Gigabyte Sabre 15 and Sabre 17 first look review: Sharp performance, slashed price

Gaming laptops aren’t cheap – and they probably never will be. However, if Computex 2018 is anything to go by, several manufacturers pushing for a future where affordable gaming laptops are the rule rather than the exception. Gigabyte’s pair of fun-ready portables are 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.

Gigabyte Sabre 15 and Sabre 17 first look 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. It comes in both 15.6in and 17.3in models, 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 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.

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Depending on the health of that current account you can decide between models with anything up to 16GB of RAM, choose between models with single 1TB HDDs or ones with 256GB NVMe drives and HDDs as 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 option list at some point.

Gigabyte Sabre 15 and Sabre 17 first look 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 chipset | Intel Graphics 630

Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1050 | GeForce GTX 1050 Ti | GeForce GTX 1060

Up to 32GB RAM

Supports 2.5in HDD, Optional M.2 NVMe PCIe x4 SSD

Connectivity: 1x USB 3.1 Gen 2 (Type A), 1x USB 3.1 Gen 2 (Type C), 1x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (Type A), 1x USB 2 (Type A), 1x HDMI (2.0 w/HDCP 2.2), 1x mini DP 1.2, 1x mini DP 1.3*, Gigabit Ethernet, 6-in-1 card reader, DC-in jack

802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5

Dimensions: 378 x 267 x 29.9mm (Sabre 15), 418.5 x 288.7 x 29.9mm (Sabre 17)

Weight: 2.5kg (Sabre 15), 2.8kg (Sabre 17)

Gigabyte Sabre 15 and Sabre 17 first look review: Features and design

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Gigabyte Sabre 15 and Sabre 17 first look review: Sharp performance, slashed price

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 have to have RGB lighting in their lives, well, Gigabyte has thought of you: the keyboard has full RGB lighting. And it doesn’t feel too bad to type on either.

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Gigabyte Sabre 15 and Sabre 17 first look review: Sharp performance, slashed price

It’s reassuring that the practicalities have been well thought through, too.

There’s oodles of connectivity, with USB-A and USB-C sockets buddying up alongside both HDMI and mini-DP video outputs. And where the likes of MSI’s GF63 (click here to read our first look review) cut a few corners by opting for an HDMI output which is limited to 4K 30Hz output, Gigabyte has equipped its pair with full-fat HDMI 2.0 ports and HDCP 2.2. Whichever model you choose, you’ll find a Full HD matte panel up top.

The bezels aren’t especially slim, but both panels looked pretty impressive up close. Gigabyte quote 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 – we’ve got our fingers crossed that colour accuracy is on song, too.

Gigabyte Sabre 15 and Sabre 17 first look review: Prices

We haven’t seen UK pricing as yet, but MSI did provide details for a range of US models.

Sabre 15

GeForce GTX 1050

8GB RAM, 1TB HDD £999
8GB, 128GB SATA SSD, 1TB HDD £1,099
16GB, 128GB SATA SSD, 1TB HDD £1,199

GeForce GTX 1050 Ti

8GB, 256GB PCIe SSD, 1TB HDD £1,249
16GB, 256GB PCIe SSD, 1TB HDD £1,349
GeForce GTX 1060 16GB, 256GB PCIe SSD, 1TB HDD £1,449

Sabre 17

GeForce GTX 1050

8GB RAM, 1TB HDD £999
8GB, 128GB SATA SSD, 1TB HDD £1,199
16GB, 128GB SATA SSD, 1TB HDD £1,299

GeForce GTX 1050 Ti

8GB, 256GB PCIe SSD, 1TB HDD £1,349
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 first look review: Early verdict

It’s great to see some more affordable gaming laptops due to hit the shelves, but it’s particularly awesome to see ones with so little 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 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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