Notebookcheck

Review Gigabyte U2142-2117U Convertible

Sebastian Jentsch (translated by A Kammel), 07/10/2013

Conservative. A twist-and-tilt hinge, a matte display, large input devices and a Pentium processor - this doesn't sound like a truly exciting combination. But the manufacturer manages to combine this traditional approach with a slim, sleek chassis. So does Gigabyte stand a chance against the many competing sliders and convertibles?

Gigabyte U2142: A traditional convertible laptop - only something for old-fashioned people?
Gigabyte U2142: A traditional convertible laptop - only something for old-fashioned people?

For the original German review, see here.

There's life in the old dog yet. Those who think that twist-and-tilt hinges are only still being used in old-fashioned business convertibles didn't have the Taiwanese company Gigabyte on their radar. While the competition has been presenting numerous innovative solutions for more than a year now, ranging from sliding mechanisms (Sony, Toshiba, MSI), dual display devices (Asus) and 360-degrees hinges, Gigabyte still clings to the same old (yet proven) formula. The convertible ultrabook Gigabyte U2142 can twist and tilt its display, turning it upside down, thereby transforming the 11.6-inch laptop into a Windows 8 tablet in a moment.

But this alone wouldn't do the trick, given the numerous, aggressively priced competitors. Luckily, Gigabyte shows some sure instincts in terms of where to innovate, employing a dual storage hybrid system, a matte touch display, four USB ports plus Ethernet and VGA, a slim chassis and good battery life, all of them interesting features in their own right. So could it be that the Gigabyte U2142 is a recommendable non-mainstream convertible? Is it also capable of handling typical mobile business usage scenarios? We will answer these questions in our in-depth review article.

So what are its competitors? Due to its relatively affordable price point of around 750 Euros (~$964) for the Pentium + HDD version (and up to 950 Euros, ~$1221, for the Core i3-3227U + 128 GB SSD variant), expensive convertibles priced at more than 1000 Euros (~$1285) are no option. According to the market situation at the time of writing, six alternatives can be found (although it has to be noted that in some cases, different, more expensive configurations have been examined in our reviews).

Case

How we test - Case

A traditional twist-and-tilt hinge.
A traditional twist-and-tilt hinge.
At an angle of more than 150 degrees, the display almost opens further on its own.
At an angle of more than 150 degrees, the display almost opens further on its own.
The hinge itself is well-built, but the mount is not.
The hinge itself is well-built, but the mount is not.

With a weight of almost 1.5 kilograms, the U2142 is definitely not one of the lightest 11.6-inch convertibles. MSI's S20-i541 only weighs 1.16 kg, the small Aspire P3-171 (including its keyboard) comes down to 1.34 kg. The rest of the competition are approximately on par with the U2142: ThinkPad Twist (1.5 kg), Toshiba Satellite U920t (1.46 kg), Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro (1.62 kg).

Gigabyte combines a brushed aluminum lid with a black-and-silver base unit (and display frame) made from plastic. The silver-ish design elements are dominant around the input devices. This leads to a visually pleasing appearance. One of Gigabyte's trademarks: The bulge due to the display hinge, which yields a spaceship-like design. Unfortunately, its stability likely won't suffice for any actual spaceship, especially around the socket. The hinge itself feels rather well-designed, keeping the lid firmly where it is and snapping into place at its final position.

Unfortunately, the hinge puts some noticeable strain on the underlying base unit, making it feel as if the plastic frame isn't strong enough. This doesn't necessarily have to lead to a destruction of the hinge mechanism at some point down the road, but those who use the U2142 should try to be careful when changing the position of the display while refraining from letting kids play with it. While the hinge sits firmly in place, some wobbling of the display cannot be prevented entirely.

The base unit is rather torsion-resistant. Applying pressure only leads to some minor deformations at the left hand side of the palm rest, but nowhere else. The keyboard itself stays in place. While the chassis is not as stable as an aluminum unibody case, it took two hands to twist it a tiny bit. The same holds true for the lid as well, which can only slightly be skewed, even when quite some pressure is applied. The aluminum rear panel is also rather deformation-resistant up to its center.

Out of gratitude to the provider of our test device, we have refrained from opening the case. Apart from a RAM hatch, there are no obvious maintenance hatches underneath the ultrabook. Fortunately, the entire bottom panel can be taken off after loosening a number of screws, revealing both a slot for an mSATA SSD (SATA port 0) and a 2.5-inch HDD (SATA port 1) which may be up to 9.5 millimeters thick. All necessary options can be found in the BIOS - and while this specific feature cannot be found in the BIOS options, Gigabyte even claims that both hard drives should be capable of running as RAID 0 drives. All of this should be good news for those who want to upgrade to an SSD at a later point without removing the HDD.

Connectivity

How we test - Connectivity

The U2142 is a traditional Gigabyte laptop in more than one way. While other manufacturers seem to reduce the number of ports in order to make their devices slimmer and to reduce clutter, Gigabyte stays true to the old ways. Uncommonly, both a VGA and an Ethernet port can be found on the back of the device, thus keeping these cables (as well as the power connector) out of the way. Only the Sony Vaio Duo 11 and the Toshiba U920t offer ports at the rear as well.

The four USB ports, two USB 3.0 ports among them, are located on the left and on the right. None of them are close to the HDMI port, so even bulky adapters can be used. On the rear, there is also a SIM card slot.

