Gigabyte Sabre 17 review

A decent mid-range gaming laptop

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Here’s how the Gigabyte Sabre 17 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark: Sky Diver: 20146; Fire Strike: 6816; Time Spy: 2427
Cinebench CPU: 682 points; Graphics: 93.32fps
GeekBench: 4649 (single-core); 14741(multi-core)
PCMark 8 (Home Test): 3162 points
PCMark 8 Battery Life: 2 hours and 17 minutes
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 3 hours and 12 minutes
Total War: Warhammer (1080p, Ultra): 38.6 fps; (1080p, Low): 88.3 fps
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (1080p, Ultra): 10.4 fps; (1080p, Low): 83.9 fps 

With a mid-range gaming laptop like the Gigabyte Sabre 17 we’re not looking at pushing out 4K visuals at ultra graphics settings and a rock-solid 60 frames per second, but what we do want to see is a laptop that's capable of running the latest games at 1080p with a decent amount of visual flair at 60FPS – or 30FPS at a minimum.

Given the hardware choices Gigabyte has made to hit this mid-range price point, you'll need to be realistic in your expectations; however you're still parting with a large amount of money to get your hands on the Sabre 17, so you shouldn't be willing to make too many concessions. We do want some bang for our buck.

The good news is that during our time with the Sabre 17 we were very impressed, both while playing games and when running our benchmark tests, the results of which you can see in the boxout on the right.

When playing Total War: Warhammer, a game that taxes the CPU more than the GPU in some places, the Sabre 17 managed a very respectable 38.6 frames per second with the graphical settings set to ultra. When dropped to low, it hit an average FPS of 88.3. This is an impressive performance, and gives you plenty of room to tweak the graphical settings to hit a sweet spot of graphic effects and steady frame rate.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided ran well with a few tweaks

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided ran well with a few tweaks

The more graphically-demanding Deus Ex: Mankind Divided proved to be more of a strain on the Sabre 17's GTX 1050Ti graphics card, with it only hitting 10.4FPS on ultra settings. However, on low settings it managed 83.9FPS, so this is a modern game that you can still play on the Sabre 17 – and once again you have leeway to tweak the settings to find the right balance – one of the best things about PC gaming.

In our real-world tests of playing various games on the Sabre 17 (it’s a tough job, we know), the Sabre 17 performed very well. Each game needed a bit of tweaking to reach the optimal balance of graphics vs performance, but even the most recent games benefited from good performance after some tweaks. 

This is to be expected in mid-range gaming laptops – you don’t just whack the graphic settings up to ultra as with high-end laptops, or drop them to low as with budget ones, and hope for the best. But if you don’t mind a few minutes of tweaking, you’ll get some excellent results.

However, the screen isn’t the most bright and vibrant we’ve seen, resulting in some subdued colors when watching films and playing games, which is a shame. Viewing angles are quite tight as well, which means that when you’re not looking straight on at the screen it gets even darker. At least the anti-glare coating does a good job of subduing distracting reflections.

We’re not huge fans of the keyboard, but it was responsive. We’d have liked a little more travel, although on the whole it did a reliable, job. The built-in speakers also performed well, and offered very good sound quality – something that some laptops lack.

Battery life

We were less impressed with the Gigabyte Sabre 17's battery life, which in the PC Mark Home battery life benchmark, which simulates medium use (such as image editing, video calling and web browsing), only lasted two hours and 17 minutes.

To be fair, this is to be expected in gaming laptops that contain power-hungry components, but we’d have liked to have seen a bit more battery life on offer.

One thing we do like is that you're able to easily open up the back of the Sabre 17 and swap out the battery. This is a nice feature that many manufacturers leave out these days, and it makes the Sabre 17 more future-proof, as it means you can easily swap the battery for a new one if the original starts losing its charge.

The Sabre 17's design means it wouldn't look out of place in an office

The Sabre 17's design means it wouldn't look out of place in an office

We liked

We’re big fans of the Gigabyte Sabre 17’s minimalist design, which gives it a stylish and professional look, while still offering nods to its gaming roots.

Its performance while gaming is also good, as long as you don’t mind tweaking a few graphical settings here and there.

We didn’t like

The screen isn’t terribly bright, which makes games and videos feel a bit subdued, especially if there’s a lot of bright ambient light. 

The keyboard also feels a little flat to use, and battery life is pretty short, even for a gaming laptop.

Final verdict

The Gigabyte Sabre 17 is a very good mid-range gaming laptop that offers enough performance to play modern games – as long as you don’t mind a little tweaking.

If you’re on a budget, or if, conversely, you have plenty of cash and don’t want to worry about changing graphical settings, then this won’t be the laptop for you. However, if you want something that comes with a nice design and will give you decent gaming performance for the next few years, then this is definitely a laptop worth considering.

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.