Gigabyte P37X v5 17" FHD Gaming Laptop Review

Powerful beast, but scorchio, scorchio, scorchio!

by Greg Hook
Tech Review

4

Gigabyte P37X v5 17" FHD Gaming Laptop Review

What is the Gigabyte P37X v5?

If you absolutely must have a laptop for gaming rather than a desktop PC and want the very best that current tech can offer, then a laptop with GTX980M graphics must surely be top of your list. The current fastest mobile GPU on the market, the GTX980M offers superb performance but doesn’t come cheap with 17” laptops costing upwards of £1500 and much more in some cases. Our most recent laptop reviews have covered the latest 4K machines from both Gigabyte and MSI, which whilst performing to their usual standard overall, came up short in the 4K gaming department as the GTX970M GPU was not up to the task at all.

Here with Gigabyte’s freshly updated P37X v5, the GTX980M should have the grunt needed to at least give more of an effort to 4K gaming. With the P37X v5, the 4K display is optional and disappointingly our review sample only came with a Full HD display. Coming in at around £1650 (£300 more for the 4K version), we get a 17.3” Full HD display, Intel Skylake i7-6700HQ CPU, GTX980M graphics, 16GB of DDR4 RAM and both a 256GB M.2 SSD and 1TB HDD. Whilst we sadly can’t test how this system would have coped with 4K gaming, we can at least give it a good work out for Full HD gaming. Read on to see how we get on….

Design and Connections

The P37X v5 keeps very much to the design seen in all of Gigabyte’s current crop of gaming laptops. That being an all-black chassis with a matt finish aluminium top and keyboard surround and plastic around the screen. It’s an understated design and definitely doesn’t come with any bells and whistles that you might see on Alienware’s machines for example. The chrome power button being about the only break from the black. As we’ve come to expect from Gigabyte the build quality for the most part is very good with the screen hinges feeling strong and secure and no areas of depression noticeable. The only negative is the DVD drive which feels extremely flimsy and often took a couple of attempts to close properly.
Gigabyte P37X v5
The full keyboard has just a white backlight with an ambient light sensor which automatically adjusts the brightness to suit the conditions. No fancy RGB backlighting unfortunately as we’ve seen with MSI’s gaming laptops. We do get a very useful row of 5 Macro keys to the left of the keyboard. Via the Macro Hub software these 5 keys can be configured to 5 different set profiles, of which each key can be further configured to open programs, run a macro and other basic tasks such as closing a program, going straight to desktop and opening the browser for example. The keyboard is very comfortable to use and responsive as are the trackpad and buttons.

Being a 17.3” laptop this is quite a beast coming in at a fairly hefty 2.9kg and a footprint of 417mm x 285mm, although the chassis is very slim at just 23mm. You certainly can’t forget it’s there if you are using it on your lap! The high capacity battery Gigabyte have installed no doubt adds some weight. The connections are pretty generous with most requirements covered. On the left we find 2 x USB 3.0 ports, RJ-45, SD card reader and audio jacks. To the right we have the power connector, a MiniDisplay port, 1 x USB 3.0 (USB charge) port, HDMI, VGA and a USB 3.1 (type C) port. No further connections to the rear or the front, with just the front giving us the DVD (not Blu-ray) drive and the various LED indication lights.

Is the specification any good?

  • OS: Windows 10 64 Bit
  • CPU: Intel® Core™ i7 Skylake-6700HQ (2.6GHz - 3.5GHz)
  • Display: 17.3" FHD, (1920 x 1080) IPS LCD
  • Memory: 2 x 8GB DDR4 @ 2133Mhz
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX980M with 8GB GDDR5
A fairly hefty specification, using the current Skylake generation of CPUs, plenty of DDR4 memory and the beast of a GTX980M with a whopping 8GB of GDDR5, which for £1650 you would rightly be expecting! The WiFi is 802.11ac/b/g/n, we have Bluetooth 4.1, a HD webcam and a DVD RW drive.
Gigabyte P37X v5
Dual storage is provided here in the P37X v5 in the shape of both an SSD and HDD. The SSD is only the second system we have reviewed with a new M.2 PCIe SSD. In 256GB size, the NVMe Samsung PZVPV256 offers superb read speeds of up to 2260 MB/s and incredible write speeds of up to 1260MB/s. Using ATTO Disk Benchmark we received a lightning fast 2209MB/s read and 1278MB/s write which is about there compared to the quoted speeds. The HDD is a 1TB 7200RPM HGST Travelstar 7K1000 which tested at 135MB/s read and 136MB/s write in our tests.

