- Build quality, Case and design and looks
- Keyboard and Trackpad
- Sound and Speakers
- General subjective performance experience
- Gaming Performance
- Thermals, Throttling & Noise handling
- Screen / Screen quality
- Competing gaming laptops / alternatives
++ Main reason to consider:
Compact gaming laptop/ultrabook with good feature-set (TB3, NVMe SSD, good chassis build quality, good keyboard)
-- Main reason to avoid:
Very high temperatures under very high load and unless you really want a 14.0″ laptop, the performance/price ratio isn’t the best.
+ Compact and light at around 1.7kg
+ Relatively rigid chassis with relatively rigid outer lid, protecting the display panel
+ Very comfortable keyboard, in my opinion, with very good feedback, response and resistance.
+ Under load, the hotter parts of the chassis are not the ones that in use usually
+ IPS display with good color coverage, high accuracy, and no PWM (but contrast isn't the best). Usable outside, not in direct sunlight
+ M.2 "M" slot, allowing PCIe SSDs, housed by an NVMe SSD
+ Thunderbolt 3 port
+ 16GB DDR4 RAM (via ExcaliberPC, at least)
+ Simple looks
- GPU throttling due to power limitations (according to GPU-Z)
- Outer lid could be more rigid (like the Y700, say, or the Latitude E74XX series)
- Speakers are mediocre or average at best
- Default configuration only includes 8GB RAM (16GB via ExcaliberPC though)
- Only two slots of RAM
- High noise under high load, moderate noise under light/moderate load (even on "quiet" fan speed profile)
- No TPM
- Display's contrast could be better and black levels could be lower
Well, welcome to the Gigabyte P34Wv5-SL2 compact gaming laptop/ultrabook review. The P34Wv5, Gigabytes’ 14.0″ compact flagship gaming laptop is selling for around $1500-$1550 with the usual Skylake I7, GTX 970M, 1080p IPS, 1.7kg and small measures. It’s measures are actually smaller than the MSI GS40 by a bit, though it weighs a little more. Kindly note that this version comes with 8GB as a default, but ExcaliberPC throws in another 8GB of RAM, making it a more complete solution.
The P34Wv5 also features a Thunderbolt 3 USB-C port (including USB 3.1 gen 2), HDMI and the highlight – VGA port (!). With an M.2 2280 Type-M port (Sata/PCIe NVMe) occupied by a 128GB PCIe NVMe SSD and a 1TB HDD storage, you are pretty much covered.
Nothing much to say about this laptop really – another model in a line of a 14.0″ gaming laptops with more or less the same specs (MSI GS40, Clevo P640RE) – but let’s see how it fairs in the review, what are the strong points and what are the deep, horrifying deeps.
|Model||Gigabyte P34W v5 (P34Wv5-SL2)|
|Price||As tested, $1530|
|CPU||Intel Skylake I7-6700HQ, 4C/8T, 2.6-3.6GHZ, 6MB cache, CZ-A1|
|GPU||Nvidia Geforce GTX 970M 3GB GDDR5, GM204 (Maxwell II), 1280 shaders, core@954-1037MHZ, GDDR5@1252MHZ, 192-bit bus|
|Motherboard / Chipset||GIGABYTE P34V5 / Intel HM170 (Skylake PCH-H)|
4xPCI Express x1, 1xPCI Express x4, 1xPCI Express x16
|RAM||Hynix 2x8GB DDR4@2133MHZ HMA41GS6AFR8N-TF|
|Storage||HDD : WD WDC WD10JPVX-22JC3T0 1TB 7200RPM|
SSD: M.2 NVMe SAMSUNG MZVPV128 128GB
M.2 : M.2 SATA or PCIe/NVMe 2280 (one)
|Display Panel||In review: LG Display LP140WF1-SPU1 1080p IPS eDP (Monitor\LGD03FF)|
|Weight / Dimensions||1.7kg (~3.75 Lbs.) + ~0.6kg 150W PSU|
340 x 239 x 21.8-20.9 mm
13.39" x 9.41" x 0.82"
(w x d x h)
|Keyboard||Bluish white backlit (3 levels including off)|
|Connection Ports||Right side: AC power, HDMI 2.0, 2xUSB 3.0, SD Card Slot |
Left: 1xKensington key, RJ-45 (1Gbit), VGA(!), USB 3.0, Thunderbolt 3 USB Type-C, microphone/headset jack
|WiFi / Ethernet||WiFi: Intel 8260 Tri-Band WiFi (Douglas Peak)|
Ethernet: RealTek Semiconductor RTL8168/8111 PCI-E Gigabit
|Speakers / Audio||2.0 |
|Battery||61Wh, 4 cells|
|Bios / EC version (test unit)||5.11 FB08 / 3.7|
The build quality of the P34Wv5 is rather good on the chassis side – it feels good in the hands, not easily bent and hinges also seem to be ok (though not great). The screen’s outer lid will yield under relatively high pressure and combined with it’s curved shape, I wouldn’t worry too much of having the laptop smashed under light load (like if someone puts a heavy bag on it), but it’s also not perfect.
