Gigabyte P25Xv2 gaming laptop

A 15.6in gaming laptop with a great configuration, but a poor design

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Gigabyte P25Xv2
  • Gigabyte P25Xv2
  • Gigabyte P25Xv2
  • Expert Rating

    3.00 / 5

Pros

  • Good graphics performance
  • Fast CPU
  • SSD-based RAID 0 array and 1TB hard drive

Cons

  • Poor overall design
  • Packed keyboard
  • Poor screen

Bottom Line

Gigabyte has put a lot of good stuff into this laptop, but apparently forgotten to make it just as good on the outside. Its design is downright frustrating at times, with the keyboard, touchpad, and lip around the chassis being the major culprits. They aren’t design choices that are appropriate for a laptop with a price tag north of $2500 as they provide an overall uncomfortable user experience. We’re giving it three stars for its configuration, but it needs a lot of improvement on the outside in order to be a top-choice notebook.

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Gigabyte’s P25Xv2 (P25XV2-880-4701S, specifically) is all about providing a mean configuration under the hood and facilitating an enjoyable laptop gaming experience. It has to be, because in terms of design and looks, there isn’t much good going on for this 15.6in desktop replacement gaming rig.

It’s beautiful on the inside

The P25Xv2 is helmed by a 4th generation Intel Core i7-4810MQ CPU, which runs at 2.8GHz and can process eight threads simultaneously (four cores, plus Hyper-Threading). It’s surrounded by 16GB of DDR3L 1866 SRDRAM (the maximum for this machine), a solid state RAID 0 array for the operating system (via two 128GB mSATA SSDs), an extra 1TB hard drive for your data, and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M graphics adapter with its own 8GB of DDR5 memory. That’s a lot of good stuff right there, and it makes the P25X a potent machine for video editing and other power-hungry work you might have in mind, in addition to playing games.

Blender 3D showed off the power of the CPU, which used all eight threads to complete our workload in an expected time of 21sec, and the graphics card did its thing in 3DMark, recording a solid score of 5388 in Fire Strike, 15983 in Sky Diver and 17058 in Cloud Gate. In terms of graphics performance, it’s one of the more grunty notebooks we’ve seen all year, and it can be relied upon to play many games at the native Full HD resolution of the screen and with high graphics detail enabled. Games such as Battlefield 3 returned an average of 58 frames per second when played at Full HD and with Ultra detail settings. We had to enable VSync to rid the screen of tearing.

While the graphics performance was expectedly good, we were most pleased with the storage configuration. Gigabyte installed a couple of mSATA solid state drives in a RAID 0 configuration, which combined to serve up CrystalDiskMark rates of 954.3 megabytes per second (MBps) for reading data, and 629.4MBps for writing data. The write rate is an especially good one. We could feel the zippiness of the system during everyday usage, and cold boot times were also among the fastest we’ve experienced, taking barely 6sec to get to the Windows 8 login screen.

One of the annoyances of this high-end configuration is that substantial cooling is required to keep it running optimally. In our case, we noticed that the fan ran even during general operation, such as when we were viewing Web pages or streaming music. It was quite loud, to the point where other people in the office would wander over and ask us what was going on.

Luckily, Gigabyte does include a system configuration and monitoring utility through which the fan speed can be toggled to a lower setting. This utility can be invoked by pressing the shortcut button labelled ‘smart’, which sits next to the power button. We used ‘stealth’ mode rather than ‘auto’ mode, which made the laptop a lot more pleasant to use. However, using ‘stealth’ mode does affect the performance, as it slows down the CPU and impacts the graphics. For example, our Blender workload completed in 36sec when stealth mode was active, and 3DMark’s Fire Strike recorded a noticeably lower mark of 5144.

Many design issues

Noise is one of the aspects that can make the P25Xv2 uncomfortable, but the overall design also does plenty to frustrate. While we’re cautious in reminding you that the unit we’re reviewing here is not a full retail sample, we’ll limit our ramblings to the actual design elements and not the build quality.

Key to a great overall notebook experience is a great keyboard and keyboard design. With the P25X, you get a mixed bag. The keys themselves feel good to hit overall. They are soft, crisp in their response, and backlit by a cool white LED. However, Gigabyte has packed in a full range of keys, including a number pad. This gives no space to things such as the arrow keys, and just makes the whole typing experience feel messy.

