On The Outside
The P34W v3 exudes subtle elegance. Nothing about Gigabyte’s design screams “look at me; I’m packed with gaming hardware.” Rather, the top cover is smooth, black and matte, interrupted only by Gigabyte’s logo in glossy silver and a small strip of dissimilar material at the top. The worst thing we can say is that the surface material is almost impossible to keep clean. Fingerprints show up readily. Then again, if you purchase the P34W v3 through XoticPC, you can buy a textured wrap or custom paint job to rectify this.
Underneath, two grilles are cut into the front of the chassis for audio. Notice that they face down. Gigabyte apparently didn't have a lot of room on the chassis to optimize the P34W v3's audio, so you end up with muddled output that varies quite a bit depending on the surface underneath.
Everything else you see is for ventilation, so you won’t want to block all of those intakes with thick carpet or a bedspread. Five rubberized feet and four plastic tabs elevate the enclosure when it’s on a table. The bottom cover comes off after you remove 15 screws. Or, if you only need access to the platform’s two memory slots, a single screw releases an easy-access panel.
The right side plays host to a power input, two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI output and an SD card reader.
The left includes a Kensington lock, wired Ethernet connectivity, VGA output, two more USB 3.0 ports and a single jack for audio I/O. Space on the two sides is obviously limited, but it would have been nice to see mini-DisplayPort instead of VGA. More gamers are going to want to attach modern secondary displays than old projectors, we imagine.
There is no connectivity up front. Rather, you’ll find five pin-hole LED indicators corresponding to Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, hard drive, battery and power status. Additionally, if you right-click on the touchpad when the P34W is off, those LEDs light up according to the battery’s remaining charge.
The back of Gigabyte’s design features two exhaust vents. A pair of fans just behind those vents blow across two heat pipes, which in turn cover the Core i7 processor and GM204 GPU. Understandably, the air leaving that area gets especially warm.
With its lid open, the P34W v3 retains a clean, simple aesthetic. A pair of hinges hold the top panel securely. Our sample did pop a little when the screen reached the limit of its travel. Otherwise, though, it held position well. Up above the display, you’ll find two microphones, a webcam status indicator, the webcam itself and an ambient light sensor for the panel and keyboard backlights.
You have to push hard on the palm rest to make it flex. Then again, you’ll probably want to use your own USB-attached keyboard and mouse for gaming.
When you don’t have external peripherals handy, you’ll find the backlit keyboard easy to type on. Its keys are spaced nicely, offer just the right amount of travel and click satisfyingly into place. The W, A, S and D keys are bolded for emphasis, a nod to this machine’s gaming purpose. However, the directional keys are asymmetrical—left and right are large, while up and down are tiny. It’s difficult to be precise with them in-game.
It’s hard to imagine using a touchpad for much beyond basic Windows navigation. The P34W v3’s works as expected for this purpose. Use the far left and far right of the click keys to get the best response. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself mashing on them with little travel in return.