Gigabyte P34Wv5 Review (14.0″, Skylake I7, GTX 970M)

++ Main reason to consider:

Compact gaming laptop/ultrabook with good feature-set (TB3, NVMe SSD, good chassis build quality, good keyboard)

-- Main reason to avoid:

Very high temperatures under very high load and unless you really want a 14.0″ laptop, the performance/price ratio isn’t the best.

Availability
Pro : + Very good 3D performance with an I7 and GTX 970M
+ Compact and light at around 1.7kg
+ Relatively rigid chassis with relatively rigid outer lid, protecting the display panel
+ Very comfortable keyboard, in my opinion, with very good feedback, response and resistance.
+ Under load, the hotter parts of the chassis are not the ones that in use usually
+ IPS display with good color coverage, high accuracy, and no PWM (but contrast isn't the best). Usable outside, not in direct sunlight
+ M.2 "M" slot, allowing PCIe SSDs, housed by an NVMe SSD
+ Thunderbolt 3 port
+ 16GB DDR4 RAM (via ExcaliberPC, at least)
+ Simple looks
Con : - Throttling and very high temps under very high load (less pronounced in current games)
- GPU throttling due to power limitations (according to GPU-Z)
- Outer lid could be more rigid (like the Y700, say, or the Latitude E74XX series)
- Speakers are mediocre or average at best
- Default configuration only includes 8GB RAM (16GB via ExcaliberPC though)
- Only two slots of RAM
- High noise under high load, moderate noise under light/moderate load (even on "quiet" fan speed profile)
- No TPM
- Display's contrast could be better and black levels could be lower
More Reviews :

Introduction

Gigabyte P34Wv5

Well, welcome to the Gigabyte P34Wv5-SL2 compact gaming laptop/ultrabook review. The P34Wv5, Gigabytes’ 14.0″ compact flagship gaming laptop is selling for around $1500-$1550 with the usual Skylake I7, GTX 970M, 1080p IPS, 1.7kg and small measures. It’s measures are actually smaller than the MSI GS40 by a bit, though it weighs a little more. Kindly note that this version comes with 8GB as a default, but ExcaliberPC throws in another 8GB of RAM, making it a more complete solution.

The P34Wv5 also features a Thunderbolt 3 USB-C port (including USB 3.1 gen 2), HDMI and the highlight – VGA port (!). With an M.2 2280 Type-M port (Sata/PCIe NVMe) occupied by a 128GB PCIe NVMe SSD and a 1TB HDD storage, you are pretty much covered.

Nothing much to say about this laptop really – another model in a line of a 14.0″ gaming laptops with more or less the same specs (MSI GS40, Clevo P640RE) – but let’s see how it fairs in the review, what are the strong points and what are the deep, horrifying deeps.

ComponentDescription
ModelGigabyte P34W v5 (P34Wv5-SL2)
PriceAs tested, $1530
CPUIntel Skylake I7-6700HQ, 4C/8T, 2.6-3.6GHZ, 6MB cache, CZ-A1
GPUNvidia Geforce GTX 970M 3GB GDDR5, GM204 (Maxwell II), 1280 shaders, core@954-1037MHZ, GDDR5@1252MHZ, 192-bit bus
Motherboard / ChipsetGIGABYTE P34V5 / Intel HM170 (Skylake PCH-H)
4xPCI Express x1, 1xPCI Express x4, 1xPCI Express x16
RAMHynix 2x8GB DDR4@2133MHZ HMA41GS6AFR8N-TF
StorageHDD : WD WDC WD10JPVX-22JC3T0 1TB 7200RPM
SSD: M.2 NVMe SAMSUNG MZVPV128 128GB
M.2 : M.2 SATA or PCIe/NVMe 2280 (one)
Display PanelIn review: LG Display LP140WF1-SPU1 1080p IPS eDP (Monitor\LGD03FF)
Weight / Dimensions1.7kg (~3.75 Lbs.) + ~0.6kg 150W PSU
340 x 239 x 21.8-20.9 mm
13.39" x 9.41" x 0.82"
(w x d x h)
KeyboardBluish white backlit (3 levels including off)
Connection PortsRight side: AC power, HDMI 2.0, 2xUSB 3.0, SD Card Slot
Left: 1xKensington key, RJ-45 (1Gbit), VGA(!), USB 3.0, Thunderbolt 3 USB Type-C, microphone/headset jack
CameraHD
WiFi / EthernetWiFi: Intel 8260 Tri-Band WiFi (Douglas Peak)
Ethernet: RealTek Semiconductor RTL8168/8111 PCI-E Gigabit
Speakers / Audio2.0
Realtek chip
Battery61Wh, 4 cells
Bios / EC version (test unit)5.11 FB08 / 3.7
Extra features
more details

Build quality, Case, design and looks

The build quality of the P34Wv5 is rather good on the chassis side – it feels good in the hands, not easily bent and hinges also seem to be ok (though not great). The screen’s outer lid will yield under relatively high pressure and combined with it’s curved shape, I wouldn’t worry too much of having the laptop smashed under light load (like if someone puts a heavy bag on it), but it’s also not perfect.

