Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
Over the past months, I have looked at many gaming notebooks featuring Pascal mobile parts and Kaby Lake mobile parts, a match made in heaven for mobile gaming. Both architectures outclass their predecessors in both performance and power, and vendors took it upon themselves to add in 4K gaming displays, but they typically have done it starting with GTX 1060 graphics.
The issue is that a mobile GTX 1060 isn't enough to drive modern games very well at 4K, and so it confuses me to see that. However, today GIGABYTE sent over a P56XT with a 4K display, but it uses a GTX 1070, which should be much improved and capable of 4K game play on the go.
Let's see what GIGABYTE has to offer with the P56XT.
The P56XT features an i7-7700HQ 4C/8C processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz. We also get a 15.6" UHD (4K) display, but there is an option for 1080P if you like that. The notebook features a GTX 1070 with 8GB of VRAM. The notebook in our configuration has a 1TB HDD along with a 256GB M.2 SSD. It also features a 91Wh battery, ThunderBolt 3.0, and an HD web camera. It weights roughly 5.7lbs and has dimensions of 15.1(W) x 10.6(D) x 1.2(H) inches.
The P56XT starts at $2,099.
A simple yet elegant black box contains foam divider packaging that ensures the safe arrival of your gaming notebook.
Accessories include a swappable ODD bay, AC/DC power brick, AC power cord, manual, and DVDs. The adapter is rated roughly 200W (19.5v at 10.4a).
While the notebook is a gaming notebook, on the outside it just looks sleek and simple. Many people like an elegant gaming notebook, as then they can play games and take around their expensive hardware without raising too many eye brows. The bottom of the notebook features intake vendors for both blower fans as well as an open air vent for the top of the center of the CPU/GPU heat sinks. There are five rubber legs (two big at the back and three small at the front) to help the notebook stay in place.
The front of the notebook features speaker vents and then your ODD drive, in this case, a DVD drive. The rear of the unit features two large exhaust vents. The right and left sides have this orange streak down the top of either side and it a bit of fun to the chassis. The left side of the notebook features a 1Gbit LAN port, two USB 3.0 ports, headphone jack, microphone jack, and SD card reader slot. On the right side, we get a DC input plug, VGA(D-SUB) video output, HDMI 2.0, ThunderBolt 3.0, USB 3.0, and DisplayPort.
The full QWERTY keyboard is full size, features a number pad, and integrated arrow keys. The keyboard is full RGB and allows for individual programming of keys. It is a nice Chiclet style keyboard; it is soft to type on, large enough for those with large hands, and quite responsive. While I like the RGB lighting, it isn't super bright.
The touchpad is soft, and the click areas aren't clearly defined, and you might need to tune TP-rejection. It's responsive enough and features a battery gauge feature to figure out battery level when the unit is off.
Physical Overview Continued
We get an HD webcam along with a dual array microphone. There is also a light sensor on the right side of the camera, and a light will turn on when the webcam is in use.
The screen is a 15.6" Ultra HD (4K) IPS WVA anti-glare display LCD, and its colors are vibrant, and the size of icons and texts is decent. I like 15" displays on notebooks as I feel 17" isn't portable enough, but more 15" is small for most with 4K resolution, but this display does well. The hinges allow for roughly 120-degree tilt.
The notebook is actually easy to open up, just remove the standard screws.
The CPU and GPU are cooled by heat sinks, as are their VRMs. Two large heat pipes take the heat to radiators where two blower fans on either side of the device push the heat out. The battery is rated for 91.2Wh, and isn't crazy large.
A Lite-On CX2-8B256 256GB SSD is included, and you can upgrade by either replacing the drive or adding in a second. The WIFI card is an Intel 8265NGW wireless-AC card, which is popular among notebooks in this range.
An HGST 1TB 7200RPM hard drive is also present so you can store your games on it.
Software and BIOS
GIGABYTE's Smart Manager is almost an extension of the function keys, in that it allows you to disable and enable hardware features as well as control things such as brightness, fan, and touch pad settings.
You can access Smart Dashboard through Smart Manager, and it allows you to keep up with your system's stats and more.
GIGABYTE's RGB Keyboard Fusion program allows you to control every aspect of keyboard lighting. You can even individually control the color of each key as well as load in custom profiles such as a wave or profiles for games.
Smart USB Backup is designed to allow you to back up your OS to a USB stick upon boot up. It will automatically pop up upon first boot.
GIGABYTE's P56 series comes with an update program, which will compare current driver versions with official and latest versions and allow you to update them.
LAN Optimizer will allow you to optimize networking control protocols for different tasks, there is also an audio program, but I wasn't able to get a screen grab of it. It's Dolby based.
GIGABYTE's BIOS for the P56X is very basic, but it does offer enough configuration options to correctly configure the OS for Windows 10 or previous operating systems. On the last page, there are actually two settings to reinstate defaults for either type of OS.
You can also configure more important security and TPM settings, and disable hardware from the BIOS itself. There is no mouse control.
System Performance Benchmarks
CPU, Memory, and System Benchmarks
These benchmarks are run using default settings and configuration.
