Gigabyte is a company best known for producing laptop components - until now, that is. The Gigabyte U2442 is a fully-fledged Ultrabook looking to make a splash in the western market. It's a risky move, going up against established products such as the Asus Zenbook Prime, Acer Aspire S5 or the Toshiba Satellite Z930. But believe us when we say this: the Gigabyte U2442 is very, very good.

A rundown of the features immediately marks it out as an Ultrabook: it's light, portable and uncompromising on power. To get more specific, it boasts discrete graphics, an HD+ resolution and 128GB SSD - not to mention the two-year manufacturer's warranty.

Gigabyte U2442 review

Better yet, the Gigabyte U2442 has been supplied to retailers with the suggested price of £1,020 (around $1,615), which isn't bad. But given that Gigabyte is a relatively unknown quantity, we could see some favourable pricing as retailers look to shift units. All of which is good for us.

Before you rush right out and buy one, however, we do have to point out that Gigabyte hasn't got everything right on the first try. The keyboard unfortunately suffers from a woeful lack of travel, and the thick bezel makes the 14-inch screen look smaller than it really should.

Gigabyte U2442 review

The chassis itself might divide opinion, since it's a little boxy and industrial - not a million miles away from the Sony Vaio T3. But, if you'll bear with us, we'll explain why Gigabyte is a company you should pay attention to from here on out.

Specifications

Our Gigabyte U2442 review model arrived sporting an Intel Core i5-3210M processor. We feel this more or less hits the sweet spot between performance and affordability. Particularly because our model also came packing a thumping 8GB RAM. Combine that with the 128GB SSD and you've got a particularly zippy little machine.

Graphics are handled by the Nvidia GeForce GT640M, which adds an extra 2GB of video memory and means you can actually use this Ultrabook for gaming. It'll have a tough time with the likes of Fifa 13, but discrete graphics on an Ultrabook are still something of a rarity.

Gigabyte U2442 review

If you plan to sit down to do a bit of HD video editing, though, you'll appreciate the extra power that comes from the Nvidia GPU.

Editing and watching HD content isn't a problem here either, with the screen supporting an HD+ 1600 x 900 pixel resolution. This keeps videos and games looking good, although the matt screen means the colour depth isn't quite as rich as with a glossy TFT coating.

Gigabyte U2442 review

It would have been nice to see a 1920 x 1080 resolution - which would really encroach on Asus Zenbook Prime territory - but this would raise the price noticeably. For the vast majority of us, the lack of a Full HD screen isn't something to worry too much about.

What is a bit more irritating is the chunky bezel around the edge of the screen. We know bezels can be thin - HP has shown us that - so if there is ever a follow-up to the U2442, Gigabyte might want to look into reducing it.

Gigabyte U2442 review

If you're of the mind to start adding peripherals and accessories, then you'll find the ports on the Gigabyte U2442 very much to your liking. Two of the four USB ports are USB 3.0 format, and you've also got both HDMI and VGA connections for adding extra monitors.

The Gigabit Ethernet and SD card slot round out the connectivity, and there's also a Kensington lock slot for keeping this Ultrabook safely stashed away when not in use.

When we put the Gigabyte U2442 through our benchmarks, it scored particularly well - easily challenging the top tier of Ultrabooks on results alone. Any ambiguity we felt with this machine certainly wasn't down to specifications.