Gigabyte P27 high-performance laptop: Review

By Graeme Burton
13 Dec 2013 View Comments

On many Christmas lists this year - for children young and old - will be gaming laptops. Or, at least, laptops capable of doing more than just surfing the web and running office applications, with screens better than the pokey 14" displays bolted on to the typical office laptop.

The trouble is, at the £1,000 price-point that gaming laptops typically start, the market is full of devices that struggle to live up to their billing, let alone run Bioshock Infinite or Crysis 3 in the full glory expected of such machines.

For example, some are specced up with solid-state disks (SSDs), but lack the capacity to store someone's gaming catalogue. Others - and this is especially common in laptops - will have graphics cards that, while superficially good, are under-powered. And then, if the laptop is purchased over the internet, the buyer may find that while the screen offers 1,920 by 1,080 graphics, the colours are washed out of the viewing angles poor.

Buyers should therefore beware.

One of the devices that will be on many a Christmas list this year will no doubt be the Gigabyte P27, one of the latest models from the Taiwanese company best known for its motherboards - but earning a growing reputation for its high-end laptops.

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gigabyte-p27k-openThe Gigabyte P27 is no slim and sexy MacBook clone - it's got a 17-inch high-resolution screen in its angular, no-nonsense case, and Gigabyte hasn't sought to shoe-horn everything into the slimmest case imaginable. Well, with a 17-inch screen, what's the point?

The first thing that's readily apparent when the P27 is unpacked and plugged in is that it has the robust feel of a genuine high-end machine. It feels solid, as if it were hewn rather than made, and the keyboard, although of a MacBook/chiclet style, is likewise solid and not rattley. The touchpad keys are similarly quiet.

So far so good. The P27 has the reassuring feel of the kind of "mobile workstation" that architects or engineers might use. It is also a pleasure to type with and, rarely, the touchpad does not get in the way of typing, although for touch typists it would perhaps have been better sited 1cm to the left.

The P27 comes in a variety of specs. The device we reviewed sported a mobile Intel Core i7-4700MQ microprocessor running at 2.4 gigahertz (GHz) and 8GB of memory. Even better, it sported a 100GB SSD to run the Windows 8 operating system alongside a 1TB conventional hard-disk drive. 

This is an excellent combination as it ensures that Windows 8 runs speedily and responsively (no hanging around for the disk-drive to chunder to find a mere drop-down menu), while the user should have sufficient capacity to run AutoCAD, Blender, Revit, Office, Civilisation V, Left for Dead 2 and all the other really useful applications no PC should be without.

It was noticeable, though, that chunky programs like GIMP didn't load up any faster. ie: the SSD isn't also caching frequently accessed files. But this is a minor quibble. In operation, such applications proved fast and responsive, while the laptop remained mercifully silent. Even when the fan did spring into action it did so with only the faintest of whirring - not like on some mobile workstations we have used.

It played high-end games, such as Crysis 2 smoothly, as well as BBC iPlayer and other videos. But while it played the game Orcs Must Die smoothly enough, the opening video sequences proved excessively jerky, which surprised us.

Wi-Fi is also a cut above. Amazingly, it even connected flawlessly (with five bars, no less) to Incisive Media's normally shonky labs Wi-Fi, which is quite an achievement, and the device will starts from sleep in under three seconds - thanks to the in-built SSD and Windows 8.

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