The Gigabtye P34W packs a lot of power under its small portable frame. The laptop features a fourth generation 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-420HQ CPU, with 16GB of DDR3, NVidia GeForce GTX 970M (with 3GB of DDR5), 128GB msata SSD and a larger secondary 1TB HDD (7200 RPM) and is currently listed at $1,640. Users looking to save some money can settle for the starting option which offers 8GB of RAM, no SSD and is currently listed for $1,500.
With a powerful Intel Core i7 and ample RAM the P34W scored very well in both our synthetic and real life tests. If you’re looking to use the P34W as a workhorse, you can rest assure that the portable gaming rig will have no issues with most computing tasks. NBR was able to run 15 web tabs, 4HD video streams, listen to music via a live stream client and play a match of Hearthstone without any noticeable performance loss.
Thanks to the fast mSATA SSD everything feels responsive. Booting up only takes a few seconds, navigation in Windows 8.1 feels fluid and programs open and load almost instantly. While the P34W is clearly designed for gaming, all of these features (along with the devices portable design) make it an excellent work device as well.
While the Gigabyte P34Wv3 offers excellent all around performance, where this device really stands out is in the graphics department. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M is one of the fastest single GPU solutions on the market, making the P34W an ideal choice high-end gaming. To test the P34W we played Dragon Age: Inquisition with the settings maxed out. The game ran at a smooth 48 frames per second with hardly any frame loss or stuttering. Messing around with a few sliders we were able to get a consistent 60 fps with most of the settings still maxed out. With new graphically demanding titles like the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt hitting the market, it’s unlikely that this laptop will be able to play every new game with the settings maxed out (as strange as that may sound). To get that kind of performance users need to look to extreme performance options, that are both well beyond the price range of the P34W and don’t offer anywhere near the same level of portability.
Our review unit of the Gigabyte P34Wv3 had the following specifications:
- Windows 8.1 (64-bit) Operating System
- 14-inch FHD (1920 X 1080) anti-glare display
- 2.6 GHz Intel Core i7-4720HQ
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M (3GB of DDR5)
- Intel HD Graphics 4600
- 16GB of RAM
- 128GB mSATA SSD
- 1TB HDD (7200 RPM)
- Bluetooth 4.0
- Dimensions: 13.39 x 9.41 x 0.82 inches
- Weight: 3.97 pounds
- Starting Price: $1,500
- Price as Configured: 1,640
wPrime processor comparison results (listed in seconds – lower scores mean better performance):
3DMark 11 is a benchmark that measures overall graphics card performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):
PCMark8 Home (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for general activities from web browsing and video streaming to typing documents and playing games (higher scores mean better performance):
PCMark8 Work (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for work-related productivity tasks (higher scores mean better performance):
CrystalDiskMark storage drive performance test (c left, d right):
Heat and Noise
The P34W employs Gigabyte’s Supera-cool technology, which utilizes two 50 mm fans along with shared heating pipes between the GPU and CPU. The fans are loud, even when idle the fans can be heard humming in the background. When taxed the fans become noticeably louder, to the point where you may want to use headphones to block out the noise.
The fans and vents are located near the rear bottom portion of the chassis. As a result the bottom of the chassis is the warmest and can even be uncomfortably warm when the machine is idle. Under duress the machine heats up considerably, to the point where there may throttling issues causing the GPU to run below its clocked speed, even after only playing for a few hours or so. The one bright spot is that the deck remains mostly cool thanks to the placement of the vents and fans.
Heating is the achilles heel for all ultra-thin performance laptops and even with the P34W’s dual fan/pipe system they can’t escape that. The P34W cannot match the cooling afforded in larger gaming rigs, but that’s the tradeoff you make for portability.
To test battery life, we used our aggressive Powermark benchmark in balanced mode. The test consists of a combination of automated web browsing, word processing, gaming, and video playback workloads. This is far more strenuous than most battery life tests, measuring the machine under a litany of scenarios to better simulate intense real-life use. With the test being far more demanding, the scores are understandably lower than what you’ll see if you only use the laptop for casual web browsing or allow your laptop to go into sleep mode a few times during the day.
Powermark battery life benchmark in minutes (higher score means longer battery life):
In our tests the Gigabyte P34W ran for 3 hours and 8 minutes before shutting down. The limited battery life is to be expected from the Gigabyte P34W and it falls in line with most competing gaming laptops. Under normal computing conditions users can expect to get upwards of 5 hours of battery life on a single charge, and likely extend that even further if they disable the GTX 970M to run the on board Intel HD Graphics 4600 instead.