaming laptops have long been seen by some as the overpriced and underperforming little brother of the mighty desktop PC, mostly due to the very weak graphics power when compared to a desktop GPU. Thanks to Nvidia’s release of the 10 series chips a laptop GPU can now, to some degree, be finally considered an equal to its desktop bigger brother. Given that even the mighty and hideously expensive GTX980M was still a long way behind in performance terms to the equivalent desktop GPU, on paper the 10 series chips have advanced laptop gaming by a huge degree.

    Eager to get our hands on a laptop with the new 10 series chips, Gigabyte were more than happy to oblige and have provided AVForums with the latest incarnation of their 15.6” Full HD P55W v6. This refresh now includes a GTX1060 with 6GB of GDDR5. Not a lot else has changed from the V5 with the same i7-6700HQ CPU, 16GB DDR4 RAM and dual storage in the shape of a M.2 256GB SSD and 1TB HDD. The P55W v6 costs £1,349 as at the time of writing (January 2017) but it’s the GPU we're interested in and we are very eager to see how well it performs in our benchmarks. Read on to find out...

    Design and Connections

    Using the same chassis as previous versions, the P55W v6 is not trying to compete in the thin and lightweight Ultrabook category and given our experience with overheating issues in gaming laptops that do try and live in that world, being a bit chunky is a good thing. It’s a mostly black design with just a few red streaks and flashes along the edges and to the hinges to try and make it stand out a little. The only other breaks from the black theme are the silver Gigabyte logo and power button.
    Gigabyte P55W v6 Design and Connections
    The keyboard is full size, complete with the NUM keys and the usual row of function keys for quick access to functions such as muting the volume and changing screen brightness for example. The backlighting is a fairly boring all-white affair of which the brightness can be changed in the settings or left on automatic, but we have never had any real success with the auto setting. There are no macro keys or any other snazzy features such as RGB lighting. We had no complaints with the keyboard itself as it feels comfortable to use and responsive. The same goes with the trackpad and buttons although we do wish that the manufacturers would add a groove between the buttons and the trackpad, for better separation.

    As we said before this is no stick thin supermodel. Weighing in at 2.6kg it’s a pretty heavy beast with a footprint of 380 x 270mm and at its thickest point measuring 34mm. The battery is a Li-ion 6 cell, 5400 mAh with 63Wh. The connections are reasonably generous and include the latest versions of USB. To the left we have Ethernet port, VGA port, HDMI 2.0 port, 1 x USB 3.0 and 1 x USB C 3.1 port. To the right gives us a further 2 x USB 3.0 ports, the microphone and headphone jacks and the power connection. The DVD drive is also on the right. No connections to the rear and to the front is the SD card reader, the 5 LED indicators for HDD, battery and Wi-Fi status for example and the 2 x 2watt speakers.
    Gigabyte P55W v6 Design and Connections

    Is the specification up to scratch?

    • OS: Windows 10 64 Bit
    • CPU: Intel Core i7 Skylake-6700HQ (2.6GHz - 3.5GHz)
    • Display: 15.6" FHD, (1920*1080) IPS LCD Anti-glare
    • Memory: 2 x 8GB DDR4 @ 2133Mhz
    • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX1060 with 6GB GDDR5
    Featuring the 6th generation Skylake i7-6700HQ CPU, more than enough RAM and of course the GTX 1060 graphics, you do get a pretty decent specification for your £1,250. The old favourites are also present being 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1+ and a HD webcam.
    Gigabyte P55W v6 Is the specification up to scratch?
    Dual storage now appears to be common place in gaming laptops and the P55W v6 is no different. The main drive is a M.2 PCIe SSD in the shape of a 256GB Liteon CV3-8D256. This appears to be a SSD model that Liteon aren’t keen on as it doesn’t appear on their website at all, so finding the quoted speeds proved to be an impossible task. Using ATTO Disk Benchmark we received 547MB/s and write of 402MB/s. We’d have much preferred to see one of Samsung’s M.2 PCIe SSDs that we saw in our review of the Aorus X5s, but we assume to keep costs low Gigabyte have gone for the cheaper Liteon drive. The HDD is a HGST Travelstar 7200RPM and we received tested speeds of 134MB/s read and 136MB/s write.

    Using the latest PC Mark 8 Storage test 2.0 that has been updated to provide better support for NVMe SSDs, which uses workload traces recorded from actual programs and is not affected by differences in CPU or GPU performance we get score of 4785 with a storage bandwidth of 140MB/s.

    The 256GB SSD equates to 224GB in Windows and arrived to us with 179GB of free space and the 1TB HDD equates to 931GB in Windows. Manually timed from power on with a cold boot to the Windows desktop we get a decent result of 14.78 seconds.

