Intel’s Ultrabook initiative has taken the laptop world by storm, but something we’ve seen far too little of (in this writer’s humble opinion, at least) is gaming-worthy Ultrabooks. We looked at the Acer Aspire Timeline U M3 581TG a while back and today we’re looking at the Gigabyte U2442N, a slim 14-inch ultraportable with dedicated Nvidia graphics inside.
Going by the key specs alone, the U2442N gets off to a mightily impressive start. The 14-inch screen offers a very nice 1,600 x 900 pixel count, its keyboard is fully backlit, while under the streamlined yet solid hood you’ll find a Core i7/i5 CPU, a generous 8GB of RAM, a dual-storage system that pairs a 128GB/256GB SSD with a 750GB/1TB HDD, and a 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT640M – all starting at a mere £800. That’s as powerful as any Ultrabook we’ve yet seen, but can the rest of the Gigabyte U2442N live up to its inspiring specs?
When closed, the U2442N is a reasonably attractive Ultrabook. The top of the lid is finished in dark silver brushed metal, offset by a faux-metal lighter silver strip around the edge and on the base. Opening it up, the U2442N mimics many premium designs with an all-silver finish and black keyboard. However, the indicator LEDs, power and settings buttons and patterned speaker grill above the keyboard all break up its relatively clean lines.
Moreover, the bezel around the screen completely fails to emulate metal of any description, looking instead like really cheap plastic. The laptop's connectivity is a tad blatant too. Overall, while we certainly wouldn’t call the Gigabyte U2442N ugly, it doesn't offer the same modern, tight lines sported by many of its competitors.
Build quality is on the good side of average. The plastics throughout are fairly solid despite a little flex in the lid and a few slightly loose keys, however the hinge action is solid and overall it holds up well. Gigabyte has been making laptops for quite a while now, and it’s good to see that some of that experience is going on durability if not design.
With its slightly-taller-than-average 21mm-thick chassis, the Gigabyte U2442N has plenty of room for full-size connections and manages to include a fairly standard selection. Along the left we have a Gigabit Ethernet jack, VGA port, twin USB 2.0 ports positioned too close together, and separate headphone and microphone jacks – thankfully not picked out in green and pink.
The right-hand side houses a full-size SDXC card slot, twin USB 3.0 ports, and HDMI 1.4 for video. There’s also a blocked-off port which looks like it was made to carry a miniDisplayPort.