Gigabyte P34W V3 Review – One of the holy grails for a gaming laptop manufacturer is the powerful, ultra-slim gaming machine. That’s the focus from Gigabyte on its P34W v3, and it gets oh-soclose to pulling it off.
The 14-inch laptop hasn’t been a form factor we’ve seen much of; it’s always been held back from our market for reasons we don’t particularly understand. Maybe it’s been a lack of efficient hardware, which might explain why we’re now starting to see more small gaming machines – both the main CPU and GPU manufacturers are now really focusing on power efficiency for their performance hardware.
This slimline laptop then is rocking a Haswell Core i7-4720HQ, running at 3.47GHz at max turbo clocks, with four cores and eight threads. Supporting that processing power is Nvidia’s GTX 970M – a hefty upgrade from the P34 v2’s GTX 860M. That Maxwell GPU packs 3GB of dedicated GDDR5 memory and a maximum 924MHz GPU clockspeed. Realistically, of course, in a chassis this size, you’re not going to hit those heights – the P34W v3 maxes out at 540MHz. There’s always a compromise…
But still, that CPU/GPU combo delivers impressive raw gaming performance, especially when compared with some of the other GTX 970M-powered machines we’ve tested. Machines, such as the MSI GS70 2QE, that are asking for a lot of cash, with some being around £600 more expensive than this Gigabyte laptop.
The storage of this review version is split between a 128GB Liteon mSATA drive and a very healthy 1TB HDD. There’s enough space on the SSD section for the OS and your favourite game – when games like GTA V are pushing 60GB installs, that’s going to be your lot.
It’s good to see Gigabyte not getting overexcited about screen resolution, too. The P34W v3 isn’t sporting some stupid, tiny 4K panel. Or even a QHD one. This is straight 1080p territory, and that’s to the Gigabyte machine’s advantage.
The lower screen res means you get great gaming performance at the laptop’s native resolution. But that’s not to say this is a weak screen, being ‘only’ HD. This is a quality IPS panel with wide viewing angles and excellent, crisp colours. Our first reaction on flipping the lid was that the surrounding bezel is too thick, but the display is so arresting once it’s turned on that we never noticed the bezel again.
Unusually, for a gaming laptop, we’re really impressed by the trackpad. It’s quick, wide and responsive – there’s no discernable lag, which can be hugely offputting. And then there’s the fact Gigabyte has opted for a discrete button. There’s no awkward, style-over-substance integrated solution with the trackpad surface for the left and right buttons.
But we spoke about compromises before and sadly the biggest you always end up making with small form-factor gaming machines is in the cooling. It’s not just that the components get seriously hot in such a small case – the CPU package hit a frightening 97°C and the GPU 87°C – but the fans end up working incredibly hard just to keep things going. Which sadly means the P34W v3 is a very, very loud laptop when you’re doing… well… anything. Even plodding about on the desktop, we were treated to varying levels of windy fandom. As soon as we did anything vaguely taxing with either CPU or GPU (which share the same heatpipes and twin fan array), it transformed into a leaf blower.
There’s no discrete gaming for you here then, but with a pair of decent headphones, it’ll only be everyone else in the building who’ll be bothered.
- Ultrabook aesthetics
- Lovely IPS screen
- High-end CPU/GPU combo
- Very Loud
Gigabyte P34W V3 Specifications
- Screen size 14-inch IPS
- Native res 1920 x 1080
- CPU Intel Core i7-4720HQ
- Memory 8GB DDR3 single channel
- GPU Nvidia GTX 970M
- Storage 128GB Liteon mSATA SSD, 1TB WD HDD
- Weight 1.8Kg