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Today we’re looking at the P34W v3, the latest compact gaming laptop from Taiwanese manufacturers Gigabyte. The P34W v3 is powered by some of the latest and greatest components, including a fourth-generation Intel Core i7 processor and a Nvidia GTX 970 graphics card. Somehow, this is packed into a 1.8 kilogram design that measures just 21.9 millimetres thick. That should allow for impressive gaming performance in a tiny package, but how is it balanced by design, cooling and battery life? Let’s take a look.

 

Specifications

Here are the specifications of our review unit. Various storage options are available, including an SSD of up to 512GB and a mechanical hard drive of up to 2TB.

14-inch 1920 x 1080p LCD120GB SSD + 1TB HDD
Mobile Intel HM87 Express2x 1.5W speaker (Dolby Digital Plus)
Intel Core i7-4720HQ 2.6GHz ~ 3.6GHz
Haswell 22 nm, 47W TDP
4x USB 3.0, HDMI, VGA, SD card,
LAN, 3.5mm combo, DC-in
Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M 3GBTouchpad w/ multi-touch + 2 buttons
8GB 1600MHz DDR3 RAM340 x 239 x 21.9mm, 1.8kg
Gigabit ethernet, WiFi n, BT 4.061.25 Whr Li-polymer battery
Windows 8.1 ProBacklit keyboard
 

Design

The Gigabyte P34W is a sensibly constructed laptop, with understated visuals but an attractively slim design with rounded corners throughout. Closed, it’ll fit inside even the smallest messenger bags with ease, not taking up much more space than the average full-size tablet. Its dark grey matte chassis lacks ornamentation; there are no brash LEDs like you’ll find on the average Alienware laptop. The lack of flair makes it look fairly anonymous, with little to catch the eye on first glance.

photo (1)

Open up the laptop, and you’ll see the standard arrangement: 14-inch 1080p display flanked by a host of stickers and the manufacturer’s logo, with a webcam and proximity sensor tucked above. A pair of solid-feeling hinges connect the display to the main chassis, next to the laptop’s small stereo speakers and the brushed metal power button.

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There’s little to complain about with the keyboard, with a standard layout that uses a Function layer to include media controls, navigation keys and a numberpad. Key travel is limited, but full-size keys and handy white backlighting make this a reasonable choice for extended typing or gaming sessions. The outlined WASD keys in previous Gigabyte laptops have been replaced by more subtle bolded legends, which is an improvement in my eyes.

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The trackpad is wide if not exceptionally tall, with the two buttons implemented as a single bar along the bottom. The standard edge and multiple finger gestures are present and correct too, making it quite straightforward to navigate through the Windows 8.1 OS.

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The P34W is replete with ports on its left and right sides. On the left we have a Kensington lock, an ethernet port, a VGA port, two USB 3.0 ports and a 3.5mm combined headphone / microphone port. On the right, we’ve got the power input, HDMI, an SD card slot and two further USB 3.0 ports. It’s a very good selection for a laptop of this size, and befits its status as a gaming machine.

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The bottom is, of course, replete with grilles, stickers and other laptop-y things. There’s a panel to let you access the machine’s RAM.

photo (2)

 

Testing

In order to give the Gigabyte P34W v3 a fair shout, we used it over a period of three weeks. During that time, we played games like Heroes of the Storm, Battlefield: Hardline, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Civilization V. We also did some work, which involved a lot of writing (including this review), light Photoshop loads and (probably too much) time surfing Reddit for cat pictures. Finally, we concluded our testing with a round of benchmarks, in order to get a quantitative measure of the laptop’s performance.

Gaming

The 1080p resolution is a wise choice for gaming, as it ensures that the latest titles can run at the screen’s native resolution. The Nvidia GTX 970 GPU also lets less graphically intense titles be rendered at 4K, then downscaled to 1080p to produce a better-looking result than rendering at 1080p would.

The only noticeable disadvantage to gaming on the P34W v3 is the amount of noise that is produced by the system’s fans. While the ‘supra-cool’ cooling system does well to keep the laptop cool and performance up, it also produces a heck of a lot of noise. You may consider using headphones for intense workloads, and think twice about gaming in a quiet area like a library.

Work

The P34W is a strong candidate for getting work done. The backlit keyboard is a little shallow, but remains pretty easy to use. Combined with the solid trackpad, there’s little to slow you down here.

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As you’d expect from a gaming PC, performance is excellent. Whether you’re rendering an animation, performing complicated operations in Photoshop or compiling a program, you’ll certainly benefit from the gaming-grade components within. The hard drive arrangement here works well, with a solid-state drive for rapid access to your critical programs, and a mechanical drive for media storage.

