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Gigabyte Aorus X9 – Gaming Laptop Review

Gigabyte Aorus X9 – Gaming Laptop Review

Gigabyte Aorus X9The Gigabyte Aorus X9 is one of the most outrageous laptops we’ve ever seen. It looks wild on the outside, and on the inside it’s got two GTX 1070 graphics cores – and an overclockable Core i7 processor.

It’s one of the world’s most extravagant gaming notebooks, which means you’ll have to pay for the privilege. In the UK the Aorus X9 costs £3,299, and in the US it’ll set you back $3,649. Here’s the official site.

Gigabyte Aorus X9 – Design

This machine is inspired by supercars and fighter jets – and we can certainly believe it. There are dramatic slashes and a large logo on the lid, and the vents at the rear are covered with more eye-catching angles. Matte aluminium is used throughout, and there’s an large power button between four loud-looking speaker grilles. There’s more angular metal at the front, and even the vents on the base are carved into an Aorus design.

Lights litter the Aorus X9. Bars at the front of the machine and in the rear air vents have RGB LEDs. A row of lights above the illuminated power button indicate component temperatures, battery level of speaker volume. The keyboard has RGB LEDs, too.

Gigabyte Aorus X9The outlandish looks are paired with superb build quality. We pushed the base panel, the area around the keyboard, and the rear of the screen, and none of the aluminium budged. It’s a versatile rig, too: those rock-solid sides contain Thunderbolt, USB 3.1 Type-C, mini-DisplayPort and HDMI ports.

It’s possible to get inside this machine. The base panel is tricky to remove thanks to tiny, six-sided screws, but once you’re inside it’s easy to reach the storage, cooling hardware and two spare memory slots.

The Aorus X9 is strong and good-looking, and its 30mm thickness isn’t that bad for a 17.3in laptop with this much hardware inside. It’s hardly light, though – its 3.6kg body means you’ll want a sturdy bag when taking it out of the house.

Gigabyte Aorus X9 – Ergonomics

The Aorus X9 is the only laptop we’ve seen with a mechanical keyboard. It’s a hybrid unit, with switches that mimic Cherry Brown hardware beneath keys that look like the Scrabble-tile devices found on most gaming notebooks.

Gigabyte Aorus X9Gigabyte has chosen to aim for Cherry Brown hardware because they’re a good middle-ground. These switches balance quiet operation and a small tactile bump in their typing action.

Using a mechanical keyboard on a laptop is initially strange. You’ve got to apply more pressure than you’d usually need on a notebook, and the buttons are certainly louder than conventional laptop keys.

Once we’d started typing harder, the Aorus X9’s keyboard began to shine. The buttons have more travel and weight than any other gaming laptop we’ve tested. Their solid base and hefty action make these keys supremely satisfying.

The X9 withstood frantic gameplay, and we’ve got far more confidence that these buttons will stand up to long-term use than the average laptop keys.

The Aorus’ Fusion app can record macros and control the lighting, too, which is another boon to the X9’s typing gear.

The trackpad is solid, with light, quick buttons that aren’t far away from a proper gaming mouse. If we were playing at a LAN, though, we’d still deploy a USB unit.

Gigabyte Aorus X9 – Components

Power components sit alongside the beastly exterior. The two GTX 1070 cores serve up 4,096 stream processors and 16GB of dedicated memory. The 1,442MHz cores are overclocked to 1,492MHz by default.

Gigabyte Aorus X9An Intel Core i7-7820HK sits alongside the two GPUs. It’s one of the few mobile Intel chips that can be overclocked, and in the Aorus X9 its 2.9GHz base speed is improved to 4.3GHz.

The processor is paired with 32GB of 2,400MHz memory – a fine amount, but perhaps a tad slow. There’s a 512GB Samsung SM951 SSD, but oddly no hard disk for storing more games. The X9 is available in different SKUs with hard disks, because some people may need more storage space. We’re always pleased to see dual-band 802.11ac wireless and Killer Ethernet, both of which are included here.

The software on offer is good, too. The Aorus Command & Control tool has a slick overclocking module that displays clock speeds, temperatures and fan speeds. Elsewhere there’s a solid fan control utility, monitor settings, power options and more. Separate tools manage the Ethernet connection and the four speakers.

Gigabyte Aorus X9 – Performance

The two graphics chips offer huge performance. The Aorus X9 ran every 1080p benchmark with an average framerate beyond 110fps. At the screen’s native 2,560 x 1440 resolution it was similarly impressive: its minimums ranged between 45fps and 106fps, and it beat 100fps averages in three titles.

Gigabyte Aorus X9 Gigabyte Aorus X9Theoretical results further demonstrate the Aorus X9’s power. Its 3D Mark Fire Strike Extreme score of 12,677 is the best we’ve ever recorded from a laptop. It’s better than most desktops, too.

The Aorus X9 will handle any gaming task. Any current game will play on the screen using its 120Hz refresh rate, and it’ll output to 4K screens and VR headsets.

Sadly, though, the overclocking options didn’t make much impact. That 3D Mark Fire Strike score only improved by a couple of hundred points with the GPU upgraded to its 1,542MHz top speed. You’ll only get a couple of frames more in games, if that.

The processor is no slouch. Its Geekbench single-core of 5,269 points is excellent, undoubtedly because of the laptop’s 4.3GHz factory overclock. Its multi-threaded score of 16,888 is great, too – the only desktop chips that can beat this are new-generation Ryzen or Coffee Lake parts.

It’s enough processing power to handle any game and almost any task. Only the toughest work applications won’t run well on this machine. If you want to use Office applications, photo and video editing tools or streaming software, it’ll be fine.

