Gigabyte X11: a featherweight carbon fibre ultrabook

Gigabyte, best known for motherboards and graphics cards, has a stable of notebooks to which it has just added an extremely slim and lightweight ultrabook.

Taiwanese PC hardware manufacturer Gigabyte marked the UK launch of what it calls "the lightest carbon fibre ultrabook on earth" with an event today at the Churchill War Rooms, a World War II-era government bunker beneath Westminster.

At just 975g, Gigabyte's 11.6-inch X11 is certainly lighter than perhaps the leading Ivy Bridge ultrabook to date, the Asus Zenbook Prime UX21A, which weighs 1.1kg. Apple's latest 11.6in. MacBook Air, another obvious comparison, weighs 1.08kg.

The 11.6-inch X11's carbon fibre construction allows it to break the 1kg barrier.

Clearly the X11's light-but-strong carbon fibre chassis underlies Gigabyte's ability to edge out the 11.6in. competition on weight — just as Lenovo's X1 Carbon does in the 14in. ultrabook market. Like the Macbook Air, the X11 tapers to pointy 3mm at the front, with a maximum thickness of 16.5mm (just inside the Air's 17mm). The X11 certainly feels featherlight in the hand, while the 'woven' finish to the lid looks classy — although the shiny surface does pick up fingerprints.

The X11's MacBook Air-like dimensions don't leave much room for ports and connectors, although it does have two USB ports (1 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0).

Built around Intel's third-generation (Ivy Bridge) Core i5 (3317U) or Core i7 (3517U) processors, both with integrated HD Graphics 4000 GPUs, the X11 comes with 4GB of DDR3 RAM and a 128GB SATA III (6Gbps) solid-state drive (a 256GB option will also be available in due course, according to Gigabyte). Further storage can be added via a smartphone-style microSD card slot. This slot is on the right-hand side, alongside a microphone/headphone combo jack and a USB 2.0 port. The left-hand side has a Mini-DisplayPort, a USB 3.0 port and the power input jack.

Conenctivity is all wireless — 2.4GHz (802.11b/g/n) Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 — because, as on most ultrabooks, there's no integrated RJ-45 Ethernet port.

The 11.6in. LED backlit display has a resolution of 1,366 by 768 pixels. It's quite glossy, which is not to some tastes, but the image quality looked good enough on our brief acquaintance with the notebook. The screen has a solid-feeling alloy hinge that travels back to an angle of about 135 degrees. There's a 1.3-megapixel camera in the usual mid-top-bezel location.

The X11 has an isolation-style keyboard and a large multitouch touchpad.

We didn't have enough typing time with the isolation-style keyboard to make a firm judgement, and the same goes for the large 'glass fibre' multitouch touchpad.

The Gigabyte X11 has a suggested price of £1,000 (inc. VAT) and will be available from September.

Also on view from Gigabyte today was the 14in. U2442, a 1.57kg Core i5/i7 ultraportable with dual integrated/discrete GPUs, the latter courtesy of Nvidia's 2GB GeForce GT 640M. We'll have more on this promising-looking system — and, of course on the X11 — when we get a review sample.

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