Lightest Ultrabook on the Planet? Gigabyte Unveils X11 Carbon Fiber Laptop

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Engadget / Gigabyte

When you’re down to fighting over tenths of a pound, claims of “world’s lightest” are more about marketing than utility, but Gigabyte’s X11 appears to fit the company’s billing as such: Gigabyte just confirmed its 11.6-inch MacBook Air-lookalike exists and weighs just 975 grams, or about 2.15 pounds. Contrast with Dell’s top-selling XPS 13 Ultrabook, which weighs about three pounds.

Gigabyte teased the new laptop last week with a promo slide that read “Launch of the Lightest Notebook on Earth” followed by “Conquer the 6th Element” and a launch date of today, May 31. No, not The Sixth Element (a 2006 surfing film/documentary, according to Wikipedia) but the periodic table’s sixth-in-position, i.e. carbon, referring in this case to carbon fiber, an ultra-strong, lightweight material I’m mostly familiar with from when I used to cycle semi-competitively back in the early 1990s and forked over a boatload of cash to buy a road bike made from the material.

(MORE: Would a $799 MacBook Air Threaten Next-Gen Ultrabook Sales?)

Of course Gigabyte then dated themselves by writing “Thus, we have discovered the 6th element.” A little late Gigabyte: Other Ultrabooks, including Dell’s XPS 13, already use carbon fiber, and boutique PC-maker Voodoo PC was building lightweight laptops wholly from carbon fiber back in the mid-aughts (I know, because I owned one). The X11’s also fully carbon fiber, save for the hinge, which is aluminum. Gigabyte touts the strength of carbon fiber as “6 times stronger than that of an aluminum notebook,” though there’s debate about which material is more durable in specific circumstances — some in fact argue that aluminum is the more durable material, especially when heated.

Spec-wise, the 11.6-inch X11 is as thin as it looks: 0.12 inches at its tapered front, 0.65-inches at the back. It sports an unidentified “3rd generation Intel Core” processor (Ivy Bridge), 4GB of DDR3 memory, 128GB solid state hard drive, a Mobile Intel HM77 Express chipset with Intel HD Graphics 4000 (according to Engadget), 1366 x 768 pixel LED, 1.3 megapixel camera, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, one USB 2.0 and a second 3.0 port, microSD slot, audio in/out and a mini-display port. Interestingly, Gigabyte is touting the X11’s sound playback capabilities — anemic in most laptops this size — as “rich” and “large” thanks to “the large resonator and large diaphragm monomer in the extremely thin chassis.” (We’ll see about that.) You’ll also get a 4730mAh Li-ion sealed battery and a low-key, Apple-style keyboard. Gigabyte says the X11 will range in price from $999 to $1,299 and be “on the market” in July.

The company also announced two other products: The U2442, a lightweight notebook weighing 3.5 pounds with more powerful Ivy Bridge-based processors ($999 to $1,299, on the market in mid-June) and the U2440 notebook, a “light and thin” system that’ll also pack Ivy Bridge as well as discrete NVIDIA graphics (from $699, on the market by the end of June).

MORE: Apple-Guessing: New MacBook Pro 13-inch Wanted More than 15-inch Model?