Gigabyte Sabre 15
With its Sabre 15 Gigabyte wants to offer good gaming performance for a reasonable price. The past has shown us that this isn't an easy feat and we're interested to see what they've come up with.
Keyboard 16.8 million colors RGB Backlit Keyboard
M.2 PCIe Gen.3 SSD
OS Windows 10 Pro / Windows 10
CPU 7th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-7700HQ (2.8GHz-3.8GHz)
Display 15.6" IPS Full HD 1920x1080 WVA anti-glare display
System Memory 8GB/16GB DDR4 2400 2 slots (Max 32GB)
Chipset Mobile Intel® HM175 Express Chipset
Video Graphics Intel® HD Graphics 630 & NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1050 Ti GDDR5 4GB / NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1050 GDDR5 2GB
Storage Support Dual-storage System
Keyboard Type 2.0mm Key Travel Full-Sized Chiclet
Audio 2 Watt Speaker*2, Dual Array Microphones,
Sound Blaster™ Cinema 3
Communications LAN:10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet
Wireless LAN: 802.11 ac (a/b/g/n compatible)
Bluetooth: Bluetooth V4.2+ LE
Webcam HD Camera
Security Implements TPM by CPU, supports Intel® Platform Trust Technology (Intel® PTT) Kensington Lock
Battery Li-ion 6-cell, 4200mAh, 47Wh
Dimensions 378(W) x 267(D) x 26.9(H)mm
Weight ~2.5kg (w/6-cell battery)
Live Stream XSplit Gamecaster + Broadcaster Membership (3 months) + TriDef SmartCam License (Free 90-day ).
1x USB3.1 Gen.2(Type-A)
1x USB3.1 Gen.2(Type-C)
1x USB3.1 Gen.1(Type-A)
1x HDMI 1.4
1x mini DP1.3
1x mini DP 1.2
1x DC-in jack
1x Headphone jack
card reader(SD/Mini SD/SDHC/SDXC/MMC/RS MMC)
Not having anything else to complain about
Sabre: A sword specially made to be fast and light in order to slash through enemies. From early creators to newly adaptations, the sabre is adored worldwide and is a symbol of nobility, honor and victory. The Sabre series is all about well-designed gaming laptops that provide good all-round performance for all gamers around the world.
This phrasing comes directly from Gigabyte as a kind of motto for the Sabre Series as a whole. Since if we’re getting such a perfectly worded and bold intro we’ll run with it and try to find out if this is just marketing or rather a description of what you will get.
To start things of lightly we’ll take a look at the Sabre 15.
The design itself is rather plain, simple and sober. At first glance, the accented edges are the only difference to a normal office laptop.
But looking closer you’ll get the first hint that this isn’t your everyday laptop to use at work. The exhaust in the back is integrated in the design quite nicely. Together with the visible copper cooling fins on the right hand side of the Sabre 15 this seems to be the whole cooling solution (at least the active part). How it performs remains to be seen.
The bottom shows us multiple opening for fresh air to get in, as well as some very large rubber feet. The feet feel very solid and we didn’t get the feeling they might come off for quite some time. Because of their size, you’re unlikely to run into cooling issues when placing the Sabre 15 on your table.
All the external connectivity ports can be found on both sides of the Sabre 15. While this is a good choice for most of them, you could still argue about the best placement for headphone jacks. There are actually people who prefer them to be at the front. But this is just worth considering as not more than a sidenote.
The left side of the Sabre 15 sports the HDMI port as well as two mini Display Ports (one 1.2 and the other 1.3). You’ll also find a 1 GB LAN port, as well as two USB 3.1 ports, one of which is Type-C.
Besides the audio jacks for speakers and headphones, the right hand side will offer an additional USB 3.1 port and a USB 2.0 port.
While first opening up the Sabre 15 there is nothing to set it apart from dozens of other notebook models. It looks pretty ordinary actually. But that’s not a bad thing. The only visible things giving away the fact that this is not a 700€ notebook are the stickers with the most important hardware specs.
Now we’ve reached the part that will be most difficult to evaluate, since our sample device has already been going around from some reviewers before arriving to us. Some of them must have opened it up and didn’t put it together quite right. Otherwise some of the gaps we found could not possibly have been there and there wouldn’t have been screws with scratched and even broken heads. After fixing those things and tightening some loose screws we were good to go. Please keep that in mind because some issues could have been created by the guys before us.
