Gaming laptops aren't exactly known for their long battery life. Powerful components consume a lot of power. To help gaming laptops be functional mobile devices in addition to plugged-in gaming powerhouses, Nvidia introduced its Optimus technology a few years back. Optimus dynamically switches between the integrated graphics provided by the CPU of a laptop and the GPU, using the CPU's graphics as much as possible to maintain battery life. To test the P57X's power-sipping prowess, we charged it up, loaded up TR's BrowserBench utility, and pulled the plug.
Our BrowserBench tests show that the P57X's more-powerful internals make it fall just a little short of the P57W before it. Five-and-a-half hours isn't bad for a gaming laptop, but it won't last a full day of work without some extra juice.
To test how long the P57X can game without being plugged in, I ran Unigine's Heaven benchmark until the system automatically shut down. As with the BrowserBench run, I set the laptop to its "balanced" power setting. It performed very similarly to Gigabyte's P57W, which isn't much of a surprise since they have the same size battery. We don't think you'll want to game this way, but our tests at least show how long you could go if you had to.
Thermal and acoustic performance
Gigabyte's P57 can game, but can it handle the heat? To assess Gigabyte's cooling solution, I put the laptop through a variety of tests while using the company's in-house SmartManager utility to monitor temperatures, and AIDA64 Engineer to track CPU, GPU, and GPU memory frequencies.
With just a few browser windows open, the P57 is quiet and cool. The fans spin inaudibly at 1657 RPM, keeping the CPU around 28° C. That's a few degrees cooler than the temperatures I recorded in Gigabyte's P57W this past summer, but now that it's nearing winter, the ambient temperature in my household is also lower.
Next, I assessed the P57's thermal performance while gaming. I played twenty minutes of Grand Theft Auto V with the laptop plugged in, the power mode set to "High Performance," and the fans set to "Gaming." GPU temperatures ranged between 78 and 81° Celsius, and CPU temperatures ranged between 76 and 80° Celsius. During this time, the CPU clock fluctuated around 2992 MHz. The GPU clock varied a bit more, but most commonly hovered around 1797 MHz. The GPU memory clock remained pegged at 2003 MHz. Those figures should go to show that the P57X can sustain boost clocks above and beyond Nvidia's reference spec, and they attest to the competence of its cooling system.
Acoustically speaking, the sweet spot for the P57X's fans is about 3400 RPM. At this speed, they produce about 40 dB of noise, which is minimally distracting. The sound produced has a rounded character, with no obtrusive whines or whistles. Unfortunately, the "Gaming" preset for the fans tends to keep the fans between 3700 and 4200 RPM, which adds an unpleasant character to the sound, and pushes the noise level up to about 50 dB. At peak temperatures, the fans spun up to 4400 RPM. The fans generate about 55 dB when pushed this far, and there's a bit of an annoying whine to the sound of the P57X, a bit like the noise people make when they whistle through their teeth.
Under normal gaming, then, the P57 keeps its components cool, but is a little noisy as it it does so. How about under a true stress test? To simulate a worst-case scenario, I loaded up Prime95's Small FFTs test, which puts all of the CPU cores to work, and Unigine's Heaven benchmark, which is still quite capable of taxing a GPU. With both of these tests running simultaneouly, the P57 struggled to dissipate the heat created by its central components. When CPU and GPU temperatures both exceeded 90° C, I stopped the test.
Unless you have a particular fetish for finding prime numbers while admiring a tesselated dragon statue, you're unlikely to stress out the P57 as I did here. The P57X runs a bit warm, but it plays modern games at high settings without apparent throttling. That's impressive performance, and it means gamers will get the full potential of the P57X's powerful parts .
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