Many of you are interested in the Gigabyte P35X v3 and in this post I’m going to gather the most important aspects you need to know about this laptop, based on buyers’ opinions and a few trust-worthy reviews published on the web.
The P35X v3 stirs interest mainly because is the lightest and the most compact notebook that bundles the Nvidia GTX 980M graphics chip and a quad-core full-voltage Core i7 processor these days. While most other similarly configured devices tip the scales at over 3 kilos, this Gigabyte weighs only 2.5 kilos (5.5 lbs), is less than an inch thick (21 mm or ~83″) and actually delivers the performance levels you’d expect from such a beastly configuration.
We’ll talk about all these in the post below and we’ll also cover the areas where the Gigabyte P35X v3 falls a bit short.
The specs sheet
|Gigabyte P35X v3|
|Screen||15.6 inch, 2880 x 1440 px resolution, IPS, matte|
|Processor||Intel Haswell Core i7-4710HQ CPU|
|Video||Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M 8GB GDDR5 with Optimus (Intel HD 4600)|
|Memory||16 GB DDR3 (2 memory slots)|
|Storage||2 x mSATA slots and 2.5″ 9.5 mm bay (various configurations)|
|Connectivity||Wireless AC, Bluetooth 4.0, Gigabit LAN|
|Ports||2xUSB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0, SD card reader, HDMI, VGA, mini-DisplayPort, RJ45, Kensington Lock, Optical Drive|
|Battery||75.8 Wh 6830mAh|
|Operating system||Windows 8.1|
|Size||385 mm or 15.16 in (L) x 270 mm or 10.63 in (W) x 21 mm or 0.83 in (H)|
|Weight||about 2.5 kg (5.5 pounds)|
|Extras||red backlit keyboard, 4 speakers, Blu-Ray combo|
Disclaimer: The info in this article are gathered from the extremely long Owner’s Thread found over here, as well as the Gigabyte P35X V3 reviews on Notebookcheck.net, Trustedreviews.com and Tomshardware.com. I haven’t yet thoroughly reviewed this unit, but will update the post if I do get my hands on it.
Design and exterior
Gigabyte didn’t put a lot of effort into creating the most beautiful laptop here, but they did their best to create a compact and thin machine.
That’s why the P35X has a similar footprint to the MSI GS60 Ghost Pro or the Gigabyte Aorus X3 Plus, despite that fact that it packs more powerful hardware. At the same time, it looks simple, plain, with a sheet of aluminum stretching over the lid-cover and a matte metallic interior, hindered by a multitude of stickers on both sides of the palm-rest. Luckily those can be peeled off.
On the other hand, most buyers agree the build-quality isn’t shabby and the P35X feels like a laptop that can take the hassle of being lugged here and there to various LAN parties or to work/school. The interior doesn’t flex and the hood is strong and properly protects the display.
The entire case is less than an inch thick and has the same low-profile all across its width. The IO is generous and you’ll find of the left and right edges 4 USB slots, HDMI, VGA and miniDP video outputs, a card-reader, an RJ45 slot and a Kensington Lock, while on the front there’s an optical drive. That’s a weird place to put it, but Gigabyte had to go with this approach in order to squeeze all the hardware inside the compact body.
On the back, next to the drive, there’s a switch that allows to unlock and pop-it open and you might want to do that because Gigabyte lets you replace this optical drive with a 2.5-inch SSD, with the help of the plastic cradle included in the pack. This way you could put two different 2.5″ storage drives on this computer, on top of the other two mSATA slots included.
Speaking of that, the design offers a service bay on the belly, for quick access to the RAM slots. There are only two of those, so the laptop can only take a maximum of 16 GB of RAM. In order to access the other internals you’ll need to pop-open the entire belly-cover, which is hold in place by a dozen of different types of screws. Should be an easy task with the right screwdrivers though and once in, you’ll find the two mSATA slots, the battery, the Wi-Fi chip, the 2.5″ storage-bay on the right and the cooling solution on the top, with two distinct fans and a joint heatsink. We’ll talk a bit more about that down below.
Keyboard and trackpad
Gigabyte put a chiclet style keyboard on this laptop with a classic-style layout and a NumPad Area. The WASD keys are graphically highlighted from the others and the keys are backlit. The typing experience isn’t stellar though. Many buyers consider the mushy keyboard a failure on Gigabyte’s end, especially when compared to the better options on rival machines.
The trackpad is meh as well, but that’s probably not that big of a deal, as most of you will connect a proper mouse to this laptop anyway.
The screen is pretty good though. Most configurations include a 15.6 inch 2880 x 1440 px IPS panel, with either a matte or a glossy finishing. There’s no option for a touchscreen.