The i7-7820HK still delivers loads of power at its lowest speed of 3.9GHz. Its revised single- and multi-threaded results of 4,266 and 13,759 are solid. They’re still better than most laptops, still won’t bottleneck games, and will still run tough software.

The SSD is reliably quick, too. Its read and write speeds of 3,318MB/s and 1,107MB/s are excellent. Games will load quickly due to that pace, and the Aorus X9 won’t have any issues with slow booting.

The overclocking options are designed to give more control over speeds, heat and noise, and the software has plenty of granular fan control. It’s an impressive amount of customisation but, sadly, it didn’t make much difference to thermal performance.

Without any extra overclocking applied the processor still heat a peak temperature of 85°C in a games test, and the four fans produced a lot of noise. The processor was ten degrees hotter in a system-wide stress-test, and the system was a little louder.

In the former test it was about as loud as most other large gaming laptops, but in the latter system-wide test it made more noise than many of its rivals. That’s fine if you’re going to use a headset, but not ideal if you want to rely on this machine’s speakers.

During this test with the CPU at 3.9GHz and the GPU at its factory overclock the keyboard became a little warm. The biggest issue was the base panel, which became too hot to touch.

Gigabyte Aorus X9The situation didn’t change when we ran the CPU at a middling overclocked level of 4.1GHz and at its factory-specified 4.3GHz speed. The peak temperature hovered in the mid-nineties, the noise remained loud, and the base panel was incredibly toasty.

The processor sometimes throttled, too. No matter which overclock we used, and during both gaming and system-wide stress-tests, the CPU was about 200MHz slower than its displayed speed. It did run at its proper speeds during less intensive tasks, but that throttling is worth bearing in mind.

It wasn’t all bad news. The Aorus X9 was almost silent when idling and browsing the web, and when it wasn’t running super-demanding games and applications it was pretty quiet. If you’re running conventional applications or less-intensive games, the noise and heat levels are certainly manageable.

The graphics cards were cool, too, with a peak temperature of 75°C no matter which overclock or test we used.

It’s no shock that this beastly gaming notebook has poor battery life. The X9 lasted for an hour and a half in an application test. During game, it didn’t even last an hour – so don’t stray from the plug socket.

Gigabyte Aorus X9 – Screen and Speakers

The Aorus X9 has a 17.3in panel with a 1440p native resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate. It doesn’t have Nvidia G-Sync, but that’s not a huge problem – because that high refresh rate will still ensure smooth gaming.

Gigabyte Aorus X9Panels are calibrated to Pantone standards before they leave the factory. That bodes well for colour accuracy.

In benchmarks, though, the screen was a little inconsistent. The average Delta E of 1.07 is excellent, but the colour temperature of 8,383K is cool – so those colours may be accurate, but that latter figure means they’ll look a little pallid.

The black level of 0.53cd/m2 is high, which means the contrast level of 669:1 is low. That means there won’t be as much depth and difference in shades of colour across the whole screen, and that black areas won’t be as deep as we’d like.

The brightness level of 353cd/m2 is fine, at least. That means the screen will be easy to see under the strongest lights. Both the uniformity and viewing angle results are solid too.

We wish this screen had better contrast and a better colour temperature – none of the options in the Command & Control app made much difference. Despite that, the panel still has enough quality to make games and films look decent, and it certainly won’t be disruptive.

The two speakers and two subwoofers combine for excellent aural output. They’re easily loud enough, the bass is deep and distinct. The mid-range and high-end are both detailed and clear without becoming tinny. There’s intuitive software to back it up, and the speakers are good enough for gaming or movies.

Gigabyte Aorus X9 – Conclusion

Gigabyte Aorus X9The two GTX 1070 cards and overclocked Core i7 processor make the Aorus X9 the most powerful laptop we’ve ever reviewed. It’ll tackle almost any gaming or productivity task, and it’s bolstered by a good SSD, plenty of memory and solid speakers.

The mechanical keyboard is very good, and the screen is serviceable – although it could definitely be better.

The exterior looks the part, with dramatic metal and loads of RGB LEDs, and it’s rock-solid. It’s surprisingly slim, even if it is heavy.

This machine’s biggest misstep comes from its high-end, core components. In demanding scenarios it’s hot and loud, and the overclocking options don’t make much impact on speed, heat or noise.

Not many people need this much power, either, and there’s no denying the X9’s high price. If you do require so much portable pace, then the heat and noise will be an acceptable compromise. If not, then you can easily save a lot of cash by settling for a more modest machine.

The Gigabyte Aorus X9 costs £3,299 in the UK and $3,649 in the US. Not sure about this huge, powerful laptop? Join the discussion on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

The Good

  • Spectacular gaming performance
  • Loads of CPU speeD
  • Rock-solid exterior
  • High-quality mechanical keyboard

The Bad

  • Hot and loud in some situations
  • CPU throttles in demanding scenarios
  • Battery life is unsurprisingly poor
  • Screen is a little underwhelming

The Specs

CPU: 2.9GHz Intel Core i7-7820HK overclocked to 4.3GHz
Memory: 32GB 2,400MHz DDR4
Graphics: 2 x Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 8GB
Screen: 17.3in 2,560 x 1,440 120Hz WVA
Dimensions: 428 x 314 x 30mm
Weight: 3.6kg
Connectivity: 3 x USB 3, 2 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 1 x Thunderbolt, 1 x SDXC, 1 x HDMI, 1 x Mini-DisplayPort
Hard disk: 512GB Samsung SM951 SSD
Warranty: 2yr RTB

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Gigabyte Aorus X9

About Author

Mike Jennings

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