The inner parts looks ok (though I’m not proficient enough to test them), except that the HDD is held by the bottom plate only, so if you’ll open the bottom plate and flip the laptop, the HDD will simply fall down..
Maintenance and inner parts
Opening the Gigabyte P34Wv5 is not hard and includes something like 8-10 screws. Sorry about the quality of the image
The CPU and GPU share the only two heatpipes. Two small fans are cooling the system. We’ll see soon how well it does in high load situations (guess: not too well)
Keyboard. The keyboard quality is actually pretty good, in my opinion. The feedback is very good, responsiveness is very good, resistance is adequate to my taste, pressure points are clear. The keys move a bit in their place, but that’s not that bad. Generally, I think this keyboard is quite good. Layout may be a problem with the arrow keys combined with Pg Up/Dn and Home/End keys. But generally I’m satisfied.
Touchpad. The touchpad is quite nice with a smooth surface and good sensitivity, though I still can’t really use it with gloves on.
Average at best. Not a lot to say – not a premium set of speakers. The two 2.0 speakers are located at the bottom front. They lack in bass and clarity. I do not feel they are as bad as the MSI GS40’s speakers, though, but they are certainly not good and as I always remind – I’m not an audiophile.
Common performance is very good, probably also thanks to the 128GB NVMe SSD.
Added CPU-Z and GPU-Z screenshots.
OS : Windows 10, fully updated
Drivers: Nvidia Geforce 361.75
Thief sees some advantage using Mantle API over the DX11. Heavily Vulkan/DX12 optimized games/game engines should see much higher improvements.
The new iteration of Total War : Rome II, Attila is a much more demanding game and FPSs are much lower.
The new Fallout 4 is rather demanding, but the benefits of the high graphics presets are not clear to me.
As described before, the GPU and CPU use only two heatpipes which are connected to two fans. 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 the rear ventilation hole.
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.
5. Some other tests, with CPU clocks set on base clocks (2.6GHZ) and CPU downvolted by 100mV.
Well, you get the picture – temps are pretty high under full load of Prime95+Furmark. Gaming load level like Crysis 3 (and Ashes of Singularity benchmark too) results in a relatively better temps, but still high.
I thought about reapplying the thermal paste, but really, with an I7 and a GTX 970M connected to two not-that-big heatpipes and fans, I don’t think this is the real problem here (though it might have a small part).
Good news are that the P34Wv5 doesn’t get too hot really, even under high load – under high load it gets hot mostly around the upper parts, near the space between the screen and the base unit, which is the place where the cooling system is located. The keyboard itself does get warmer ofcourse, but nothing that I really noticed without thinking about it.
At light/moderate load it keeps the temperatures at bay and theres’ nothing to worry about.
Under Furmark + Prime95 continous load, the I7-6700HQ downclocks to lower than base clocks levels and that’s as a result of very high CPU and GPU temperatures. In current gaming load level, like Crysis 3 and Ashes of Singularity, the clocks remain higher thanks to lower temps, probably.
