- Build quality, Case and design and looks
- Keyboard and Trackpad
- Sound and Speakers
- General subjective performance experience
- Gaming Performance
- Test methods and drivers
- Synthetic 3D benchmarks
- Summarized gaming performance
- Crysis 3
- Bioshock Infinite
- Civilization : Beyond Earth
- Total War : Rome II
- Total War : Attila
- Metro : Last Light
- Battlefield 4 Campaign
- Alien : Isolation
- World of Tanks
- Shadow Of Mordor
- Dragon Age : Inquisition
- Dota 2 Reborn
- Thermals, Throttling & Noise handling
- Screen / Screen quality
- Competing gaming laptops / alternatives
++ Main reason to consider:
Rather complete package for a good price with good gaming performance, IPS, good keyboard and SSD + HDD storage
-- Main reason to avoid:
Not a lot advantages over the competitors – MSI GT72 for non movers P650SE (no OS) for lower price seekers.
+ More power efficient Broadwell I7-5700HQ CPU
+ Good 1080p IPS display
+ Good Wifi performance, low pings, very good reception.
+ SSD + HDD storage solution included
+ Quite a good keyboard, without flex, good resistance and feedback, fast response keys.
+ Quite quiet under light/moderate load
+ 16GB RAM (ExcaliberPC special)
+ DVDRW included - can be replaced with another HDD/SSD.
+ Almost stylish looks (-:
+ Weight is rather low for a 15.6" gaming laptop with such hardware
+ PSU is not as heavy as some others
+ Smooth touchpad
- Shell gets a little hot around the palm rests and bottom
- Mediocre sound quality, at best
- Display maximal brightness is rather low
- Low variety of connection ports, no USB 3.1, no DisplayPort
- High power consumption even when idling (might get fixed in the future though), resulting in around 3-3.5 hours of browsing
- SSD is rather small and having midrange performance
- Intel 7265 non-ac Wifi card
- Changing fan profiles via Gigabyte software is essential to get optimal performance (windows power mode not sufficient)
- No TPM or alternative
|Model||Gigabyte P55W v4|
|Price||Basic version: ~$1400, but expect discounts|
|CPU||I7-5700HQ (2.7GHZ-3.5GHZ, 47W)|
|GPU||Nvidia Geforce GTX 970M 3GB GDDR5, GM204 (Maxwell II), 1280 shaders, core@1037-1124MHZ, GDDR5@1252MHZ, 192-bit bus
In my unit - revision A1
|Motherboard Chipset||Intel HM97|
|RAM||Kingston 2x8GB DDR3@1600MHZ
2 banks of memory available, totally
|Storage||SSD: Phison SSE128GPMC0-S91 128GB SSD
HDD : 1TB HGST HTS721010A9E630
(non SSHD), 7200RPM, 32MB cache
|LCD Panel||In review: 1080p IPS LG Display 15.6" LP156WF4-SPK1|
|Weight / Dimensions||2.5kg (~5.51 Lbs.), PSU around 600-800 grams
380 x 269 x 34 mm
14.96" x 10.59" x 1.34" (highest)
(w x d x h)
|Keyboard||White backlit (3 levels including off)|
|Connection Ports||right side: 2xUSB 3.0, power-in, DVDRW, microphone, headphone
Left: 2XUSB 3.0, VGA, 1xHDMI. RJ-45, 1xLexington key
front: card reader
|WiFi / Ethernet||WiFi: Intel 7265.NGW WiFi (Maple Peak) Network Adapter
Ethernet: RealTek Semiconductor RTL8168/8111 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet NIC
|Speakers / Audio||2.0 speakers|
|Bios / EC version (test unit)||FB07 / 3.6 (06/05/2015)|
Welcome to the Gigabyte P55W Review (v4 version, which means Broadwell CPU). In this chapter, we’ll review the latest and greatest cheapest high endest (kidding) gaming laptop from Gigabyte. I call it high end because of the I7 and GTX 970M components – this is the cheapest with such hardware from Gigabyte.
The P55W v4 comes with a Broadwell I7, GTX 970M 3GB (non-MXM), 16GB RAM (ExcaliberPC special), 1080p IPS display and SSD + HDD. So, it is full packed for good gaming performance as well as general performance. The question, as always, is what ends were cut. You’ll notice that unlike the new MSI GT72 Dominator G-1445, it has no GSync enabled (probably the Optimus problem), no DisplayPort, no USB 3.1 and GPU is non replaceable. Let’s see what else we are giving up!
The Gigabyte P55W shell is firm enough, including the palm rests and keyboard surface – I didn’t feel any significant flex in those areas. Same goes for the bottom plate. However, the screen’s outer lid and perhaps the hinges do not feel that firm. I don’t know if the hinges are indeed not that strong or simply using some kind of flexing mechanism to absorb hits – apology, but I’m not sure I know how to test it. The screen’s outer lid does provide some protection, but it’s not high end and has the usual quality of $700-$1000 lids – nothing special to be alarmed or expect from.