Another unusual but welcome choice: Line In and Line Out are not combined into a single port, remaining separate. Plus, there is a ring made from metal surrounding the openings, possibly increasing their longevity as the usual welts made from plastic may break over time.

Rear: AC, SIM card (non-functional), VGA, Ethernet RJ45
Rear: AC, SIM card (non-functional), VGA, Ethernet RJ45
Right side: Kensington lock, Line In (reinforced with metal), Line Out (reinforced with metal), card reader, USB 2.0, volume rocker, rotation lock
Right side: Kensington lock, Line In (reinforced with metal), Line Out (reinforced with metal), card reader, USB 2.0, volume rocker, rotation lock
Left side: Power button, USB 2.0, HDMI, 2 x USB 3.0
Left side: Power button, USB 2.0, HDMI, 2 x USB 3.0
Slim case
Slim case
65 watts power adapter
65 watts power adapter

Communication

A number of modems are on board: The Realtek PCIe GBE Family Controller provides the laptop with Ethernet connectivity. Bluetooth 4.0 is a nice addition, while the Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2230 is responsible for all Wi-Fi connections, doing a surprisingly great job. Although it is actually a low-cost option lacking the 5 GHz band, we measured a high effective range and a stable connection, even when our FritzBox was operating at only 50% of its peak transmission power. Even 40 meters away from the router (outside of the building), Windows still displayed two bars of reception, allowing for fast access to the internet. This soars up to four bars when getting closer (10 to 15 meters). Overall results were actually better in this non-standardized real-life scenario than with the HP EliteBook Folio 9470m which uses the high-end Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6235 module, yielding only one bar at a distance of 40 meters.

Accessories

The U2142 ships with a slim bag made from faux leather as well as a polishing cloth, a DVD for drivers and utility tools, a CyberLink PowerDVD medium (although it comes preinstalled as well) and an actual user manual, which happens rarely. Unfortunately, the relevant part of the multi-lingual user guide is rather short, omitting many interesting aspects ranging from maintenance options to upgradability.

Recovery

There is a hidden recovery partition on the hard drive, capable of restoring the system to its delivery condition. The recovery mode can be opened by a long press on F9 during boot-up. After the choice has been confirmed, resetting the PC leads to a deletion of all user data and a fresh re-install of Windows 8. In addition, there is also a "refresh your PC" option which only tidies up Windows without touching any personal data or settings.

Warranty

According to the Global Warranty Card with which the U2142 ships, there are 12 months of warranty on the battery and the power adapter. In some countries, the laptop itself comes with 24 months of warranty for which the customer has to register the device online. Reselling the laptop becomes easier this way too: The warranty card with the serial number on top is fully sufficient - no need to pass on the original receipt. There are no warranty extensions available from Gigabyte.

The camera is not suited for taking any photos or videos due to its horrible picture quality, leading to faint, shapeless images. Away from the center of the image, fine details get lost in sheer mushiness.

Webcam 1.3 megapixels
Webcam 1.3 megapixels
Close-up (1280x720)
Close-up (1280x720)
Photo (1280x720)
Photo (1280x720)
For reference: Canon EOS 1100D
For reference: Canon EOS 1100D
For reference: Canon EOS 1100D
For reference: Canon EOS 1100D

Input Devices

How we test - Input Devices

Keyboard

The keys use all of the available space, offering much wiggle room even for users with large hands. The return, shift and backspace keys have not been shrunken down and even the arrow keys remain rather large. Still, due to its weak feedback, the typing experience on the U2142 is a disappointing one. Although the pressure point is well-defined, key travel is so short that this doesn't come into play. Strokes feel mushy and bouncy almost everywhere on the keyboard. One positive aspect: Typing doesn't cause much noise, allowing the user to work in almost complete silence. The matte surface of the keys feels nice, but there are no conical dents which can be helpful in hitting the center of the keys.

Touchpad

The touchpad is astonishingly large, given the size of this laptop, measuring 11 centimeters diagonally. Thanks to the tiny pimples on its surface, gliding over it feels great. Multitouch gestures are supported as well, e.g. scrolling with two fingers. The horizontal and vertical one-finger scrollbars have been omitted, however (and they cannot be reactivated in the Elan settings). The mouse keys sport a quiet clicking sound, but unfortunately, their travel is extremely short, leading to mediocre feedback despite their well-defined pressure point.

Keyboard
Keyboard
Touchpad
Touchpad
Matte 10-finger multitouch display
Matte 10-finger multitouch display

Display

How we test - Display

The TN display with its resolution of 1366x768 pixels (standard for its size of 11.6-inches) sports a capacitive multitouch layer. The frame around the edge-to-edge panel is rather wide (26 mm below, 15 mm on the three other sides), leading to a larger form factor than would have been necessary. Despite of its larger 12.5-inch display, the ThinkPad Twist is only 15 mm wider (313 vs. 298 mm) and 10 mm higher. Still, the large frame beneath the display has one advantage, lifting the screen up to a comfortable height. The U2142 comes with one huge advantage though: It is a non-glossy matte display, reducing the problem of annoying fingerprints, while also keeping reflections at bay.

158
cd/m²
160
cd/m²
157
cd/m²
157
cd/m²
165
cd/m²
154
cd/m²
145
cd/m²
149
cd/m²
144
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 165 cd/m²
Average: 154.3 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 87 %
Center on Battery: 165 cd/m²
Black: 0.532 cd/m²
Contrast: 310:1

Its disappointingly low contrast ratio of 310:1 is far worse than that of its competitors (we'd consider 800:1 - 1.000:1 to be a decently high contrast ratio). Colors appear faint, contours become blurred. All other panels offer better results in this regard, ranging from the MSI S20 (IPS 994:1), the ThinkPad Twist (IPS 767:1) and the Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro (PLS 796:1) to the Aspire P3 (IPS 1500:1) - but they are also all reflective!

