Gigabyte P55W Review

Good package overall, but doesn't shine over the competitors

Table of Contents (in short):

++ 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.

Availability

Gigabyte P55W-BW1

Pro : + Very good value per price ratio and 3D performance per price, even for the $1400 MSRP
+ 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
Con : - High CPU and GPU temp with some throttling (ThrottleStop helps), only a single fan
- 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
More Reviews :

    Introduction

    ComponentDescription
    ModelGigabyte P55W v4
    PriceBasic version: ~$1400, but expect discounts
    CPUI7-5700HQ (2.7GHZ-3.5GHZ, 47W)
    GPUNvidia Geforce GTX 970M 3GB GDDR5, GM204 (Maxwell II), 1280 shaders, core@1037-1124MHZ, GDDR5@1252MHZ, 192-bit bus

    In my unit - revision A1
    Motherboard ChipsetIntel HM97
    RAMKingston 2x8GB DDR3@1600MHZ
    2 banks of memory available, totally
    StorageSSD: Phison SSE128GPMC0-S91 128GB SSD
    HDD : 1TB HGST HTS721010A9E630
    (non SSHD), 7200RPM, 32MB cache
    LCD PanelIn review: 1080p IPS LG Display 15.6" LP156WF4-SPK1
    Weight / Dimensions2.5kg (~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)
    KeyboardWhite backlit (3 levels including off)
    Connection Portsright side: 2xUSB 3.0, power-in, DVDRW, microphone, headphone
    Left: 2XUSB 3.0, VGA, 1xHDMI. RJ-45, 1xLexington key
    front: card reader
    Camera768p
    WiFi / EthernetWiFi: Intel 7265.NGW WiFi (Maple Peak) Network Adapter
    Ethernet: RealTek Semiconductor RTL8168/8111 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet NIC
    Speakers / Audio2.0 speakers
    Battery61Wh
    Bios / EC version (test unit)FB07 / 3.6 (06/05/2015)
    Extra features
    more details

    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!

    Build quality, Case, design and looks

    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.

    Looks

    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.

    Gigabyte P55W motherboard NGFF wifi msata

     

    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 and touchpad

    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.

    Sound & Speakers

    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 🙁

    Sorry people.

    General subjective performance experience

    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

     

    Gaming Performance

    Test Methods & Drivers

    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.

     

    Summarized gaming performance

    Benchmarks summary for 1080p, all highest settings, except title that say otherwise: Gigabyte P55W Review benchmarks   We already know these numbers more or less as with other GTX 970M + I7 equipped laptops.

    Crysis 3

    Crysis 3 benchmark Gigabyte P55W Review

    Skyrim

    Skyrim runs smoothly with very good FPSs@1080p with Ambient Occlusion set on “quality” via Nvidia Control Center.

    Skyrim benchmark Gigabyte P55W Review

    Thief

    Thief benchmark : Gigabyte P55W Review

    Bioshock Infinite

    Don’t take hard the minimal FPSs – this is mainly due to the benchmark internal testing problem.

    Bioshock Infinite benchmark : Gigabyte P55W Review

    Civilization : Beyond Earth

    Civilization Beyond Earth benchmark : Gigabyte P55W Review

    Total War : Rome II

    Smooth at Extreme graphics settings@1080p.

    Total War Rome II benchmark Gigabyte P55W Review

    Total War : Attila

    The new iteration of Total War : Rome II, Attila is a much more demanding game and FPSs are much lower.

    Total War Attila benchmark : Gigabyte P55W Review

    Metro : Last Light

    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.

    Metro Last Light 768p benchmark : Gigabyte P55W ReviewMetro Last Light 1080p benchmark : Gigabyte P55W Review

    Battlefield 4 Campaign

    BF4 campaign will run well on highest settings smoothly.

    Battlefield 4 Campaign benchmark : Gigabyte P55W Review

    Alien : Isolation

    Alien Isolation benchmark : Gigabyte P55W Review

    World of Tanks

    World of Tanks runs smoothly on highest settings.

    World of Tanks benchmark : Gigabyte P55W Review

    Shadow Of Mordor

    Shadow Of Mordor benchmark : Gigabyte P55W Review

    Dragon Age : Inquisition

    Dragon Age Inquisition benchmark : Gigabyte P55W Review

    Dota 2 Reborn

    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.

    Dota 2 Reborn benchmark : Gigabyte P55W Review

    Thermals, Throttling & Noise handling

    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.

    Four tests:

    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.

    Gigabyte P55W Review temperatures

    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:

    Gigabyte P55W CPU clocks and temperatures not limited
    Gigabyte P55W CPU clocks and temperatures 2.5GHZ ThrottleStop 2

    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?!)

    Heat

    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.

    Noise

    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.

    Screen & Screen quality

    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)

    LP156WF4-SPK1 calibration file

     

    ContrastBrightnessBlack levels
    710 150 0.21
    sRGBadobeRGBNTSC
    90 67 62

    Battery Performance

    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.

    Gigabyte P55W Review battery performance

    Issues

    Competing gaming laptops / Alternatives

      • 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).

       

    Conclusion

    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.

    .

