With ultrabooks dropping left, right and centre, to stand out, a new model has to be the best-est at something. How about the lightest? Gigabyte thinks it has the answer in the form of the X11 -- an 11-inch machine made entirely from carbon fibre, which is not only extremely slim, but also the lightest ultrabook I've seen.
It's packed with the latest components for some seriously impressive power. And at just over a grand, it's fairly reasonably priced, compared to other ultrabooks out there.
Although its design and performance make me want to give it an amazing score, there are a couple of small issues with the keyboard and trackpad that prevent it from getting full marks. My review model is an early build that's been constructed entirely by hand, rather than by accurate robots. If these problems are resolved on the final model, I will be updating the review to potentially give it an extremely rare five stars.
It's due to go on sale at the end of the month and is open for pre-order on Amazon now for £1,099.
Design and build
If you've been scouting around laptop reviews looking for the lightest machine you can find to keep your hand luggage down to a manageable level, then you've finally come to the right place. The X11 weighs a mere 975g, making it lighter than a standard bag of sugar and considerably less weighty than most laptops, and indeed most other ultrabooks on the market.
Gigabyte proudly boasts that it's the lightest ultrabook in the world -- I reckon that's probably true. By comparison, the super-skinny Apple MacBook Air tips the scales at 1.08kg and the delicious Asus Zenbook UX21 is an even heftier 1.1kg. Admittedly, we're talking only a small handful of grams between each one and you might not notice the difference in everyday use, but if you're trying to save as much weight as possible, then the X11 is the one to go for.
It's also extremely slim, measuring only 16mm at its fattest point and narrowing down to a razor-sharp 3mm at the front edge. It's an 11-inch machine so it's easily small enough to fit into a tiny backpack, or hide among your books in one of those fashionable messenger-style shoulder bags.
The reason that it's so light is the aforementioned carbon fibre. If you're not up on your modern materials, it's the same stuff used in supercars, from Lamborghinis to Ferraris, as well as high-performance sports equipment.
The reason it's used in such elite equipment is due not only to the fact that it's much lighter than materials like aluminium, but it's also extremely strong. I wouldn't have been in the best of favour with Gigabyte if I'd chucked their new laptop out of the window to test its strength, but it certainly feels well put together. There's very little flex in the lid and none at all in the keyboard and wrist rest.
It looks pretty good too. The whole body shows off the carbon-fibre weave pattern, which has been given a glossy coating. If you've ever gone all tingly over the look of the carbon fibre panels on supercars then this will be right up your alley, as will the two vents at the back, which have apparently been made to look like those on a sports car. The glossy coating is a total fingerprint magnet though, so if you're taking it anywhere fancy, you might want to give it a quick polish with your sleeve.
Around the edges you'll find one USB 3.0 port, one USB 2.0 socket, a Mini DisplayPort, and a microSD card slot. It's an odd move to see a micro slot, rather than a regular SD card, and if you're used to the larger cards, you'll probably find this annoying.
It's certainly a problem for me. When I go and see new products and take photos, it's essential that I can pop the card straight into my computer to quickly review shots and copy over the ones I need. Photographers who regularly need to quickly check over their images will undoubtedly find the absence of the SD card slot awkward.
On the other hand, most smart phones use microSD cards to expand their internal memory, so having a microSD reader on the computer will make it much easier to quickly put new music onto your phone, or copy over the photos you've been taking.
Personally, I'd rather have a full-sized port as you can keep an adaptor permanently in place, allowing you to use both types of cards and keeping the port free of dust and grime when you're not using it.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard uses black, isolated keys that match the menacing aesthetics of the rest of the machine. If you want a colourful, pretty little laptop, then this X11 probably isn't going to be your ideal machine.
The keys are well spaced over the base, although given it's only an 11-inch ultrabook, there's not a whole lot of room to play with. If you find netbooks uncomfortable to type on, you might struggle here too. I found it perfectly pleasant though, and the keys offer a satisfying amount of travel, making typing for long periods pretty comfortable.