The inner parts looks ok (though I’m not proficient enough to test them), except that the HDD is held by the bottom plate only, so if you’ll open the bottom plate and flip the laptop, the HDD will simply fall down..

Looks

 

Maintenance and inner parts

Opening the Gigabyte P34Wv5 is not hard and includes something like 8-10 screws. Sorry about the quality of the image

Gigabyte P34Wv5 Review motherboard

The CPU and GPU share the only two heatpipes. Two small fans are cooling the system. We’ll see soon how well it does in high load situations (guess: not too well)

Keyboard and touchpad

Keyboard. The keyboard quality is actually pretty good, in my opinion. The feedback is very good, responsiveness is very good, resistance is adequate to my taste, pressure points are clear. The keys move a bit in their place, but that’s not that bad. Generally, I think this keyboard is quite good. Layout may be a problem with the arrow keys combined with Pg Up/Dn and Home/End keys. But generally I’m satisfied.

Touchpad. The touchpad is quite nice with a smooth surface and good sensitivity, though I still can’t really use it with gloves on.

Sound & Speakers

Average at best. Not a lot to say – not a premium set of speakers. The two 2.0 speakers are located at the bottom front. They lack in bass and clarity. I do not feel they are as bad as the MSI GS40’s speakers, though, but they are certainly not good and as I always remind – I’m not an audiophile.

General subjective performance experience

Common performance is very good, probably also thanks to the 128GB NVMe SSD.

Added CPU-Z and GPU-Z screenshots.

 

Gaming Performance

Test Methods & Drivers

OS : Windows 10, fully updated

Drivers: Nvidia Geforce 361.75

Synthetic 3D benchmarks

3DMark performance – link to source:

Gigabyte P34Wv5 Review - 3DMark benchmark

Summarized gaming performance

The usual GTX 970M + I7 gaming performance:

Gigabyte P34Wv5 Review : GTX 970M 1080p gaming benchmarks updated

Crysis 3

Gigabyte P34Wv5 Review : GTX 970M 1080p Crysis 3 benchmarksGigabyte P34Wv5 Review : CPU and GPU clocks Crysis 3 1080pGigabyte P34Wv5 Review : CPU and GPU temperatures Crysis 3 1080p

Thief

Thief sees some advantage using Mantle API over the DX11. Heavily Vulkan/DX12 optimized games/game engines should see much higher improvements.

Gigabyte P34Wv5 Review : GTX 970M 1080p Thief benchmarks

Bioshock Infinite

Gigabyte P34Wv5 Review : GTX 970M Bioshock Infinite benchmarks

Civilization : Beyond Earth

Gigabyte P34Wv5 Review : GTX 970M 1080p Civilization Beyond Earth benchmarks

Total War : Attila

The new iteration of Total War : Rome II, Attila is a much more demanding game and FPSs are much lower.

Gigabyte P34Wv5 Review : GTX 970M 1080p Total War Attila benchmarks

Metro : Last Light

Gigabyte P34Wv5 Review : GTX 970M 1080p Metro Last Light benchmarks

Battlefield 4 Campaign

BF4 campaign benchmark

Gigabyte P34Wv5 Review : GTX 970M 1080p Battlefield 4 benchmarks

World of Tanks

Gigabyte P34Wv5 Review : GTX 970M 1080p World of Tanks benchmarks

Shadow Of Mordor

Gigabyte P34Wv5 Review : GTX 970M 1080p Shadow Of Mordor benchmarks

Dragon Age : Inquisition

MSI GS40 Review Dragon Age Inquisition GTX 970M benchmarks

Anno 2205

Gigabyte P34Wv5 Review : GTX 970M 1080p Anno2205 benchmarks

Fallout 4

The new Fallout 4 is rather demanding, but the benefits of the high graphics presets are not clear to me.

Gigabyte P34Wv5 Review : GTX 970M 1080p Fallout 4 benchmarks

ARK: Survival Evolved

The new ARK: Survival Evolved is not completely cooked yet, so don’t take these results too hard.