Color space rendition and calibration are only crucially important to graphics designers and those concerned with image editing and printing - these people are not the target audience of the U2142. Still, both the sRGB (54%) and Adobe (37%) color spaces are not covered.

Gigabyte U2142 vs. AdobeRGB
Gigabyte U2142 vs. AdobeRGB
Gigabyte U2142 vs. sRGB
Gigabyte U2142 vs. sRGB
Gigabyte U2142 vs. Aspire P3-171 IPS HD
Gigabyte U2142 vs. Aspire P3-171 IPS HD

Prior to our calibration efforts, we performed a color analysis with CalMAN 5 (i1 Pro 2 photo spectrometer). There is a noticeable grayscale weakness and a strong blue tint with an average DeltaE(2000) of 11. Since the white point is also shifted towards the blue spectrum (color saturation), the impression is that the display of the U2142 yields cool colors. Both magenta and cyan look far more bluish than they should, sporting above-average distortions with a high DeltaE(2000) of 15. Thus, the color deviations when compared to the sRGB color space can easily be seen with the naked eye (when both colors are placed next to each other).

CalMAN grayscale according to sRGB
CalMAN grayscale according to sRGB
CalMAN color saturation according to sRGB
CalMAN color saturation according to sRGB
CalMAN ColorChecker according to sRGB
CalMAN ColorChecker according to sRGB

Matte panels are supposed to be great for outdoor usage. Unfortunately, this is not true in the case of the U2142 due to its low brightness of 165 cd/m² - enough for indoor usage, but unsuitable for most outdoor applications. At least its brightness isn't further reduced while running on battery.

Sunlight from behind
Sunlight from behind
Sunlight from the right
Sunlight from the right
Sunlight from the front
Sunlight from the front

Viewing angles are no strength of TN panels - something which holds true for the U2142 as well. Strong color inversions commence at a vertical deviation of just around 20 degrees, while the same effect only starts to occur for horizontal deviations of approximately 45 degrees.

Viewing angles Gigabyte U2142
Viewing angles Gigabyte U2142

Performance

How we test - Performance

The Intel Pentium 2117U (2 x 1.8 GHz) is an Ultra Low Voltage (ULV) processor from the Ivy Bridge generation. Thanks to the 22 nm process which has been used, leak currents are weak, leading to a low power consumption rate and little need for heat dissipation. When compared to the Core i3-3227U (1.9 GHz, Ivy Bridge, 22 nm, 17 watts TDP, used in another variant of the U2142), the Pentium lacks Hyperthreading support while relying on the weaker HD Graphics (Ivy Bridge) when compared to the integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 in the Core i3.

The Toshiba MQ01ABD050 sports 500 GB of storage, but there are also variants with a 128 GB SSD. It is unclear whether the SSD version uses an mSATA SSD or a 2.5-inch SSD since the dual storage option (mSATA SSD + 2.5-inch 9.5 mm HDD) with two hard drives is currently not offered by Gigabyte.

System info CPU-Z CPU
System info CPU-Z CPU
System info CPU-Z Cache
System info CPU-Z Cache
System info CPU-Z Motherboard
System info CPU-Z Motherboard
System info CPU-Z Memory
System info CPU-Z Memory
System info CPU-Z SPD
System info CPU-Z SPD
System info GPU-Z Intel HD Graphics (Ivy Bridge)
System info GPU-Z Intel HD Graphics (Ivy Bridge)
DPC Latency Checker Idle OK
DPC Latency Checker Idle OK
DPC Latency Checker WiFi On/Off no latencies
DPC Latency Checker WiFi On/Off no latencies

Processor

Cinebench R11.5 Multi CPU@1.0 GHz
Cinebench R11.5 Multi CPU@1.0 GHz
Cinebench R11.5 Multi CPU@1.3 GHz (fluctuating)
Cinebench R11.5 Multi CPU@1.3 GHz (fluctuating)
Cinebench R11.5 Single CPU@1.3 GHz (constant)
Cinebench R11.5 Single CPU@1.3 GHz (constant)

The Pentium is Intel's CPU of choice for low-cost configurations, with the Celeron marking the lower end. The Pentium has a reputation of being an under-performer. Thus, we compare the synthetic performance of its two cores to other low- and medium-range configurations made by AMD and Intel (low voltage).

The weakest Core i3 (as used in the Acer Aspire P3-171) is on par with the Pentium 2117U, but making do with a lower clock speed (1.4 GHz instead of 1.8 GHz) and a lower thermal design power (13 instead of 17 watts) for this feat. The difference stems partially from the Hyperthreading functionality which is not supported by the Pentium. The same holds true for the AMD A6-1450 (a quad-core processor) used in the Aspire V5-122P, even the APUs are on par. The often-used i5-3317U is faster by 17 to 137%, depending on the efficiency of the respective heat dissipation system (which is an issue for the ATIV Smart PC Pro XE700 which, due to throttling problems, only manages to stay ahead by the 17% mentioned before).