    19
    Leave a Reply

    avatar
    4 Comment threads
    15 Thread replies
    0 Followers
     
    Most reacted comment
    Hottest comment thread
    6 Comment authors
    HarrisYou ShengnowwhatnapsterAspen YoungJunky Recent comment authors

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

      Subscribe  
    newest oldest most voted
    Notify of
    You Sheng
    Guest
    You Sheng

    Any review/feedback on the refresh version v5?

    Junky
    Guest

    Haven’t seen one, but you can try with google translate in Russian/German/Bulgarian/Chinese/Korean..

    nowwhatnapster
    Guest
    nowwhatnapster

    Bought this on black friday deal for 999. came with a 7200rpm 1tb hdd. Removed the hdd and installed an intel 730 480gb, but it only runs in sata 2 mode (max 300mb/s) instead of sata 3 (600mb/s). I’ve tried updating bios, manually set sata modes in bios. I am beginning to think the HDD bay in this unit only supports sata 2, while the msata supports sata 3.

    Any chance someone with this laptop can verify? I’m going to get my hands on another ssd this week to test.

    Junky
    Guest

    What?!
    But don’t get another SSD – don’t think it will help

    nowwhatnapster
    Guest
    nowwhatnapster

    I wasn’t able to get my hands on another SSD to test yet, so I bit the bullet and ordered a Samsung 850 500GB msata SSD from jet for $119. I am hopeful this will register as sata III and run at 600mb/s speeds. I’ll post back on my findings when the part arrives. The intel 730 i have was never purchased with the intent to use in a laptop, while it has decent performance it has zero power saving features and consumes over 1watt idle. So i’m not too upset, unless the msata does not run at gen3 speeds!… Read more »

    Junky
    Guest

    Probably Gen 3., but it is really strange that the HDD is Gen 2.
    Did you try the DVDRW bay?

    I think you can also check it via HWInfo

    nowwhatnapster
    Guest
    nowwhatnapster

    samsung evo 850 500GB msata ssd arrived. installed and runs in gen3/sata600mb/s.
    Still unknown whether the 2.5″ hdd bay or the dvdrw bay supports gen3. hopefully someone out there on the web sees this and tests it out. kinda difficult for me to get another 2.5″ ssd to test with

    Junky
    Guest

    Thanks1

    Aspen Young
    Guest
    Aspen Young

    Bought it, something is wrong with the power, if the gtx kicks in it stops charging and your fps drops to below 20 in pretty much any game. This is apparently a very common problem with it, might want to look into adding it to your review.

    Junky
    Guest

    I didn’t have it, but I’ll google it and check. Will you send it back?

    Aspen Young
    Guest
    Aspen Young

    gigabyte is sending me a new laptop, but I’m worried it will have the same problem. I know that gigabyte responds to negative reviews and tries to fix whatever they can, while doing this they ask that you remove the negotiable review. The thing I’m worried about is all the helpful customer service in the world won’t fix a defective laptop if it’s something to do with design.

    Junky
    Guest

    Do you know what is the problem? was it from the start?
    Maybe it’s juts the PSU
    I’m sorry – I simply don’t have the laptop to check it up, and my unit didn’t have this problem, but you should be covered under the warranty

    Harris
    Guest
    Harris

    Not sure if you will see this, but I’m having the same issue. Was there any issues with the replacement?

    Simon
    Guest
    Simon

    Thanks for the in depth review, helped me with my decision choosing this. Was looking for something for video editing and my options while living in China are quite limited, so this looked the most rewarding for the price. Do you know if it’s possible to swap out the DVD drive with another HDD/SSD in a caddy, if so do you know if it’s 9.5mm thick or 12.7mm?

    Thanks again!

    Junky
    Guest

    Hi Simon and thank you too!!

    Swap – yes, you can. 9.5mm – I don’t know, I’ll have to check. Why do you need 12.7mm?

    Also, aren’t there some other options like Clevo models?
    And finally, remember that Skylake will be available soon and with it a bunch of new models (many Haswell models haven’t been updated yet)

    Simon
    Guest
    Simon

    I did have a good look and Clevo are available here, but not from somewhere I trust to buy from (pretty paranoid in China buying expensive electronics). MSI and Asus are quite abundant here, but all seem lower specced than in US versions and quite a bit more expensive. I was trying to decide between the Broadwell updated MSI GE62 and this Broadwell model, went for this in the end as I’ve been told by the seller it has a 1 year global warranty which is a bonus as I will be back in the UK in around 6 months,… Read more »

    Junky
    Guest

    Taiwan maybe?
    The Clevo P650SE is cheaper in the US and I think it’s generally better as you get much more connection ports, more storage bays and the cassis doesn’t get as hot

    Junky
    Guest

    BTW, about Skylake – the thing is not the CPU itself (though it will be even more energy efficient), but the new models that will come with it. Many current manufactures haven’t updated their laptops lines (Y50, VN7-591G, more)

    Simon
    Guest
    Simon

    Ah I see what you mean. Well hopefully this guy will last me at least a few years so I can get in on the next tech after Skylake or even the one after that when I upgrade. Going from trying to video edit on an i5-2410m and a GT540M 8GB RAM to this I think I’ll be happy enough!

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed the optical drive isn’t too difficult to get out, my past couple laptops involved not much more than opening it up and removing 1-2 screws.