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GIGABYTE P34G V5 GAMING LAPTOP REVIEW
WHAT IS THE GIGABYTE P34G V5?
With the new 10 series Nvidia Pascal chips now widely available, any gaming laptop still for sale that features the older 9 series mobile GPU is probably going to struggle unless it has been given a nice discount or offers something different. Our last laptop review, the 15.6” Aorus X5S Camo had a superb spec but at £1,800/$2,700 looked very expensive and almost obsolete compared to some of the latest offerings with the 10 series GPU. The laptop we now have for review is also from Gigabyte but features very much at the opposite end of the gaming laptop spectrum.
The Gigabyte P34G v5 available now for just £900/$1,350 comes well under that magic £1,000/$1,500 barrier, but as you would expect in the gaming laptop world, the specification has been reduced somewhat to compensate. The P34G v5 gives us a Full HD 14” LCD display with GTX960M graphics, i7-6700HQ CPU, 8GB DDR4 RAM and dual storage in the shape of a M.2 128GB SSD and 1TB HDD. On paper it’s not likely to impress with its gaming power as the GTX960M is not the fastest GPU, but it could still have a lot to offer. Read on to find out how it performs in our tests.
DESIGN AND CONNECTIONS
The Gigabyte P34G v5 offers a very basic look and design with a chassis that features no bells and whistles, although for £900 you’d wouldn’t expect anyway but anything to standout would have been nice. It is an all-black design with the only break in that being the silver Gigabyte logos and a thin chrome edge between the trackpad and the buttons and the power button. It all looks very much like you would expect a bog standard laptop to look.
As this is just a 14” laptop the keyboard is a TKL design which loses the NUM keys. It features white backlighting which can be altered in brightness or left on auto which should auto adjust via the light sensor although we found this worked with varying degrees of success. Unlike our previous high-end gaming laptops, there are no features such as macro keys. The keyboard does feel responsive and is comfortable to use and we also had no issues with the buttons and trackpad, they worked as expected.
A key area for a 14” laptop is the size and weight and the P34G comes in at just 1.8kg with a footprint of 340 x 239mm and is only 20.9mm thick. The battery is a Li-Polymer 61.25Wh. Whilst being very much a budget gaming laptop the connections offered should still cover most bases. To the left we have an Ethernet port, VGA port, 1 x USB 3.0 and 1 x USB C 3.1 port together with a combo audio jack. The right side features 2 x USB 3.0 ports, SD card reader, HDMI port and the power jack. Nothing to the rear which features the two exhaust vents and the front just features 5 LED indicators to show the status of the HDD, battery and Wi-Fi for example. There’s no DVD drive with this laptop.
Is the specification any good?
- OS: Windows 10 64 Bit
- CPU: Intel Core i7 Skylake-6700HQ (2.6GHz – 3.5GHz)
- Display: 14″ FHD, (1920*1080) Wide View Angle LCD
- Memory: 1 x 8GB DDR4 @ 2133Mhz
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX960M with 2GB GDDR5
Whilst featuring a pretty decent Skylake Intel CPU and enough RAM, the lowly GTX960M does explain the much lower price point of the P34G v5. 2GB of GDDR5 doesn’t sound like a lot but the GPU would ground to a halt long before you could raise the settings high enough to use more than the 2GB available. We also get 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1 and a HD webcam.
As we have seen with most of the gaming laptops we have reviewed of late, dual storage is now very much a standard feature as is the lightning fast M.2 PCIe SSDs. The P34G v5 also features this in the shape of a Transcend MTS800 M.2 128GB SSD, although this isn’t in the same league as the Samsung M2 SSDs, with a quoted read speed of just 560MB/s and write of 460MB/s. Using ATTO Disk Benchmark we received 551MB/s read and 161MB/s write which on the read side is not far off Transcend’s quoted speeds but the write was way off. The HDD is a 1TB 5400RPM Western Digital Blue which tested at 109MB/s read and 111MB/s write in our tests.
Using the latest PC Mark 8 Storage test 2.0 that has been updated to provide better support for NVMe SSDs, which uses workload traces recorded from actual programs and is not affected by differences in CPU or GPU performance we get score of 4907 with a storage bandwidth of 202MB/s.