With just one active core, the Pentium 2117U beats the AMD CPUs, but not the i3-3229Y, which is still 3% faster, while a Core i5 such as the 3317U performs better by at least 131% during the single-threading tests, unless systems with weak cooling systems and thus throttling issues, even during the pure CPU benchmarks, are compared (such as the Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro or the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13). A better reference device might be Lenovo's ThinkPad Twist S230u (+169%) or the Toshiba Satellite U920t-100 (+172%). But even pure tablets such as Acer's W700 (+179%) can yield formidable results with a Core i5.

No Turbo mode, thus no throttling issues? Not quite - during our Cinebench benchmarks, the CPU gets throttled down to 1.0 GHz in extreme cases (1.0 - 1.3 GHz during the multi-threading tests, a constant 1.0 GHz during the single-threading tests). The CPU temperature reaches around 55 °C and 75 °C in extreme cases. Apparently, Gigabyte has chosen to set its throttling limits at very conservative temperature levels. After all, it cannot be due to the power adapter which supplies 65 watts when only 29 watts are needed during our stress tests.

Cinebench R11.5
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Gigabyte U2142-2117U
HD Graphics (Ivy Bridge), 2117U, Toshiba MQ01ABD050
1.02 Points ∼6%
Fujitsu Stylistic Q572 Q5720M30A1DE
Radeon HD 6250, Z-60, Hynix HFS128G3MNM
0.37 Points ∼2% -64%
Acer Aspire V5-122P-61454G50NSS
Radeon HD 8250, A6-1450, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVX
1.02 Points ∼6% 0%
Acer Aspire P3-171-3322Y2G06as
HD Graphics 4000, 3229Y, Intel SSD 525 Series SSDMCEAC060B3A
1.04 Points ∼6% +2%
Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro XE700T1C A02
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Samsung MZMPC128HBFU
1.19 Points ∼7% +17%
MSI S20-i541 UltraSlider
HD Graphics 4000, 3337U, SanDisk U100 128 GB
1.82 Points ∼10% +78%
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Samsung MZMPC128HBFU
2.02 Points ∼11% +98%
Acer W700-53334G12as
HD Graphics 4000, 3337U, Toshiba THNSNS128GMCP
2.18 Points ∼12% +114%
Lenovo ThinkPad Twist S230u-33474HU
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
2.38 Points ∼14% +133%
Toshiba Satellite U920t-100
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Samsung MZMPC128HBFU
2.39 Points ∼14% +134%
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Gigabyte U2142-2117U
HD Graphics (Ivy Bridge), 2117U, Toshiba MQ01ABD050
0.39 Points ∼20%
Fujitsu Stylistic Q572 Q5720M30A1DE
Radeon HD 6250, Z-60, Hynix HFS128G3MNM
0.2 Points ∼10% -49%
Acer Aspire V5-122P-61454G50NSS
Radeon HD 8250, A6-1450, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVX
0.33 Points ∼17% -15%
Acer Aspire P3-171-3322Y2G06as
HD Graphics 4000, 3229Y, Intel SSD 525 Series SSDMCEAC060B3A
0.4 Points ∼20% +3%
Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro XE700T1C A02
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Samsung MZMPC128HBFU
0.36 Points ∼18% -8%
MSI S20-i541 UltraSlider
HD Graphics 4000, 3337U, SanDisk U100 128 GB
1.09 Points ∼55% +179%
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Samsung MZMPC128HBFU
0.74 Points ∼37% +90%
Acer W700-53334G12as
HD Graphics 4000, 3337U, Toshiba THNSNS128GMCP
1.09 Points ∼55% +179%
Lenovo ThinkPad Twist S230u-33474HU
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
1.05 Points ∼53% +169%
Toshiba Satellite U920t-100
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Samsung MZMPC128HBFU
1.06 Points ∼53% +172%
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
1407
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
2733
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
2410
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit
1766 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit
3416 Points
Cinebench R10 Shading 64Bit
2524 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
0.39 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
1.02 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
8.23 fps
Help

System Performance

PCMark 7 sub-scores
PCMark 7 sub-scores

The application performance of any system can be calculated from a combined assessment of the CPU speed as discussed above, the data transfer speeds of the mass storage and RAM and the GPU speed. According to PCMark 7 (which does exactly that), the U2142 is indeed an under-performer. The cheaper Acer Aspire P3-171 (i3) is better by 48% while the Lenovo ThinkPad Twist S230u lands ahead by a margin of 87%. Even the Yoga 13 with its CPU throttling issues is superior by far (+ 167% for the overall result).

Only the Aspire V5-122P (-25%) is slower than our test device. But this also reveals the true weakness, as all competitors apart from the Aspire V5 are equipped with an SSD or at least a HDD with an SSD cache (Twist S230u). Thus, the other devices stay ahead by 161 to 264% concerning their data transfer rates (even the cheap Aspire P3-171 manages to put 161% between itself and the U2142).

