Take this review with a pinch of salt: I am in love with NVIDIA’s new 10-series GeForce graphics cards. All of the benchmarks I’ve seen have NVIDIA’s newest high-end cards kicking the card I have in my rig at home, a GTX970, up and down the street.
This has amazed me, because that 970 is the fastest card I’ve ever owned by a country mile. At 1080p, I’m always hitting 60fps and above with all detail settings maxed, and I’ve even managed 40fps+ in Dying Light on a three-screen setup running a resolution of 5760 x 1080.
Side note: if you get the chance to do that, DO IT! That wraparound view is amazing.
So the fact that the top two new 10-series cards – the 1070 and 1080 – are around twice as powerful (if not more) than my 970 blows my little mind, and I’m more than a little impressed.
Imagine, then, how I felt when Gigabyte presented this new P35 gaming laptop to me last week, which comes with a built-in GTX1070. I was astounded, not only because it seems like Gigabyte wasted no time getting a GTX1070 into one of their best-performing notebooks, but also because it promised performance far above that of the already-impressive P35W v5.
If you’ve read my review of the P35W v5 earlier this year, you’ll know how much I loved that laptop… and then along comes this and blows even that out of the water, performing even faster than my home desktop system as well.
Break it down
What does that mean, exactly? Let me break down what I found after a week of testing:
12 000+ in Fire Strike (overall) and 15 690+ graphics score? Check. Rock-solid 60fps in any game you care to name? Yup. Same brilliant cooling solution that vents all the hot air out the back of the laptop? You betcha. Even faster SSD (even if only by a small margin)? Surprisingly, yes.
In fact, the V6 outperformed both my desktop 970 and the P35W V5 in every single 3DMark test I ran. Simply astounding.
But more importantly, every single game I fired up played incredibly smoothly with all of the fancy graphics turned up to 11 – the notoriously harsh Hitman ran like silk even under DirectX12 (although setting supersampling to 2.0 did drop the frame rate a bit), Metro: Last Light didn’t deviate from 60fps (the screen’s maximum supported refresh rate) and Just Cause 3 and Grim Dawn both ran smooth as butter.
On a laptop.
That thing your jaw is doing right now? Mine did exactly the same.
Almost everything else about the P35X V6 is the same as it was in that P35W V5 – fast SSD, super-fast Core i7-6700HQ, 16GB of delicious DDR4 RAM, excellent keyboard – but with a GeForce GTX1070 driving the system’s 3D graphics, and Intel’s HD 530 doing the not-so-intense desktop rendering.
In short, this is a potent modern-day gaming laptop that ticks even more of the right boxes than the P35W V5 did.
Noise & Heat
The V6’s fans kicked in frequently throughout my testing, but it wasn’t enough to disturb. Only when I ran Fire Strike Ultra – a test designed to bring multi-GPU desktop systems to their knees – did the fans kick into overdrive and make enough noise to annoy. For the most part, they ran quietly enough that I could game in relative peace.
The V6 follows the P35W V5’s lead and vents all hot air out the back of the laptop. The same dual heat pipe solution keeps the chassis from heating up too much – at no point did I feel like the keyboard or any part of the notebook heated up to unpleasant levels during play. And that’s important if you game on the go.
No 4K screen?
However, as much as I’d love to gush unreservedly over the V6, I can’t because it suffers from one particularly curious design decision: Gigabyte went with a 1080p screen and not a 4K screen here; at least, in the review unit I received.
That’s odd, because a GTX1070 should be more than capable of running games in 4K reasonably smoothly – at between 30 and 60fps – whereas the P35W V5 I reviewed, which had a 4K screen, battled to keep games playing above the 30fps level at that resolution.
I’m probably just nit-picking, really, as there are two likely – and very good – reasons for this: to keep costs down for the SA market (expect a 4K screen to boost prices by at least a few thousand bucks, maybe more), and because honestly, gaming at 4K on a laptop screen isn’t as much sharper than playing at 1080p with jagged-edge-defeating anti-aliasing enabled.
Plus, that extra power is useful for making games played in 1080p even smoother – handy for people who want a gaming laptop, but who also like hooking it up to 1080p/1440p monitors with refresh rates above the standard 60fps.
And if you’re really sold on 4K and you can’t live without its far sharper graphical polish and complete absence of jagged edges, you can always hook the V6 up to an external 4K monitor. I just found the absence of a 4K screen in this particular laptop strange as it seems like it would be a perfect complement to the graphical power on offer.
When I asked, Gigabyte assured me that should someone really really want a 4K screen on their P35X V6, it can be ordered. So there’s that, at least; just be prepared to pay a hefty (but unspecified) premium.
Moving on to battery performance: I once again found that it’s possible to game at 30fps – the same performance level as a games console like the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One – when running on battery power with a laptop powered by an NVIDIA card.
Metro: Last Light, whose details I cranked to the max, maintained a very pleasant 30fps during my battery-testing playtime, which lasted about an hour before the laptop booted me to the desktop and told me I only had 10% battery remaining.
Which segues nicely into overall battery prowess: general-use uptime proved to be around three and a half hours for things like working and browsing the web with the screen on its brightest and WiFi on.
Drop the screen brightness and set the laptop into power-saving mode, and that extends to around six hours. Battery life isn’t quite as important to gamers as it is to business types since they typically don’t game without being plugged into the mains, so the fact that the V6 offers middling battery performance is okay.
Just a few years ago, I couldn’t imagine gaming at any frames per second on battery, never mind playing something as demanding as Metro: Last Light at 30fps for an hour.
The time required to recharge the battery back up to full is about two hours.
Still slim and light
Perhaps the aspect I love most about this 1070-sporting beast of a gaming laptop is the fact that it’s so thin and light, yet its chassis is made of the same high-quality metal of the P35W V5.
You’re getting all of the performance of a GTX1070 coupled with an Intel i7-6700HQ, 16GB of DDR4 RAM and a 256GB SSD without compromising on looks or weighing yourself down with what feels like a millstone. That, dear readers, is nothing short of miraculous.
You’re probably wondering about the price by now, and with good reason – performance like this isn’t assumed to come cheap. And you’d be right, R37.5k isn’t exactly cheap; but considering you can still buy previous-gen gaming notebooks with GTX970Ms and GTX980Ms for more, R37.5k for the performance on offer is pretty sweet.
Please note, though, that R37 499 is the MSRP of the unit we reviewed as it came with a solid-state hard drive; you’ll see SSD-less P35X V6es with 8GB of RAM for sale for R33 499. Should you want one with an SSD and more RAM, you’ll need to request it and get your P35X configured (and priced) accordingly.
So yes, my headline stands: this gaming laptop has astounded me in every way a gaming laptop should astound a gamer.