There are approximately one hundred thousand billion Bluetooth speakers on the market.* They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, from tiny cubes to oversized pills and proper freestanding speakers. Today, we’re looking at the smaller end of the market, at a little cube called the iClever Bluetooth Wireless Speaker aka the IC-BTS02. Its metal facade and £20 price point makes it immediately cooler than many of its brethren, but is it just as outstanding inside as out?
Today I’m taking a look at a keyboard that’s a little different from the normal gaming fare. It’s not mechanical, it doesn’t have any crazy RGB lighting, and there are no special macro keys. It does have one unique ability though: it’s waterproof. And that means if you spill your Mountain Dew on it (or less nerdy foodstuffs), then you can simply wash it under the tap, dry it off and and be back to fragging in just a few minutes. Manfacturers Xenta have sent us one to try, so let’s see how it performs.
The Gigabyte P35X has always been a beast of a gaming laptop, but in its latest v4 refresh we’re seeing the inclusion of Broadwell silicon for the first time. The new fifth-generation Intel processor is one of the biggest jumps forward in recent memory, so let’s find out how it performs in the new P35X!
- Thrilling Visual Experience with NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 980M GDDR5 8GB
- 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Processor
- Brilliant 3K WQHD+ IPS Display (optional)
- XSplit Gamecaster: Cast your Game Anytime, Anywhere
- Surprisingly Thin: 20.9mm only
- Exclusive Supra-cool Technology
- Quad-storage with two 512 GB mSATA SSD + two 2TB HDD*
- Outstanding Flexibility: Swappable DVD-ROM/HDD Bay
- UHD / 4K Ready: Mini DisplayPort Out
*Different configurations exist; not all have four hard drives.
|OS||Windows 10 Pro (upgrade)|
|CPU||5th Generation Intel Core i7-5700HQ CPU (2.7 – 3.5GHz)|
|Display||15.6″ WQHD+ 2880 × 1620 IPS LCD|
|System Memory||16 GB DDRIIIL 1600 (2x 8 GB)|
|Chipset||Mobile Intel HM97 Express Chipset|
|Video Graphics||Intel HD Graphics 5600
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M w/ 8GB GDDR5 RAM
|Storage||240 GB mSATA SSD
1TB 7200 RPM
|Keyboard Type||Backlit scissor-switch|
|Optical Drive||Super Multi DVD RW|
|I/O Port||2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, HDMI, mini Display Port, VGA
Ethernet, SD card reader, 3.5mm mic + headphone ports
|Audio||2x 1.5W speaker, woofer, microphone
Dolby Digital Plus Home Theater
|Battery||Li-Polymer 75.81 Wh|
|Dimensions||385 (W) x 270 (D) x 20.9 (H) mm|
The P35X v4 maintains the design of its predecessors, with a matte black exterior and gently rounded rectangles throughout. The build quality feels great, with the aluminium and plastic construction not flexing or creaking when pressure is applied.
Opening the laptop up, the high resolution IPS display immediately impresses. The resolution is billed as 3K, and at 2880 x 1620 that seems a fair assessment. Viewing angles and colour accuracy are impressive, too. The 3K display does mean that you need considerable horsepower to play games at the native resolution, but thankfully that doesn’t look like an issue for the P35X’s processor and GPU. You could also run games at half resolution – 1440 x 810 – if you were struggling to hit your FPS target.
The base of the P35X contains what you’d expect: a full-size backlit keyboard with numberpad, with an average amount of travel and a fairly inoffensive font. The wallet-sized touchpad is centred below the main area of the keyboard, placing it a little left of the laptop’s centre. The size and position of the touchpad results in large blank space on the right, which seems to work well as an impromptu mouse mat.
We have a nice selection of ports on the left and right sides. On the left we have an SD card reader, a pair of 3.5mm audio ports, two USB 2.0 ports and ethernet. On the right, we have mini DisplayPort, two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, VGA and the power input. There’s nothing on the back, and only status LEDs and the optical drive on the front. If you’d prefer additional storage, you can swap the optical drive for a 2.5″ drive, SSD or mechanical.