The P55W has the plastic but also stylish enough with reasonable finish level. The orange lines on the sides are not too annoying though I don’t feel they add anything. The smooth plastic surface is something I like.
Maintenance and inner parts
Maintenance is mostly easy. Opening the back panel requires removing something like 15 screws and using some card or knife to pull the bottom plate as it’s not easy with just bare hands. Discovered are two memory slots, 2.5″ bay, DVDRW bay, mSata port and an NGFF/M.2 port for the wifi card. There are only two memory slots, both occupied in this case.
One fan is taking care of the heat, taking air from below and blowing to the left (user view), cooling three heatpipes, two of them are shared between the CPU and the GPU, and another heatpipe dedicated to the GPU. This cooling system is inferior to the much better GT72 system, for example, and also to the Clevo P650SE/SG/SA cooling systems with two fans and more heatpipes. I feel like most people would appreciate if instead the DVDRW there was another fan and more heatpipes for the CPU (even a small fan with one heatpipe).
Connection ports 4xUSB 3.0, HDMI and VGA are the best highlights here and I’m pretty sure it’s not an HDMI 2.0. That means no displayport, USB 3.1, special audio connection. This is a bit lacking set of ports for a high end gaming laptop really.
Keyboard. Keyboard is generally good – good feedback, nice surface, good spacing, big enough keys (15-16mm), fast response. They only part I would have liked to improve is the travel depth of the keys as sometimes my fingers hit the keys’ lowest point when typing. However, this is something you get used to and automatically adjust your typing.
Touchpad. Smooth and nice, could be larger. Buttons are integrated under one surface.
Disappointing. In terms of high end $1400 gaming laptop, you don’t get much from the 2.0 speakers in this machine. With or without the Dolby software false manipulation AND with listening directly to the speakers, the quality is still mediocre at best. The 2.0 speakers have some quality in the midtones, but this advantage is diminished compared to the the problems. Lows and high are not good – lows especially as to be expected from small 2.0 speakers (not a rule though). Highs are rather flat and all across the board there is the feeling like the speakers can’t match the music pace, resulting also in lower clarity. I’ve tried several kinds of music. The best one for these speakers is the solo singer with clear voice, but still – nothing to rave about.
Overall, the sound is shallow and uninspiring 🙁
The P55W-BW1 comes with a 128GB Phison mSata SSD. I’m not familiar with this SSD, except the new Phison SSDs from Corsair aren’t great and have high power consumption (read) and it might be the case here too. Anyway, the SSD performance is good and felt with very quick boot times (from shutdown to Windows ready to work) or not more than 10-15 seconds. Chrome and other software also run pretty fast. The point is that a good 250GB SSD can be found for like $70-$80 if you know where to catch deals, so the SSD is no big deal, except already being there loaded with an OS.
Here are GPU-Z and CPU-Z screenshots
OS is Windows 8.1 fully updated and drivers in use are the Nvidia 353.30. All games were tested on 1080p resolution and I’m sorry for no more than 1080p tests, I just don’t have suitable external monitor. GPU throttled somewhat while running Furmark, but under gaming situation it was only throttled a bit, not reaching it’s boost clocks (1037MHZ). Throttling is a little issue for gaming performance because of heat.
Skyrim runs smoothly with very good FPSs@1080p with Ambient Occlusion set on “quality” via Nvidia Control Center.
Don’t take hard the minimal FPSs – this is mainly due to the benchmark internal testing problem.
The new iteration of Total War : Rome II, Attila is a much more demanding game and FPSs are much lower.
Metro : Last Light is a very demanding game with AO and tessellation taking a lot of the GPU juice. It might be a matter of optimization too.
The new version of Dota 2, still in beta stage. Dota 2 Reborn is built on the new Source 2 3D Engine which also compatible with the Vulkan API (OpenGL DX12 alternative).
Performance is very good.
Stress tests and throttling behavior
As described before, the GPU and CPU cooling consists of two dedicated heatpipes and one shared with the GPU having one dedicated. Cool air sucked from the bottom of the machine (hence, it’s important to keep its bottom above the sitting surface) and is thrown from th rear ventilation holes.
1. Idle, power saver mode
2. Gaming : Crysis 3 gameplay. “Very High” settings with SMAAx2 For Crysis 3, “High performance” power mode.
3. Prime95 torture test. “High performance” power mode.
4. Prime95 + Furmark on 1366×768 test, AAx2. “High performance” power mode.
True, it is a little hot here (like sweating with fans on you), but still, the temps show the flaws of the Gigabyte P55W cooling system. I must say – for a single fan and with such a hardware, it performs quite well, knowing that while gaming there is minimal to no throttling of the CPU (below base clocks of 2.6-2.7GHZ). See the throttling part for more info!
Under Furmark + Prime95 load, the P55W does throttle, even with -50mV for the CPU. Couldn’t do -100mV as the laptop became unstable and would reboot shortly after. The GTX 970M GPU throttle quite severely.
