Gaming laptops are usually pricey devices, but if you don’t mind sacrificing a bit of power you can end up with a far more affordable machine – such as the new Gigabyte Sabre 17.
This is a mid-range gaming laptop that doesn’t have the most cutting-edge components, but still has enough modern parts to power the latest games with impressive frame rates.
In some ways the mid-range laptop market is the hardest one to crack – you can’t just throw in the most powerful components, without caring too much about price, as is the case with high-end gaming laptops, but you’re also not cutting as many corners as possible, as with budget laptops.
Instead, manufacturers need to find the perfect balance between price and power – veering too much either way can end up being a big turn-off for potential buyers.
So, has Gigabyte managed to pull off this balancing act with the Sabre 17? Read on to find out.
Here is the Gigabyte Sabre 17 configuration supplied to TechRadar for review:
CPU: 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ (quad-core, 6MB cache, up to 3.8GHz with Turbo Boost)
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (4GB GDDR5 RAM), Intel HD Graphics 630
RAM: 16GB DDR3L (2400MHz)
Screen: 17.3-inch, 1920 x 1080 Wide View Angle Display
Storage: 256GB M.2 SATA SSD; 1TB HDD (7,200 rpm)
Ports: 2 x USB 3.1, USB-C, USB 2.0, 2 x mini DisplayPort, HDMI, headphone jack, microphone jack, Ethernet, SD card reader
Connectivity: Ethernet, 802.11 ac, Bluetooth 4.2
Camera: Built-in 720P Video Camera
Weight: 5.9 pounds (3.1kg)
Size: 16.5 x 11.4 x 1.1 inches (41.9 x 28.4 x 2.8cm; W x D x H)
Price and availability
At £1,149 (around $1,500, AU$1,999), the Gigabyte Sabre 17 is priced at the higher end of the mid-range gaming laptop spectrum, squaring up to the Dell Inspiron 15 and HP Omen 17, which both offer similar specifications for similar price tags.
That price may not seem particularly cheap, but it’s actually more affordable than the Alienware 17 R4, which again features similar specs, and it’s a lot cheaper than high-end gaming laptops such as the Razer Blade Pro or the Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501, both of which offer more power but for almost three times the price.
While it doesn’t come with the massively powerful components of those more expensive machines, such as a GTX 1080 graphics card, the Sabre 17 settles for the GTX 1050 Ti, a graphics card that still has plenty of oomph at 1080p resolutions, while keeping the price down.
If you don’t mind tweaking a few graphical settings, while also still being able to play modern games at good frame rates, then the price Gigabyte is asking for the Sabre 17 is very tempting.
As this is a mid-range laptop you're not going to get the slimline body that high-end laptops featuring Nvidia's premium Max-Q technology have, but that doesn't mean you're getting a chunky and clunky design either. In fact, the Sabre 17 has an impressively thin design that makes it comfortable to carry around.
The design is also stylishly understated, at least by gaming laptop standards. While many models sport in-your-face (and some would say 'garish') designs, Gigabyte has opted for a subtle look that employs curved lines and edges that hint at the weapon its machine is named after.
Overall, it's a very nice look that sets it apart from budget gaming laptops, while also giving some of the more expensive gaming laptops a run for their money in the aesthetics department. The Gigabyte logo is printed on the back of the lid in metal, adding to the premium feel.
Upon opening up the Sabre 17 you'll see a good-sized keyboard with RGB backlit keys, which can be configured to display the color you'd like. This is one of the more overt hints found in the design that suggests this is a gaming laptop, and while we quite like the effect, you can always turn it off if you find it distracting, or if you want the Sabre 17 to double as a work or study laptop.
The keys themselves are a bit flat and thin for our liking, though they do offer 2mm of travel, so they still feel responsive when used.
Below the keyboard is a trackpad that’s a decent size, and which responds to taps – although unlike some trackpads it doesn’t click when pressed to mimic mouse clicks. Instead, there are two physical buttons beneath it for left and right mouse clicks.
At the top of the keyboard to the right is the power button, along with a speaker grille that runs the length of the laptop’s body, and which fits in well with the overall look of the Gigabyte Sabre 17. On the right-hand side of the body resides a headphone jack, a microphone jack, a USB 2.0 port and a USB 3.0 port.
On the left-hand side is an input for the power supply, an Ethernet port, two mini DisplayPorts, HDMI, USB-C, USB 3.0 and an SD card reader. It’s a decent array of modern ports – we especially like the inclusion of the USB-C port – and it shows that the Sabre 17 can have a slim design without sacrificing connectivity.
At the rear of the laptop are two large heat vents that keep the components inside running cool.
The 17.3-inch screen is an excellent size for playing games, without making the laptop too unwieldy to carry. It features an anti-glare coating which does a good job of making sure content is easily visible on the screen.
Overall this is a very nicely designed gaming laptop. Some may dismiss it as a bit boring, but we find it a nice alternative to more garishly-designed gaming laptops.
Streaming of gameplay to services such as Twitch and YouTube Live is becoming increasingly popular, and the Gigabyte Sabre 17 has a few interesting design choices aimed at making this a gaming laptop you'd happily broadcast from.
First of all, it comes with Xsplit Gamecaster + Broadcaster software preinstalled, which makes it easy to stream to a range of social media platforms. However, the software only includes a three-month licence for the premium version, so you'll find some features locked off after that time.
The Sabre 17 also has a built-in dual-array microphone for improved noise cancelling, which is handy for people who want to provide commentary on their gameplay without buying an external microphone.
While the quality isn't quite as impressive as having a proper standalone microphone, it's a nice addition for budding broadcasters, and it also works well when being used in a noisy environment for making video and voice calls using services such as Skype.