PCMark 7 - Score (sort by value)
Gigabyte U2142-2117U
HD Graphics (Ivy Bridge), 2117U, Toshiba MQ01ABD050
1644 Points ∼25%
Acer Aspire V5-122P-61454G50NSS
Radeon HD 8250, A6-1450, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVX
1232 Points ∼19% -25%
Acer Aspire P3-171-3322Y2G06as
HD Graphics 4000, 3229Y, Intel SSD 525 Series SSDMCEAC060B3A
2437 Points ∼37% +48%
Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro XE700T1C A02
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Samsung MZMPC128HBFU
2832 Points ∼43% +72%
Lenovo ThinkPad Twist S230u-33474HU
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
3071 Points ∼46% +87%
MSI S20-i541 UltraSlider
HD Graphics 4000, 3337U, SanDisk U100 128 GB
3873 Points ∼58% +136%
Acer W700-53334G12as
HD Graphics 4000, 3337U, Toshiba THNSNS128GMCP
4311 Points ∼65% +162%
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Samsung MZMPC128HBFU
4396 Points ∼66% +167%
Toshiba Satellite U920t-100
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Samsung MZMPC128HBFU
4443 Points ∼67% +170%
4.3
Windows 8 Experience Index
Processor
Calculations per second
4.9
Memory (RAM)
Memory operations per second
5.9
Graphics
Desktop performance for Windows Aero
4.3
Gaming graphics
3D business and gaming graphics
6
Primary hard disk
Disk data transfer rate
5.9
PC Mark
PCMark Vantage3321 points
PCMark 71644 points
Help

Storage Solution

CrystalDiskMark 111 MB/s Seq.Read
CrystalDiskMark 111 MB/s Seq.Read
HD Tune 86 MB/s Seq.Read
HD Tune 86 MB/s Seq.Read

The Toshiba MQ01ABD050 hard drive with a gross capacity of 500 GB isn't even that slow for a 5400 rpm HDD, reaching access times of 17 ms and sequential read speeds of 86 and 111 MB/s respectively. It is the 4K read test result of just 0.495 MB/s which shows that the HDD doesn't stand a chance against the 20 - 30 MB/s of other SSD-based devices (even the Intel SSD within the Acer Aspire P3-171 comes close to 20 MB/s).

PCMark 7 - System Storage (sort by value)
Gigabyte U2142-2117U
HD Graphics (Ivy Bridge), 2117U, Toshiba MQ01ABD050
1479 Points ∼21%
Acer Aspire P3-171-3322Y2G06as
HD Graphics 4000, 3229Y, Intel SSD 525 Series SSDMCEAC060B3A
3867 Points ∼54% +161%
MSI S20-i541 UltraSlider
HD Graphics 4000, 3337U, SanDisk U100 128 GB
4001 Points ∼56% +171%
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Samsung MZMPC128HBFU
4927 Points ∼69% +233%
Acer W700-53334G12as
HD Graphics 4000, 3337U, Toshiba THNSNS128GMCP
5350 Points ∼75% +262%
Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro XE700T1C A02
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Samsung MZMPC128HBFU
5007 Points ∼70% +239%
Toshiba Satellite U920t-100
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Samsung MZMPC128HBFU
5184 Points ∼73% +251%
Toshiba MQ01ABD050
Transfer Rate Minimum: 55.5 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 112.2 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 86.2 MB/s
Access Time: 17.3 ms
Burst Rate: 107.8 MB/s
CPU Usage: 3 %

Graphics Card

While there is no CPU Turbo mode, at least the GPU has one. The Intel HD Graphics (Ivy Bridge) clocks at 350 to 1000 MHz, coming close to the HD 4000 in most benchmarks. For example, the Aspire P3-171 is 9% faster and 12% slower during the 3DMark 2013 and 3DMark06 benchmarks respectively. But it still makes a difference into which CPU the HD 4000 is integrated as it is capable of performing faster by more than 75% in most Core i5 devices.

One reason for this is the single channel RAM used in our test device (dual channel RAM leads to a speed bonus of approximately 15%). Another is the fact that the GPU clocks at higher speeds in the Core i5 and the Core i7 (up to 1150 MHz). By the way, it is possible to limit how much RAM the HD Graphics is allowed to use in the BIOS (128 MB, 256 MB, Max). During benchmarks which include CPU performance (such as 3DMark06), the difference between the Gigabyte U2142 and the ULV Core i5 HD 4000 gets somewhat smaller, ranging between 14% (ATIV Smart PC Pro) with single-channel RAM and 45% (IdeaPad Yoga 13).

3DMark 06 - 1280x1024 Standard AA:0x AF:0x (sort by value)
Gigabyte U2142-2117U
HD Graphics (Ivy Bridge), 2117U, Toshiba MQ01ABD050
3022 Points ∼8%
Acer Aspire P3-171-3322Y2G06as
HD Graphics 4000, 3229Y, Intel SSD 525 Series SSDMCEAC060B3A
2645 Points ∼7% -12%
Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro XE700T1C A02
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Samsung MZMPC128HBFU
3457 Points ∼9% +14%
MSI S20-i541 UltraSlider
HD Graphics 4000, 3337U, SanDisk U100 128 GB
3539 Points ∼9% +17%
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Samsung MZMPC128HBFU
4368 Points ∼11% +45%
Acer W700-53334G12as
HD Graphics 4000, 3337U, Toshiba THNSNS128GMCP
3682 Points ∼10% +22%
Lenovo ThinkPad Twist S230u-33474HU
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
3574 Points ∼9% +18%
Toshiba Satellite U920t-100
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Samsung MZMPC128HBFU
3898 Points ∼10% +29%
3DMark (2013) - 1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Score (sort by value)
Gigabyte U2142-2117U
HD Graphics (Ivy Bridge), 2117U, Toshiba MQ01ABD050
1623 Points ∼6%
Acer Aspire P3-171-3322Y2G06as
HD Graphics 4000, 3229Y, Intel SSD 525 Series SSDMCEAC060B3A
1770 Points ∼6% +9%
Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro XE700T1C A02
HD Graphics 4000, 3317U, Samsung MZMPC128HBFU
2255 Points ∼8% +39%
MSI S20-i541 UltraSlider
HD Graphics 4000, 3337U, SanDisk U100 128 GB
2903 Points ∼11% +79%
Acer W700-53334G12as
HD Graphics 4000, 3337U, Toshiba THNSNS128GMCP
2845 Points ∼10% +75%
3D Mark
3DMark 037004 points
3DMark 054951 points
3DMark 06
 1280x1024
3022 points
3DMark Ice Storm18106 points
3DMark Cloud Gate1623 points
Help