Gigabyte P34Wv5 Review : GTX 970M 1080p ARK Survival Evolved benchmarks

Thermals, Throttling & Noise handling

As described before, the GPU and CPU use only two heatpipes which are connected to two fans. Cool air sucked from the bottom of the machine (hence, it’s important to keep its bottom above the sitting surface) and is thrown from the rear ventilation hole.

Four tests:

1. Idle, power saver mode

2. Gaming : Crysis 3 gameplay. “very high” settings with SMAAx2 For Crysis 3, “High performance” power mode.

3. Prime95 torture test. “High performance” power mode.

4. Prime95 + Furmark on 1366×768 test, AAx2. “High performance” power mode.

5. Some other tests, with CPU clocks set on base clocks (2.6GHZ) and CPU downvolted by 100mV.

Gigabyte P34Wv5 Review - CPU & GPU temperatures

Well, you get the picture – temps are pretty high under full load of Prime95+Furmark. Gaming load level like Crysis 3 (and Ashes of Singularity benchmark too) results in a relatively better temps, but still high.

I thought about reapplying the thermal paste, but really, with an I7 and a GTX 970M connected to two not-that-big heatpipes and fans, I don’t think this is the real problem here (though it might have a small part).

Gigabyte P34Wv5 Review : CPU and GPU temperatures Crysis 3 1080p Gigabyte P34Wv5 Review : CPU and GPU temperatures Ashes of Singularity 1080p

Heat

Good news are that the P34Wv5 doesn’t get too hot really, even under high load – under high load it gets hot mostly around the upper parts, near the space between the screen and the base unit, which is the place where the cooling system is located. The keyboard itself does get warmer ofcourse, but nothing that I really noticed without thinking about it.

At light/moderate load it keeps the temperatures at bay and theres’ nothing to worry about.

Noise

  1. Under high load, the laptop was obviously audible, trying desperately to spit out the lots of heat energy.
  2. Under light/moderate load and “quiet” fan mode, the fans are relatively quiet, but you could here them. According to Gigabytes’ own “smart dashboard”, the fans never fell south of 3000RPM, even with “power saver” mode.

Screen & Screen quality

The P34Wv5 uses the LG Display LP140WF1-SPU1 IPS 1080p display. Colors seem pretty good to my eyes, rich and vibrant (not lying here). Maximal brightness is not too high, but in my experience the display is usable outside, under moderate non-direct sunlight level (sitting in your porch).

Viewing angles are also pretty good. Contrast could be better, but it’s ok. Seen no serious backlight bleeding. Tried to test PWM with my camera – found none, but let’s wait for a more accurate test.

 

Measurements with the Spyder4Elite shows very good sRGB color coverage and quite good color accuracy. Measurements also show that the maximal brightness really not that high, according to Spyder4Elite, for some reason, but the xRite i1display shows much higher maximal brightness, which is more inline with my own experience using this display outside. I do think that the “real” brightness is something in between, but anyway – it’s sufficient.

Bottom line, the screen left good impression on me, colors are good, contrast could be a little better and brightness levels are good.

I’m adding the xRite i1Profiler contrast and brightness readings, because they are different from the Spyder4Elite I use:

ContrastWhite LuminenceBlack LuminenceScreen Brightness
697.6190476192930.42100.00%
7151430.250.00%
732.64781491570.077820.00%

Gigabyte P34Wv5 LP140WF1-SPU1 ICM calibration file

ContrastBrightnessBlack levels
5501870.34
sRGBadobeRGBNTSC
977468

Battery Performance

Actually, the Gigabyte P34Wv5 holds well in the “my” youtube test and generally can run around 4.5-5.5 hours on battery, under light/moderate use (browsing, a bit of music, working, stuff like that – not a lot of CPU or dedicated GPU). If you just need to read here and there, with smart handling you could get even as much as 7 hours of juice.

Gigabyte P34Wv5 Review : Battery Performance

Issues

Well, I had some problem with the CPU clocks : after switching to “power saver” and back to “high performance”, CPU clocks under high load were automatically set to 1.7-1.8GHZ, no matter what’s the temperatures.

Competing gaming laptops / Alternatives

    • The MSI GS40 (review) – a bit bigger in measurements, worse battery performance (may be fixed in the future), better thermals, though noisier.
    • Clevo P640RE
    • Soon – new Razer Blade

    I’m really not sure which one is the my favorite, but I’ll update when I’ll know more.

Conclusion

Well, the Gigabyte P34Wv5 is a very nice laptop with the right features and qualities in place : the usual gaming performance, NVMe SSD + HDD, good 1080p IPS display (no PWM detected by me, either, but that’s not accurate), very good keyboard, relatively rigid chassis, 16GB of RAM (from ExcaliberPC anyway), Thunderbolt 3 and small size.

