Hardware Overview and CPU Performance
Inside the Gigabyte P34W v5 is a decent selection of hardware, which starts with the new Intel Core i7-6700HQ. This is a Skylake CPU, built on a 14nm processor, from the performance 'HQ' segment of Intel's line-up. As such, it features four cores and eight threads, with 6 MB of L3 cache and a TDP of 45W. It's clocked at 2.6 GHz across all four cores, with Turbo speeds of 3.5, 3.3 and 3.1 GHz in single, dual and quad core configurations respectively.
The 6700HQ isn't the top-of-the-line mobile SKU from Intel - you can get higher-clocked variants that go right up to the 2.9 GHz (3.8 GHz Turbo) i7-6920HQ - but these are typically pricier. However, the main advantage of the i7-6700HQ over a U-series part like the Core i7-6600U is the jump from two to four cores, which provides a significant boost in performance in games and other high-performance workloads.
The P34W v5 is equipped with either 8 or 16 GB of DDR4 memory, and in the model I received to review, I got 16 GB. This isn't a huge amount of RAM, as there are some laptops out there with upwards of 32 GB of RAM, but for all gaming workloads 16 GB should suffice. 8 GB, on the other hand, might be a little slim for some games that make heavy use of high-resolution textures, especially those coming out in the next few years.
On the GPU side, the P34W v5 comes with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M, which is a 28nm Maxwell GM204-based part that's over a year old now. However, in the absence of new GPUs from Nvidia for the time being, the 970M is the third-fastest mobile chip they make, with a TDP of 75W and raw performance around the level of the desktop GTX 960. The GPU features 1280 CUDA cores, 80 TMUs and 48 ROPs, with a core clock speed of 924 MHz that boosts to at least 993 MHz.
The GTX 970M in the P34W v5 is equipped with 3 GB of GDDR5 memory at 5,012 MHz on a 256-bit bus, providing 120 GB/s of bandwidth. 3 GB of frame buffer is slim for current-gen games that can use upwards of 4 GB with high-res textures, so I'd have preferred to see Nvidia support 4 GB with the 970M. That said, for a discrete laptop card, 3 GB should usually be fine.
For storage, the Gigabyte P34W v5 gets an SSD+HDD combo: 256 GB of Samsung M.2 PCIe SSD goodness, as well as a HGST 1 TB 7,200 RPM hard drive. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity is provided through an Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260 chip, which provided excellent performance in my testing.
The Skylake Core i7-6700HQ provided no surprises in our CPU encoding benchmarks, coming in roughly 6% faster than the last-gen Core i7-4710HQ. This isn't a huge jump in performance, but it's in line with Intel's usual speed boosts going from one generation to the next. Bigger jumps come in memory bandwidth, although for the past several generations there has been no issue with memory performance.