Gaming Performance

The small size of this section says it all: This is one of the weakest integrated graphics chips, and the weakest of all Ivy Bridge GPUs. Gaming performance is dismal, not only in the case of recent games such as Tomb Raider, but also for older ones such as Anno 2070 (from 2011).

low med.high ultra
Anno 2070 (2011) 2611.77.1fps
Dishonored (2012) 1814fps
Tomb Raider (2013) 21.510.8fps
BioShock Infinite (2013) 169fps

Emissions

How we test - Emissions

System Noise

Exhaust vent - intake beneath the bottom panel
Exhaust vent - intake beneath the bottom panel

The fan never remains completely silent - which might actually help in keeping the case as cool as it is. Still, 32 dB(A) while idle is more than okay. The U2142's noise levels only get truly noticeable under full load. During our stress tests, we measured a constant 41 dB(A). Under medium load (e.g. during 3DMark06), approximately 36.6 dB(A) is measured, a tolerable real-life result.

Noise Level

Idle 31.2 / 31.2 / 32 dB(A)
HDD 31.4 dB(A)
Load 36.6 / 41.3 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:    Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)

Temperature

Stress test Prime95+Furmark CPU@1.8 GHz
Stress test Prime95+Furmark CPU@1.8 GHz
Prime95 Multi Solo CPU@1.3 GHz
Prime95 Multi Solo CPU@1.3 GHz

While the U2142 doesn't even get lukewarm while being idle, it gets up to 53 °C hot under full load, if only close to the heat pipe and the fan vent. In the vicinity of the palm rest, temperatures remain comfortable at 29 to 34 °C.

During our stress test, no CPU overheating occurs (while the Pentium does not sport a Turbo mode, it can lower its clock speed beneath its original 1.8 GHz), despite both Prime95 (CPU) and Furmark (GPU) being active at the same time. Here, the GPU clock speed remains constant at 1000 MHz while the CPU does the same at 1.8 GHz.

Strangely, the Pentium does see some throttling (down to 1.3 GHz) when only the Prime95 multi-threading CPU test is active. This doesn't make any sense since the temperatures are actually lower now (as has been measured). We already observed the same anomaly during our CPU benchmarks above (1.3 GHz @CB R11.5 Single).

 29.9 °C29 °C29.1 °C 
 30.2 °C29.9 °C29.3 °C 
 27 °C27.2 °C30.9 °C 
Maximum: 30.9 °C
Average: 29.2 °C
33 °C31.2 °C34 °C
31.4 °C30 °C34.9 °C
31.6 °C28.6 °C28.6 °C
Maximum: 34.9 °C
Average: 31.5 °C
Power Supply (max.)  31.8 °C | Room Temperature 24 °C | Voltcraft IR-360

Speakers

The speakers are located above the keyboard and beneath the display so that they are partially covered by the display frame in tablet mode. Luckily, this does not have any influence on their sound quality, but this is mostly because there is not much potential to get any worse. No matter whether they are loud or quiet, everything sounds thin, with the speakers sporting no bass at all.

At least the maximum volume is sufficient to fill a small conference room - as long as it is not music as this might not be bearable for prolonged periods of time: Highs sound shrill. Even though the speakers can be used for some quiet background music at home, it may always be preferable to use headphones or external speakers.

Energy Management

How we test - Battery Life

Power Consumption

The U2142 requires 8 to 12 watts while being idle, depending on its display brightness, the activated radio modems and the energy profile. The MSI S20-i541 with a Core i5-3337U is more economical at 6 to 11 watts, despite its higher screen brightness of 293 cd/m². The same holds true for most other competitors as well, e.g. the ATIV Smart PC Pro XE700T1C (6 to 8 watts). 11.6-inch laptops based on an Ivy Bridge Core i5 seem to operate more economically while being idle.

Under full load, the U2142 requires up to 28.6 watts (without charging the battery) and 25 watts during 3DMark06. The i5 laptops, e.g. the MSI S20-i541 (28 to 32 watts) and the ATIV Smart PC Pro (35 watts, throttling), require more power due to their Turbo Boost mode.

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.2 / 0.7 Watt
Idle 8 / 10.7 / 11.9 Watt
Load 24.7 / 28.6 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 960

Battery Life

Under full load: 129 minutes.
Last 12Under full load: 129 minutes.in.
Browsing (Wi-Fi): 239 minutes.
Browsing (Wi-Fi): 239 minutes.

Decent ultrabook battery runtimes come to lie around four hours or more during our standardized Wi-Fi test - which is actually exactly what the U2142 manages to do. Most competitors fare worse despite better power consumption levels while being idle, which is mostly due to different battery capacities. During the Wi-Fi test, the ThinkPad Twist (42 Wh) only holds out for 3:16 hours, as does the Toshiba Satellite U920t-100 (45 Wh, 3:10 hours). Both the MSI S20 i541 UltraSlider (43 Wh, 5:13 hours) and the Aspire P3 (almost 5 hours) offer better battery life though.