However, the problematic thermals are a real issue and moreover, it’s really hard to clearly say which 14.0″ GTX 970M gaming laptop is the more interesting. I think they all go with the same formula, no big surprises. The MSI GS40 has better thermals indeed (check) and obviously more serious cooling system, at least to the naked eye (check). There are variation in screen qualities, a little bit in speakers and keyboard (I think the P34Wv5 is my favorite from the two, but both are good). The P34Wv5 outer lid build quality is better. So, hard to declare a winner here, though thermals, which is a real issue, is on the MSI GS40 side.

However, the biggest question here is if you really want such a laptop. Overall, for having a 0.6-1kg less than other laptops with a GTX 970M and having a smaller frame compared to a 15.6″ laptops, you are paying a lot more, having worse thermals (no matter if GS40 or P34W or P640RE) and lose the speakers quality probably and perhaps the build quality. Other laptops with a GTX 970M could be found for around $1200-$1400 easily (AW15, Clevo P651SE) that are better in these fields. The P651SE doesn’t offer a TB3, though.

So, bottom line, the P34Wv5 is a convincing gaming laptop, with a thermal issue, and a price/qualities disadvantages over 15.6″ competitors. Therefore, I’d consider it only if I really (really!) want a smaller, more lightweight gaming laptop and really can’t wait. That’s true for the GS40 too. Between the two of them, I’d probably consider the GS40 and P640RE the better bets, just for the thermals.

Thoughts?

.

  • I’m currently a bit stuck between the GS40 and the P34W v5. I was actually under the impression that the latter was running cooler (seeing as I’m keen on reliability and longevity), until I came across your reviews; see: http://www.notebookcheck.net/MSI-GS40-6QE-Phantom-Notebook-Review.158147.0.html & http://www.notebookcheck.net/Gigabyte-P34W-v5-Xotic-PC-Edition-Notebook-Review.158665.0.html (even adjusting for the difference in ambient temperature).

    Any thoughts? Do you remember whether there might have been any significant differences in testing conditions (I noticed that the dates of the reviews were quite close though)? Is it possible that the MSI ‘achieved’ lower temperatures by throttling the CPU/GPU earlier than the Gigabyte? I’d be curious to know! 🙂

    • Hi! How are you doing!

      1. Yes, the dates are pretty close
      2. Even a difference of few degrees, if you give the laptop enough time, the temps should get to the same level after a while, usually. The conditions themselves are the same – same table, same cooling pad (fans not activated).
      3. Well, I think it is opened to interpretations, but I wonder now why I wrote it. The P34Wv5 cooling system does look better in terms of heatpipes configuration. Also, even according to NBC, it has lower GPU throttling than the GS40. However, in my tests of Crysis 3, the GS40 maintains better clocks over time.
      I probably should rephrase this sentence, because I don’t remember what I meant and it’s not clear from this paragraph – sorry.

      4. Anyway, I’d wait for the new laptops. Gigabyte should release their new Aero gaming laptops, but if you can wait for laptop with the new hardware from AMD/NV/Intel, that would be better

      What do you think?

      • You’ve made some very interesting and relevant points!

        1.) Agreed.
        2.) Gotcha. These two models are very close to begin with.

        4.) Of course, new models are always around the corner, but the reason I’m looking for a new machine is because my current one is starting to show signs of weakness, so I’d rather not wait too long. Also, the GS40 and P34W v5 come at pretty good prices and/or with reasonable discounts which is less likely to be expected with new laptops. True or false?
        5.) I think it’s impossible to know how NBC does their tests. I can’t really infer it from the thermal pictures either. Presumably, they’re just using a flat tabletop.
        6.) I agree with the difference in temperatures on the Crysis 3 test. But I think if we’re honest, the difference in performance (i.e., FPS) at those temperatures is not so significant to be noteworthy. 🙂

        3.) I think this is the crux of the argument. In the NBC test, the P34W v5 [laptop surface] had around a 10° C _lower_ temperature under load (similar in idle; +/-3° C in room temperature) than the GS40, throttling the GPU only in the FurMark stress test which they described as a “normal occurrence.” The CPU maintained its speed, but reached 90+° C.
        In your test, as you’ve described, the P34W v5 is also 10° C _cooler_ in idle. I couldn’t really discern what the story is with the two machines regarding throttling (apart from that they both do it, when pushed). But as you say, the P34W v5 runs about 10° C _higher_ under load (regardless of Prime95/FurMark/Crysis 3).

