Gaming laptops got a shot in the arm this summer when Nvidia announced that its GeForce GTX 10-series GPUs would be going mobile without the "M." Laptop manufacturers have since been able to slot full-fat versions of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1080, GTX 1070, and GTX 1060 graphics processors into their machines without forcing buyers to break out the decoder ring to figure out what's changed between those parts and the desktop versions of the chips—mostly.
With Pascal-equipped laptops now available from basically every major manufacturer, it's a good time to study how well these notebooks fulfill their promises. Can this next generation of mobile graphics chips truly deliver desktop-class performance within the tight confines of a laptop chassis? To help us answer that question, Gigabyte kindly provided us with a P57X v6 laptop equipped with a mobile GeForce GTX 1070.
This version of the GTX 1070 is the mobile Pascal that's most changed from its desktop cousin. The Founder's Edition GTX 1070 has a boost clock range of about 1683 MHz, but the laptop variant is rated for 1645 MHz. That said, If you've read any of TR's Pascal reviews, you'll know that those numbers can significantly understate the actual clocks that those cards can reach. To make up for this potential deficit, Nvidia actually enabled a few more stream processors and texture units on its midrange mobile parts: 128 more stream processors than the desktop model, bringing it up to 2048 total, and eight more texture units, for a total of 128. Depending on how Gigabyte's cooling system shakes out, that's quite a bit of graphics power in a machine that can be taken on the go.
Gigabyte tends to adhere to a minimalist aesthetic for its laptops, and the P57X is no exception. Its glossy black plastic chassis doesn't scream for attention, although the backlit keyboard might attract some interest from friends and coworkers. The generous venting on the bottom and back, however, identify the P57X as a gaming laptop. In addition to the small orange accents on the machine's hinges, sharp angles on the power button, speaker grilles, and vents give this machine some personality.
Today, we're most interested in what's under the hood. Gigabyte paired the GeForce GTX 1070 with Intel's Core i7-6700HQ, a popular processor in gaming laptops this last year. It's a quad-core processor with Hyper-Threading that has a base clock of 2.6 GHz and a 3.5 GHz Turbo speed. 16GB of DDR4-2133 RAM round out the basic hardware package.
One element of this laptop that might raise an eyebrow or two is the display. Gigabyte installed a lovely 17.3", 1920x1080 IPS panel that's bright, colorful, and provides excellent viewing angles, but some might consider that resolution rather low for such a large notebook screen. It also might seem to betray this machine's gaming ambitions. Our benchmarking of the GTX 1070 in a desktop system showed that it's more than capable of handling games at 2560x1440 and occasionally even at 3840x2160, depending on the game and settings. One might assume that a gaming laptop equipped with the GTX 1070 would ship with a tricked-out panel, perhaps with a higher resolution, higher refresh rate, G-Sync, or all three, for that matter.
After running some benchmarks, however, we were reminded why it's bad to assume things. First, in a couple of instances we found ourselves capable of pushing settings so high that the P57X couldn't keep up, even at its native 1920x1080 resolution. Second, it appears that Nvidia's G-Sync technology still doesn't cooperate with its power-saving Optimus tech. Those who need robust battery life might hesitate before giving up Optimus. Finally, our tests show that 1920x1080 might be the highest resolution this laptop can really handle when it's running off of its battery instead of its 200W power brick. Though we'll get into more detail about this machine's performance shortly, it actually seems that a good old 1920x1080 display is still a fine choice for a powerful gaming laptop.
For those interested, here's a full chart of the P57X's hardware:
|Processor||Intel Core i7-6700HQ|
|Chipset||Intel HM170 Express|
|Graphics||Intel HD Graphics 530
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 with 8GB GDDR5 RAM
|Display||17.3" IPS panel with 1920x1080 resolution|
|Storage||Transcend MTS800 M.2 SATA SSD, 256GB
Hitachi Travelstar 7K1000, 1TB
Panasonic UJ8G2 DVD-RW
Expansion options: Swappable drive bay for 9.5mm / 7mm drives (if DVD-RW is removed)
|Audio||2 2W speakers|
|Expansion and display outputs||1 USB 3.1 Type-C
3 USB 3.0
HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2
|Card reader||1 SD card reader|
|Communications||Realtek Gaming Gigabit Ethernet adapter
Intel 802.11.ac Wi-Fi
|Input Devices||Backlit keyboard
|Dimensions||16.57" x 11.42" x 1.13" (421 x 290 x 28.6 mm)|
|Weight||6.6 lbs (3.0 kg)|
|OS||Windows 10 Home|
A P57X v6 configured similarly to our test unit goes for about $2000 on Newegg right now. For a desktop-replacement notebook with significant gaming potential, that could be a fair price. Let's find out.