Gaming laptops aren’t cheap – and they probably never will be. However, if Computex 2018 is anything to go by, several manufacturers are pushing for a future where affordable gaming laptops are the rule rather than the exception. Gigabyte’s selection of fun-ready portables is the next pair to add to the list, with the Sabre 15 and Sabre 17 delivering top quality gaming action from as little as $999 (around £744).
Gigabyte Sabre 15 and Sabre 17 review: What you need to know
So you want a 15.6in or a 17in gaming laptop? Read on. Sitting underneath the no-holds-barred high-end luxury of Gigabyte’s Aorus ranges you’ll find the Sabre range. These laptops come in both 15.6in and 17.3in variants and now that 2018’s Computex show in Taiwan has rolled around, Gigabyte has given both models a firm kick in the spec list.
Intel’s six-core 8th Gen Core i7-8750H now takes centre stage alongside Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1050, 1050 Ti and 1060 GPUs but while the sky currently isn’t the limit, your overdraft most certainly is.
Depending on the health of that current account you can decide between models with anything up to 16GB of RAM, single 1TB HDDs or laptops with 256GB NVMe drives and HDDs as a backup. And, according to our contacts, versions equipped with Intel’s Optane super-fast storage technology are just around the proverbial corner. These will go under Intel’s new ‘+’ designation, so you can expect Core i7+ to make its debut on the options list at some point.
Gigabyte Sabre 15 and Sabre 17 review: Specifications
- 15.6in or 17.3in 1,920 x 1,080 display, 120Hz, 3ms response time
- Up to Intel Core i7-8750H, Intel HM370 Express, Intel Graphics 630
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050, GeForce GTX 1050 Ti, GeForce GTX 1060
- Up to 32GB RAM
- 2.5in HDD, Optional M.2 NVMe PCIe x4 SSD
- USB 3.1 Gen 2 (Type A), USB 3.1 Gen 2 (Type C), USB 3.1 Gen 1 (Type A), USB 2 (Type A), HDMI (2.0 w/HDCP 2.2), mini DP 1.2, mini DP 1.3, Gigabit Ethernet, 6-in-1 card reader, DC-in jack
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5
- 378 x 267 x 30mm (Sabre 15); 419 x 289 x 30mm (Sabre 17)
- 2.5kg (Sabre 15); 2.8kg (Sabre 17)
Gigabyte Sabre 15 and Sabre 17 review: Features and design
If you’re expecting a few sheets of judiciously hewn metal here and there for that premium look and feel, then you might come away a little bit disappointed. These Sabres are slightly blunted thanks to their all plastic construction.
That’s not to say they look or feel low-rent, though. The overall design has a kind of squat, purposeful look to it, and both laptops feel like they’d shrug off the odd knock on their travels.
If this is all sounding rather bland and boring, though, think again. Suffice to say, if you’re one of those people who just has to have RGB lighting in your life, well, Gigabyte has thought of you: the keyboard has full RGB backlighting. And it doesn’t feel too bad to type on either.
It’s reassuring that the practicalities have been thought through, too. There’s oodles of connectivity, with USB-A and USB-C sockets buddying up alongside both HDMI and mini-DisplayPort video outputs. And where MSI’s GF63 (click here to read our first look review) cut a few corners by opting for HDMI output, which is limited to 4K at 30Hz, Gigabyte has equipped its laptops with full-fat HDMI 2.0 ports and HDCP 2.2.
Whichever model you choose, you’ll find a Full HD matte display up top. The bezels aren’t especially slim, but both panels look pretty impressive up close. Gigabyte quotes a gamut coverage of 94% NTSC, which translates to somewhere around 100% of Adobe RGB, so both panels should provide a wide enough palette of colours to make sure games have plenty of pop and vibrance. I’ve got my fingers crossed that colour accuracy is on song, too.
Gigabyte Sabre 15 and Sabre 17 review: Prices
We haven’t seen UK pricing as yet, but MSI did provide details for a range of US models.
Gigabyte Sabre 15
- GeForce GTX 1050, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD: $999
- GeForce GTX 1050, 8GB, 128GB SATA SSD, 1TB HDD: $1,099
- GeForce GTX 1050, 16GB, 128GB SATA SSD, 1TB HDD: $1,199
- Geforce GTX 1050 Ti, 8GB, 256GB PCIe SSD, 1TB HDD: $1,249
- Geforce GTX 1050 Ti, 16GB, 256GB PCIe SSD, 1TB HDD: $1,349
- GeForce GTX 1060, 16GB, 256GB PCIe SSD, 1TB HDD: $1,449
Gigabyte Sabre 17
- GeForce GTX 1050, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD: $999
- GeForce GTX 1050, 8GB, 128GB SATA SSD, 1TB HDD: $1,199
- GeForce GTX 1050, 16GB, 128GB SATA SSD, 1TB HDD: $1,299
- GeForce GTX 1050i, 8GB, 256GB PCIe SSD, 1TB HDD: $1,349
- GeForce GTX 1050i, 16GB, 256GB PCIe SSD, 1TB HDD: $1,449
- GeForce GTX 1060, 16GB, 256GB PCIe SSD, 1TB HDD: $1,499
Gigabyte Sabre 15 and Sabre 17 review: Early verdict
It’s great to see some more affordable gaming laptops but it’s particularly awesome to see ones with so few compromises. Gigabyte has wisely swapped out luxuries such as metal lids and keyboard surrounds to keep the hardware specifications as beefy as possible.
If you are looking for maximum power with minimum expenditure, then the Sabre 15 and Sabre 17 are shaping up very nicely indeed. Whether you want a rock-bottom price with a GTX 1050 or a powerful portable with the GTX 1060 and Intel’s Optane-boosted Core i7+ platform, you’ll be able to take your pick sometime later this year.
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