The new iteration of the Gigabyte G5 feels every bit a budget gaming laptop, save for two things. The first is build quality. It’s sleek and robust, with a premium-feeling touchpad and a sturdy chassis. The second, and the most important, is the monster performance of the new RTX 4060 graphics card: you get 60 frames per second in the most demanding games at their highest settings, including Cyberpunk 2077.
The G5 is one of the first laptops to get the RTX 4060. It performs far better than the older RTX 3060 and in some cases it outstrips the more expensive, more-powerful RTX 3070, which is quite remarkable. It also supports a feature called Frame Generation, the new bleeding edge bit of graphics wizardry made possible by Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) AI tech, though it’s only supported in a limited number of games so far. In testing, Frame Generation gave me an extra 25-30 fps, which can be the difference between a game that’s passably playable and buttery smooth. It’s a marvel.
Gigabyte G5 (2023) – Photos
Paying a shade more than £1,000/$1,000 for performance like that is reason enough to look past this laptop’s drawbacks, namely its bad speakers, older i5 CPU, and middling 15.6-inch 1080p screen. Of course, you might want to hold off until we’ve reviewed a few other RTX 4060 laptops, most notably the updated version of the Asus TUF Dash F15, which was our pick for the best budget gaming laptop and one of the best gaming laptops overall.
Before I jump into the review proper, a note of caution.
The US version of this laptop ($1,099) only has 8GB of RAM, compared to 16GB in the UK version (£1,199) that I reviewed. If your aim is to play the most recent games at ultra settings, then 8GB might not be enough. For example, Call of Duty Warzone recommends 12GB of RAM, or 16GB for a high frame rate. Memory-intensive games may stutter (and some US reviewers have reported this happening on the 8GB model).
Gigabyte says that it has no plans to sell the 16GB version in the US. That’s a real disappointment, and it makes it hard for me to outright recommend a purchase – unless you’re comfortable popping the case off and slotting in some RAM you’ve purchased separately, which will give the machine more longevity. It’s a fine workaround – just make sure you factor the extra cost in.
Gigabyte G5 – Design and Features
The G5’s design is subtle and simple: all black everything. When closed, the only signs that this is a gaming laptop are the lightly textured pattern on one corner of the lid, the small Gigabyte logo on the back, and the triangle ventilation gaps on the rear and sides. When you open it, it’s again pleasingly restrained, with thin bezels around both the keyboard and screen. I didn’t look out of place taking it to work in a coffee shop.
It’s not the lightest or smallest laptop, but those thin bezels keep it relatively compact, and it fits neatly in my small backpack. It helps that the 150W charging brick is miniature, to the point where I worried, by looking at it, that it wouldn’t keep up with the demands of the components inside the laptop (it did).
The laptop’s plastic frame has a matte finish that you might mistake for aluminum, and it feels reassuringly sturdy. The hinges keep the screen locked firmly in place and the base of the laptop is rigid – I could pick it up one-handed without worrying about it bending.
The keyboard has a full set of function keys and a number pad, which you don’t get in all 15.6-inch laptops. It’s a clever use of space. The keys themselves feel a bit cheap, and they’ll wiggle in place if you push on their corners, but that’s expected for a laptop at this price.
The customizable RGB backlighting is not very bright, and your options are limited to picking a solid color and adjusting the brightness – but not many laptops at this price offer it, so count it as a bonus.
The touchpad is one of the best I’ve tried on a budget rig. It feels more like glass than any other plastic ones I’ve tested – it glides well and responds instantly to taps. I wish the touchpad button clicks were quieter, but it’s not annoying once you get used to it.
Gigabyte makes use of the back of the laptop to give you all the ports you’d expect at this price, including HDMI, a Mini DisplayPort, two USB type-A and two USB type-C ports, an ethernet port, and a MicroSD card reader. I would’ve perhaps liked an additional USB A slot because with just two, you can’t plug in a mouse, headset, and USB microphone at the same time. But then again, you can always use a USB hub, and having two USB C ports is generous, allowing you to connect multiple phones – or even multiple hubs – at once. The only notable absence is a Thunderbolt 4 port, but most laptops at this range don’t have one.
