Gaming laptops can typically be split into two categories. Some are colossal, chunky units that defy portability in favour of cramming in as much performance as possible, while there are others that sacrifice one or two things in favour of a thinner, less-garish profile. Gigabyte's P37X falls into the latter category, and on the face of it, there don't appear to be any obvious compromises.
Measuring 22.5mm at its thickest point and tipping the scales at just under 3kg, the P37X isn't as thin or as light as an Ultrabook, yet for a 17.3in gaming laptop, it's relatively svelte and we like the fact that it looks like a regular PC. There are no race-car-inspired exhausts or striking colour schemes, allowing it to double as your business laptop as well as your mobile gaming rig.
Don't be fooled by the modest aesthetic, mind you. On the inside, the P37X is carrying a quad-core Intel Core i7-4720HQ processor, 16GB of DDR3 memory and dedicated GeForce GTX 980M graphics with a massive 8GB frame buffer. And why stop at that? Gigabyte has also shoehorned in a pair of 128GB mSATA SSDs in RAID 0, as well as a 1TB hard disk and a DVD writer.
The DVD tray unusually ejects from the front edge of the laptop, but if you prefer, it can be swapped out in favour of another 2.5in hard-disk bay, and Gigabyte adds the necessary caddy in the bundle. There's certainly no shortage of storage options, though it's interesting to see Gigabyte sticking to the mSATA standard as opposed to newer, faster M.2.
Keeping the goodies flowing, the full-size keyboard is backlit and outfitted with a column of dedicated macro 'G' keys, the array of outputs are well stocked and include HDMI, DisplayPort, an SD card reader and three USB 3.0 ports, and the 17.3in display is a matte IPS panel with wide viewing angles and a full-HD resolution.
A lot to like, clearly, so what's the catch? Well, there's the price tag, for starters, which at £1,750 limits the laptop's appeal to all but the hardened, moneyed enthusiast. And when you consider the cost, you start to pick holes in the specification - aren't the two 128GB SSDs a little low in capacity, and it's a shame the industry continues to drag its heels with regards to high-res 17.3in panels - the P37X is crying out for one. Plus if it's a workhorse you're after, you may find the keyboard to be a little shallow, and the trackpad isn't the best, either.
Valid points and the pragmatists among us will be quick to point out that similar money would buy both a very nice Ultrabook and a powerful gaming desktop. True, however gaming laptops do make sense if you need to take your games on the road, and it isn't the cost or the specification of the P37X that we find troubling. Nope, the biggest drawback, we feel, is fan noise, which happens to be considerable.
The P37X is never going to be found wanting in terms of performance, and it is always going to cost an arm and a leg, but noise levels are something of a question mark. Could Gigabyte cram in such hardware and keep it cool without raising the decibel count? The answer, we're afraid, is no. The laptop can be heard as soon as you power it on, and tasking the CPU or GPU with light or moderate activity causes the two internal fans to ramp-up noise. Start gaming and it really becomes quite loud.
That, really, is the decision mobile gamers will have to make. Are you willing to compromise on noise levels in favour of a thinner overall profile, or would you prefer a thicker laptop that's less vocal? A tough call, but let's take a look at P37X performance while you think it over.