P35X v3 Hardware And Software
The P35X v3’s left edge includes a Kensington lock slot, gigabit Ethernet port, dual USB 2.0 ports, audio jacks and an SD card interface. Gigabyte skips the single-plug headset connector requirement of Lenovo’s notebook and uses old-fashioned headphone/microphone jacks instead.
Power, USB 3.0 and display outputs are found on the right edge. It’s completely possible to connect three displays via DisplayPort, HDMI and VGA, but the “Surround” option doesn’t come up in Nvidia’s driver. Though present in MSI’s previous-generation Dominator notebook reviews, the companies we talked to claimed to have never seen it implemented on a notebook, pointed to Nvidia’s own documentation as proof that this was a desktop-only feature and questioned why anyone would even want it. MSI has officially extended this feature to current-generation Dominator notebooks, so we’ll wait for that vendor's response in the form of a review sample.
A small removable panel on the bottom of Gigabyte’s P35X v3 allows memory upgrades, though the version we received is already maxed out with 8GB in each of its two slots. Servicing the drives requires completely removing the bottom.
Though we’d previously conceded that there simply wasn’t enough space inside Lenovo’s Y50-70 to add an optical drive, Gigabyte did just that in its even thinner P35X v3. Front-loading isn’t convenient when the unit’s in your lap, but most people rarely open these any longer. Gigabyte made sure to tuck the eject button in safely and require a firm push so that it doesn’t accidentally eject when used in this orientation.
The P35X v3 also includes an optical bay adapter for 2.5" HDD/SSD drives, along with the AC adapter, documentation and DVD playback software. While the adapter tray could assist us in retrieving data from the drive of the notebook we're replacing, we'd love to see Gigabyte offer a secondary battery to fill that space.
Inside we find answers to the question of how Gigabyte fits so many features into so little space. The entire motherboard is about the size of a large desktop graphics card, and includes both a CPU and GPU soldered-on. The trick here is the technology; Intel and Nvidia put their greatest efforts into optimizing the efficiency of their most modern architectures. A second layer of components includes the DRAM slots, the Wi-Fi/BT combo on mini-PCIe, two 128GB mSATA drives in RAID 0 and the heat pipe arrangement for that special CPU/GPU combination.
Thicker components like the 2.5” HDD, slim ODD and 75.81Wh battery are crowded into the P35X v3’s palm rest. The cooling fans fit through holes in the circuit board.
Seen in this article’s lead image, the P35X v3 welcomes users with a “Smart USB Backup” prompt. This sounds like a good idea, since the recovery image partition is striped across an mSATA “RAID 0” array.
Available exclusively from the start menu, Gigabyte “Smart Manager” provides easy access to ordinary functions, such as volume control, airplane mode and power profiles.
Dolby Digital Plus provides a variety of audio equalizer modes for different types of applications. Other enhancements include virtual surround sound, dialog enhancement and volume leveler. Those last two features are excellent for action movies that use low-volume dialog to trick viewers into cranking the knob, only to blast them a few seconds later with super-loud music at the next scene.
Gigabyte LAN Optimizer provides packet prioritization similar to that of the third-party applications used by Gigabyte’s competitors.