Not long ago we reviewed MSI’s Katana 15 – a very popular budget gaming laptop which went on to be our Best Value Laptop overall. Now, here’s the Gigabyte G5 which has almost the same specification and is arguably its direct rival. We incorrectly declared the recent Aero vs Katana the battle of the Taiwan Titans when it wasn’t (the Aero 14 was more of a swanky ultraportable). But, this time we’re somewhat more confident that we might be right on the money. Can Gigabyte snatch a crown from the Katana?
Table of Contents
|Screen||15.6-inch, matte, 144Hz, 1,920 x 1,080, IPS display|
|Processor||3.3-4.5GHz Intel Core i5-12500H CPU|
|Memory||8GB DDR4-3200 RAM|
|Graphics||6GB GDDR6 Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050|
1 x HDMI 2.0
1 x miniDP 1.4
1 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
2 x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2
1 x USB-A 2.0
1 x 2-in-1 3.5mm headphone/mic jack
1 x 3.5mm mic jack
1 x microSD card reader
|Speakers||2 x 2-Watt|
|Extra Security||TPM 2.0 module|
|Dimensions||360 x 227 x 24mm|
Features, Ergonomics and Design
The Gigabyte G5 is a smart-looking, pearl-finished black laptop with some glossy graphics that catch the light in certain conditions. It’s just the right side of smart versus boring and looks somewhat superior than its budget gaming laptop designation.
Opening it up reveals the 15.6-inch, matte, Full HD screen, the smart grey graphics on the trackpad plus, the funky, RGB-backlit keyboard which can change colours. The latter looks particularly cool with its translucent key-cap-sides.
The screen itself is what we’ve come to expect from budget gaming laptops. It’s not the brightest, nor does it have the most vibrant colours, but it still displays a crisp and clear Windows Desktop.
For multimedia, colours might not be as face-meltingly vibrant as OLED, or even premium IPS, displays but they’re functional. Contrast is more limited though with details getting lost in bright and dark areas and dark, true blacks simply don’t exist. There’s light banding in colour transitions which gets blockier in monochromatic transitions, but you’ll be fortunate to see such detailed aberrations in dark content.
The screen has a 144Hz refresh rate which generally keeps fast-moving objects moving smoothly but the slow(ish) pixel response time means that competitive FPS players might blanche at some of the minor ghosting on show. Ultimately, we don’t expect much from a budget gaming laptop’s screen but the Gigabyte G5 passes the important tests.
The Gigabyte G5’s speakers get loud but there’s no bass whatsoever. This can lead to uncomfortable, piercing, screeching-like effects when treble-rich audio hits its maximum. It’s not a deal killer but it can be unpleasant.
The Scrabble-tile keyboard is well-weighted and comfortable to type and game upon for extended periods. It has full-sized arrow keys (yay!) and even a (slightly squished) number pad. There are plenty of media and function shortcuts and it’s excellent for a laptop of this size and price-range.
The trackpad has a funky decal on it and is smooth and accurate to use. Tapping on it produces a bit of a hollow sound (as does clicking the slightly heavy buttons) but it remains usable.
Above the screen is an HD webcam but it had malfunctioned on our model so we couldn’t test it (or the microphone). We’ve already got a 4060 variant in for testing and will update this review accordingly.
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At the end of the day, we’ve nitpicked about the features on offer, but the Gigabyte G5 is fine for everyday interaction and general gaming.
In our Gigabyte G5 photos is a Mockingjay badge
from our time spent battling in The Hunger Games that one of our children doesn’t want anymore.
There are many variants of the Gigabyte G5 but ours had a 3.3 – 4.5GHz Intel Core i5-12500H processor which has four Performance cores and eight Efficiency cores. It’s flanked by just 8GB of DDR4-3200 RAM and a fast-but-small 512GB NVMe hard drive.
These combined to score 6,434 in the general-computing-modeled PCMark 10 test which is above average an impressive for a Core i5 processor.
In the Cinebench CPU rendering tests, it (naturally) fell back a little, scoring 1,958 in the R15 drag race test and 11,707 in the longer, R23 test. While these are slightly below-average scores (for the industry), although you might have to wait a little longer for workloads to complete, these are still very usable results.
3D is handled by Nvidia’s potentially impressive GeForce RTX 4050 GPU (with 6GB of GDDR RAM). While we’ve seen this hobbled on thin laptops like the G5’s sibling Aero 14, we didn’t expect it to be restricted here. As we’ve seen lately, these graphics chips are not without power compared to the previous 30-series (largely due to Nvidia’s DLSS 3 AI-upscaling technology), so we were keen to see how it fared.