AIDA64 AES and HASH
Handbrake 4K and 720P Transcoding
The i7-7700HQ under the automatic power profiles performs at its maximum when the notebook is plugged in as it is here. GIGABYTE's program auto-shifts Windows power profile from Power Saving to High Performance when the notebook is plugged in, and so performance is very strong.
We also have two DIMMs in dual channel, with a very fast NVMe based SSD, which can help in benchmarks as well. Overall system performance is what we expect from notebooks with 7700HQ processors running on the high-performance profile.
Gaming Performance Benchmarks
UNIGINE Heaven 4.0
Ashes of Singularity
The overclocked While the GTX 1060 is a very common mobile GPU, the GTX 1070 is clearly superior in both synthetic and real-world games. That being said, it does tend to do a lot better in synthetic gaming benchmarks than in real games, but overall game FPS improvements are consistent.
However, it's still not powerful enough, or perhaps the CPU and mobile GPU combination aren't, to play the latest titles in 4K. You can get away with 1440P, but on this notebook 1440P isn't an option, you can do 2560x1600, though.
System IO and Battery Performance
System IO Benchmarks
Internal Storage Read Test:
Internal Storage Write Test:
ixChariot Network Throughput:
The Lite-On NVMe drive is very impressive, and while it's only 256GB, it's big enough to store the OS and provide a lightning fast experience.
The HDD is decent, comparable to other HDDs in regards to speed.
Networking is solid, the Intel 8265 Wireless AC card used in this notebook is very common in high-performance notebooks.
The battery tests reveal that the 90Wh battery is actually quite good, and even with the more powerful GPU, the notebook fairs better than some of its close competitors.
At idle the notebook is actually pretty cool, but that is partly due to the fan profile, which tends to be a bit aggressive. You can turn down the fan profile as it does get loud when gaming or doing intensive tasks.
The screen gets much warmer than the keyboard, and during very strenuous loads on the CPU, GPU, and FPU (as on the right) the notebook doesn't become uncomfortable.
We see the same thing on the bottom and back of the notebook as we do on the front and top of the notebook, it stays cool at idle and warms up at load. 64C is not the hottest I have seen, but it is still quite warm and is probably only possible when the notebook is plugged in.
The fans can get quite loud in this situation, but they do a good job of pushing off the throttle point for a few extra minutes. I should note that this thermal test was done in worst case synthetic conditions.
What's Hot, What's Not & Final Thoughts
Here are key points about the GIGABYTE P56XT.
GTX 1070 and 7700HQ: NVIDIA's Pascal mobile GPUs are top of the line, and while the GTX 1070 isn't the best Pascal GPU NVIDIA has to offer, it's still an excellent option for gaming. Paired with an i7-7700HQ, the two are well suited for powerful mobile gaming.
ThunderBolt 3: The GIGABYTE P56XT provides one ThunderBolt 3.0 port, which also acts as a normal type-C USB 3.1 port and even DisplayPort. It's a solid port with a wide array of possibilities and up to 40Gb/s of bandwidth, so if the GTX 1070 ever goes out, you can dock to an external GPU.
Dual M.2: While the notebook only comes with a single M.2 drive installed, there is a second M.2 slot empty and ready for another drive using the latest and greatest storage and controller technology.
4K Display: The 15.6" 4K UHD anti-glare IPS display is designed for high resolution viewing of a wide array of content as well as gaming. I like the anti-glare coating on the screen; it seemed quite effective.
RGB Keyboard: The keyboard isn't like your typical RGB LED keyboards as you can actually individually program each key's color. The feature is made possible through addressable (digital) RGB LEDs, rather than traditional RGBs that are controlled in larger groups. The feature also allows for some really neat features, such as a wave of changing colors.
Can get loud: With the GTX 1070 and i7-7700HQ set at high performance when on AC power, the notebook's fans have to keep up, and that means noise. The issue with notebooks is that everyone wants a thinner notebook, and thinner fans are typically less effective. The notebook does have a nice headphone jack to get around this, and the speakers aren't bad either.
The first thing you notice when you open the notebook's display is a pamphlet asking you to write a review on Newegg, Amazon, blogs, or even social media to get a free gift. That is how dedicated GIGABYTE is to improving their notebook lineup, something which they have been doing in the USA for many years. It was only a few years ago that GIGABYTE started selling their notebooks in the states, and since then they have made major improvements to their notebooks, and they have kept up with bigger players.
The P56XT is a perfect example of a solid gaming notebook. While I don't think a GTX 1070 and 7700HQ can play newer games at 4K, you can always shift into 1440P (2K) where 60FPS and above is attainable on the hardware. The newer processors are also the first that will allow you to stream online content such as Netflix in 4K, and that is because of DRM lockdowns. I like how GIGABYTE provided the notebook with a solid 90Wh battery and ThunderBolt 3 port, and the keyboard is also quite impressive.
If you are looking for a high-end gaming notebook that should last you for years, give the P56XT a look.
The Bottom Line: GIGABYTE's P56XT gaming laptop packs the latest in mobile CPU and GPU technology in a slender, sleek, and fully-featured notebook.
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