- Review Date: 1/30/2014
- Bottom line: The Gigabyte U24T-CF1 offers fourth-generation Core i7 processing power and Nvidia graphics muscle in a slim 14-inch ultrabook chassis.
- Pros: Good performance. Discrete graphics. Responsive touch screen.
- Cons: Low-resolution display. Narrow viewing angles.
With the Gigabyte U24T-CF1 ultrabook you get Intel's latest processor technology, solid-state and traditional storage drives, and game-worthy graphics in a slim 14-inch ultrabook form factor. There's nothing particularly special about the U24T's design, and its 10-point touch screen, while responsive, tops out at a measly 1,366 by 768 pixels. But if you're looking for an ultrabook with some multimedia encoding and graphics chops, the U24T-CF1 deserves a close look.
Design and Features
If the U24T-CF1 looks familiar that's because it uses the same brushed metal chassis as its predecessor, the Gigabyte U2442T-CF1. Measuring 0.8 by 13.4 by 9.1 inches (HWD) and weighing in 3.9 pounds the U24T isn't a svelte as 2.77-pound Toshiba Kirabook, but it's still highly portable and won't weigh you down while you're out and about.
The left side of the U24T-CF1 sports an Ethernet port, two USB 2.0 ports, headphone and microphone jacks, and a VGA output. Over on the right side are two USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, an HDMI video output, and the power jack. In addition to the wired LAN port you get 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless networking, and there's a 1.3-megapixel webcam embedded above the display.
The 14-inch display uses 10-point capacitive touch technology to deliver accurate and responsive gesturing, swiping, pinching, and zooming. The screen is covered in edge-to-edge glass and produces vibrant colors, but its 1,366 by 768 resolution is meager compared with what you get with the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus (3,200 by 1,800) and the Apple MacBook Pro 13 (2013) (2,560 by 1,600). Additionally, the U24T-CF1's display suffers from narrow viewing angles; the picture becomes noticeably dimmer when viewed at around 45 degrees off center.
The silver keyboard deck holds a black island-style keyboard with backlighting. It's the same keyboard used on the Gigabyte U244T, and it's comfortable and responsive. Likewise, the multi-gesture touchpad and single-piece mouse button are also responsive and a pleasure to use. The two speakers mounted beneath a perforated panel at the top of deck are adequately loud but don't deliver enough bass.
Windows 8 Pro is installed on the 128GB mSATA solid-state drive. Other than a trial version of Microsoft Office the U24T is devoid of bloatware; instead you get Skype, Fresh Paint, and GigaByte's Smart Manager, which is s control panel for things like adjusting volume, turning the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios on and off, tweaking mouse and brightness settings, and enabling the webcam. For additional storage there's a 750GB, 5,400rpm hard drive . Gigabyte covers the U24T-CF1 with a two-year warranty, which is a year longer than what most laptop manufacturers offer.
With a 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-4500U CPU and 8GB of system memory, the U24T-CF1 churned out impressive productivity benchmark results. Its PCMark 7 score of 4,992 bested the Gigabyte U22442T (4,806) and the Samsung Book 9 Plus (4,907) but took a back seat to our other Core i7 comparison laptops, including the Toshiba Kirabook (5,229) and Asus Zenbook VX51VZ-XB71 (5,365). Its Cinebench R11.5 score of 2.73 was a smidge lower than the MacBook Pro 13-inch 2013 (2.93) and the Toshiba Kirabook (2.92) but higher than the Samsung Book 9 Plus (2.50) and Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (Mid-2013) (2.46).
The U24T-CF1's multimedia encoding performance was good but not stellar. It needed 1 minute 28 seconds to complete the Handbrake video encoding test and 5:58 to complete the Photoshop encoding test. That's significantly faster than the MacBook Air 13-inch Mid-2013 (3:15 and 7:07, respectively) but a good deal slower than the Asus VX51VZ-XB71 (0:39 and 3:57, respectively). Even the U2442T produced slightly faster times (1:20 and 4:22, respectively).
The Nvidia GT750M gives the U24T-CF1 a good deal of graphics pop. Its 3DMark 11 scores of 3,339 (Entry) and 761 (Extreme) are the highest in its class. Moreover, it delivered a very playable 33 fps on the Heaven DX11 high-quality benchmark test and 38 fps on the Alien Vs. Predator medium-quality benchmark test.
On our battery rundown test, the U24T-CF1 gave us 6 hours 19 minutes of unplugged battery life, which is good but not outstanding when compared with the competition. The Kirabook lasted 5:50, and the Gigabyte U2442T lasted 5:10, but we saw times surpassing eight hours from the Samsung Book 9 Plus (8:15), Acer Aspire S7-392-6411 (8:27), and Sony VAIO Duo 13 (8:55). The MacBook Pro 13-inch and MacBook Air 13-inch both exceeded the 11-hour mark.
There's a lot to like about the Gigabyte U24T-CF1. It uses the latest Intel Core i7 processor to deliver strong productivity performance, and its 10-point touch screen display allows you to take full advantage of the Windows 8 touch experience. When your work day is done, you can enjoy relatively smooth gaming action thanks to its Nvidia GT750M graphics solution. Our only gripes with this ultrabook are screen related; its 1,366 by 768 resolution is too low for a laptop in this price range, and off-angle viewing is subpar. If display quality is a deal breaker, check out the Samsung Book 9 Plus or the MacBook Pro 13 (2013), both of which have earned our Editors' Choice for high-end ultraportable laptops.