The display is also up to par, with good viewing angles and decent colour reproduction. The 1080p resolution works well in Windows 8.1, as it can be used at 100% scaling and therefore avoids some of the issues associated with more dense displays.

 

Benchmarks

3DMark

3DMark is a popular cross-platform test of graphics and physics, in a manner that approximates a typical game at four different challenge levels. Ice Storm is designed for mobiles, Cloud Gate is for decent notebooks, Sky Diver is for gaming laptops and Fire Strike is for gaming desktops.

image

 

3DMarkIce StormCloud GateSky DiverFire Strike
P505 (980)10918119869155776755
P34W v311951319695178306674
X7 v2 (SLI)12631417026163484783
P35W v211079216097142974286
X3 Plus8981316474145484193
X7 (SLI)116534175864171
P34G v25486213102112693735
P505 (970)74417841191743409
P25W4469998963228
P35K86517131542675
P27K58487123722557
U24424243044631147
ZBOX EI73078178870952751138
Aspire S7341133928548
Aspire V5328413633474

The Gigabyte P34W v3 proves its gaming acumen immediately, with its current-gen GTX 970 processor providing some of the highest scores we’ve ever seen from a laptop in 3DMark. The P505’s GTX 980 proves its only better in the most challenging Fire Strike test, and the P34W v3 even scores more highly in the second-hardest Sky Diver test. Clearly the dual-pipe cooling solution is working well here, keeping temperatures down and performance up.

Cinebench

Cinebench is a nice cross-platform benchmark that stresses the CPU and GPU. All results are shown using the discrete graphics processor, if available.

cinebench

 

Cinebench R15OpenGL (fps)CPU (cb)
P505 (970)132.23705
X7 v2 (SLI)123.18609
X3 Plus118.56630
P35W v2103.04603
P505 (980)100.28652
P34W v399.27622
P34G v291.1532
X7 (SLI)88.42641
P35K82.34636
P27K82.24560
P25W58.18330
EI73051.57451

The P505 has varying results in the Cinebench test, with the more powerful processors of some of its peers giving it an edge. Still, its result remains within 10% of the highest CPU result.

GeekBench

GeekBench is another cross-platform benchmark that examines memory and processor performance. As usual, I’m using version 3 of the benchmark.

geekbench

 

GeekBench 3.1.3Single-coreMulti-core
X3 Plus328712631
P505 (970)317312581
P35W v2318612262
X7319612044
P35K323311993
X7 v2324011784
P34W v3294211773
P505 (980)297311703
P34G v2283810241
P27K282010212
EI73028759108
P25W16936170

The P34W v3 again slips in a benchmark, a result of a slightly slower processor than most of the recent competitors. This intimates we can expect correspondingly worse performance than these laptops in CPU-bound games like Battlefield 4. Still, we remain within that 10% margin.

CrystalDiskMark

CrystalDiskMark is a benchmark that examines disk read and write performance of the solid state drive within the P34W v3.

cdm3read

 

CDM3 Read Seq512K4K4K QD32
X7 v2SSD x31331917.732.21434.5
X7SSD x2998.6674.728.97417.1
P35W v2SSD x2988.8674.929.26502.5
P505SSD PCI-e950.1622.427.77327.7
P35KSSD x2926.8679.624.55494.6
Aspire S7SSD x2793.133322.3193.3
P34W v3 SSD515.7403.133.21389.6
P34G v2SSD511.2370.829.97315.1
P25WSSD505.7371.630.34312.2
P27KSSD474.5353.821.37312.3
U2442SSD46833921.72282.6
Aspire V5Mech107.235.650.4171.003

cdm3write

CDM3 Write Seq512K4K4K QD32
X7 v2SSD x3941.7847.281.21398.7
P505PCI-e761.2605.268.13197.6
X7SSD x2631.6627.362.59375
P35W v2SSD x2627.8630.164.07481.9
P35KSSD x2624.2574.156.59473.7
Aspire S7SSD x2509.8229.270.3961.71
P34W v3SSD325.8322.875.33262.3
P25WSSD320.3322.766.48279.7
P34G v2SSD320.232165.3294.1
P27KSSD317320.740.1262
U2442SSD177.9178.246.07150.2
Aspire V5Mech106.750.470.9731.147

The Gigabyte P34W v3 has only a single SSD connected via SATA, so naturally we see worse results than dual or triple SSD configurations (and PCI-e cards). Still, we get better performance numbers than any other single drive, which shows the continuous progress SSD manufacturers have made over the past few years.