Under full load, 2:09 hours is possible. Approximately the same is true for the competitors as well, with the exception of the Aspire P3 (almost 3 hours, thanks to its reduced TDP of just 13 watts and its clock speed of just 1.3 GHz).

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
6h 35min
WiFi Surfing
3h 59min
Load (maximum brightness)
2h 9min

Verdict

This is not Gigabyte's first attempt at designing an ultrabook, but it is the company's first convertible ultrabook that we have gotten our hands on. It is not a bad attempt at all: The U2142 sports a slim chassis while being equipped with a traditional twist-and-tilt hinge. In tablet mode, the matte display covers an amply sized keyboard and a large 11-centimeter touchpad. The numerous connectivity and maintenance options will make both business users and consumers happy. Last, but not least, the U2142 looks nice and well-designed.

Unfortunately, most of these basically positive attributes are accompanied by negative ones as well. The twist-and-tilt hinge puts a bit too much strain on the connection to the base unit which is made of plastic. The matte display is too dark and too faint for outdoor usage. The large keyboard doesn't offer any satisfying feedback. Only the numerous connectivity options and the dual storage option remain indisputable assets of the U2142 convertible.

Other convertibles priced around 750 Euros (~$964) suffer from fewer weaknesses. E.g. Lenovo's ThinkPad Twist S230u (the i3 version costs 810 Euros, ~$1041, or more), albeit sporting a larger chassis at 12.5-inches, comes with a high-contrast IPS display and a better keyboard. It offers only two USB ports, but instead of a VGA port, it comes with a Mini DisplayPort. Unfortunately, its battery life is worse and the screen is glossy.

Acer's Aspire P3-171 (i5, 120 GB SSD, 800 Euros, ~$1028) is a good choice for price-sensitive customers, as the Core i3 variant can be had for as little as 600 Euros (~$773). It comes with a bright IPS panel which beats the faint display of the Gigabyte U2142 by far, but it lacks in terms of ports and expandability, since it is basically a tablet at heart (shipping with a protective cover and an integrated Bluetooth keyboard).

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In Review: Gigabyte U2142 (GA-U2142-2117U)
In Review: Gigabyte U2142 (GA-U2142-2117U)

Specifications

Gigabyte U2142-2117U

:: Processor
:: Mainboard
Intel HM77 (Panther Point)
:: Memory
4096 MB, Single Channel DDR3 667Mhz PC3-10700 Transcend
:: Graphics adapter
Intel HD Graphics (Ivy Bridge), Core: 350-1000 MHz, 9.17.10.2963
:: Display
11.6 inch 16:9, 1366x768 pixel, Capacitive multitouch, TN LED, matte, glossy: no
:: Harddisk
Toshiba MQ01ABD050, 500 GB 5400 rpm Dual storage option: mSATA SSD + 2.5 inches 9.5 mm HDD, 390 GB free
:: Soundcard
HD Audio
:: Connections
2 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: Line In, Line Out, Card Reader: SD, MMC, Sensors: Orientation, ambient brightness, SIM card (non-functional) 3.5G antenna built in, module optional
:: Networking
Realtek PCIe GBE Family Controller (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2230 (b g n ), 4.0 Bluetooth
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 20 x 298 x 226
:: Weight
1.466 kg Power Supply: 0.306 kg
:: Battery
40 Wh Lithium-Polymer, 7.4V
:: Price
750 Euro
:: Operating System
Microsoft Windows 8 64 Bit
:: Additional features
Webcam: 1.3 MP 1280x720 , Speakers: Stereo 2x1.5W, Keyboard: Chiclet, Keyboard Light: no, 24 Months Warranty

 