The 128GB SSD equates to 105GB in Windows and arrived to us with 87GB of free space and the 1TB HDD equates to 931GB in Windows. Manually timed from power on with a cold boot to the Windows desktop we get a pretty decent result of 13.9 seconds.
WHAT ABOUT THE FULL HD DISPLAY?
The screen here is a 14″ Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution LCD display. This offers reasonable off-axis performance, with an image still viewable at angles of around 160°. The panel has a matte finish which helps to keep reflections reduced to a very low level. No gorgeous 4K display here, but the 1080P display still gives a good account of itself with a clear and bright screen with crisp and strong colours.
Using SpectraCal software and our C3 Colorimeter, the maximum screen luminance was detected at 279.4cd/m2. The screenshot below shows the pre and post calibration results. Out of the box the ColorChecker error was reasonable at 3.49 (an error level less than 3 is the target) and Greyscale error of 3.18. Following the calibration, the ColorChecker error was reduced to an excellent 0.65 and Greyscale to 0.77.
Many thanks to SpectraCal for providing the software and C3 Colorimeter for use with our reviews.
Just the usual suspects here from Gigabyte and no bloatware thankfully. With no macro keys or any other fancy gaming features the main pre-installed software of note is just the Smart Manager which gives quick access to various system controls such as keyboard backlighting, power mode and volume for example. Launched via the Smart Manager is Smart Dashboard which as the name suggests gives an easy to read dashboard style readout of system performance such as CPU and GPU usage, battery life, temperatures and fan speeds etc.
Other than those mentioned we have the Smart Update which gives a very easy way to keep all the laptop’s drivers bang up to date, including options for beta versions too. Not pre-installed but ready to download is XSplit Gamecaster which offers a simple way to stream your low FPS gaming to your audience of many thousands. The obligatory 1-month free trial of Microsoft 365 pops its head up too.
IS THE AUDIO ANY GOOD?
The audio here is in the shape of 2 x 1.5watt speakers. A sticker on the laptop proudly proclaims it uses Dolby Digital Plus Home Theater although no software is available from Gigabyte for this particular laptop model and no Dolby software was found anywhere on the laptop. The quality is about there for £900/$1,350 although it could be better. The maximum volume is just enough and thankfully no audio breakup or distortion was noticed at this level. Given the noise this little machine makes when gaming, if you want an overall improved audio experience, headphones are definitely recommended.
GIGABYTE P34G V5 BATTERY LIFE
The battery fitted here is a 15.2V Li-Polymer with a 61.25Wh capacity.
BATTERY LIFE TESTS
|Powermark Battery Test||196 minutes|
|YouTube 1080P, Balanced, 50% Brightness||252 minutes|
|Netflix 1080P, High Performance, 100% Brightness||165 minutes|
Overall the battery tests were pretty good with plenty of time to watch a film or many, many YouTube videos. Gaming is the same old story with just under an hour possible and the same 30FPS cap which the system was just about able to keep to during the gaming tests. To charge from flat to 100% took 102minutes. As with most Windows laptops, the laptop will go to sleep with a good 4-7% of battery life remaining, so if it does die on you when you are in the middle of important work, you can start it back up and save all your work.
GIGABYTE P34G V5 BENCHMARKS
Our standard tests shown in the table below are each run at least 3 times, with the average score taken. The tests were all carried out with the laptop in high performance mode, mains power plugged in and the screen set to 1920 x 1080 resolution. With this laptop we were using the latest Nvidia 372.90 graphics drivers. The GTX960M is very much a budget GPU and which according to Passmark’s Video Card benchmark listing sits way down the list very close in performance to that of a desktop GTX650. Using Nvidia’s Maxwell technology we have 640 pipelines, a core clock of 1029-1097Mhz and memory speed of 5000Mhz.
|1920 x 1080 Resolution||FPS (Fraps)|
|Battlefield 4||Ultra Settings||35|
|Battlefield 4||High Settings||38|
|Sims 4||Ultra Settings||69|
|Sims 4||Medium Settings||104|
|Max Payne 3||Maximum Settings||29|
|Max Payne 3||High Settings||33|
|Metal Gear Solid 5||Maximum Settings||37|
|Metal Gear Solid 5||High Settings||58|
Whilst not being in the same league as the high-end (prior to the 10 series of course!) GTX980M the gaming results were not terrible by any means. Sims 4 which does play well on most systems anyway gave an average of 69FPS on Ultra settings. Our other test games being Battlefield 4, MGS5 and Max Payne 3 all struggled on maximum and even on the high settings, the FPS results hovered around 30, but lowering to medium did allow for a reasonably playable frame rate.
