Gigabyte P37X v5 review

A super-powered gaming laptop that's much slimmer and lighter than most

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Our Verdict

A slimmer, lighter-than-average gaming laptop for those who don't mind an iffy trackpad and that the fans are loud at times.

For

  • Plenty of GPU power
  • Relatively slim and light
  • Good screen colour

Against

  • Louder than some under strain
  • Fiddly trackpad
  • Shallow keyboard
  • Very similar to last year's model

The Gigabyte P37X series has been around for a few years now. Just like last year's model, the 2016 Gigabyte P37X v5 is a gaming laptop for 'real' gamers.

With a GTX 980M GPU, graphics performance in a laptop frame doesn't get much better than this. It's also a lot less of a shoulder-ache burden than a lot of similarly-specced alternatives like the Asus G752 and Acer Predator G9-751 laptops.

If you're after a seriously powerful 17-inch gaming laptop that doesn't make moving the thing feel about as convenient as moving house, the Gigabyte P37X v5 is worth considering. However, if you just want something for at home, the questionable trackpad and fan approach mean there might be a better choice for your needs.

We're looking at the top-end model, which costs around £1,650 (about US$2,350, AU$3,440).

Gigabyte P37X v4 ports

Design

I had the pleasure of looking at the last-generation Gigabyte P37X v5 back in 2015. The look hasn't really changed since then. If you're looking for something bold and aggressive-looking, you're in the wrong place. However, if you want a laptop you can take out in polite company and not feel as though you're publicising a secret gaming addiction, step right up.

Aside from the macro gaming keys and the ever-so-slightly bold heat outlets above the keyboard, you might not bat an eye if someone told you this was a business laptop. It's pretty plain. Some of you will think it's boring, but the low-key design has actually spurred me to take the Gigabyte P37X v5 out to a coffee shop and pub to do a bit of work. The number of 17-inch gaming laptops you'd want to do this with could probably be counted on one hand.

While this is among the most 'portable' large-screen machines with GTX 980M cards you'll find, that portability is all about weight and thickness, not footprint. The fairly wide screen surround and that it can fit in both NUM pad and a column of macro keys tell you this isn't a hugely dynamic design. It was a stretch to fit the Gigabyte P37X v5 into a rucksack.

Gigabyte P37X v4 rear

The Gigabyte P37X v5 is 'just' 23mm thick and weighs 2.8kg. Neither of those seems too impressive when you look at fashionable Ultrabook-style devices like the Microsoft Surface Book, but it's pretty remarkable for a hardcore gaming laptop. Alternatives might weigh a good 700g more and be a centimetre thicker.

Are there sacrifices? Of course there are, we'll cover them later.

Connectivity-wise you get a good spread from the Gigabyte P37X v5. There are three USB 3.0 ports, a good old fashioned Ethernet socket plus VGA, HDMI and Mini DisplayPort video outputs. The one obvious addition for this year is the very 'of the moment' USB 3.0 connector. This is crammed into what is very obviously a standard USB frame cut-out, using a bright orange adapter. Not subtle, is it?

Construction style is very low-key, because in theory the average buyer is going to be more concerned with FPS performance in The Witcher 3 than how fancy the Gigabyte P37X v5 looks and feels. However, it's not the mostly-plastic affair you might presume looking at pictures. Both the lid and keyboard surround are black textured metal, with an anodised-style rather than brushed finish.

The finish does catch the light, but doesn't draw the eye too much. Its underside is plastic, but, contrary to what you might expect, the Gigabyte P37X v5 actually uses a lot more external metal than most gaming laptops.

Gigabyte P37X v4 DVD drive

For all its 'thin and light' claims, it doesn't trade away flexibility as part of the deal. The version of the Gigabyte P37X v5 I'm using has a DVD Super Multi writer in it (a rare beast these days), but it's hot-swappable. The drive sits in a little plastic frame you can pull right out of the body with the flick of a switch on the underside, and in the box you get a secondary frame you can mount an SSD or 2.5-inch HDD into. Clever.

Given the number of SSD deals we see every month, offering a very easy way to upgrade the storage seems sensible. This is nothing new, though, having featured in the v3 version as well.