I like that the charger plugs into the back, because it means the cable is far out of the way of any mouse or other peripheral you want to plug into the side of the machine.
The display is nothing special. Its 144hz refresh rate makes playing games at high frame rates feel zippy and responsive, but everything else is about average for the price point. Colors aren’t noticeably rich or vibrant and the brightness is one notch below ideal: the matte coating stops light sources glaring against it but it’s still practically unusable in direct sunlight. While playing a few rounds of Overwatch 2 on a desk facing a window, I could see my white t-shirt reflected back on the screen, even at full brightness, which was distracting.
Budget IPS displays will outperform it in this regard, such as the one on the Asus TUF Dash F15. But that doesn’t mean it’s a terrible screen – it’s just fine.
If the display is about what you’d expect, the speakers come up short. I tried playing music, podcasts, and games, and everything sounded off. Voices echo and boom unrealistically, as if their bass has been cranked artificially, and busy music tracks sound flat. But it wasn’t so bad that it ruined watching TV shows or films, and besides, I play most of my games with earbuds or a headset on.
Gigabyte G5 – Software
Gigabyte usually avoids pre-packing unnecessary programs and the new Gigabyte G5 is thankfully no exception, shipping with a sole Control Center app in which you can flip between different performance modes, control the fan, set up keyboard macros and customize the RGB keyboard lighting.
It’s a no-frills system that doesn’t explain itself well, making it a bit confusing at first.
The keyboard macro system is robust, allowing you to use a single key to mimic a string of inputs, but it’s fiddly because the setup screen is cluttered. And while it’s handy to change performance modes with a few clicks, the app doesn’t really tell you what the four options – performance, entertainment, power saver and quiet – actually do. It also lacks a ‘balanced’ or ‘normal’ mode to comfortably act as a default setting.
It does at least let you switch between modes by pressing the Function and 3 keys together, which you’ll want to do often, because trying to run demanding games on anything other than performance mode turns the G5 into a spluttering mess. And when you stop playing, you’ll want to switch modes to save battery.
Gigabyte G5 – Performance and Gaming
The laptop’s RTX 4060 is impressive. It tore through every game I threw at it with fluid, stable frame rates at the highest settings. In the demanding Forza Horizon 5, for example, the in-game benchmark ran at an average FPS of 81, which is what you can expect from some laptops sporting RTX 3070s. That reflected what I got while roaming around the game, and I never saw any slowdown.
For less demanding games you can expect framerates nearing 100 or above, and the G5’s 144Hz refresh rate captures all of them. I played a lot of Overwatch 2 and didn’t notice one instance of stuttering, screen tearing, slowdown or input delay, even in the most intense firefights.
The i5 CPU is from the previous generation. A PCMark 10 Benchmark score of less than 6000 demonstrates that this isn’t the laptop for intensive multitasking or video editing – but it’s fine for this price, and the CPU is fast enough to not bottleneck the RTX 4060, which is the most important thing when you’re gaming. Under normal usage outside of games, the laptop never struggled with running different programs at once or sifting through tons of Chrome tabs.
In the benchmarks above you can see how the G5 compares to last generation’s RTX 3060 (though it’s worth noting that we updated our benchmark suite in the time since we tested last-gen laptops, so there are some scores missing for those. We also haven’t tested any other new-gen RTX 4060 laptops, so I’ve included the higher-end 4090 and 4080s that we have tested for compsarison.
It’s also important to remember that I was reviewing the 16GB RAM version of the Gigabyte G5, and not the 8GB version currently available in the US. I can’t vouch for the performance of the lower-RAM version. Generally, 8GB is fine for modern games, but if you want a reliable machine that will last a few years, you should purchase this with an additional RAM stick that you install yourself. You’ll find lots of tutorials online.
The headline feature of the RTX 4000 family is Frame Generation, a new bit of Nvidia tech that uses AI to create new frames and insert them between the frames you’d normally see, effectively boosting the frame rate.
I was skeptical, but now I’m sold.