The GPU core also downclocks, due to power limitations, according to GPU-Z. In one of the slides below, you can see the GPU power consumption in the HWInfo monitoring (which disappeared later, for some reason). around 80-87W for the GPU + 40-47W for the CPU (when not throttling), we’ll get around 120-130W, just for the CPU and GPU (including the GDDR5, I guess). Add to that all the other components – motherboard chips, display, connected peripherals and it probably gets pretty close to 150W. It might also be the GTX 970M programmed limitations (but it should go up to 100W in limitation, generally)
And now, Crysis 3 and Ashes of Singularity (0.80 version) graphs
I fear that in a hotter environment, where ambient temps are higher by 5-10 degrees (C), the issue may be even more pronounced.
|CPU: stable temps [C]||CPU: max temps [C]||CPU: stable clocks||CPU: average utilization||CPU: max utilization||GPU : stable core temps [C[||GPU: utilization|
- Under high load, the laptop was obviously audible, trying desperately to spit out the lots of heat energy.
- Under light/moderate load and “quiet” fan mode, the fans are relatively quiet, but you could here them. According to Gigabytes’ own “smart dashboard”, the fans never fell south of 3000RPM, even with “power saver” mode.
The P34Wv5 uses the LG Display LP140WF1-SPU1 IPS 1080p display. Colors seem pretty good to my eyes, rich and vibrant (not lying here). Maximal brightness is not too high, but in my experience the display is usable outside, under moderate non-direct sunlight level (sitting in your porch).
Viewing angles are also pretty good. Contrast could be better, but it’s ok. Seen no serious backlight bleeding. Tried to test PWM with my camera – found none, but let’s wait for a more accurate test.
Measurements with the Spyder4Elite shows very good sRGB color coverage and quite good color accuracy. Measurements also show that the maximal brightness really not that high, according to Spyder4Elite, for some reason, but the xRite i1display shows much higher maximal brightness, which is more inline with my own experience using this display outside. I do think that the “real” brightness is something in between, but anyway – it’s sufficient.
Bottom line, the screen left good impression on me, colors are good, contrast could be a little better and brightness levels are good.
I’m adding the xRite i1Profiler contrast and brightness readings, because they are different from the Spyder4Elite I use:
|Contrast||White Luminence||Black Luminence||Screen Brightness|
Actually, the Gigabyte P34Wv5 holds well in the “my” youtube test and generally can run around 4.5-5.5 hours on battery, under light/moderate use (browsing, a bit of music, working, stuff like that – not a lot of CPU or dedicated GPU). If you just need to read here and there, with smart handling you could get even as much as 7 hours of juice.
Well, I had some problem with the CPU clocks : after switching to “power saver” and back to “high performance”, CPU clocks under high load were automatically set to 1.7-1.8GHZ, no matter what’s the temperatures.
Well, the Gigabyte P34Wv5 is a very nice laptop with the right features and qualities in place : the usual gaming performance, NVMe SSD + HDD, good 1080p IPS display (no PWM detected by me, either, but that’s not accurate), very good keyboard, relatively rigid chassis, 16GB of RAM (from ExcaliberPC anyway), Thunderbolt 3 and small size.
However, the problematic thermals are a real issue and moreover, it’s really hard to clearly say which 14.0″ GTX 970M gaming laptop is the more interesting. I think they all go with the same formula, no big surprises. The MSI GS40 has better thermals indeed (check) and obviously more serious cooling system, at least to the naked eye (check). There are variation in screen qualities, a little bit in speakers and keyboard (I think the P34Wv5 is my favorite from the two, but both are good). The P34Wv5 outer lid build quality is better. So, hard to declare a winner here, though thermals, which is a real issue, is on the MSI GS40 side.
However, the biggest question here is if you really want such a laptop. Overall, for having a 0.6-1kg less than other laptops with a GTX 970M and having a smaller frame compared to a 15.6″ laptops, you are paying a lot more, having worse thermals (no matter if GS40 or P34W or P640RE) and lose the speakers quality probably and perhaps the build quality. Other laptops with a GTX 970M could be found for around $1200-$1400 easily (AW15, Clevo P651SE) that are better in these fields. The P651SE doesn’t offer a TB3, though.
So, bottom line, the P34Wv5 is a convincing gaming laptop, with a thermal issue, and a price/qualities disadvantages over 15.6″ competitors. Therefore, I’d consider it only if I really (really!) want a smaller, more lightweight gaming laptop and really can’t wait. That’s true for the GS40 too. Between the two of them, I’d probably consider the GS40 and P640RE the better bets, just for the thermals.