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Gigabyte U2442 – the Ultrabook with powerful Nvidia graphics

GeForce GT640m in a 14in ultra-portable? Yes please

Although it’s great to have the lightest Ultrabook in the world, see our Gigabyte X11 – Hands on with the carbon fibre Ultrabook. Gigabyte is also hoping to entice gamers to the form factor with the soon to launch U2442.

It’s a 14in Ultrabook with an Nvidia GeForce GT 640M dedicated graphics card squeezed inside, which should be able to handle modern games at high detail settings. We took a look at an early sample at Gigabyte’s launch event this afternoon.

At 1.6kg and 18mm thick throughout, it’s not the thinnest Ultrabook around, but there’s plenty of room for connectivity – two USB3 ports, two regular USBs, twin 3.5mm audio jacks, HDMI and VGA video out, an SD card reader and an Ethernet port makes a comprehensive list.

Gigabyte U2442

The chassis is built from a combination of brushed metal and plastic, which certainly looks every bit as sleek as we would expect from a premium Ultrabook. There was a little bit of give in the screen, but not a significant amount – there was very little to complain about in terms of design and build quality.

A full-size Chiclet style keyboard, large touchpad (with separate physical buttons, now a rarity) and a 16:9, 1,600×900 display await underneath the lid. 1,600×900 is quickly becoming the norm for premium Ultrabooks, striking a great balance between extra detail and legibility, so it’s great to see the same here. It appeared to be using a TN panel, as viewing angles were only average. The glossy finish might prove troublesome in bright light, but it at least made colours look vibrant during our preview session.

Gigabyte U2442

The full-size keyboard was comfortable to type on, even though it had a non-UK standard layout (which should change for the UK release). There’s a good amount of travel in each key, and it’s fully backlit, so you’ll be able to work in the dark without having to break out a torch to see the keys. We were happy to see the touchpad was made of smooth plastic, rather than the ultra-sensitive glass used in the Carbon Fibre X11, as it’s far easier to use, and the touchpad buttons might use a rocker bar but are still responsive without having a major dead zone in the middle.

Gigabyte is working on three different versions of the U2442 – the base model will have a Core i5-3210M running at 2.5GHz, 2 or 4GB of RAM, a basic 1,366×768 display and a 128GB mSATA SSD. We were more interested in the mid-range model, which has the higher resolution screen, and there’s also a top-spec Core i7 version that also has room for a mechanical hard disk for multimedia storage. We would expect performance and battery life to be roughly the same as other Ultrabooks currently on the market, although we’ll have to wait until we get one in our labs before knowing for sure.

Gigabyte U2442

The main reason to get excited about the U2442 is its dedicated GeForce GT 640M graphics card. We’ve yet to see this mid-range chip in action, having only tried the less powerful GT 630M, but based on what we saw at the event you should be able to play modern games at reasonable detail settings, and older ones at maximum detail.

If portable gaming sounds like your thing, you don’t have long to wait – the U2442 will be available in UK stores from September. Gigabyte expects prices to start from £1,019, but naturally you might find it cheaper by shopping around. We’ll be sure to bring you a full review once we’ve managed to get one in the building, so check back in a few weeks for a more in-depth look.

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