So, we've taken a look at the hard data and have received some very curious and interesting results. As a gaming machine, it's not exactly the best. However, as a high performance, all-around use machine, it fares much better. I can't give this a full out recommendation as a gaming machine as the performance just isn't there.
If you're looking for something that is high performance and portable, then this machine becomes more appealing. It's got a very capable Core i7-3610QM quad-core processor that can handle the most difficult of CPU tasks with ease, and the entire system feels snappy due to the fast SSD that GIGABYTE has elected to use in our review model.
Electing to equip it with just a 660M GPU is a bit of a disappointment, but from an engineering standpoint it makes sense. Putting a faster, hotter GPU in this form factor would just exacerbate the heat problem that we noted during our torture testing. It would also reduce battery life, something that is already the shortest we've seen out of any of the machines to come through our lab so far.
Don't get me wrong, the NVIDIA 660M is a very capable mobile GPU. The issue is that it will require updating before a faster, more powerful GPU would. If you're not interested in keeping this system more than a year or so, the 660M should be plenty for current games and those coming out in the near future. But, if you are looking to keep it for more than a year or two, it is advisable to spend a little extra now and get something a bit more powerful, though that may require moving to a 17.3-inch design.
The GIGABYTE P2542G's 15.6-inch 1920x1080 screen is a nice panel. If the battery would last long enough, several people could enjoy watching a movie, even at off angles as the screen retains good color representation even when looking from the side or above.
Who would I recommend this machine to? If you're someone who needs a portable powerhouse, but don't need tip-top graphics performance, this machine is definitely worth checking out. For the college student, the battery life could prove an issue, but it should have plenty of horsepower for Computer Science and Engineering majors who need to crunch numbers. The fast USB 3.0 and eSATA performance definitely lends this system some use for photographers and others who need to transfer large amounts of data through the aforementioned ports.
So, where does that leave us? I'm really not that big of a fan of this GIGABYTE notebook. The styling is superb, save for the chrome trim, and I really like the bright colored lid and air vents that appear to be styled after a hotrod. However, with somewhat lackluster graphics performance, though not a surprise, battery life, lack of a backlit keyboard, and cooling, it really is somewhat of a downer. While I'm not saying don't buy this, you need to take into account some of the main issues we found with it when considering a purchase.
Portability is rather good, as it is only 15.6-inch and weighs in at only 2.6kg. However, using it while out and about could be troublesome due to the poor battery life. Also a problem is where you are going to be using it. If you're going to be stressing it while using it on your lap or typing on it, it's probably not a good fit for you.
As a final note, it's important to realize that our review configuration is not on sale in the United States. Performance with an mSATA SSD is likely to be slightly lower than what we have seen with the 256GB Lite-On SSD in this system configuration.