Using the latest PC Mark 8 Storage test 2.0 that has recently been released 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 a score of 5087 with a storage bandwidth of 594MB/s. Excluding the 5079 result we saw in the Gigabyte P35W v5, this new NVMe SSD blows away anything we have seen before that used a traditional mSATA SSD. The 256GB SSD equates to 226GB in Windows and arrived to us with 189GB 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 average result of 14 seconds.
Gigabyte P37X v5

Is the Full HD IPS Display any good?

The screen here is a 17.3" FHD 1920 x 1080 resolution IPS LCD display. This offers excellent viewing angles with an image still viewable at angles of around 170°. The panel has a matte finish and gives a decent level of anti-glare with reflections reduced to a low level. Oh how we wish we had been sent the 4K version!
Gigabyte P37X v5
Using SpectraCal software and our C3 Colorimeter, the maximum screen luminance was detected at 286 cd/m2. The screenshot above shows the pre and post calibration results. As you can see the pre check gave a high out of the box ColorChecker error of 6.2 (an error level less than 3 is the target) and poor GreyScale error of 6.78. Following the successful calibration, the ColorChecker error has reduced to just 1.06 with the GreyScale error down an excellent 0.76.

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

Pre-installed software

Not a huge amount thankfully, as no one wants to spend ages uninstalling loads of bloatware from their new laptop when it arrives. The usual Gigabyte suite of ‘Smart’ software is present such as their ‘Smart Manager’ which gives you quick access to most of the system settings such as volume, brightness, power mode and keyboard backlighting level to name just a few. Plus, here we also find ’Smart Dashboard’ which gives an easy to read dashboard style display of the system performance, CPU, GPU and memory usage, system temperatures, power settings and fan speeds and more.
Gigabyte P37X v5
‘Smart Update’ gives you a very easy and quick way to ensure all the various drivers are up to date. It also offers the latest Beta drivers if you fancy a walk on the wild side. Other than those aforementioned the only other software of note is XSplit Gamecaster which gives you an easy way to stream and record your superb kill streak in Call of Duty to everyone who cares on YouTube, Twitch and UStream, PowerDVD 12 and a massively generous 1-month trial of Microsoft Office 365.
Gigabyte P37X v5

Is the audio any good?

Using the same 1.5watt dual speaker system with Dolby Digital Plus Home Theatre that we had on the P35W v5, the audio quality experienced is on par with that laptop. Overall it is good, whilst still not being in the same league as MSI’s laptops or even Gigabyte’s own Aorus gaming laptops. The bass is present and to a decent level and the maximum volume is about enough for general use. Don’t turn off the DD+ Home Theatre though as it literally turns to crap if you do.
Gigabyte P37X v5

P37X v5 Battery Life

The battery here echoes that of the P35w v5, being a Li-polymer, 11.1v with a huge 75.81Wh rating.
A battery of this rating should give excellent results, especially as it’s paired with the Skylake CPU which offers better battery life.

Battery Life Tests

Powermark Battery Test 256 minutes
YouTube 1080P, High Performance, 100% Brightness 160 minutes
YouTube 1080P, Balanced, 50% Brightness 229 minutes
Netflix 1080P, Balanced, 50% Brightness 205 minutes
Gaming 69 minutes

The results shown above are what we would expect from a battery of this specification, you can comfortably fit in even the longest of films before it dies on you. The battery life when gaming is still poor though, even here with the GTX980M the system is capped at 30FPS and you can forget a long gaming session unless you have it plugged in. To charge to 100% from flat took 137minutes. The laptop will go to sleep with between 7 and 4% battery remaining, so if you are doing something very important and it sleeps on you, at least you have the chance to start it back up and save before the batteries dies completely.

P37X v5 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 364.51 graphics drivers. The GTX980M is currently the best mobile GPU available and which according to Passmark's Video Card benchmark listing sits very close in performance to that of a desktop GTX680 or R9 380X. Using Nvidia's Maxwell technology we have 1536 pipelines, a core clock of 1038-1127Mhz and memory speed of 5000Mhz.

Gaming Performance

1920x1080 FHD Resolution FPS (Fraps)
Battlefield 4 High Settings 118
Battlefield 4 Ultra Settings 82
Sims 4 Medium Settings 121
Sims 4 Ultra Settings 112
Max Payne 3 High Settings 85
Max Payne 3 Maximum Settings 45
Metal Gear Solid 5 Maximum Settings 60
Metal Gear Solid 5 High Settings 60

These results show just what a performer the GTX980M is with all the games on maximum settings offering a superb frame rate, save for perhaps Max Payne 3 which always seems to offer the hardest test maxing out at 45FPS with all settings on maximum. Whilst the GPU does have 8GB of GDDR5, Max Payne 3 only recognised 3GB of it.