The first thing you’ll notice, obviously, is the texture of the casing material. It’s pretty sleek and shiny. Opening up the Sabre 15 feels ok too. The hinges of the display offer just about the right amount of resistance. They seem pretty sturdy too.
While the lower area containing the keyboard and the components is very rigid, the display itself is very (very … very) bendy to a degree where we did not dare to go any further in testing its flexibility because we were certain it would break. We counted this as rather positive since you’re very unlikely to bend the display on accident beyond breaking point. That is, unless you use it accidentally as a seat. But honestly, we didn’t test that…
The keys of the keyboard are under scrutiny now. Both travel distance and pressure activation force were very comfortable and almost no time was necessary to get used to them and being able to type fluently. That is a very good verdict for a notebook keyboard. The only downside was that some, but not all, keys felt a bit wobbly in one direction or the other, meaning that they could tilt slightly to the left or right. That feeling was also present pressing the power button. At this point please remember that the keyboard, among other things, belonged to the loose parts so these effects might well have been induced by the guys before us especially since not every key did show this behaviour.
A very good choice are the separate keys of the mousepad. Even though many gamers are likely to use their own mice it is nice to not be ableto move the cursor by accident while clicking.
Key features and hardware
The Sabre 15 is equipped with Intel’s current Core i7 7700HQ. Since this CPU is a real quadcore with 8 threads like the desktop version, the only major difference to a Core i7 7700 is the baseclock of 2.8 GHz with a maximum turbo boost of up to 3.8 GHz.
Most gamers use more than one display so they don’t have to switch windows too often. The Sabre 15 is equipped with an HDMI port as well as 2 mini-display ports, offering up to 3 additional display options: 4 is better than 2!
The 15.6” FHD IPS display, while not the best you’ll ever see in a gaming notebook, has some very compelling features. The IPS display itself guarantees wide viewing angles and the glare-free finish will help in almost all circumstances. I used the word “almost” because you’ll run into some problems when using this in broad daylight. The backlight, brightness and contrast have some limitations here. But who wants to do some gaming on a laptop while outside on a sunny day anyways?
The response times are another big plus for the Sabre 15: they belong, among similar competitors, to the lowest achievable right now. If that will make up for the rather small color space achievable, this is something every potential buyer will have to think about for himself. But since the Sabre 15 isn’t targeted at graphic and design professionals you might say that this is a tradeoff worth making. Otherwise the display is nothing special: no ultra thin borders or any other surprises hidden beneath the surface.
Since everything even remotely connected to gaming apparently needs to have RGB nowadays, the Sabre 15 has this little gimmick as well. But instead of just illuminating the letter/number/sign on the key, the hole key lights up completely and even the edged will be illuminated. There are no real dark spots or bad lit areas on the keyboard or on any key like you might have seen on some desktop keyboards. Good quality work.
And we’re back at the keyboard again. This time from the software point of view. The Flexikey® lets you put macros on every key you wish which is actually a pretty nice feature. While this is the main function you’ll also be able to record your keystrokes and their frequency so that you can analyze them afterwards.
The Sabre 15 arrives with a bunch of other software to offer you some nice little extras. The Creative Soundblaster Cinema 3 Software shouldn’t have to be explained. You’ll get virtual surround sound and some other effects as well. XSPlit Gamecaster and Broadcaster are also programs that shouldn’t need any introduction anymore. Last but not least you’ll get TriDef® SmartCam to cut out the background so that you can stream without a green screen. Nobody will ever know that you had a secret crush on Britney Spears or one of the Backstreet Boys anymore. Or like Gigabyte put it: “Hide your messy room, or even a house full of cats”.
Performance and thermals
Now that we’ve gotten all the introductory parts out of the way we can see how well the Sabre 15 tackles games, since this is its designed purpose. First off, we’ll start with some synthetic benchmarks as a warm up.
Interesting observation: If you take a look at some of the benchmarks of the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1050 Ti G1 Gaming you might notice that those numbers align pretty well. So the 1050 Ti built into the Sabre 15 isn’t a gimped down version for mobile purposes but rather the real deal. This is made possible by lower thermals of the current NVidia architecture as well as the pretty well designed cooling solution of the Sabre 15. We didn’t expect to see so little downclocking to be honest, though. After consulting with Gigabyte we were told that the frqeuency of the built in chip has in fact been lowered a little which makes those results even more impressive.
