The Gigabyte U2442T-CF1 ($1,299) is a high-end ultrabook with a third-generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of memory, discrete Nvidia GeForce GT 730 graphics, and both a 128GB SSD and 750GB hard drive. Those are the specs of a power user system, for someone who wants speedy performance on multimedia tasks and some 3D prowess for playing the occasional game. There are a few tradeoffs to be made to keep the system under $1,500, and it is up to you to see if those tradeoffs are worth it. Are they? Read on, dear reader.
Design and Features
The U2442T-CF1 is a fairly standard looking ultrabook, with a brushed metal dark silver lid and matte bright silver keyboard deck. The black backlit keyboard contrasts nicely with the bright silver keyboard deck, which makes the keys more hunt-and-peck typing friendly than the largely monochrome keyboard on the high-end ultrabook Editors’ Choice Acer Aspire S7-392-6411. The keyboard is comfortable and reacts quickly to touch typing, without any keyboard flex. The system measures about 0.8 by 13.5 by 9 inches (HWD), and weighs in at 3.93 pounds. This is notably heavier than systems like the Acer Aspire S7, the Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (Mid 2013) ($1,099) (2.91 pounds) and Sony VAIO Pro 13 ($1,250) (2.30 pounds). It is one of the heavier high-end ultrabook systems we’ve seen, but that is relative since mid-1990s laptops tipped the scale at over eight pounds.
In addition to the comfortable screen and keyboard, the U2442T-CF1′s adequately sized trackpad is also responsive with multi-touch compatibility. The trackpad has a single-piece physical mouse button below the trackpad, which can be reassuring to users that need a familiar tactile experience when using the PC. The system has speakers mounted under the perforated keyboard deck just below the screen, and they sound fine for video and music. The 14-inch screen has a glossy glass cover with a decent amount of blank space on the bezel to facilitate Windows 8 gestures.
This brings us to our first issue with the U2442T-CF1: It comes with a 1,336-by-768 resolution screen. While that is the current minimum resolution for most Windows programs, it seems to be a bit snug on a system that’s priced over $1,000. For example, the Acer Aspire S7 and Sony Vaio Pro 13 both have 1,920 by 1,080 resolution screens (full 1080p HD). Granted, the Sony and Acer use Intel HD graphics exclusively, while the Gigabyte also has Nvidia GeForce graphics, and we’ll see the effect that has below. The U2442T-CF1 has enough screen space for 720p HD videos, but if you need to view large portions of web sites or excel spreadsheets, you’d want a higher resolution screen.
The U2442T-CF1 comes with 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, but lacks 5GHz 802.11 a/g/n compatibility. This is an issue if you use a dual-band router with 802.11n or 802.11ac. The system comes free of bloatware, similar to the Vizio 15.6-inch Thin + Light Touch (CT15T-B1) ($1,350). On the start screen, the only additions beyond what comes on every Windows 8 system are the Microsoft programs Skype, Fresh Paint, and an ad for Microsoft Office. The sole extra on the start screen is Gigabyte’s SmartManager control panel, which has touch-optimized buttons for volume, brightness, power mode, Wi-Fi and Blutetooth radios, and mute. The control panel also has on/off switches for the camera, backlit keyboard, touch screen, Smart Turbo, and Smart Cooling. This makes the U2442T-CF1 a great choice for the user who hates to uninstall scads of bloatware when they first start up a system. The U2442T-CF1 comes with a two year warranty, twice that of rivals.
The U2442T-CF1 comes with a third-generation Intel Core i5-3230M processor, 8GB of memory, Nvidia GeForce GT 730 graphics, a 750GB data hard drive, and a 128 GB SSD boot drive (C:). As a result, this is one of the faster systems on the market. The SSD boot drive lets it keep up with other SSD-powered system, including the Acer Aspire S7-392-6411 and Dell XPS 12 ($1,199) on the day-to-day PCMark 7 test.
The CPU, memory, and SSD also help the U2442T-CF1 achieve class-leading time on the Photoshop CS6 test as well as remain competitive on the Handbrake video encoder test. The Core i7 in the Vizio CT15T-B1 gives it a leg up in the Handbrake, PCMark7, and CineBench tests, but the Nvidia GeForce GT 730 discrete graphics help the U2442T-CF1 double or even triple the frame rates seen on all the other high end ultrabooks with Intel HD Graphics. With some tweaking, you should be able to find a playable frame rate at the 1,366 by 768 native resolution of the screen, which mostly explains why Gigabyte chose this screen resolution over the 1,920 by 1,080 resolution found on other ultrabooks. The short story is that the U2442T-CF1 is a very good performer overall, and specifically on 3D and photo editing tasks.
The U2442T-CF1 can run over five hours (5:10) on our battery rundown test. This is longer than some competitors, but far shorter than systems like the eight-hour Acer Aspire S7-391-6411 and Vizio CT15T-B1. Basically, this means that the U2442T-CF1 will serve you well both connected to and away from a power outlet, but if you need all-day computing in the field or in a crowded coffee shop, you may want to try one the U2442T-CF1′s competitors.
As a power users’ system, the Gigabyte U2442T-CF1 is a good choice, though the tradeoffs that that had to be made show through if you focus on any given feature. The screen resolution is far lower than the Editors’ Choice Acer Aspire S7-391-6411, necessitated by the inclusion of discrete Nvidia graphics by Gigabyte. The U2442T-CF1 had to fit in an ultrabook chassis with a smaller screen, so it doesn’t last as long on battery life as the Vizio CT15T-B1. To save a little money here and there, the U2442T-CF1 doesn’t have 5GHz Wi-Fi. To be sure there are welcome niceties as well, like the two-year warranty and lack of bloatware. The Gigabyte U2442T-CF1 is a very nice laptop, but not necessarily the best, so the Acer Aspire S7 holds on to its high-end ultrabook crown.
|Processor Name||Intel Core i5-3320M|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 8|
|Graphics Card||Nvidia GeForce GT 730M|
|Networking Options||802.11n (2.4 GHz only)|
|Processor Speed||2.6 GHz|
|Primary Optical Drive||Dual-Layer DVD+/-RW|
|Screen Size||14 inches|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||878 GB|
|Storage Type||HDD, SSD|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc