Benchmarks And Conclusion
For testing, we used synthetic benchmarks including PCMark 8 and 3DMark Fire Strike, Unigine Valley and GFXBench. We also ran the in-game tools from Bioshock Infinite because it stresses the CPU and Metro: Last Light Redux for its GPU-intensive test.
We compared Gigabyte's P55Wv5 to other recently-reviewed gaming laptops, including the similarly-equipped Asus G752VT and Doghouse Mobius ES. Both feature the same Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor and Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M graphics card, but they have different storage and memory configurations. We also compared it to the Acer Predator 15 and Lenovo Y700-15 Touch to see how more robust (the Predator 15 has a 980M GPU and 32GB of memory) and lesser-equipped systems (the Lenovo Y700-15 Touch employs a GTX 960M) stack up.
Synthetic Benchmark – PCMark 8
Gigabyte's decision to arm the P55W with a single 8GB DDR4 module seems to adversely affect the PCMark 8 benchmarks. Although it's only dinged slightly in the Home test compared to the other GTX 970M-equipped laptops, the P55W's Creative and Work results fall to even the lower-end Lenovo Y700-15 Touch.
Synthetic Benchmark – 3DMark Fire Strike
The P55Wv5 finishes behind the other Core i7-6700HQ- and GeForce GTX 970M-equipped laptops in 3DMark Fire Strike, though the difference is negligible. Otherwise, it falls right where it should, higher than the Y700-15 Touch and lower than the GTX 980M-equipped Predator 15.
Synthetic Benchmark – GFXBench
We used GFXBench 4.0's built-in battery test to see how long Gigabyte's P55Wv5 can game untethered from a wall socket. The benchmark loops a graphically demanding scene 30 times and records the frames rendered and battery levels, generating two scores: the frames rendered (and average) of the lowest test run and estimated battery life in minutes. We run the test with the screen brightness at 100 percent with LED keyboard lighting turned off.
Gigabyte's 63Wh six-cell battery performs as expected given the hardware it's driving, yielding an estimated 137 minutes of battery life.
Synthetic Benchmark – Unigine Valley
Once again, the P55Wv5 performs as you'd expect it to, landing within a few points of the other laptops sporting the same processor and GPU. Of course, Acer's Predator 15 fares better with its GTX 980M, while the GTX 960M-equipped Lenovo Y700-15 Touch trails the pack.
Gaming Benchmark – Bioshock Infinite
Although Asus' G752VT demonstrates lower peak frame rates and higher minimums, its average falls below the Gigabyte P55Wv5, which performs more like the Doghouse Mobius ES. However, these variances are within a reasonable tolerance, and the average frame rates fall exactly where they should (at the same level as the G752VT and Mobius ES, below the Predator 15 and above the Y700-15 Touch).
Gaming Benchmark – Metro: Last Light Redux
Gigabyte's P55Wv5 performs reasonably well for a GTX 970M-equipped laptop in the Metro: Last Light Redux benchmark on its most demanding settings at 1080p. It achieves higher peak frame rates than both the Asus G752VT and Doghouse Mobius ES, but lands between those two competitors in minimum and average frame rates.
Gigabyte's P55Wv5 certainly crams high-performance hardware into a 15.6-inch chassis for a reasonable price. However, shortcuts taken on the memory and storage configurations will likely dissuade seasoned enthusiasts. Fortunately, Gigabyte also offers M.2 NVMe SSDs and more RAM on some of its other models to satisfy power users who feel the company's entry-level component choices aren't adequate for mobile gaming.
Gaining access to the memory slots isn't simple; there are no easy-access panels, and the entire chassis must be disassembled in order to attempt a DIY upgrade. It's a good thing that Gigabyte also sells the SL3, a 16GB version of the P55Wv5 with two channels of DDR4, for $200 more. We realize that value-oriented laptops that also pack performance hardware are going to make some compromises, but it's disappointing that the entry-level model suffers such a notable limitation.
Despite the stunted memory setup of this particular review unit, Gigabyte's P55Wv5 performs admirably in gaming tests and provides an enjoyable 1080p experience at high settings. The system is quiet under load, and the display is vibrant with exceptional viewing angles. The battery life is merely average. The P55Wv5 is sleek, powerful and affordable, the way a gaming laptop should be.