The 3K display is sharp enough for daily use and most games should run fine on this resolution, thanks to the 980M chip inside. The panel is also very bright, around 350 nits, and the contrast and color-accuracy are above average, so overall the P35X scores high points for its display quality.
Hardware and performance
Like I already mentioned in the beginning, the Gigabyte P35X v3 is available in a few different configurations. All of them include a choice of Haswell Core i7 HQ processors, with the Core i7-4710HQ being the most common option, 8 or 16 GB of RAM, the Nvidia GTX 980M graphics chip with 8 GB of DDR5 memory and a few different storage options. The most popular models opt for two 128 GB mSATA SSDs in Raid 0 and an extra HDD for storing your content, placed in the 2.5 inch bay.
All these combined lead to a beastly computer that can handle all sorts of activities. But if you’re going to get the P35X v3, you’re mostly interested in gaming, otherwise you won’t aim for the Nvidia 980M solution, which is the one feature that makes this device stand out from the crowd.
Pretty much any of the available titles are going to run well on this laptop, many of them at the native 3K resolution with high/ultra details, and all of them if you lower the resolution to 1080p. However, there’s a catch: throttling occurs when playing demanding games like FarCry 4 or Shadows of Mordor which somewhat hinders the performance. You won’t notice hiccups or freezes, but a drop in frame rates will happen in certain conditions. And that’s because the CPU’s cores reach temperatures of 95+ C, while the GPU gets to 85+ C. All the reports I’ve seen only mention that the CPU is the one that’s going to throttle, while the GPU keeps running at full-speed even in the most demanding conditions. The more recent BIOS releases tackles this issue to some extent.
However, quite a few users advice to repaste the GPU/CPU, as the factory pasting is crappy. This guide will help and repasting should not void warranty, but you still need to know exactly what you’re doing there. The process will help shed 5-10 degrees of the CPU under heavy load and will mostly address the throttling. It can only do that much tough, cause after all the P35X is a thin and compact machine, and there’s limited space for the cooling system. On top of that that cooling system uses a joined heatsink for both the CPU and the GPU, which is not the most efficient solution. Independent heatsinks could have helped keeping the temperatures lower, although that’s just a supposition.
Anyway, that aside, the outer shell gets really hot under load and there’s no way you can play games with this thin on your lap. The back reaches temperatures of nearly 60 degrees C, while the interior goes beyond 50 as well, and the fans are really loud, which are the pitfalls of placing powerful hardware in a thin shell.
There are a few other aspects I’ve noted from the reviews and user opinions.
Some buyers weren’t happy with the Wi-Fi performance and looked into upgrading the included Intel 7260 AC module. The issues are mostly software induced though, so tweaking the drivers should address the slow performance and signal drops. If it does not and you still plan to upgrade the module, you should know that finding a compatible one won’t be easy, since Gigabyte did not go with a standard M.2 wireless chip, but with a mini PCIe model, so only something like a Killer 1202 will work (but that one does not support AC speeds).
On top of that, the speakers’ volume isn’t great on this laptop, and corroborated with the loud fans, that means you’ll pretty much have to rely on headphones when playing games, which could be a nuisance for some of you.
The last thing I will mention here is battery life. There’s Optimus and a 75 Wh battery on the Gigabyte P35X, but you shouldn’t expect more than 4 hours of daily use and about one and a half to two hours of gaming, which is however normal for a powerful computer like this one. So nothing to complain here.
Wrap up and competition
Here’s where we get to draw the line. The P35X v3 is probably the only thin and light laptop with Nvidia 980M graphics available in stores right now and that’s its main selling point, alongside the excellent display, the solid IO and overall hardware flexibility, that allows for easy upgrades.
At the same time, the P35X v3 runs very hot and noise under load and will also throttle in some conditions. If you’re fine with these and you really want the compact package, then this Gigabyte is worth a chance. That if you’re also willing to pay north of $2000 for it.
Otherwise, you’ve got at least two other options to consider.
You can either choose a bulkier design with similar hardware specs, like the Asus G751JY or the MSI GT72 Dominator Pro, among others, or you could go with the Nvidia 970M powered ultra-portables, like the MSI GS60 Ghost Pro, the Gigabyte Aorus X3 Plus, the Gigabyte P34W v3, the Razer Pro 14 or some of the other machines mentioned in this post about Nvidia 970M and 980M laptops and in this list of gaming ultraportables. You’ll be sacrificing gaming performance to some extent, but you’ll end up with a lighter, cooler and in most cases more affordable device.
Anyway, that wraps it up for now. Let me know what you think about the Gigabyte P35X V3 and if you have any questions or anything to add to this post, the comments section is open and I’m around to reply.