Gigabyte X11 review
Slim, light and surprisingly powerful, but ergonomic problems and heat issues put paid to the X11’s aspirations
Review Date: 22 Oct 2012
Reviewed By: Mike Jennings
Price when reviewed: £833 (£1,000 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
The usual suspects have unveiled dozens of Ultrabooks since Intel debuted the brand last year, and now more surprising names are starting to get in on the action. Gigabyte, better known for its graphics cards and motherboards, is the latest to hop aboard the thin-and-light bandwagon with its 11.6in Ultrabook, the X11.
This is by far the lightest Ultrabook we’ve come across, at 984g, and it’s also one of the slimmest. The front edge tapers to a wafer-thin 3mm at its thinnest point, and it’s a mere 16.5mm thick when closed – half a millimetre thinner than even Apple’s MacBook Air 11.6in.
Gigabyte has got the weight down by constructing the X11 almost entirely from sheets of carbon fibre. As well as making for an extremely light laptop this lends the X11 a particularly fetching look, with the carbon fibre weave more reminiscent of a sports car or high-end road bike than a laptop.
It isn’t all good news, though. Gigabyte’s quest for the world’s thinnest and lightest Ultrabook has seen build quality fall by the wayside. There’s a lot of flex in the 4mm thin lid, and the base is similarly malleable, twisting to and fro all too easily. It’s absolutely no match for the MacBook Air’s aluminium chassis, or any of the metal-clad Ultrabooks we’ve seen.
The poor build quality affects ergonomics, too. The squishy base beneath the keyboard gets it off to a bad start, and the small cursor keys and single-height Enter key mean the layout is more fiddly than we’d like. The spacebar often failed to recognise our presses no matter how firm, and the typing action across the rest of the keyboard is imprecise and uncomfortable. The trackpad is no better. It has integrated buttons, which have a positive click, but the rest of its smooth surface provided inconsistent cursor control and occasionally failed entirely to respond.
We have no complaints about what’s inside the X11, though. The 2GHz Core i7-3667U is Intel’s top-end low-voltage Core i7 chip, and it flexed its might in our benchmarks, scoring 0.75, enough to outpace both the 0.71 scored by the Sony VAIO Duo 11 and the 0.68 of the Apple MacBook Air 11.6in. If there’s a downside to the nippy Core i7, it’s battery life - it lasted for only six hours in our light-use benchmark.
Properly done, CF can produce a chassis which has amazing torsional stiffness; far in excess of aluminium. That's why every car on the F1 grid has a CF "tub" to which everything else is bolted.
Clearly Gigabyte should have had a word with McLaren before designing the X11.
By wittgenfrog on 22 Oct 2012
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