[Review] Gigabyte P55W v4 - i7-5700HQ & 970M 3GB

Discussion in 'Gigabyte and Aorus' started by Mr Najsman, Sep 27, 2015.

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  1. Mr Najsman

    Mr Najsman Notebook Deity

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    Introduction

    Gigabyte launched the P55W v4 in August 2015 and have been kind enough to send me a review unit. Compared to the older P35-series P55W has a considerably more bulky chassis sitting at between 27-34 mm, P35X is 21 mm. They have also added Broadwell CPU in the form of i7-5700HQ. Considering the P35X had some thermal issues with it´s CPU hopefully these changes makes for a cooler running CPU and more importantly, a CPU holding it´s clocks. A special thanks @D2 Ultima for helping me out with the CPU.

    My specifications:
    Gigabyte P55W v4 - http://www.gigabyte.com/products/product-page.aspx?pid=5458#kf
    15.6” 1080p IPS
    i7-5700HQ 2.7-3.5 GHz
    GTX 970M 3GB
    128 GB SSD + 1 TB 7200 RPM
    8 GB DDR3
    DVD
    Windows 8.1


    Appearance and impressions

    With the dimensions 380x269x27~34 mm and a weight of 2.4 kg this machine is not part of the latest chase for super thin and light. Considering it sports a 970M and is thus also meant for gaming this is a welcome change. Nevertheless it´s not big or bulky by any means, I´d still call it thin and light.

    Gigabyte has made some design changes, most notably the orange trim along the keyboard edges and on the hinges. Coupled with a sleek, black design and some sharp lines this gives it a stealthy, easy recognizable look with just enough color to break of all the black without going overboard on the bling.

    [​IMG]
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    Gigabyte P55W v4

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    P771ZM to the left, P55W to the right

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    From left to right: P771ZM, P150HM, P55W, HP 8440p, HP 840

    The screen is a 15.6 inch IPS with very nice colors and contrast and very little bleeding. I´ll throw in my ususal caveat, I´m no screen pro and I don´t to calibrations. It´s purely subjective opinions out of the box. Basically it´s a nice screen with nothing to complain about.

    The chassis is sturdy and the keyboard is very nice to type on. Gigabyte has increased the key travel to 2,2 mm, coupled with very minor flex this makes for a pleasant typing experience. The chassis itself is dark grey/black plastic prone to fingerprints.

    The inclusion of a VGA-port is a bit surprising. There are 4 USB3-ports, an HDMI and a VGA (along ethernet and audioports). Granted there are still alot of devices around with VGA-connections like projectors in conference rooms. I can only assume this machine is also meant to be able to be used in workrelated scenarios. For private use VGA is becoming severly outdated and a second HDMI or Displayport would be more useful.

    The inclusion of an optical drive is also noteworthy. Yes, it can be nice to have if you are a frequent DVD-user. But it does take up a lot of real estate inside which could be used for improved coling. Speaking of cooling, here´s a look on the inside:

    [​IMG]
    Cooling solution of P55W v4. Image courtesy of Notebookcheck.

    It´s a shared heatpipe system with two coming from the CPU and an additional from the GPU leading to a single fan blowing to the left. Note the DVD on the left (right when turned). Getting rid of that would allow for a second fan, a larger fan, larger heatsinks and/or more heatpipes.

    Gigabyte has included the software Smart Manager which allows for setting fan speed, among other settings. The Fan Tweak has a custom option where the fan can be set to 100%. It does not however ramp up directly. According to Gigabyte support (not to me directly) this is a smart system that only ramps up when needed. I didn´t check the fan speed when gaming and am relying on the Fan Tweak working as intended. I couldn´t get the settings to stick so in order to have it set at 100% it has to be set at every reboot.


    Intel i7-5700HQ

    Time to test the 5700HQ and see if it has inherited Haswell HQs problem with maintaining clockspeed. Some things to note:
    5700HQs 1-core speed and 4-core speed is the same, 3.5 GHz.
    I can´t change Turbo Boost Power in XTU.
    There is no slider in XTU for Processor Current Limit. ThrottleStop reports current limit at 85A.
    The only way I can tweak anything is by undervolting.
    All tests are done with the P55W elevated on a cooler, max fans in Smart Manager and an ambient temp around 25C.

    First up, I use Intel XTU to stress test and undervolt it.

    [​IMG]
    Intel XTU stress test

    Starting out at stock voltage the CPU power throttles down to 3.34 GHz after about 2 minutes of holding its clocks. Undervolting it by -50 mV to 1,097V removes the throttle.

    Max allowed overclock is 200 Mhz to 3.7 GHz. Running this at stock voltage power throttles down to 3.20 GHz. Undervolting it by -30 mV to 1,117 reduces the throttling and the CPU runs at 3.49 GHz at the lowest. Though it held 3.69 GHz for most of the test, it was a single drop.
    Temps are under control in Intel XTU. Highest for all tested scenarios was 84C.