The other results such as PC Mark 8 Home Conventional of 3482, Unigine Valley 1.0 of 2055 and Heaven 4 of 1511 all were significantly better than the previous systems we’ve reviewed with just GTX970M graphics. Overall this system can comfortably cope with the majority of games on maximum settings, we only wish we could have tested it with the optional 4K display!

Benchmark Score Summary

Time to Desktop 14.61 Seconds 8
Super Pi @ 1M 10.86 seconds 9
3D Mark - Ice Storm 1.2 87605 7
3D Mark - Cloud Gate 1.1 21679 7
3D Mark - Fire Strike 8192 7
3D Mark - Sky Diver 20435 7
Passmark Performance Test 8.0 4864 8
Cinebench R15 Open GL 97.41FPS - CPU 680 CB 8
Unigine Heaven 4.0 1511 7
Unigine Valley 1.0 2055 7
PC Mark 8 - Home Conventional 3.0 3487 7
PC Mark 8 - Storage Test 2.0 5087 8

System Noise and Heat

The HWMonitor screenshot below shows the maximum temperatures the various system components reached during our benchmark and gaming test sessions. The CPU core temperatures at idle were 40°C and under test conditions these reached a steamy 100°C with the Nvidia GPU reaching 86°C. Heat and noise is a concern we always have had with gaming laptops and some seem to cope with it far better than others. The use of these ultra slim chassis doesn’t help matters either.
Gigabyte P37X v5
The P37X v5 again uses Gigabyte’s innovative Supra-cool technology’ that features dual heat pipes and dual fans for the CPU and GPU that we saw in the P35W v5, but as you can see with the temperatures above, we do question the long term health of a system that reaches 100°C when under load. As for the noise, during our tests the system reached 44dBs which is a lot higher than we would have hoped for. Plus if you do have it on your lap or legs it is so hot underneath that it will physically burn you if left on there too long. That’s no exaggeration either as our sore legs will tell you!

Verdict

Pros

  • Very powerful GTX980M GPU
  • Excellent general battery life
  • Top draw specification

Cons

  • Gets extremely hot
  • Restricted gaming performance using battery
  • No Blu-ray drive

Gigabyte P37X v5 17" FHD Gaming Laptop Review

Should I buy the Gigabyte P37X v5?

At £1650, Gigabyte’s Full HD P37X v5 offers a real high end gaming system with the latest Skylake i7-6700HQ CPU, GTX980M graphics with 8GB of GDDR5, 16GB of DDR4 and a lightning fast 256GB M.2 SSD. Sadly, no 4K display here, that costs you another £300. Without resorting to a £3K plus SLI machine, the P37X v5 offers some of the best gaming performance you will find on a laptop, although isn’t all roses here as there are some negatives.

The Full HD display is excellent giving good visuals and the IPS LCD screen could be calibrated to a high level. Battery life is very good for a gaming laptop, although not actually when gaming though. Performance is significantly restricted to a 30FPS and just over an hour is the best you’ll get. Audio quality is ok, but not really what you would want for £1650. Heat is a significant concern, it’s slightly noisier that we would have liked, but a system that gets to 100°C is one that would be a worry when the warranty period runs out!

What alternatives are available?

Alternatives at this price point, in this large 17.3” size with GTX980M are not that numerous. MSI’s GT72S is one that springs to mind with a very similar specification save for half the GPU VRAM and half the SSD size at £1670. Another is the very keenly priced ASUS ROG G752 at £1700 which has a similar specification except for the display being a G-Sync and offering a few more bells and whistles.

For gaming (plugged in that is) the Gigabyte P37X v5 performs superbly with excellent frame rates in all our test games at maximum levels and whilst £1650 would buy you a fantastic desktop gaming PC, if you must have a gaming laptop then the performance offered here at the price is one that is worthy of consideration. Noise and heat are the biggest concerns and ones that just prevent the system from getting our AVForums recommend award.

Scores

Screen Quality

.
.
8

Sound Quality

.
.
8

Processing Speed

.
.
8

Connectivity

.
9

Features

.
.
.
7

Build Quality

.
.
.
7

Value For Money

.
.
8

Verdict

.
.
.
7
7
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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