    Is the Full HD IPS LCD display any good?

    The screen here is a 15.6" FHD 1920 x 1080 resolution IPS LCD display. The P55W v6 does also feature a WQHD+ 2880 x 1620 display in the range, but sadly our review sample was just the Full HD version. The viewing angles are impressive with a clear image seen at angles approaching 160°. The display has a matte finish and is anti-glare and this helps to keeps reflections at bay. Being ‘just’ 1080P we can’t gaze open mouthed at glorious 4K this time but the Full HD display still looked impressive although the maximum brightness level as you will see below was not as we would normally expect.
    Gigabyte P55W v6 Is the Full HD IPS LCD display any good?
    Using SpectraCal software and our C3 Colorimeter, the maximum screen luminance was detected at just 188.7cd/m2. The screenshot above shows the pre and post calibration results. Out of the box the ColorChecker error was a pretty dismal 5.02 (an error level less than 3 is the target) and Greyscale error of 4.5. Following the calibration, the ColorChecker error was reduced to a decent 1.58 and Greyscale to 0.71.

    Many thanks to SpectraCal for providing the software and C3 Colorimeter for use with our reviews.

    Pre-installed software

    Thankfully Gigabyte continue to keep the amount of pre-installed software to a minimum. All we find here is the familiar suite of Gigabyte ‘Smart’ software. Starting with Smart Manager which offers quick access to the various system controls such as power mode, keyboard backlighting, fan settings and more. Then on to Smart Dashboard which is launched from within Smart Manager. This gives a simple to read dashboard style layout of the system performance including CPU and GPU usage, temperatures and fan profiles to name just a few.
    Gigabyte P55W v6 Pre-installed software
    Smart Update is the last of the Gigabyte software of note which gives a very easy one click way to keep the various laptop drivers up to date, including beta versions too if you fancy a walk on the wild side. Also present is XSplit Gamecaster which includes a free three-month licence plus the old favourite 1-month free trial of Microsoft 365.
    Gigabyte P55W v6 Pre-installed software

    Is the audio any good?

    The audio on the P55W v6 is provided via 2 x 2watt speakers located to the front of the laptop. In conjunction with Dolby Digital Plus Home Theatre (which you must never turn off!) the audio quality is surprisingly good. Laptop audio is never our favourite area as we have experienced some real duds over the years but here the maximum volume is more than high enough and no distortion or audio breakup was heard either. We still aren’t saying that you can dump the headphones, but if you must use the on-board audio for any length of time the speakers are of a decent enough quality to not be an issue..

    Gigabyte P55W v6 Is the audio any good?

    Gigabyte P55W v6 Battery Life

    The battery fitted here is Li-ion 6 cell, 5400 mAh with 63Wh capacity.

    Battery Life Tests

    Powermark Battery Test 283minutes
    YouTube 1080P, Balanced, 50% Brightness 246 minutes
    Netflix 1080P, High Performance, 100% Brightness 237 minutes
    Gaming 53 minutes
    Gaming aside the battery tests were impressive here. One of the better Powermark results we have seen of late in our laptop reviews and the YouTube and Netflix tests show you can easily watch a film or two on a single battery charge. We’d hoped with the new 10 series Nvidia chips that the gaming performance would be different under battery but alas that wasn’t the case. A poor 53 minutes of gaming is all you can manage using the battery and it is still capped at 30FPS.

    To charge from flat to 100% took 123 minutes. As with most Windows laptops, the laptop will go to sleep with a good 4-7% of battery life remaining, so if it does die on you when you are in the middle of important work, you can start it back up and save all your work. Although when it does restart with 4-7% left, you barely have a minute or so before it completely dies.

    Gigabyte P55W v6 Benchmarks

    Our standard 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 Nvidia 376.33 graphics drivers. Firmly consigning the old 9 series mobile GPU’s to history, the 10 series laptop chips are as close in performance terms to the desktop equivalent that we have ever seen with the majority of the benchmarks showing just a 10% reduction in performance with the laptop 10 series. The GTX1060 uses Nvidia’s Pascal technology with 1280 pipelines, a core clock of 1506-1708Mhz and memory speed of 8000Mhz. Bye, bye GTX980M.