The metal lid is inset with a Gigabyte logo, which reappears under the screen, but the laptop is otherwise unadorned. There are a few stickers around the keyboard, but these can be easily removed if you want to keep things looking clean. Speakers and a power button are tucked between the two hinges.
Overall, the Gigabyte P35X is an attractive and understated laptop, straddling the line between gaming and business.
In order to best examine the difference in performance from one generation to the next, we’ll be keeping a similar testing methodology that we used on the last P35 laptop we examined. Additional tests will also be performed in Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain, alongside traditional benchmark games Bioshock Infinite, Company of Heroes 2 and Metro: Last Light.
Our results will therefore be split into two parts, encompassing first-hand impressions of playing games on the laptop and synthetic measures of the laptop’s performance in benchmarks (including 3DMark, Cinebench, CrystalDiskMark and GeekBench).
In general, the P35X was a solid performer in a range of games. Even the latest games, like Rocket League and Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain ran extremely well. Phantom Pain is probably the best-looking game I tried, and I got a solid 40 fps using the native 3K resolution and the highest possible settings. Dropping to 1080p or going for default quality settings resulted in that perfect 60 fps. Rocket League is a little less demanding, and so reached 60 fps easily at native resolution. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is another game I play a lot, and that was reached an excessive 160 fps at default settings and the native resolution – there’s definitely room to work with here. In general, the P35X could handle any game I threw at it, often at highest settings and its native resolution. For more demanding titles, 1080p still looked great and resulted in an easy 60 fps.
Of course, in line with performance you have heat and noise. The former I didn’t notice much – even after two or three consecutive CS:GO matches (around 1 hour each), performance remained high. Noise was a much bigger factor, with the laptop reaching jet-engine-on-your-desk levels without much provocation. You can get the machine to be a bit quieter by tweaking the settings, but to make the most of the laptop you’ll need to get used to the noise (or start wearing good headphones).
Work & Media
The keyboard of the P35X was of decent quality, with a sensible layout but slightly shallower key travel than I’d prefer. I had no issues cranking out the majority of this review on the train, although the width and height of the laptop meant that using the tiny tray table was out of the question. Still, the low weight meant it was easy to take with me at all times, and could even be held in a single hand without worry. The touchpad was a nice size and worked well enough too.
Performance was excellent throughout, capable of handling Chrome with many tabs, Photoshop and other common work tasks. This is normal when dealing with a gaming laptop, but it’s still nice to see.
One area where the P35X was a bit lacking was desk appeal. The look is somewhere between gaming and professional, which is fine, but I wish that Gigabyte would change up their laptop’s look after four generations. When you’re paying nearly two thousand pounds for a laptop, you expect a looker along with everything else.
The final issue was battery life; the machine only got around five hours of use before dying, although gaming performance wasn’t much worse. In general, I’d rather see a little more space for a battery (and a deeper keyboard), than an ever-decreasing waistline.
We’ll use the normal suite of benchmarks here, encapsulating in-game benchmarks as well as more general purpose tests.
In 3DMark’s toughest test, we see commendable performance; our highest score yet. The combination of the GTX 980 GPU and fifth-generation Intel CPU is working a charm, then. Similar results were recorded in the other tests, including an impressive 4389 in Fire Strike Extreme and 2302 in Fire Strike Ultra (a 4K test). Both are the highest of any laptop we’ve tested.
The Cinebench tests show good CPU performance (our second-highest score, alongside the flagrantly high P505) but disappointing OpenGL performance. It’s not clear the reason for this incredibly low score, but it’s tempered by strong results in DirectX titles later on.
A single SSD provides solid performance, but not that to rival double SSD, triple SSD or PCIe setups. If you’re going to be copying a lot of data around (or playing games with long load times), you might want to consider going for a dual-SSD configuration.