Our other test results were on par with the reduced gaming scores with Unigine Valley 1.0 scoring 870 and Heaven 4 hitting 638. The website for this laptop does talk up the gaming power but as seen with these results don’t expect to game on high settings with the lowly GTX960M on the latest games.
BENCHMARK SCORE SUMMARY
|Time to Desktop||13.9 Seconds||9|
|Super Pi @ 1M||10.7 seconds||9|
|3D Mark – Ice Storm 1.2||60815||6|
|3D Mark – Cloud Gate 1.1||16717||6|
|3D Mark – Fire Strike||4039||5|
|3D Mark – Sky Diver||13323||5|
|3D Mark – TimeSpy||1284||4|
|Passmark Performance Test 8.0||3515||6|
|Cinebench R15||Open GL 47.96FPS – CPU 668 CB||6|
|Unigine Heaven 4.0||642||5|
|Unigine Valley 1.0||872||5|
|PC Mark 8 – Home Conventional 3.0||3188||7|
|PC Mark 8 – Storage Test 2.0||4907||7|
SYSTEM TEMPERATURE AND HEAT
The HWMonitor screenshot below shows the maximum temperatures the various system components reached during our benchmark and gaming test sessions. The CPU core temperatures at idle were 38°C and under test conditions these reached a balmy 100°C with the Nvidia GPU reaching 81°C. It’s normally the higher end gaming laptops that give us reason to be concerned with the levels of heat, but we did find the CPU reaching 100°C here to be slightly concerning to say the least.
Idle, the P34G v5 is silent, but ramp up the requirements with gaming and it becomes a very noisy little machine. The loudest we registered during Battlefield 4 was 45dBs with around 40dBs being the average level for gaming. Whilst the laptop uses Gigabyte’s ‘Supra-cool’ technology that features dual heat pipes and dual fans with the heat being expelled from the rear, the bottom of the laptop gets very hot indeed. Even after just a couple of minutes the bottom was far too hot to have on our lap. We’d have concerns about anything you put it on that could be damaged by excessive heat.
- Decent battery life
- Quality 14″ FHD display
- Dual storage
- Gets very, very hot
- Could do with being £100/$150 cheaper
- Larger SSD would have been nice
Gigabyte P34G v5 Gaming Laptop ReviewFor £900/$1,350 the Gigabyte P34G v5 clearly isn’t going to compete with some of the higher end laptops we’ve reviewed of late, but for the money it does offer a decent spec. The 14” display whilst not 4K is still a good 1080P screen and the overall specification, whilst perhaps lowered in the areas of the SSD and GTX960M GPU, still includes the Skylake i7-6700HQ CPU and 8GB of DDR4 RAM.
The laptop did still perform reasonably well across the board in all our tests, with just the expected lowered gaming performance level thanks to the GTX960M GPU. The M.2 SSD is a tad mean at just 128GB which leaves you less than 87GB to play with. An area of concern we did have is the noise and heat levels with the CPU reaching 100°C and the system noise level topping out at 48dBs.
Whilst the 10 series Nvidia laptop chip has stolen the thunder of pretty much every 9 series gaming laptop out there, they are still pretty expensive but are becoming more competitive as each day passes. For example, the 17” ASUS Strix GL702VM due out in October includes the new GTX1060 GPU and is costing around £1,200/$1,800. But if your budget is below £1,000/$1,500 then the P34G v5 at £900/$1,350 is one to consider but could possibly benefit from £100/$150 being slashed off the price when compared to the likes of MSI’s 15.6” GP62 which offers an almost identical specification at just £800/$1,200.