[+] compare
What a surprise from Taiwan:
What a surprise from Taiwan:
Gigabyte also offers a convertible ultrabook.
Gigabyte also offers a convertible ultrabook.
The U2142 is a traditional convertible ...
The U2142 is a traditional convertible ...
...which is supposed to merge the advantages of a Windows subnotebook with those of a tablet.
...which is supposed to merge the advantages of a Windows subnotebook with those of a tablet.
For this, a hinge has been installed ...
For this, a hinge has been installed ...
...which not only tilts but also twists the display.
...which not only tilts but also twists the display.
The bulge in the base unit is necessary to keep the hinge firmly in place ...
The bulge in the base unit is necessary to keep the hinge firmly in place ...
...leading to a spaceship-like design ...
...leading to a spaceship-like design ...
...which we actually like ...
...which we actually like ...
...as the 11.6-inch laptop looks sleek and modern.
...as the 11.6-inch laptop looks sleek and modern.
The lid is made from brushed aluminum.
The lid is made from brushed aluminum.
Unfortunately, the thin chassis is not quite torsion-resistant enough.
Unfortunately, the thin chassis is not quite torsion-resistant enough.
While the hinge is made from aluminum ...
While the hinge is made from aluminum ...
...the base unit gets distorted when it is strained too much.
...the base unit gets distorted when it is strained too much.
So care has to be taken ...
So care has to be taken ...
...as the U2142 is no rugged convertible.
...as the U2142 is no rugged convertible.
The display is framed by a rubber lip ...
The display is framed by a rubber lip ...
...which helps in protecting the lid.
...which helps in protecting the lid.
The rear is not as well protected when used in tablet mode ...
The rear is not as well protected when used in tablet mode ...
...which might lead to scratches around the input devices.
...which might lead to scratches around the input devices.
In tablet mode, only the hinge keeps the display in position.
In tablet mode, only the hinge keeps the display in position.
There are no other hooks or magnets for keeping it steady.
There are no other hooks or magnets for keeping it steady.
Thus the lid wobbles a bit when the U2142 is used as a tablet.
Thus the lid wobbles a bit when the U2142 is used as a tablet.
One might not expect this when looking at the specifications ...
One might not expect this when looking at the specifications ...
...but there is enough space for a 2.5-inch HDD with a height of 9.5 mm, plus an mSATA SSD.
...but there is enough space for a 2.5-inch HDD with a height of 9.5 mm, plus an mSATA SSD.
The entire bottom panel has to be removed if an upgrade is to take place, but this is done rather easily by removing a number of screws.
The entire bottom panel has to be removed if an upgrade is to take place, but this is done rather easily by removing a number of screws.
The maintenance hatch only reveals the memory banks.
The maintenance hatch only reveals the memory banks.
The ports are well-designed:
The ports are well-designed:
VGA and Ethernet are located on the back side.
VGA and Ethernet are located on the back side.
Many slim ultrabooks don't even offer these.
Many slim ultrabooks don't even offer these.
The power adapter can also be found at the rear.
The power adapter can also be found at the rear.
The SIM card slot is often useless since Gigabyte does not offer a 3G variant in some countries.
The SIM card slot is often useless since Gigabyte does not offer a 3G variant in some countries.
Accessories: A notebook bag is included.
Accessories: A notebook bag is included.
It even sports some Gigabyte branding.
It even sports some Gigabyte branding.
But unfortunately, it lacks some premium feel and some cushioning.
But unfortunately, it lacks some premium feel and some cushioning.
The 65 watts power adapter is quite small and it comes with a status LED.
The 65 watts power adapter is quite small and it comes with a status LED.
Gigabyte U2142: Its interesting design language reminds us of the Starship Enterprise.
Gigabyte U2142: Its interesting design language reminds us of the Starship Enterprise.
Gigabyte U2142: Modern, economical low voltage tech, but of the slowest possible kind (in our variant).
Gigabyte U2142: Modern, economical low voltage tech, but of the slowest possible kind (in our variant).
Gigabyte U2142: The traditional convertible mode works flawlessly. Still, users should take care as to not risk any cracks in the plastics chassis.
Gigabyte U2142: The traditional convertible mode works flawlessly. Still, users should take care as to not risk any cracks in the plastics chassis.

Similar Laptops

Devices with the same GPU and/or Screen Size

» Acer Aspire V5-132P Notebook Review
Pentium 2129Y, 1.38 kg

Devices with the same GPU

» Review Asus R510CA-CJ862H Notebook
Pentium 2117U, 15.6", 2.3 kg
» Review Asus F550CA-XX078D Notebook
Pentium 2117U, 15.6", 2.3 kg
» Review Lenovo G700 Notebook
Pentium 2020M, 17.3", 2.836 kg
» Review Lenovo G500s-59367693 Notebook
Pentium 2020M, 15.6", 2.5 kg

Links

Price Check

Amazon.com

Show results on Amazon.com

Pricerunner n.a.

Pro

+Many ports: RJ45, 4 x USB
+Some of the ports located at the rear of the device
+Good battery life
+Lightweight and slim
+Dual storage option
+Great Wi-Fi range
+Matte touch panel
 

Cons

-Unsatisfying keyboard feedback
-Faint, dark display (esp. during outdoor usage)
-Strong blue display tint
-Poor camera performance
-Bad speakers
-Pentium variant suffers from low performance levels and throttling issues
-Slow HDD (SSD optional)

Shortcut

What we like

The slim, premium design is far ahead of other chunky business convertibles with the same hinge mechanism. An mSATA SSD and a large 2.5-inch HDD within a sleek ultrabook package? That sounds like an interesting opportunity for tuning and upgrading.

What we'd like to see

An IPS display (even a glossy one) would have suited this interesting ultrabook well. An SSD or at least a small cache SSD should have been possible in this price segment.

What surprises us

Why does a matte touch panel always have to be so appallingly bad? Low brightness and a low contrast ratio are a terrible combination for outdoor usage.

The competition

Lenovo ThinkPad Twist S230u (i3-version for 810 Euros, ~$1041, or more); Toshiba Satellite U920t-109 (i3-version for 900 Euros, ~$1157, or more); Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T1A 3G + keyboard dock 64 GB (i5-version, 800 Euros, ~$1028);  MSI S20-i541 UltraSlider (i5, 128 GB SSD, IPS FHD, 850 Euros, ~$1093); Acer Aspire P3-171 (i5-version, 120 GB SSD, 800 Euros, ~$1028); Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11s (i5-version, 120 GB SSD, 800 Euros, ~$1028).

Ratings

Gigabyte U2142-2117U
07/03/2013 v3
Sebastian Jentsch

Chassis
78%
Keyboard
70%
Pointing Device
80%
Connectivity
71%
Weight
92%
Battery
89%
Display
69%
Games Performance
57%
Application Performance
81%
Temperature
79%
Noise
88%
Add Points
80%
Average
78%
81%
Convertible *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review Gigabyte U2142-2117U Convertible
Author: Sebastian Jentsch, 2013-07-10 (Update: 2013-07-10)