I tested Frame Generation in Cyberpunk 2077, one of the most graphically demanding games available today. Without Frame Generation, at the highest possible settings with ray-tracing and DLSS turned on, I got a perfectly playable benchmark test of 60 FPS. When I was actually doing missions and roaming Night City myself, the frame rate occasionally dipped into the 40s, but mostly stayed in the 50s or above. That’s not the absolute smoothest, but it’s impressive for Ultra settings on a laptop that costs just over $1,000.
With Frame Generation, those numbers rocketed. I benchmarked at 90 FPS – a full 30 more than my previous test. When I was playing the game and flicking Frame Generation on-and-off, it reliably gave me a 25 to 30 FPS boost.
The same was true in Hitman 3. At the highest settings, I hit an impressive 70 FPS on a test in the stunning Dubai mission. I’d be happy with that on its own – but with Frame Generation I averaged more than 100 FPS on the same test.
Getting 90 fps in Cyberpunk 2077 and 100 fps on Hitman 3 is unheard of in a gaming laptop at this price, at least it was before the 40-series GPUs hit the market. Indeed, those figures compare favorably to last generation’s more powerful RTX 3070 cards in other laptops, and look more like something you’d get from the even-more-powerful desktop versions of that card.
Admittedly, you’re relying on a lot of AI trickery to get there, with both DLSS and Frame Generation – but a frame’s a frame, and it looks and feels as good as it sounds.
Now that I’m done gushing, I have a few caveats.
First, Frame Generation is only available in 50 or so games, so you shouldn’t think of it as a permanent frame boost across everything you play. It’s up to Nvidia and developers to decide whether to implement it, and there’s no guarantee of that for any of the upcoming games you’re most looking forward to.
Second, some reviewers have reported UI problems with Frame Generation. It appears that some of the AI-generated frames don’t perfectly match up with the in-game frames, causing flickering of text or icons that’s sometimes noticeable in real-time (but sometimes only when you play clips back in slow motion). I must admit that I didn’t notice anything like that in testing, plus the tech is still in its infancy and will be improved. But it’s worth mentioning nonetheless.
The final thing to note is that, by its nature, Frame Generation gives more lag between your input and things happening on screen. To counter that, Nvidia has yet another piece of tech – Nvidia Reflex. It appears to have worked: in Cyberpunk 2077 I didn’t notice any delays at all. But the real test will be when Frame Generation, currently only in single player games, arrives in competitive shooters such as Valorant or Overwatch, where every millisecond matters.
Having spent time with Frame Generation, these caveats aren’t enough to turn me off, and the promise of more games to come makes me think an RTX 4060 laptop is a good investment.
And the fact remains that, even without Frame Generation, the Gigabyte G5 is still a workhorse. On the 3DMark Time Spy gaming performance benchmark, the laptop scored 9402 (higher is better). That’s more than, for example, the more expensive Gigabyte Aorus 15G, with its (last-gen) RTX 3070 Max-Q card. And it blows the older Asus TUF Dash F15 out of the water.
The question, therefore, isn’t whether the new batch of RTX 4060 laptops are worth an upgrade – judging by the G5, they are. It’s whether the G5 is the one to get.
I don’t doubt that we’ll soon get comparable machines with newer CPUs, more vibrant displays or 16GB RAM in all models. But at this price point, other laptops are likely to be only small steps above the G5 – and everything about it is good enough for me to recommend it. That’s provided you can find the 16GB or you’re happy to upgrade, of course.
Gigabyte G5 – Battery life
The battery life was solid but not spectacular. As in all IGN reviews, I used PCMark 10’s Modern Office battery test, which simulates normal laptop usage outside of gaming. On the most neutral power settings – including 50% screen and keyboard backlight brightness – the Gigabyte G5 ran for 4 hours and 41 minutes. That places it bang in the mid-range for gaming laptops. You could push that further by using battery saving mode, which I found didn’t slow down the laptop too much for browsing the internet or doing normal work.
Clearly, gaming will drain the battery rapidly. I wouldn’t recommend playing without the cable plugged in or when using any mode other than Performance.