Bioshock Infinite

Bioshock Infinite is a relatively new addition to our range of benchmarks. I’m running it on the ‘high’ preset at 1080p resolution; the benchmark itself is run from the ‘binaries’ folder of the game’s files if you’d like to compare your current setup.

bioshockinf

 

Bioshock InfiniteAverage fpsGPUCPU
Gigabyte P34W v3114 fpsGTX 970i7-4720
XMG P505 (970)114 fpsGTX 970i7-4870
XMG P505 (980)83 fpsGTX 980i7-4710
Aorus X3 Plus85 fpsGTX 860i7-4860

The P34W v3 makes short of the Unreal Engine title, with an average of 114 fps at the ‘high’ setting. That’s the joint-highest result we’ve seen so far, and clearly demonstrates the laptop’s ability to tackle year-old games with ease.

Company of Heroes 2

Our final benchmark is Company of Heroes 2, an excellent strategy game centred around the Eastern Front of WW2. The game includes a robust worst-case benchmark, so if the game is playable here then you’d expect much better results in actual singleplayer or multiplayer. A large update was recently released, but tests on my main gaming PC don’t seem to indicate any changes in benchmark performance. The test settings are 1080p resolution with no unit occlusion, v-sync or anti-aliasing, then medium for the other options.

coh2

 

CoH 2Average fpsGPUCPU
XMG P505 (970)68GTX 970i7-4870
XMG P505 (980)62GTX 980i7-4710
Gigabyte P34W v348GTX 970i7-4720
Aorus X3 Plus47GTX 860i7-4860
Gigabyte P34G v242GTX 860i7-4700
Gigabyte P35W v240GTX 870i7-4710
Aorus X7 v237GTX 860 SLIi7-4860
Gigabyte P25W27GTX 770i7-4700
Gigabyte P35K24GTX 765i7-4700
Gigabyte P27K23GTX 765i7-4700
Aorus X720GTX 765 SLIi7-4700

Here the P34W v3 does as well as expected, coming in ahead of all laptops with previous generation GPUs, but behind both configurations of the P505 (which have a better CPU and better GPU, respectively). It’s a strong result given how tough this benchmark is, and speaks to the Gigabyte P34W v3’s ability to handle current-gen games at high settings and the laptop’s native 1080p resolution.

Total War: Rome 2

Total War: Rome 2 comes with a nice in-game benchmark, and offers a reasonable challenge to modern gaming laptops thanks to its large number of on-screen units and a good range of detail settings. We’re running on the Ultra preset at 1080p resolution.

rome2

 

Rome 2Average FPSGPUCPU
Gigabyte P34W v354.7GTX 970i7-4720
Gaming Desktop115.9GTX 980i7-2600k

Rome 2 is a new addition to our benchmarking suite, so we only have one other result, from a desktop running a GTX 980 and a top-end i7 processor. That desktop scored 115.9 fps. In comparison, the Gigabyte P34W v3 scored a reasonable 54.7 fps. It’s again a promising sign for the laptop, although without real context for the moment.

 

Conclusion

The Gigabyte P34W is a premium gaming laptop with performance to match. Its 21mm frame fits easily into the smallest messenger bags and won’t weigh you down, making it an ideal travel companion. Its five hours of battery life is reasonable for a gaming machine, although it’s only half that of the latest non-gaming laptops. You may find the P34W’s design a little lacklustre given its high price point; although it is slim, the overall design hasn’t changed in years and the P34W doesn’t stand out in a sea of black Windows laptops. Overall though, if you’re looking for both power and portability, the P34W v3 is one of the finest choices available.

Pros

  • Incredibly compact design given its gaming prowess
  • Great-looking display at a well-chosen 1080p resolution
  • Keyboard and trackpad are reliable and well-implemented

Cons

  • Battery life is limited, particularly while gaming
  • Modest design doesn’t match its premium price point
  • Very loud fans under intense gaming workloads

Score

  • 8 / 10
About The Author
William Judd

Editor-in-Chief for XSReviews. Find me @wsjudd or on G+.

  • Matthew Justin Tremain

    I have this Laptop with the GTX 965m 4Gb GPU, and 16GB RAM. It was because of this Laptop that prompted me to upgrade my Desktop HDD to an SSD. I have had this laptop open, and if you want access to SSD/HDD and the HSF. this thing is a joy. undo the screws on the bottom, lift the back cover off, and bang, it is all there waiting for you. A lot of time I would have to undo screws on the back, then lift the Keyboard, undo screws under there, than I can get to everything. My old laptop I had to also remove the motherboard just to get to the HDD. Yes, it will be harder to replace the battery, because it is built inside the system, but at least it isn’t of an iPhone difficulty (I damaged an iPhone 3G trying to replace the battery without adequate instructions). If I want to mod this system to include a water cooling loop. Well it looks like it could be a cinch to do.