In the difficult, 3Dmark ray-tracing tests, the Gigabyte G5 scored 1,897 in Speed Way and 4,552 in Port Royal. These scores equate to 19fps and 21fps respectively. While these aren’t playable framerates, they illustrate that, if you drop the settings and the resolution, you’ll still be able to get some eye-candy-laced performance out of the most difficult titles.
In the AAA-title-a-like game tests, Time Spy and Fire Strike Extreme, the Gigabyte G5 scored 7,904 (average 48.4fps) and 9,381 (average 43.3fps) respectively, which show it is a capable games machine – although, again, you’ll likely need to drop some detail and resolution settings in games where performance can plummet when things get hectic.
In 3Dmark Night Raid, which mimics casual and competitive games, the Gigabyte G5 scored 42,914 (average 432fps) illustrating it has no issues here.
Finally, in our old, CS:GO test, which stresses the whole system, the Gigabyte Aero 14 OLED averaged 199fps for the whole test and 73fps for the 1% Low test – the slowest one per cent of frames when smoke grenades and everything are going nuts. That’s impressive and underlines the Gigabyte Aero 14 OLED’s genuine gaming credentials.
Note, we’re aware that Counter Strike 2 has just launched. It’s designed to be dramatically more optimised than CS:GO but that might not make it a great test for benchmarking – at least not in the same way. We shall monitor the situation.
Cooling and Noise
In terms of cooling. The Gigabyte G5 employs two, “59-blade fans” plus four heat pipes and four exhaust vents. It certainly helps keep the system cool generally quiet but it can still get a little warm if the fans are running slowly (where they produce a minor, low, whoosh). You can set them to maximum where they’ll generated a constant, robust whoosh but it will cool everything down well. It’s all automatically handled well by the Gigabyte Control Center app and we had few issues with heat and noise in this area (not portability, see below).
Inside, there’s Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 wireless connectivity. It’s a very impressive complement although we’d like to see HDMI 2.1 in this day and age.
Portability and Battery Life
The Gigabyte G5 weighs a reasonable 2.1KG and comes with a 467g power brick. That’s slightly lighter than other ‘competitors’similarly sized’ rivals.
The main chassis is very solid, but the lid doesn’t quite follow suit in that it can flex a fair bit when a twisting force is applied and we wouldn’t want to bash it. The hinges are ‘OK’ but the screen can wobble a bit when knocked. It’s not a deal breaker though.
The 54Wh battery isn’t huge but it still managed to run our PCMark 10 Modern Office battery test for 7 hours and 58 minutes – that’s a full day out of the office. In reality, though, we found that if you’re doing any workload that sets the fans spinning (even lightly), it can rundown much faster: so be prepared to take the power brick and cables with you.
Price and Availability
The Gigabyte G5 MF retails at $1,899 but is currently on sale at just
$1,199 $1,398 (for the more-powerful 4060 version). Note that there are many variants with slightly different components. Ours has an SKU of: MF-E2AU333SH.
At full price, it has a Value score of 4.9 Stars but, on sale, it takes over from MSI’s Katana 15 for being, not just our Best Value Gaming Laptop, but our Best Value Laptop overall!
Alternatives to the Gigabyte G5
MSI Katana 15 – MSI’s direct rival has very similar specs but is slightly better in terms of performance, build quality and ergonomics. If it’s on sale when the G5 isn’t, it will return to being the budget gaming laptop to buy.
Gigabyte Aero 14 OLED – This ultraportable sibling has an under-powered 4050 but comes with many premium features. It’s not without its foibles though.
MSI Pulse 17 – It’s two-inches bigger and its more powerful. But, it costs a fair amount more (when not on sale, too).
MSI Cyborg 15 – A step up in power… and price.
Acer Nitro 5 – It’s more expensive but more powerful. If you’re lucky you can find it in a sale.
Acer Predator Helios Neo – Much more expensive but much more powerful.
Lenovo Legion Pro 5i – Dramatically more powerful and, though it’s more expensive, it’s still on sale at a slashed price.
Conclusion: Should you buy the Gigabyte G5?
If you’re in the market for a budget gaming laptop or an all-round, powerful budget laptop in general, the Gigabyte G5 makes an excellent choice. The Katana 15 is slightly better, but even it can’t match the value on show, here. While we’re no fans of the speakers, few people will find fault with this winner.
Best value available
Cool and quiet
Lid isn’t strong
Screen isn’t the brightest
Gigabyte G5 Results
Its retail price makes the Gigabyte G5 a great-value laptop but, when on sale, it becomes the Best Value Gaming Laptop (or any kind of laptop) that we’ve seen.