Solid overall performance ; Colorful, eye-catching design; Thin and light; Runs cool
Keyboard a bit cramped; Small, awkward touchpad; Below-average battery life without extended battery;
Gigabyte's 14-inch M2432 laptop offers solid performance in a sleek and colorful design, but the ergonomics and graphics performance fall behind the competition.
Seeking to provide serious multimedia chops in a thin and light laptop, the Gigabyte M2432 has a sleek, attention-grabbing design. And this notebook backs up those good looks with Core i5 power and an optional extended battery that you can swap for the optical drive when you need more juice. But is that enough for this $1,049 system to compete against the bigger brands?
Editor's Note: While the overseas version of the Gigabyte M2432 has an optional docking station that adds discrete Nvidia graphics, the company has decided not to make that accessory available in the U.S.
The M2432's interior is a bit more traditional, a silver deck surrounding a black matte keyboard deck.
At 12.9 by 9.1 inches, the 4-pound M2432 has a smaller footprint than both the 4.4-pound, 13.2-by-9.2-inch Dell XPS 14z and the 4-pound, 13.1-by- 9-inch Samsung Series 5. However, at 1 inch thick, the M2432 is a hair thicker than both units. The M2432 also picks up an additional 0.2 pounds when you swap the optical drive for the extended battery.
Keyboard and Touchpad
We took more issue with the relatively small 2.8-by- 1.6-inch Synaptics touchpad, which isn't centered under the G and H keys and instead is off to the right. While we liked how the dimpled touchpad felt under our fingers, multitouch gestures were hit or miss. Two-finger scroll consistently delivered fast, smooth motion as did three-finger press, which launched our designated shortcut.
We also weren't fond of the single mouse bar, but it was snappy and responsive.
Display and Audio
The Gigabyte M2432's 14-inch 1366 x 768 LED backlit display delivered rich colors with just a hint of graininess. Its measured brightness of 200 lux was comfortably above the thin-and-light average (169 lux), as well as other entertainment-focused notebooks as the HP Pavilion dm4 Beats Edition (177 lux).
When we watched the 1080p YouTube trailer of "The Hunger Games," we saw rich green foliage along with vibrant magentas and brilliant reds. Katniss Everdeen's blue eyes consistently popped against the backdrop. However, there was a pervasive graininess that took away from some of the color and detail. The viewing angles were a bit limited, so images washed out if we weren't directly in front of the display.
After streaming a full-screen Hulu video for 15 minutes, the touchpad measured a pleasant 78 degrees Fahrenheit. The space between the G and H keys and the underside of the notebook measured a comfortable 85 and 86 degrees respectively. We consider anything about 95 degrees uncomfortable, so the Gigabye M2432 is relatively cool.
Ports and Webcam
The M2432's 1.3 megapixel camera can capture stills and video in 1280 x 1024 using the AmCap software. During a Skype call, our caller said we appeared dull and washed out. While we heard clear audio without any lag, our caller said we sounded hollow.
Users will have no problem performing everyday tasks with the Gigabyte M2432's 2.5-GHz Intel Core i5-2520M processor and 4GB of RAM. The notebook scored 2,223 on PCMark 07, 181 points above the 2,081 thin-and-light average. The Dell XPS 14z and its 2.8-GHz Intel Core i7-2640M CPU with 8GB of RAM notched 2,329. The Core i5 processor in the HP Pavilion dm4 Beats Edition delivered an even higher 3,827.
During the File Transfer Test, the M2432's 500GB 5,400-rpm hard drive duplicated 4.97GB of mixed media files in 2 minutes and 54 seconds, a transfer rate of 29.2MBps. That's slightly faster than the category average. The XPS 14z, which has a 750GB, 7,200-rpm hard drive, maintained its lead with a blazing 38.6 MBps.
The M2432 took 68 seconds to boot the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Professional, 5 seconds longer than the category average. The XPS 14z was slightly faster at 60 seconds.
On the OpenOffice Spreadsheet Test, the M2432 took 5 minutes and 5 seconds to match 20,000 names to their corresponding addresses. That's 59 seconds faster than the 6:04 category average.
The Intel HD Graphics 3000 GPU inside the Gigabyte M2432 has enough power to run casual games and play high-def video, but the competition is faster. In the 3DMark06 benchmark, which measures overall graphics performance, the M2432 notched 3,377. The HP dm4 Beats Edition (which also has integrated graphics) notched 4,627, and the XPS 14z and its switchable graphics (Intel HD 3000 Graphics, Nvidia GeForce GT 520M) posted an impressive score of 5,461.
When we ran the "World of Warcraft" benchmark, the Gigabyte M2432 delivered a frame rate of 24 fps at 1366 x 768 on autodetect. That's less than half the 66 fps thin and light average. The HP dm4 notched a smoother 32 fps.
Software and Warranty
Gigabyte Smart Switch was one of the more interesting utilities, allowing us to quickly switch between the 32- and 64-bit versions of Windows.
Third-party applications include Microsoft Office Starter, Windows Live and Adobe Reader 9. Surprisingly, Gigabyte didn't package the M2432 with any antivirus software, but at least you don't get any annoying pop-ups out of the box.
The Gigabyte M2432 comes with a two-year warranty.
VerdictDell XPS 14z, which offers better audio and discrete graphics in a thinner package. Those looking to save a few bucks should check out the $899 HP Pavilion dm4 Beats Edition, which offers a 1600 x 900 display and great speakers, too. While the M2432 is one of the better looking portable multimedia notebooks, its shiny red lid takes it only so far.
|CPU||2.5GHz Intel Core i5-2520M Processor|
|Operating System||MS Windows 7 Professional (64-bit)|
|RAM Upgradable to||8GB|
|Hard Drive Size||500GB|
|Hard Drive Speed||5,400rpm|
|Hard Drive Type||SATA Hard Drive|
|Optical Drive||DVD SuperMultiDrive|
|Optical Drive Speed||8X|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics 3000|
|Bluetooth||Bluetooth 3.0 +HS|
|Touchpad Size||2.8 x 1.6 inches|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Microphone|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Kensington Lock|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Headphone|
|Ports (excluding USB)||HDMI|
|Ports (excluding USB)||eSATA/USB|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Ethernet|
|Ports (excluding USB)||VGA|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Docking Connector|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 3.0|
|Card Slots||4-1 card reader|
|Size||12.9 x 9.1 x 1.1 inches|
|Weight||4 pounds, 4.2 pounds with bay battery|