The Gigabyte P34G v2 Ultrablade is a laptop designed for gamers in search of a compact, easy-to-transport machine. It's risky business for a computer maker, in that high performance, beefy hardware and the need to keep things cool don't mingle well with confined spaces. And Gigabyte is no noob to the concept; it made a similar attempt last year with the Razer Blade 14", with middling results. Fortunately, 2014 appears to be a year for change...
The P34G v2 uses the same chassis as the U24T; only the colours have changed. The palmrest is a metallic grey, while the base and lid are a metallic black. The whole is well manufactured, well assembled. The only problem is the surface smudges. It stands out among gaming laptops for its light weight (1.7 kg) and slender frame (21.5 mm), although the Razer Blade 14" is even more compact.
The chiclet keys are well sized; they respond nicely to the stroke, although the rebound is a bit too loose for our taste. The small touchpad is fast and precise. It recognises all of the Windows 8 touch gestures and has physical click buttons at the base. This is a good touchpad for productivity tasks such as word processing, but it won't get you very far in a game. For a trusty gaming tool, you'll want to invest in a dedicated mouse and keyboard.
The keyboard has blue backlighting, but it isn't adjustable.
The P34G v2 has a lot of connection ports for a laptop this size: two USB 2.0, two USB 3.0, HDMI, VGA, RJ45/Ethernet, a headphone/microphone combo jack and an SD card reader. For wireless connectivity it has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, whose signal we measured at -46 dBm from 5 to 10 metres away and -50 dBm from 20 metres away.
Heat is well managed. The highest temperature we found during stress tests was 50°C. That said, you'll have to watch out where you place the Ultrablade, as the hot air is expelled out the bottom of the base. The fan keeps up with the workload and stays quiet during simple tasks, but after a long gaming session it can produce up to 52 dB, at which point you might want to use headphones.
The P34G v2 Ultrablade has a matte Full HD screen with good contrast (945:1) and just barely passable brightness of 280 cd/m².
Grey colour temperature
The screen has a Delta E of 6.3, demonstrating that the colours aren't very faithful to their intended tones. The best displays on the market do much better than this with values under 3. The gamma curve isn't much better; it's too high and too irregular. Only the colour temperature is perfect: 6,566 K and stable.
The sound through the headphone jack has decent power, no distortion and fine spatialisation.
The built-in speakers are similar in performance, providing a clean sound that doesn't get saturated at full volume, although it isn't completely precise and lacks any semblance of bass.
Note: The model we were sent to review features an Intel Core i7-4700HQ processor, 8 GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M graphics card and a 128 GB SSD. The comments above refer to all versions of the Gigabyte P34G v2 Ultrablade, whereas the sections below apply only to the model we tested. Available configurations may also vary depending on the country/region in which you live.
The Intel Core i7-4700HQ is the same excellent processor found in the MSI GE70 and Asus Republic of Gamers G750, and it performs just as well here, obtaining a score of 142.
Click for detailsThe P34G v2 performs equally as well here as it does in the models mentioned above, providing a top-notch user experience with fast startup and shutdown times. Programmes launch quickly thanks to the solid-state drive and complex tasks execute promptly.
We've already run into the Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M in other computers, except here it's a little different in that it has 4 GB of memory instead of 2 GB. It's based on Maxwell (GM 107) architecture and has a stable boost clock of 1,097 MHz.
Unfortunately, the extra graphics memory doesn't have much impact on the P34G v2's gaming, as it performs similarly to the GE70 and MSI AG240 2PE. Games like Tomb Raider and Bioshock Infinite run at over 40 fps, whereas more complex games such as Metro: Last Light and Hitman Absolution run at under 30 fps. For titles like these, you'll have to lower the settings a notch in order to keep the gameplay fluid.
MOBILITY / BATTERY LIFE
With this beefy configuration, the Ultrablade lasted just 3 hours and 47 minutes in our endurance test (continuous video playback in airplane mode with the keyboard's backlighting turned off, the brightness at 100 cd/m² and headphones plugged in). It comes in right behind the Razer Blade (4 hours), but is a far cry from its older brother, the P35K (5½ hours).