Keyboard and clickpad
One of the joys of working with a 17" laptop is having a full-size keyboard along for the ride. I do enough spreadsheet work that I appreciate having a real, full-size numpad to work with. The main keys on the P57W are 0.63" (16 mm) wide with 0.06" (1.5 mm) of space surrounding each key. I'm not sure what all the fuss over keyboard backlighting is about, but this keyboard has it in cold blue-white. Gigabyte says the machine features 30-key rollover, so it seems unlikely to miss a stroke even under the heaviest typing.
The keyboard has its faults. Like most laptop keyboards these days, the F-keys serve double duty as controls for many of the laptop's functions. To fit in the function key in the bottom row, the Alt key and Windows key are both a bit smaller than usual. I haven't hit the "fail" button—the Windows key, that is—so many times during one gaming session in years. Thankfully, Gigabyte's SmartManager software provides a tool to disable the Windows key. More troubling is the feel of each keystroke. The key activation distance is very shallow, leading me to consistently overpress on too many keystrokes. For what it's worth, I found this short travel to be less of a problem while gaming than typing long documents.
To get some numbers on this keyboard's performance, I went over to typingtest.com and did a few test runs. For comparison, I did the same tests on my trusty Rosewill RK-9000V2. My adjusted words per minute was, on average, 4.4% higher when using my mechanical keyboard rather than the laptop's keyboard. On one test, I had 7% higher WPM using my mechanical keyboard.
The clickpad sits a bit left of center below the keyboard. The bottom section of the clickpad provides right- and left-click functionality, and pushes in with a tactile bump to do so. Additionally, quick taps anywhere on the surface function as clicks. I'd prefer to have the bottom section marked out with something tactile, perhaps a different texture. Instead, the bottom click area is only distinguished by a thin gray line between the right and left clicks. When the laptop is turned off, user can push the right click button to check battery life. The five status lights on the front edge of the laptop will glow briefly to indicate how much power is left.
We've advocated for a long time in our system guides that our readers should consider investing a little in a sound system. The familar Realtek integrated chip handles audio duties in the P57W, but Gigabyte also built in Dolby's Digital Plus system. Part of that package is the Surround Virtualizer, which purportedly creates a "virtualized sound system" even through headphones or the laptop's built-in speakers. The virtualized surround sound is a pleasant extra to have for movie watching, and it makes playing first-person shooters a bit more immersive.
The laptop's built-in speakers are also a pleasant surprise. A pair of 2W speakers sits underneath the front edge of the laptop, and while they're not particularly loud, they offer decent sound quality. While they don't offer much in the way of bass, they avoid the tinniness so common with cheap, small speakers. They're a good fit for my favorite music for work and study.
All of the P57W's ports and jacks are located on the left and right sides. On the left is the Realtek-powered Gigabit Ethernet port, two USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, and jacks for a headset and microphone.
On the right side, Gigabyte provides a third USB 3.0 port, a USB 3.1 Type-C port, an HDMI 2.0 port with HDCP 2.2, one VGA connector, and one Mini DiplayPort. The power cord plugs in on this side back by the display hinge. The USB 3.1 port unfortunately doesn't support Thunderbolt 3, but on a positive note, the HDMI port is capable of handling 4K video at 60Hz.
Gigabyte provides access to the P57W's laptop-specific functions through its Smart Manager software. Here users can adjust display settings, power modes, and fan speeds. They can also toggle a few of the laptop's features on and off.
The Smart Dashboard, accessible through the Smart Manager, provides a quick look at the status of the laptop's hardware. The window can be minimized into a thin, movable overlay so that users can track important information while running other programs.
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