Hands on: Gigabyte X11 Ultrabook

Taiwanese company Gigabyte debuts the world's lightest Ultrabook

What is a hands on review?
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The Gigabyte X11 is a new 11.6-inch Ultrabook from Taiwanese company Gigabyte that, thanks to its solid carbon fibre shell, enjoys the distinction of the being the lightest Ultrabook on Earth. For now.

You'd be forgiven for not having heard of Gigabyte until now – the company is notable for producing motherboards and graphics cards for other manufacturers. That looks set to change, however, with the launch of the Gigabyte X11 and its big brother the Gigabyte U2442.

Taking more than a few cues from the likes of Formula 1, the Gigabyte X11 Ultrabook sports a carbon fibre weave pattern with a lacquered coating to prevent scratches and marks covering the chassis.

Gigabyte X11 Ultrabook review

As you can see from our pictures, though, that doesn't prevent smudgy fingerprints from covering the lid in a matter of seconds. At 975g, it's incredibly light – a full 105g lighter than a MacBook Air.

Gigabyte has kept it thin as well, measuring 17mm at the rear and then tapering down to 3mm at the front.

Gigabyte X11 Ultrabook review

Inside the Gigabyte X11 Ultrabook you'll find a Chiclet-style keyboard and a glass multi-gesture touchpad with integrated buttons. During our brief spell with the Gigabyte X11 Ultrabook, the keyboard responded well, with very soft-touch keys with a surprising amount of travel.

The keys are slightly smaller than on an average Ultrabook, because of the smaller dimensions.

Gigabyte X11 Ultrabook review

Those smaller dimensions are excellent for portability, but limit the connectivity you'll find on the Gigabyte X11 Ultrabook. Ports are limited to two USB 3.0 connections, a Mini DisplayPort output and microSD slot next to the headphone jack.

Internally, things look the way you would expect at premium Ultrabook level. The latest third-generation Ivy Bridge processors will offer excellent performance at both Core i5 and Core i7 level, backed with 4GB RAM and a 128GB SSD.

Gigabyte X11 Ultrabook review

Unfortunately, there's no discrete graphics on offer here. Intel's HD Graphics 4000 integrated GPU will handle graphical tasks such as watching HD videos or light gaming.

In terms of HD video, the 1366 x 768 pixel resolution on the Gigabyte X11 Ultrabook's screen will limit you to 720p HD content. This could become a sticking point in the long term. Given the recent leaps made by Apple and Asus in screen resolutions, we anticipate it becoming more important as Ultrabooks continue to develop.

Gigabyte X11 Ultrabook review

The Gigabyte U2442, the 14-inch big brother to the Gigabyte X11 Ultrabook, takes this into account, with an HD+ pixel count.

During our brief inspection, however, the screen on the Gigabyte X11 Ultrabook appeared bright and markedly crisp. The glossy coating didn't do it many favours in the bright light of the showroom. We quickly noticed the reflections that mark the inevitable trade-off with these kinds of screens.

Gigabyte X11 Ultrabook review

There's also no getting away from the decidedly chunky black bezel that edges the screen. Whether or not an 11.6-inch Ultrabook is ideal for multimedia content anyway comes down to personal preference, although the benefit of the integrated high fidelity speakers was quite clear as soon as we switched on a test video.

We spoke to a Gigabyte representative who confirmed a battery life of around five hours under benchmark tests, and pointed out that the Gigabyte X11 Ultrabook spent all day running game demos at the recent Gamescon conference in Cologne without needing a charge.

Gigabyte X11 Ultrabook review

We'll be able to put that to the test with our own benchmarks in our forthcoming full Gigabyte X11 Ultrabook review.

The Gigabyte X11 will arrive in the UK in mid-September, with a suggested retail price of £999 (around $1,580) – giving retailers the scope to change the price if they wish. Stay tuned to TechRadar for the full Gigabyte X11 Ultrabook review, coming as soon as we get our hands on a test sample.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.