I’ve never really been confronted by a gaming laptop before the Gigabyte P35Xv5. I’ve had laptops that play games, but never had something built for power, with an Intel i7-6700HQ processor, this was obviously going to be more beastly than I was used to.
Taking it out of the box, I found the following:
- Power DVD 12
- Restore DVD
- Hard drive caddy for swappable storage bay
- HUGE power block
- P35 laptop
Now, what do I mean by “HUGE”? Most power blocks that I’ve encountered are less than 15cm long, and quite chunky. The cable of the P35 is a little short, but that may be because I’m used to the power socket being on the left of the laptop, whereas the P35 has it on the right. This block is pretty flat, but still hefty enough to bludgeon a passing vagrant due to almost requiring two hands to carry it. If my hands were small, then I would have.
Though if my hands were small, or I was too weak for the power block, then the fully-metal body of the P35 itself would likely have remained in the box! It’s not too heavy, considering its construction and size. It’s pretty sturdy too, with nice strong hinges holding the screen onto the body.
The full-sized keyboard is very nice to use, but unfortunately the touchpad is horrible. There is no clear line between the buttons and the main part, which really affects how useful it is when clicking the left button will usually shift the cursor a few millimeters to the left or right of your target. It doesn’t even feel like a proper click when you do hit one of the buttons, which is pretty disappointing, and I had to resort to a USB mouse.
On the subject of USB sockets, when plugged in they don’t actually fit flush, leaving about 5mm of the metal part of the plug sticking out. This happened to the two on the left side and one on the right, though the power plug was flush. Incidentally, the one on the right is USB 3, which means it can be used to charge your wireless devices when the laptop isn’t turned on. It also has a USB-C socket on the right, but as I don’t have anything with the male end, I couldn’t check it out…
I decided to load up Steam (kindly installed by someone else) and see what the NVIDIA Geforce GTX 980M - which honestly means nothing to me, but I know some people are snobs about graphics cards - could do. I decided to start at the top and work down, so I chose the most unfinished game at my disposal -- I installed Star Citizen. Although it automatically set itself to Medium, even when at Low it ran quite poorly, with the controls lagging and the frame rate similar to a flipbook with missing pages. Not quite the powerhouse I envisioned, then.
Feeling in a space-sim mood, I installed Elite Dangerous: Horizons instead, which automatically set graphics to High. It’s not the most demanding game, but my aging PC does like to struggle a little when heading down towards a planet’s surface. I was happy to find the P35 handling it well -- once I made sure it was well ventilated. I played for about an hour with it on my lap, and it turned itself off due to overheating... So I put it on a folding table, with a book and box of paracetamol at each side, and played for six hours.
I had loan of the laptop for ten days, so I then proceeded to play another 34 hours over the course of it… I’ll be honest, I wanted to keep the P35, because it ran Elite so well, and looked fantastic! I had my wired Xbox 360 controller plugged in, and so long as I had it on the table (or on top of a biscuit box when in bed), it ran brilliantly. From entering a solar system to landing on a planet and driving about in my SRV buggy, it was much smoother than I was used to. It heated up quite a bit when it had to render a lot very quickly, such as when entering a planetary atmosphere, but was never unbearably hot to the touch.
Whilst playing Starpoint Gemini 2 -- like I said, I was in a space game kick -- I decided to unplug the laptop. Actually, it was a little before I loaded the game, so with some light reddit, YouTube and emailing, I loaded it up. The battery lasted about four hours before it began warning me that I had to plug in, which I was pretty impressed by. Whilst not the most graphically intensive game, there was still plenty going on as I flew around space, in and out of wormholes and through several battles.
Though I didn’t try it out with any AAA titles -- because I simply don’t own them due to my PC being too old for them -- I thoroughly enjoyed all of the other titles I tried on the Gigabyte P35Xv5. They looked fantastic with no slow down (except for Star Citizen, of course), and the four speakers -- two under the screen, two at the front of the base -- made sure they sounded great, too.
I also watched some 720p HD TV shows and one 1080p movie, which looked and sounded as good as anything I’ve watched on my TV. The screen has a nice, wide viewing angle, so I could watch Arrow in bed with my wife, and there was no loss of colour for either of us.
The DVD drive can be removed easily, and it comes with a hard drive dock, which slots into the space. This means you can very easily increase your storage capacity, so long as you don’t need to put on a DVD. I didn’t try it out, but it appears to be simply a couple of screws to remove it.
Apart from the power block, I can’t think of anything wrong with this laptop. It’s really good at what it does, and for my needs it certainly did a lot, as you’d expect from a £2,000 laptop.
Gigabyte P35Xv5 Laptop
For the price, I'm not at all surprised by the fantastic performance. Although you shouldn't expect it to run AAA titles on Ultra settings, it does an amazing job with mid-range titles.