        I suppose for me it comes down to reliability/longevity, as I said. I think I would use the laptop primarily for work and heavier load, like gaming (but not stress testing), maybe a few times a week. In terms of making the best use of a machine long-term, am I better off with the one that has lower idle temp and goes up a bit higher when gaming, but also produces slightly better benchmark scores (P34W v5)? Or should I prefer the model that runs slightly hotter at idle (perhaps when just using regular applications), but does so on a regular basis, and then runs somewhat cooler when gaming with marginally lower performance (GS40)? (To be honest, I’m also not someone who needs to run the latest titles in Ultra mode, though that should be obvious from my decision to go for a thin 14″ notebook. 😀 )

        • Didn’t see your reply!

          6. Yes, average FPS is probably around the same. However, in systems that have lots of big drops in performance, the game won’t run smooth and it will be pretty annoying

          4. You see, in the last two years, the $700-$800 performance level hasn’t changed a lot really. Some features has (more IPS displays, a little more SSDs, but that’s most of it). It’s not the case currently, I think. Like the jump from series 500 to 600 and from 600/700 to 800, I think that also in this upcoming tech refresh, we’ll see big differences, according to the specifications we currently have. I don’t know if the manufacturers will make use of the new hardware (I think they will), but if they do, the change will be big in performance and energy efficiency/heat.

          I’m afraid that in the reliabilty/longetivy, the situation is not good in these laptops (just a guesstimation). High temperatures, lots of stuff soldered (can’t be replaced). I don’t know what is the quality of the motherboard itself – I really don’t know how to test it. And, generally, such machines are designed not to live too much.
          However, I think that by taking good care of it, you can probably make its life a long longer – no dust inside, no food or liquid, gentle use (closing the lid gently), use a cooling pad. Stuff like that

          If you really don’t want to wait these few months (which I understand), I’d try to find what is cheaper really. If there is no significant difference in price and no difference in specifications, I’d suggest going with the one that has some advantage for you, in your opinion.

          But, why GTX 970M? Why not 960M? What kind of games do you have in mind?

          • Junky, that’s okay. Thanks again for another very considerate and thought-provoking response!

            6.) You’re definitely right about that.

            To cut a long story short, I’ve decided on the MSI GS40. I came to the conclusion that on NBC, I was actually focusing more on chassis temperatures than the CPU/GPU temperatures (which, to be fair, were also graphically emphasized over the hardware temps). I realized that’s a bit silly in a way, because if the chassis gets warmer, it might actually be a good sign of ‘better’ heat dispersion. And I agree that the MSI appears to suffer from less throttling while producing a very competitive performance in comparison to the Gigabyte P34W v5.

            4.) That sounds really interesting. I must admit, I’m not really at the forefront when it comes to info about current hardware development. I agree that recent laptop generations have subjectively represented more of an evolution than a revolution. Still, I’m happy to go out and buy my new kit now for the reasons stated previously and I hasten to guess that newer models would be significantly more expensive.

            I see where you’re coming from! The latest and greatest (thinking of the i7-6700HQ and GTX 970M) are bound to run on the limit in a variety of ways. Having said that, I have taken care of my current machine in the way that you describe and overall, it’s treated me well, so I’ll definitely continue with these practices. As for replacing parts, the MSI seems to come out on top again, seeing as I’ve come across this disassembly guide: http://www.laptopultra.com/guide/msi-gs40-disassembly/ (I don’t know about replacing the CPU/GPU, but I would assume that’s very uncommon in laptops in general). Also, the GS40 has a USB-C / Thunderbolt port which should add some additional ‘future-proofing’.

            Lastly, funny you should ask! I just returned an order for an Alienware 13 with a i7-6500U and a GTX 960M when I found out about the other models we’ve discussed. As far as I can tell, the i7-6700HQ and GTX 970M blow the other models out of the water (i.e., up to double the score on standard benchmarks, such as 3DMark, Cinebench, and PCMark) while the Alienware runs at similar temps, occasionally experiences throttling, and costs the same, if not slightly more. Didn’t have to think about that very long… *hehe* As for gaming, I’m big into Battlefield, so Hardline, BF4, and I wanted to get something that could potentially handle BF1 quite comfortably (which I think the MSI GS40 should be alright with: http://www.game-debate.com/games/index.php?g_id=9002&game=Battlefield%201 ).

    • Another point:

      1. I don’t know how NBC do their tests. I tests with a cooling pad (fans deactivated), to make sure the cooling system is not blocked
      2. If you’ll check the screenshots for Prime95 + Furmark (in my tests), you’ll see that the GS40 maintains lower temps while having higher clocks, significantly. Do you see it?