    Next, to see if we can induce current limit throttling, I run Intel XTUs benchmark.

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    Intel XTU benchmark

    There´s no current or thermal throttling but it again power throttles to 3.29 GHz. Undervolting by -50 removes the throttling.

    Another test, this time with gameplay video shot at 50 Mbit/s and rendering it using Handbrake.

    [​IMG]
    Video render using Handbrake

    Not even with an undervolt of -100mV down to 1,047V can I get the CPU running att full speed. Lowest was 3.39 GHz due to power limits.

    In conclusion XTU stress test and benchmark can run at full speed when undervolted, rendering a video cannot. The CPUs locked TDP, probably in combination with a high stock voltage of 1,147V, means it wont current throttle. It power throttles before that.


    Performance

    With newfound understanding of the 5700HQ I move on to performance tests. For this I use:

    3DMark11
    3DMark Firestrike
    Unigine Heaven
    Battlefield 4
    Dying Light
    Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

    Starting with the synthetics I´ll bunch them together since the behaviour is the same in all three.

    [​IMG]
    Synthetic benchmarks

    All three tests are run at stock voltage, -50 mV and -100 mV. In all three programs, regardless of undervolt, max CPU temp reaches 94-96C and it thermal throttles. The amount of throttle is reduced with lower voltage but I can´t get it to run at full speed.

    Moving on to game tests, I played Battlefield 4, Dying Light and Shadow of Mordor on High preset, Best Quality and Very High preset respectively. All games where run on stock voltage, -50 mV and -80mV (except BF4 which was only stable with -50 mV).

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    Gaming framerates


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    Gaming CPU speed

    I was gonna do a chart over max temps as well but regardless of voltage it´s 94-96C for all games, similar to the synthetics.

    In Battlefield 4 the CPU both thermal throttles and power throttles down to 2.59-2.69 GHz. The gameplay is smooth however without stuttering and an avg fps of 55-65.

    Dying Light struts along happily around 50 fps but every now and then the CPU thermal throttles to 800 Mhz and the fps goes sub 20. That drop is very noticeable as can be seen in the videos below.

    Shadow of Mordor is similar to Battlefield 4 in that it thermal throttles but the gameplay is smooth around 45-50 fps. Notice CPU min 1,19 GHz for -80 mV. That´s a onetime drop, it´s mostly between 3.0-3.49 GHz.

    Neither game can run at 3.49 GHz for a full session regardless of voltage.

    I probably also should mention the GTX 970M which has deliberatly been put in the backseat here. By now we know what the 970M is capable of and it doesn´t dissapoint in the P55W. No matter what program or game it´s running full speed with max temp 82C. It´s a little bit high but that´s probably because it´s sharing heat pipes with the 5700HQ.


    Gameplay


    Battlefield 4, High preset, stock voltage


    Battlefield 4, High preset, -50 mV


    Dying Light, Best Quality, -50 mV. Notice the drop at 2.03


    Dying Light, Best Quality, -80 mV. Notice the massive drop at 2.59


    Shadow of Mordor, Very High preset, stock voltage


    Shadow of Mordor, Very High preset, -50 mV


    Shadow of Mordor, Very High preset, -80 mV



    Summary

    Gigabyte P55W v4 is a nice-looking, well built machine with good keyboard and a nice screen. It has one flaw and that can be a dealbreaker for some.

    Does the i7-5700HQ throttle? Yes.

    Does it throttle all the time? No, it is capable of running at 3.5 GHz but the drops are frequent due to thermal and/or power limits.

    Is it noticeable? With the exception of Dying Light, no. You´d need to monitor the values. On the other hand, there are games I didn´t test.

    Does it matter? Very subjective question. If you don´t care about monitoring and want to just pick it up and have decent performance then no. If you care about having the components below 90C and having them running full speed at all times then yes, it does matter. Especially if you plan on doing anything CPU-intensive.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2015
  2. D2 Ultima

    D2 Ultima Livestreaming Master

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    Looking at the cooling solution, I can see why the CPU was doing that, but considering the size is literally almost the same as the P770ZM, I think they could have designed the internal layout better, especially considering how hot Haswell and Broadwell chips are known to be.
     
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  3. rinneh

    rinneh Notebook Prophet

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    They really should have ditched the DVD drive and added a second fan and a larger battery. Very unbalanced machine wth these specs and just 1 fan to cool it all down.
     
  4. D2 Ultima

    D2 Ultima Livestreaming Master

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    I don't even think they needed to... the P170SM had two HDD slots, two mSATA slots and one ODD slot, and was about the same size as the P770ZM. They could have made things fit.
     
  5. rinneh

    rinneh Notebook Prophet

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    Well now it is a bigger machine, with probably a bigger chassis than the P35w V3 but with even worse cooling and less battery life.
     
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