Now that we know that the Sabre 15 can really put up with some load on its gpu, we’ll see how it can handle some current games. We used Dota2 as a representative for MOBA games, while Ashes of Singularity, Doom and The Witcher 3 were chosen for RTS, FPS and RPG games respectively. It’s obvious that every game has its own requirements and therefore can’t represent a whole category, but those four games, together with the synthetic benchmarks will be able to give you an idea about the relative performance. All numbers were taken at Full HD (1080p) with settings set to high.
Looking at the numbers, we can state that the Sabre 15 is up to the task of tackling most gaming environments without stuttering. The FPS ranges are pretty decent and you won’t have to switch down to lower settings if you are fine with at least 30 frames per second.
While running all the benchmarks, we also took temperature measurements: they look pretty good as well. The Sabre 15 doesn’t sound like a blower when being confronted with heavier load and manages to keep the 7700HQ constantly at 60°C and the 1050 Ti GPU chip at just around 80°C. That might in part be due to the two heatpipes transferring heat from each of those chips. But the two chips are not connected in any way, which has the benefit of neither interfering with each other. This gets pretty obvious as soon as you run prime95. The cpu temperature will hit 90°C pretty soon and the 7700HQ does clock down to around 3.1 to 3.2 GHz while the temperatures of the GPU will stay at around 40 degrees.
While you will find better cooling options in higher price range laptops (just take a look at the exhaust of the ASUS ROG G752VM) the Sabre 15 does pretty well in its class.
The battery of the Sabre 15 is a Li-ion cell with 4200mAh (47Wh). It’s not one of the largest ones (not even close) but it gets the job done. You are mobile to a certain extend but the lifetime will depend on your usage. Under normal workload, typing and a bit of surfing on the internet, it will give you about 4 hours until you absolutely need to find a power outlet. Gaming times greatly depend on the game in use. While you can easily play Dota2 for about 70 minutes (even with the brightness of the screen pumped up) The Witcher 3 did put a bit more stress on the system and after 45 minutes the battery was flat. Since all components together can draw about 100W, you could run into scenarios leaving you just under 30 minutes without being plugged in.
You might have noticed that we haven’t covered the storage performance at all, let alone having mentioned the installed hard disk. That’s due to the fact that the disk configuration isn’t fixed. Our test sample was built before the Sabre 15 hit the market and has only a 128GB SSD, while most versions available when this review went online will sport a 256 GB SSD instead. But that’s not all. According to a Gigabyte representative, the configuration does not depend only on the market region, but rather also from the vendor, since they can order specific configurations. So it is very well possible that a model bought on Amazon will have different hard drives than the one found in other retailers. Not only can they choose different disk manufacturers, it could even be the case that one uses a SATA drive while the other one opts for an NVMe solution. Keep that in mind and contact your vendor before hitting the BUY button. This way you can check multiple configurations and take the one you think is the best.
As said in the introduction, we were curious to see if the Sabre 15 could live up to the marketing claim of providing “good all-round performance for all gamers around the world” and the Sabre Series itself being all about “well-designed gaming laptops”. At least for the first part we have to say we don’t believe it is quite the case. A system is either up for gaming or it is not. All-round does kind of imply that there are different requirements for different gaming genres and that the Sabre 15 is a jack of all trades. But despite some genres not needing much memory or the best gpu there isn’t so much of a difference to put it that way. You could scrap the 1050Ti altogether and sell it as a MOBA Gaming Notebook of course, but that would be ridiculous.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that the Sabre 15 is bad. So let’s try to give a better description: the Sabre 15 is a very good entry level gaming notebook able to handle all current games at rather decent settings. All that for a reasonable price tag. You could even say it’s a little brother to the Aorus Series to some extent.
The design part, on the other hand, makes a valid statement. It’s neither too heavy, nor too thick; it has a nice feeling and the components are put together well. All that, while managing to walk the line of not being too boring to look at and not being to fancy either. It’s both solidly built and flexible enough not to break easily as well as focusing on the things that are really needed to get a good gaming experience. The display is the perfect example of a tradeoff that had to be made. It lacks some features in some areas just to shine in others. The lacking parts are almost negligible though, since the target group might very well not need a brighter screen. Even more so if that meant slower response times.
To sum things up we’re awarding the Sabre 15 out golden badge.