    Gaming Performance

    1920 x 1080 Resolution FPS (Fraps)
    Battlefield 1 Ultra Settings 73
    Battlefield 1 High Settings 77
    Sims 4 Ultra Settings 104
    Sims 4 Medium Settings 147
    Max Payne 3 Maximum Settings 53
    Max Payne 3 High Settings 104
    Metal Gear Solid 5 Maximum Settings 60
    Metal Gear Solid 5 High Settings 60
    Whilst the 1060 is at the lower end of the new 10 series, it completely blows away the previous top end mobile GPU, the GTX980M, in every single one of our tests. Max Payne 3 which whilst an older game does still give most systems a through workout, gave us 53FPS in Ultra, compared to 43FPS with a GTX980M. The results were similar across the board with Sims 4 on Ultra at 104FPS and Battlefield 1 giving us 73FPS. These are superb results and show just what these new 10 series chips are capable of.

    Our other test results were similarly impressive with Unigine Valley 1.0 scoring 2204, Heaven 4 at 1851 and 3D Mark Timespy at 3642. The only test we did have an issue with was Cinebench R15 which would not give a result on the OpenGL test. We can only assume this is possibly down to an issue with the new 10 series chips.

    Benchmark Score Summary

    Time to Desktop 14.78 Seconds 9
    Super Pi @ 1M 11.6 seconds 9
    3D Mark - Ice Storm 1.2 78702 8
    3D Mark - Cloud Gate 1.1 21228 8
    3D Mark - Fire Strike 9656 8
    3D Mark - Sky Diver 23458 8
    3D Mark - TimeSpy 3642 8
    Passmark Performance Test 9.0 4175.3 6
    Cinebench R15 Open GL N/A - CPU 651 CB -
    Unigine Heaven 4.0 1851 8
    Unigine Valley 1.0 2204 8
    PC Mark 8 - Home Conventional 3.0 3213 7
    PC Mark 8 - Storage Test 2.0 4785 6

    System Temperature and Heat

    The HWMonitor screenshot below shows the maximum temperatures the various system components reached during our benchmarking and gaming test sessions. The CPU core temperatures at idle were 39°C and under test conditions these reached 83°C with the Nvidia GPU reaching 85°C. Whilst not the lowest temperatures we have ever seen, these certainly aren’t the highest by far and shouldn’t give too much cause for concern.

    Gigabyte P55W v6 System Temperature and Heat
    When idle the P55W v6 is not completely silent which is unusual compared to a lot of the laptops we have reviewed. You can still hear a fan whirring but it is very quiet at around 23dBs. It does get very noisy, as most gaming laptops seem to do when you put it to the test during gaming or benchmarking. The loudest it registered on our sound level meter was 44dBs. The majority of the heat is expelled from the main vent on the left side of the laptop, but the underside does still get noticeably warm.

    Conclusion

    9
    AVForumsSCORE
    OUT OF
    10

    Pros

    • GTX1060 Graphics
    • Dual Storage
    • Good value for money

    Cons

    • Only Full HD display
    • Poor gaming battery life and capped at 30FPS
    You own this Total 0
    You want this Total 0
    You had this Total 0

    Gigabyte P55W v6 Gaming Laptop Review

    Should I buy the Gigabyte P55W v6 Gaming Laptop?

    With the old 9 series mobile GPUs you had to spend a huge sum of money to get a laptop that would play the latest games on maximum settings and even then with the GTX980M you occasionally had to sacrifice the top settings to get a decent frame rate. Here though with the £1,349 P55W v6 fitted with the new GTX1060 GPU that is no longer the case. Whilst at £1,349 it's still more expensive than an equivalent desktop, the gaming performance is at last on par.

    The rest of the system is up to scratch too with the Skylake i7-6700HQ CPU, 16GB of DDR4 RAM and the main storage drive being a 256GB M.2 SSD. Whilst not the best available, the 1080P display in the P55W v6 it does look very good with some excellent calibrated results. We didn’t really have too much to complain about here as it performed well across the board. Yes, we could moan about the battery life and the capped 30FPS under gaming is not good enough, the M.2 SSD could be faster and perhaps RGB keyboard backlighting would be a nice feature to see, but then we are just getting picky.

    What alternatives are available?

    At £1,349 with the GTX1060 graphics you now get a stonking system for the money. Even now GTX980M laptops are still considerably more expensive and as we have seen offer lower performance than the GTX1060. As for other laptops with GTX1060 graphics, the P55W v6 does look to offer decent value for money with MSI’s similarly specced GE62VR coming out at £1,380. If you are looking for a laptop that can play the latest games on maximum settings and overall has an excellent specification, then you can’t go wrong with the P55W v6 and as such is a worthy winner of an AVForums Recommended award.

    Those looking to buy the Gigabyte P55W v6 can find it here

    MORE: Gaming Laptop Reviews


    The Rundown

    Screen Quality

    8

    Sound Quality

    8

    Processing Speed

    8

    Connectivity

    8

    Features

    8

    Build Quality

    9

    Value For Money

    9

    Verdict

    9

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