However, that didn’t occur while gaming, specifically – Crysis 3, running for a long time. Upon another test, I saw that running BF4 for a long period does results in GPU throttling. In my case, it was reaching the lows of 860MHZ for the core. HOWEVER, it does not occur when using ThrottleStop ahead of the disaster and disabling TurboBoost – it’s better to do that.
The throttling occurred also while gaming Crysis 3 (though frankly I didn’t feel it really). But limiting the CPU ahead to 2.5GHZ with ThrottleStop helped:
You can see that the huge fluctuations disappear, although the temps remain high and above 90C. That’s the same issue with some stupid throttling algorithm (Intel? bios? EC? Windows?!)
The P55W shell does get hot under high load/gaming, also around the palm rests and keyboard surface (mainly around the palm rests). It’s not too bad and was only a minor annoyance to me. The bottom of the laptop gets warm too.
Under light/common load (browsing the web and stuff), the P55W is quite quiet. Under high load, if you set the fans speed to “gaming” or “100%”, it will be audible but not too annoying.
The LG LP156WF4-SPK1 IPS display is a good 15.6″ IPS matte display, with very good viewing angles (though not perfect) and good colors. Subjectively, the brightness does reduced horizontally a bit and when looking from below, but colors remain rather constant. Blacks are good.
I’m not sure about it, but I feel like in some cases, grey colors show as blacks.
One problem, at least in this case, is the low brightness which also shows in the tests. It’s the same issue I had with the VN7-591G with the same panel (though batches vary in quality)
Unfortunately, even with Optimus in use, the power consumption while browsing the web and doing common stuff like reading/writing/excel, is rather high at around 23-30W even on lowest power settings. That’s the same as the GT72 with its disabled Optimus. I feel that some bios/ec update is needed.
- Yes, that’s correct, the MSI GT72 Dominator G-1445 (review), Sometimes sell for ~$1400 (and less) – Amazon, Newegg. Many advantages, some disadvantages. GSync, 75HZ display, much better thermals, MXM GPU, much better sound, USB 3.1, DisplayPort. Heavier and bulkier.
- Clevo P650SE from various resellers. Can be found with a 970M and a Haswell I7, IPS for $1200 (No OS). Comes with better thermals, with low heat shell. Also, lots of connection ports.
- Many others. Really depends on the needs, as usual.
I really can’t see an advantage for the P55W over, say, the P650SE except the Broadwell CPU with its lower heat. The P55W Phison SSD is nothing special and you can get 250GB of better SSDs for like $70-$80 if you wait for a deal. You can’t even say that the lousy Clevo speakers are worse. The only real advantage, perhaps, is the global warranty, which does not exist with Clevo laptops as far as I know (including Sager and Eurocom).
Hmm. Well, let’s start from the good part – the Gigabyte P55W-BW1 nails it in terms of performance and main features. Very good 3D performance for the price with a Broadwell I7, Nvidia GTX 970M. Good feature set including a good 1080P IPS display (but low brightness), SSD + HDD, 16GB RAM (ExcaliberPC), very good keyboard and low noise under light load. The Wifi performance is also very good, with good reception and stabilty while maintaining low pings – better than my most other experiences, including the MSI GT72.
However, two points. First, the P55W has some flaws : non-ac Wifi card (not a big issue for most, but still), high CPU and GPU temperatures and high case temperatures. Add to that the lack of DisplayPort (no 4K@60FPS), lack of USB 3.1 and no GSync.
The second point is the positioning of the Gigabyte P55W. The P55W is surrounded by some hard competitors. The MSI GT72 Dominator G-1445 for $1400-$1500 ($1400 deals already took place) that has 16GB RAM too, GSync, 75HZ display (vs 60HZ), much much better thermals, much better sound quality, MXM GPU, more connection ports like DisplayPort and USB 3.1 and 4xM.2 slots. True, it is much heavier and bigger but for many it’s not that important.
On the other end of things, laptops like the Clevo P650SE (Sager NP8651, Eurocom M5 Pro) for $1200 (no OS) with better 1080p IPS display, better thermals and cooling system, case that doesn’t get hot as much, more connection ports, more storage options and lower price (forget the $30-$40 SSD), while being thinner and as lightweight. Most people will handle the OS part. The big advantage of the P55W would be the Broadwell CPU, but that’s not THAT important as it provides no real advantage in gaming almost at all as the P55W will throttle anyway to the base clocks level. A P55W advantage is, perhaps, the Gigabyte Global warranty which does not exist with Clevo laptops.
So, unless you really really want a laptop with SSD and OS installed for the comfort, it’s hard to justify the P55W. However, I guess there will be good coupons in the future. I guess that like before, the P55W will be available for even as low as $1100-$1200, maybe less, and that will make it much more attractive. For now, US buyers should think twice before getting it. It’s not to say that it is a bad gaming laptop – not at all, just saying that with current competition it is hard to justify it.