As with 3DMark, we see top level performance from the P35X. The new fifth-gen processor is clearly doing something right.
Settings: High 1080p
Our first game benchmark is Bioshock, an Unreal engine game. Here we see excellent performance running at Full HD, with easily enough grunt to reach the laptop’s native resolution to boot. The P35X sits only behind the last-gen P37X, which has more space to cool its components and the same capable GPU.
Company of Heroes 2
Settings: Medium 1080p, no unit occlusion, v-sync or anti-aliasing
Company of Heroes 2’s benchmark is a renowned resource hog, but the P35X does alright. The game runs at a solid 50 frames per second at 1080p, and should have the legs to reach 60 fps in singleplayer or online battles (which rarely are as challenging as the benchmark would suggest). However, native resolutions may be a bridge too far.
Metro: Last Light
Settings: High 1080p, AF 4x, normal motion blur, no SSAA, DirectX 11 tessellation or advanced PhysX
Metro: Last Light is another challenging benchmark, but the P35X comes within a hair’s width of attaining that golden 60 frames per second. You’ll likely need to drop from high settings in order to handle native resolution, so 1080p might be the best bet for playing through the game here.
Total War: Rome 2
Settings: Ultra 1080p
Our final game benchmark is Total War: Rome 2. The P35X delivers our highest result from a laptop, about 3 fps ahead of the P37X. Performance was also above 60 fps at the native resolution, thanks to the strong CPU included here.
The Gigabyte P35X is a logical iteration on a proven design, providing awesome performance that can handle any game on the market. While the understated looks and mediocre battery life of the platform are in need of revision, ultimately there’s little to really detract from what is a portable gaming titan.
- Insane levels of performance
- Relatively slim and light
- Fairly understated looks don’t match the high price
- Battery life remains disappointing even with the new chipset
- Noise reminds you that this is indeed a gaming laptop
Today I’m looking at the Liquid Z220, a budget smartphone from Acer. The phone has low-end specifications, but does at least include Android 5.0 and costs only £65. The mid-range market has advanced significantly in the past few years, so I’m hopeful that we’ll see similar changes at the lower end too.
Today I’m looking at Creative’s T50 wireless speakers, a 2.0 system that includes NFC-assisted Bluetooth pairing and a stylish look. At £150, these speakers will have to sound as good as they look, as well as working well with mobile devices. Let’s see how they measure up!
Mionix is well known in the gaming world for their lines of Saiph and Naos mice, but their latest model is the Castor. The Castor combines a right-handed ergonomic design with a zero-acceleration optical sensor and Aurora RGB backlighting. The mouse is in stores today, so let’s see how this new mouse fares!
Today we’re taking a look at another piece of affordable gaming gear, courtesy of Ebuyer. These are the Sond Audio H6 on-ear headphones, which retail for £60. That’s a good price for a set of on-ear headphones, so we’ll be looking to make sure that not too much was sacrificed to reach that price point. If the quality here is reasonable, we could be looking at a great budget option. Let’s get started!
Today we’re taking a look at BenQ’s GW2765HT monitor. This 27-inch monitor isn’t a gaming model, but it still provides some impressive specs and features that could be of interest to gamers and non-gamers alike. The headline feature is the 1440p IPS panel used, which should offer good colour accuracy, viewing angles and more. The monitor is priced very aggressively too, at £275 – £70 less than the pro-focused BL2710PT. Let’s see how it stacks up against the competition.
Today I’m looking at Acer’s Liquid Jade Z smartphone. This is a midrange model released earlier this year, that looks to set itself apart with a slim design, good camera and near stock Android at a very low cost.
Earlier I did a rapid review review of the Jade Z at an Acer press event, but over the past two weeks I’ve had some more hands-on time with the unit and feel better required to render a full verdict.
Full disclosure: I do part-time work for Team Acer, an eSports team funded by Acer.