The U2442’s gaming performance is excellent, as you’d expect from the benchmarks we just saw. On the integrated graphics, you’ll get performance similar to the Aspire S7 and other i7 Ultrabooks (albeit with slower load times than models with RAID 0 SSDs).
Here are the games I tried, and how I got on.
- Civilization V: Pinned to 60 FPS for the vast majority of the time, using Direct X 9 mode at native resolution. Some slowdowns to 30 FPS when viewing a large amount of territory for the new time, but bothing that impeded play. The Aspire S7 has proven the Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics work fine here too, but you won’t be able to play at native resolution at such comfortable frame rates without the discrete graphics.
- Borderlands 2: Here performance wasn’t as exception, with a range of about 25 to 35 FPS depending on how much needed to be rendered. This didn’t seem to be affected by resolution changes, so I’d recommend turning down some settings but keeping it on 1600 x 900 resolution. The game was still quite playable, even as a sniper.
- League of Legends: I had mixed results with League of Legends. While the game was fairly playable at 30 FPS, I ran into issues with not being able to click on things at non-native resolutions, meaning I couldn’t buy any items.
- Hawken: I wasn’t sure what to expect with Hawken because I don’t have a lot of experience running it on laptops, but the U2442 performed admirably. Despite frenetic action and rather good looking graphics, I got consistently high frame rates at native resolution and flawless performance at 1366 x 768.
- StarCraft II: Blizzard has always made their games run well on lower-end hardware, and StarCraft II is no different.
- MechWarrior Online: This game is fairly graphically demanding, but at a lowered resolution and medium settings it runs perfectly. I was surprised about this one, but it definitely gets my seal of approval.
So gaming performance is strong for a laptop, but does that translate into good performance in more mundane tasks, like browsing the web, editing photographs and writing up reviews of Ultrabooks? In a word… mostly.
With a Core i7 processor, a hefty complement of DDR3 RAM and that all-important SSD, you’d expect flawless performance in Windows and the U2442 delivers just that. Programs load and operate as smoothly as on my gaming desktop, booting and sleeping the computer is rapid and even with plenty of programs open performance was good – a dozen tabs in Google Chrome, a music player and PhotoShop couldn’t slow the Gigabyte laptop noticeably.
Multitasking here was also a lot better than the Aspire V5 we looked at last time – with 1600 x 900 pixels available, it’s possible to have two web pages up simultaneously without needing to shrink either. The display still proved to have its flaws though – viewing angles weren’t the best, making watching a movie from anywhere other than directly front and centre is an exercise in frustration.
Writing is something that I spend a lot of time doing on laptops, being a full-time tech writer and social media person. Unfortunately, the Gigabyte U2442’s keyboard wasn’t brilliant – despite large and logically laid out keys, the minimal key travel made mistakes more prevalent than on many other laptop keyboards I’ve used. The trackpad is definitely above average, but that’s unfortunately a smaller part of overall experience for me.
The final piece of the equation is battery life. Sadly, just as with the last few Acer laptops this again seems to be a little subpar. I got about three hours of battery life out of the computer, doing nothing more than writing up this review and browsing the web, with brightness at a reasonable level and only WiFi on.
All in all, the U2442 was perfectly usable in day-to-day use, but a more travellicious keyboard and an extra hour of battery life would have gone a long way. I’d definitely prefer a slightly thicker laptop in order to achieve that, although I suppose as the U2442 is already at the maximum width for an Ultrabook it might be a difficult task.
The U2442 is a powerful Ultrabook that hits a certain niche very well – that of the ultraportable gaming laptop. While thicker laptops can boast better GPU performance and less capable machines are thinner or cheaper, this Gigabyte laptop sits in a nice place between the two extremes, fitting good graphics performance into a cleverly designed Ultrabook.
- Strong gaming and day-to-day performance
- Reasonable display at a workable resolution
- Good looks and layout
- Comprehensive complement of ports and wireless
- Mediocre battery life, particularly while gaming
- Overly sensitive adaptive brightness
- Keyboard travel could be improved
- Windows 8 suffers without a touch screen