The other thing that stands out is the location of the touchpad. It’s centred according to the chassis, not the Space bar, and we found that our right palm was constantly hitting it and causing the cursor to fly off towards the top our documents. Sometimes, our palm also managed to select a bunch of text and overwrite it, other times we just continued sentences where they didn’t belong. We ended up having to disable the touchpad in order to type properly.

Disregard the multiple labels on the keys, but make a note of the busy layout and the position of the touchpad.
Disregard the multiple labels on the keys, but make a note of the busy layout and the position of the touchpad.

Not only that, though, having the touchpad centred in such a way, with the Space bar located so far to the left of it, threw off our balance while typing. A lot of you might say ‘so what, this is a gaming laptop’, but how many PC gamers do you know who aren’t also keyboard warriors, especially when it comes to commenting on articles and participating furiously in forums? A good keyboard layout is a must for these tasks and many others.

We don’t think it would be so bad if the number pad was removed, which could give the main part of the board a shift towards the centre, and bring the touchpad more in line with the Space bar. Those of you who like to crunch numbers in a rapid-fire fashion might like the number pad, but with that said, its keys are squished anyway. The zero key is small and located under the ‘2’, further indicating that Gigabyte just wanted to cram everything in.

The edges of the chassis are just as annoying as the keyboard area. There is a chrome trim around the base and the lid, which can be distracting, and which doesn’t really add anything of value in the looks department. But more problematic is the lip that surrounds the base. It overhangs the chassis about 9mm and it makes it awkward to access the ports. You can’t just see at glance where the ports are because of this lip; you have to either lift the unit or peek at it from the side, and getting your fingers under there to plug in cables or to insert an SD card also isn’t an easy task.

The lip makes it difficult to use the ports.
The lip makes it difficult to use the ports.

It’s a shame, because there is a lot of good stuff located along the sides. This includes Gigabit Ethernet, an HDMI port, a full-sized, spring-loaded SD card slot, separate headphone and microphone ports, a VGA port, two USB 3.0 ports, a combination eSATA and USB port, and a Blu-ray writer. If anything, though, it could use another USB 3.0 port. You also get a webcam, there is Bluetooth, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi (via an Intel Wireless-AC 7260 adapter). We’ll note that there was a quirk with our test system in which the Wi-Fi was disabled on every cold boot, and we had to hit the Fn-F2 key combo to enable it.

The left has the power, VGA, and eSATA ports, as well as the optical drive.
The left has the power, VGA, and eSATA ports, as well as the optical drive.

The right has the audio ports, USB 3.0 ports, SD card slot, HDMI, and Ethernet port.
The right has the audio ports, USB 3.0 ports, SD card slot, HDMI, and Ethernet port.

At the back of the laptop, you will find some big vents through which heat from the CPU and graphics adapter can escape. They are large, and look quite sporty when you view the laptop from the back. But they are not the most user-friendly vents we’ve seen. If you plan on using the notebook on your lap, they will dig into your legs and make for an uncomfortable experience. Basically, this notebook should be a permanent desk dweller.

Its weight of 2.8kg and thick chassis also mean it’s not an easy one to carry with you on a regular basis in a backpack. Its battery lasted 3hr 41min in our rundown test, in which we maximise screen brightness, enable Wi-Fi, disable power management, and loop a Full HD MP4 file.

Finally, the Full HD screen proved to be well below our expectations for what is meant to be a high-end notebook. Its contrast was lacking during our tests, as we noticed it struggled to render shaded areas of photographs properly, instead making them look blacker than they should have. Furthermore, its viewing angles appeared narrow, with noticeable shifts in brightness and contrast as we tilted the screen, making the screen look like it was moving in and out of darkness.

What’s the verdict?

Gigabyte has put a lot of good stuff into this laptop, but apparently forgotten to make it just as good on the outside. Its design is downright frustrating at times, with the keyboard, touchpad, and lip around the chassis being the major culprits. They aren’t design choices that are appropriate for a laptop with a price tag north of $2500 as they provide an overall uncomfortable user experience. We’re giving it three stars for its configuration, but it needs a lot of improvement on the outside in order to be a top-choice notebook.

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